The 2011 Omega Tarot Conference: “Fate and Free Will” is coming up soon on July 29-31. This year Rachel Pollack and I are including three speakers who are among the top workshop presenters at tarot conferences. They really understand the needs of tarot students and practitioners and create fun and innovative ways of experiencing the cards more deeply and effectively no matter your level of knowledge. With this lineup, we know this will be an outstanding weekend for tarot learning.

James Wells lives in Toronto, Canada and is a professional tarot reader, teacher and workshop organizer. His book, Tarot for Manifestation, will be available in time for Omega, while his deck, The Circle Ways Tarot Deck, will be out later. James’ readings focus on self-empowerment and conscious decision-making. He uses circle methodology, reiki, journaling and many other modalities to help clients and students remember their creativity, resourcefulness and wholeness. We are really honored to have him on the faculty this year.

• How did you get into tarot and how did you make the shift from your former profession into being a full-time tarot teacher and reader?

Since childhood, I’ve been interested in what makes people and the universe tick.  When I was 12 years old, I was reading a book called Let ESP Work for You by Patsy Ruth Welding.  There was a short section of seven or eight pages that talked about tarot cards.  Welding’s description of the cards was simultaneously luscious and grounded.  I saved up the money I earned from lawn cutting and newspaper delivering and went to a games store to buy my first tarot deck, a 1JJ Swiss pack.  Any time I could, I practised with friends, cousins, and myself.  When I was in high school, some of my teachers would ask me to pop into their offices after classes to give them short readings.  In my late teens, I discovered Gail Fairfield’s book, Choice Centered Tarot.  At last, an understandable system!  A couple of years later, I went into a career in music (classically trained), directing choirs, playing organ and piano, composing, and so forth.  This career sustained me creatively and spiritually for a while, but I became disenchanted with the interactions I encountered in that world.  I realised that when I was offering tarot sessions for people, I felt really alive.  People began to give me fare from their gardens, books and other gifts in exchange for tarot consultations, so I checked with a healing teacher with whom I was then working and with an astrologer friend of mine about going into tarot in a professional manner.  Their feedback plus my own sense of inner rightness took me to a printing shop to get 1000 business cards made.  They simply said, “James Wells, Tarot Consultant” and displayed my phone number.  These got around and more people started to call.  People told me that the sessions they experienced with me helped them see things in a good way, so I began to wonder what I did that made our times with the cards so beneficial.  That’s when I started to teach workshops and classes.  The process of creating a format and handouts clarified, and still clarifies, what is valuable to me as a practitioner of tarot.  The private consultations and the teaching enhance one another.

• You are considered to be one of the best tarot workshop presenters. Why do you think this is and what do you most want participants to get from one of your workshops?

I get a thrill from the “aha!” moment, so in many workshops I set up the possibility for someone in the group to have a revelatory experience.  Recently, I offered a creative exploration of people’s birth, year, and month cards (derived from their date of birth).  A psychotherapist who was in attendance suddenly blurted out, “Holy s**t!” as she had a realisation about a pattern in her life.  My heart leapt for joy.  People who attend my gatherings also comment that they feel heard, accepted, and wiser than they first believed themselves to be.  My experience with, and training in, circle process fosters these.  Circle process is a simple and adaptable communication methodology rooted in basic human practices such as attentive listening, intentional speaking, and reliance on something greater than ourselves.  In my tarot workshops, my job is to weave a container wherein people not only get information from me, but also bring their personal journey to the cards and learn from hearing their fellow participants speak about how the tarot and their lives converge.  I suppose all of that comes down to offering hands-on learning experiences rather than just talking at people.

• There are many purposes for tarot readings. What, for you, is its most profound purpose?

Two words come to mind: liberation and wholeness.  The tarot, at its best, is a marvellous lens through which we can see what IS.  When we become aware of what is, we can see our options more clearly.  Knowing that we can choose any of these is liberating.  We’re no longer victims to our thoughts about whatever our experiences, past or present, have been.  An accumulation of these liberation moments can help us to remember that at our core we are whole.  What a profound gift to those who use the tarot consciously!

See interviews with other presenters: