Posts Tagged ‘BATS’

Bay Area Tarot Symposium Coming Up!

July 25, 2015

On August 15th and 16th the fabulous Bay Area Tarot Symposium will take place at the Doubletree Hotel in San Jose.  It promises to be the biggest one yet, with an eclectic mix of leading lights of tarot, as well as some very exciting  presenters who are new to the symposium.  On Saturday the 15th I will present another of my tarot/literature crossovers, this time on a Virginia Woolf short story. My friend Sophia Mao introduced me to this story through her erudite and fascinating Honors Thesis for the English Department at UC Berkeley.  Her writing on the images of “The Tower and the Telescope” inspired me to see the story with a tarot agenda, which yielded a very rich reading. Here’s the description of my presentation that the BATS program will use as an introduction.

Don’t Be Afraid of Virginia Woolf:

                                                                                                                           Tarot Connections in Woolf’s “The Searchlight”                                                                                        

While many readers see Virginia Woolf’s work as daunting because of her use of stream of consciousness, her fragmentation of time, and her haunting but difficult mysticism, her work can be accessible and enjoyable when read with the tarot as a key to her symbology and themes.  In our time together, we will do a close reading of her very short story, “The Searchlight,” using the images of the Tower card to unlock the door of understanding to the story’s message.  Like her Modernist contemporaries, Yeats and Eliot, Woolf taps into archetypes that offer wisdom and guidance for our modern era, archetypes that are reflected in the tarot deck in usage during their era, the RWS deck.

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.