Archive for the ‘Tarot Conferences’ Category

Don’t Miss This Year’s BATS

July 11, 2013

The 22nd annual San Francisco Bay Area Tarot Symposium takes place on Saturday and Sunday, August 17th and 18th at the Doubletree Hotel in San Jose.  To register, go to the Daughters of Divination BATS page:  There will be a huge program this year, including Lenormand as well as tarot presenters.  I’m especially looking forward to seeing Bill Haigwood, creator of the Counterculture Tarot, and Julie Cuccia-Watts, creator of the Journey Into Egypt Tarot.

Here’s the introduction for the presentation I will be giving on a couple of my favorite Caribbean poets:

While Pamela Colman Smith’s illustrations for the RWS tarot deck are heavily influenced by the art, culture, and spirituality of Western Europe, her Jamaican connection infuses her work with a Caribbean spirit and palette.  This fortunate melange of both cultures is also seen in the literature of the region, nowhere more so than in the plays and poetry of the surrealist Aime Cesaire, and the 1992 Nobel Prize winning poet, Derek Walcott.  In our seminar we will examine some of the glorious work of these two poets to find that special Caribbean quality that manifested itself in what Yeats called Pixie Smith’s “bluest of blue, you feel disposed to call it scarlet.  Blue is too mild a word.”

Hope to see you there!

BATS: A Weekend of Tarot Delights

September 2, 2011

This last weekend was the amazing Bay Area Tarot Symposium (BATS) in San Francisco.  It’s the first time I’ve attended both days of the event.  Although I’m suffering from a bit of psychic indigestion from partaking of the rich and extensive smorgasbord of our grand tarot repast, I also feel inspired to keep the ball rolling with my own tarot work.  There were three or four choices for each hourly session, and it was hard to choose between such a dazzling array of presenters.  Here’s a report on what I did get to attend.

I started with Thalassa’s talk on “The Shadow Dance and the Crawl Spaces of the Soul.”  Thalassa’s the illustrious leader of  BATS of and our Bay Area tarot community, but she still had time to entertain and enlighten us with her ideas about turning negative cards inside out for their calls to action rather than their predictive value.  Her delivery is so entertaining that you don’t even realize how much information you’re taking in, but I have learned to madly scribble down as many as I can of the metaphorical nuggets of gold as she effortlessly tosses them off. 

Then I attended Mary K. Greer’s workshop on working with Birth Cards and Year Cards.  The empress of tarot was unofficially launching her new book, Who Are You in the Tarot?  We  got a hands-on class, going deeply into the cards for their archetypal and practical value.  I’m no good at math, but her system was straightforward and sensible.  We did an exercise that looked at years of major turning points in our lives, and I found that the Hierophant, my soul card and archetypal card number five, the number of challenge, turned up as Year Card for four out of ten years!  Since then, I’ve been reflecting on all of the years I chose as turning points, and applying themes of the cards I got for those years.  Very helpful. 

After lunch I went to Jim Wanless’ presentation that featured his new deck, The Sustain Yourself Cards and Handbook to Live Well and Live Long.   The rich, evocative cards use a photomontage technique, with powerful and inspiring images.   Jim talked about how he had always wanted to do a “green” deck, but he has become more interested in one of the key ideas of the green movement, sustainability, in a larger sense.  His deck and his readings of the cards promotes sustainable and healthy growth for the environment, society, and for the individual.  We all walked out of there inspired and enthusiastic.

Next I got to attend the session I had been looking forward to for months, and it was as wonderful as I had hoped.  Mark Ryan was presenting on his new deck, The Wildwood Tarot.  His long out of print deck, The Greenwood Tarot, is impossible to get hold of, and this new one, created by Mark and John Matthews, illustrated by Will Worthington, is also to be treasured.  Every card offers a scene or figure of imaginative depth and mystery.  Mark’s presentation touched on the Celtic wheel of the year, and used the image of the longbow and arrow as a way to explain aiming towards a goal with focus and balance.  In fact, he actually strung a longbow and aimed his arrow to give us a real sense of aiming at a target. He also shared some wonderful stories from his past about places and events that had inspired him to work with these symbols and themes.  He talked about how he had grown up playing in Sherwood Forest, camping out in castle ruins,and then of starring in the haunting mythological 1980’s TV program, Robin of Sherwood.   It all made for one magical hour.

I rounded out the afternoon with Ellen Lorenzi-Prince’s workshop on the ancient and modern concept of genius.  She helped us connect with our tarot genius, a part of ourselves that can guide and inspire us.  We got to work and share with the people around us, and reached some great insights into ourselves, and the nature of  genius.  And Ellen guided us in quiet, meditative visualizations that helped each of us connect with our own genius, our own guide.  It was a relaxing and rewarding sesion to finish off the day.

The next day was a little more low key, not quite as much going on, so it was a little easier to choose.  We all got to enjoy A Musing on the tarot, hilariously presented for us by Nancy Antenucci, Dan Pelletier, and Rhonda Lund.  Nancy says she likes the idea of a “3D tarot,” a tarot that comes alive, inspired by the muse.  This skit of a tarot/psychic reading really did give life to cards it explored, and made us all laugh!

The next session I gave my own presentation on Andre Breton, the French surrealist, and his Arcane 17, a long prose poem.  I had a great group to work with, and I wish we had had a longer session to allow everybody to participate.  I learned a lot from my audience even in the brief time we had, and when I get my entries up on the actual passages we looked at, I’ll share some of those brilliant insights from the participants.

Sunday afternoon, I was lucky enough to get a reading from Mark Ryan, with his Wildwood Tarot.  He used his Longbow Spread, and the cards really sang as the “arrow” shot towards its target.  The reading itself was inspiring, exploring the cards and spread helped me to understand the workings of the deck for my own readings, and just getting to chat with him and hear more of his stories was awesome.   When I told him I was a fan of Robin of Sherwood since the 80’s, and that I show episodes of it to my students in my mythology classes, he gave me some large autographed photos to put in my classroom.  My reading gave me a memorable experience with a very nice man, who has a mythical yet practical view of the cards and of life.   

Because of my reading, I missed most of the last regular session, but I tried to catch part of Shawn Nacol’s workshop on “Finding Fortune.”  Shawn’s energy and enthusiasm filled the room. He makes his method of focusing readings to get specific insights and action plans accessible and practical, but at the same time it allows for answers of depth and imagination.  I didn’t hear enough about it, but I am definitely going to learn more.

At the end of the day, we got to listen to several of the presenters speak on a panel.  We learned about the ways they got into tarot, where they think tarot is going now, and how important the growth of technology has been to the spread of tarot in general, and individual readers and writers in particular.  It was amazing to hear the stories and ideas of so many tarot stars.

BATS celebrated its 20th anniversary with this conference, held in a new and very professional venue, with the best attendance in the symposium’s history.  Its great success this year bodes well for the future of the event, and for our growing tarot community.