The first talk I got to attend was Richard Abbot, on Death. As so often, Richard was inspiring, challenging, and fun – a good mix, especially given the subject matter. He talked about Death meaning exactly that: Death. The death of a mindset, of a nation, of a relationship. He also talked about his book, Great Britain?, which explores all the Prime Ministers there have been through the eyes of tarot cards.
We did a reading on a topic of interest at a social level: mine was on Brexit, others picked the US presidential elections, or another aspect of current affairs. We also did a personal reading, and he encouraged us to pick cards face up, to see what called to us in the moment – something I often do. However, it also made me think about when I prefer to pick “blind”. Sometimes, I want a wisdom beyond my conscious self. Other times, there’s so much going on in my head, I can’t make a single choice. Whatever the cards offer me, I always find it has value…
We then had a break, which Lisa Eddy and I used to go and grab some dinner. We were very glad we did, as the evening ran a little late, so we’d have had to wait til nearly 9 for food otherwise 😮
Next in line, Ciro Marchetti had signed up last minute, and gave a fascinating and fun look at the Business of Tarot. He included some of his own mistakes and errors, and some perspectives on the money involved in the industry – not just in the production of decks, but in readings offered in the US and further afield.
To round it out on a beautiful note, there was a gorgeous video of some of the images from his many decks over the years – all of which I have *blushes for being caught out as being such a fan girl* Ciro also flicked some cards into the audience, so many people got a little taster card, and two lucky people won gorgeous silk scarves with his amazing artwork on!
After a quick break, Steve Hounsome gave a talk titled Therapy Tarot. That’s the title of his self-published first deck and we also saw some images from his second, the Gamble-Hounsome Tarot. These were inspired by understandings of the “energy” of the cards – mostly in terms of elemental associations.
Wicca Meier-Spring led us in a blessing of our cards, followed by a talk about Spellcasting using tarot cards. She runs the Hexenmuseum (Witches Museum) in Switzerland, and shared some interesting information about the early use of cards (playing cards and tarot cards) in witchcraft. She also talked about what makes a good visual cue for a spell, and made some suggestions for particular spells, leading us through a few small examples.
English Magic Tarot and the Party
Last on Friday night’s line up was the official presentation of the English Magic Tarot (Red Wheel/Weiser, 2016). All three of the creators were there, talking about their different roles and contributions, and the genesis of the deck.
Then, it was time for snacks, including a homemade carrot cake (yum!) and lots of socialising.
The organiser of the Conference, Kim Arnold, is passionate about anyone who wants to attend the Conference getting the opportunity. To this end, she runs an auction every year, with lots of tarot-related goodies. Seeing as it’s for such a good cause (ahem, of course, I’m not a shopaholic with a tarot addiction!) I ended up the proud owner of a print of Julia Jeffrey‘s Strength card from the Tarot of the Hidden Realms (Llewellyn, 2013). It’s now hanging in my work space – lovely!
I bowed out fairly early, and headed for bed – lots more to come on Saturday…
The morning started (after a quick yoga practice in my hotel room and breakfast with a fascinating lady from the States), with another blessing from Wicca Meier-Spring and a fabulous video on Death created by a dear friend, Steven Bright. Steven will have some exciting news to announce very soon, so follow him on Instagram or FaceBook for the latest scoop!
Another dear friend, Lisa Eddy of Angelorum, kicked off the morning with a workshop for transformation junkies 😀
Her talk on Death was personal and insightful, roaming over some of her own experiences with tarot and with transformative life events, as well as a plethora of inspiring quotes. She read these out as we delved into the cards, exploring face up our own answers to the Top Five Regrets of the Dying. We then went deep into one of those, with a new spread she shared for the first time at the Conference: the No Regrets Spread. All in all, it was a fascinating workshop 🙂
Personally, I needed a little walk to clear my head, though others enjoyed biscuits, tea, coffee and more socialising. Then, it was on to a talk about the Gods of the Tarot by Corrine Kenner.
As well as teaching us about the basics of astrology, she shared some cards she has created that place astrological associations front and centre. These cards (provisionally titled The Wandering Stars Tarot) mix different Majors to represent both star sign and planet. For instance, Mars in Aries shows the Emperor as the Tower, having his crown knocked off, which works really well. Rather odder was Mercury in Virgo, with the Magician’s head on the Hermit’s body. It reminded me of the Kermit card– lol!
I popped out to a local shop to get something to eat in situ, so that I could enjoy Kirsten’s talk about the Zigeuner cards. Kirsten has a book published on the subject, with her husband, which I’ve read and enjoyed. Kirsten talked us through the history of this little deck, the way it’s used, and showed us some of the cards and discussed how their meanings vary compared to those of similar Kipper or Lenormand cards.
For those of us lucky enough to read German, there are at least two books available about the Zigeuner cards, though still nowhere near the number you can find on Kipper cards, or Lenormands. However, there are, as yet, no books about them in English…
On the other hand, Kirsten is working hard to bring the images of the Zigeuner cards up to date. She is planning to publish not one but two new sets of cards: the Belle Epoque deck and the Biedermaier Oracle. Keep your eyes peeled for those!
In “the graveyard shift” was Philip Carr-Gomm, who managed to use that slightly passive energy to good effect.
He gave us a brief history of tarot’s relationship with opera. He also showed us some images from the soon-to-be-released Opera Tarot. Experientially, he had us listen to pieces of music and then draw cards and see how they made us feel, or how they related to the feelings the music had invoked in us. At a few points, it almost looked as though he would burst into song himself. Altogether, a thoroughly immersive experience 🙂
Last up was Juliet Sharman-Burke. She spoke mostly on Temperance, rounding out the Death experience and leading us towards the light of new hope.
Exploring Temperance’s place between Death and the Tower, and the symbolism of the card itself, she encouraged us to explore what Temperance means to us individually and as a society. We tried out an unusual approach of working as a group to explore the cards. Each person drew a card and then we saw how each was affected by partnering it with Temperance. As a group, we delved into what we could all add to the understanding of the different cards and how they pertained to each of us.
All told, there was plenty of opportunity to play with cards of all kinds. There was also lots of socialising and networking. And as well as the auction and raffle on Friday night, there were also numerous stalls with tarot-related goodies throughout the Conference. Not to mention our goodie bag, which offered up both a tarot and an oracle deck, as well as a lovely, wise colouring book, and some great information.
In all this, other than the Julia Jeffrey print, the only thing I caved in to was a book about Mark Ryan (author of the Greenwood Tarot and the Wildwood Tarot, and singer and Hollywood actor, amongst other professions). Well, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to get it signed by the man himself! Kim certainly bring us the superstars of the tarot world, as the line-up was replete with big names that have stood the test of time, as well as new comers to the podium, who we are sure to see again. I’ll be back next year, fate permitting…