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Stacy Engman asked a group of today’s most dynamic artists to submit a new work based on a tarot card personally assigned by her. It’s showing May 26 – August 7, 2011 at the The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh. Along with the original Tarot cards, the exhibit features Andy Warhol’s own Tarot card collection as well as a streaming video of “The Velvet Underground, Tarot Cards 1966,” which documents Warhol’s project from beginning to end. Catch it before it’s gone!

Read more and view the slideshow at warhol.org. And read this report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Read an interview with Stacy Engman from last November at New York’s National Arts Club’s opening reception – here. With more card images here. (Thanks to Marlene.)

People regularly write me about where to take a class, so I want to remind everyone of exciting events taking place over the next couple of months. Going to a conference or workshop can be a turning point. As well as gaining new ideas and skills, some have made major life changes as a result of insights from readings and exercises, and many people become life-long friends. Since some people come back year after year, it’s a chance to reconnect and share your journey. More details are available on the EVENTS page.

Start off at the end of July with the Omega Tarot Conference, “Tarot: Fate & Free Will” (see the interviews with presenters on this blog).

Immediately following, at the beginning of August, Rachel Pollack and I will be teaching our annual five-day Workshop at Omega. This year the topic picked by Omega is The Art of Becoming a Great Tarot Reader. As always, this is the workshop for those who want to go deeply into the tarot reading process and push through to the next level. It’s all about opening to your true potential. You get lots of time to ask questions and just hang out. We combine accessing your intuition with learning secrets about the cards themselves.

August ends with the San Francisco Bay Area Tarot Symposium (BATS) at the Golden Gateway Holiday Inn (just around the corner from Fields Bookstore!). This year there will be two days of fabulous talks, great vendors, readings and lots of fun! Ed Buryn is bringing copies of his new edition of the William Blake Tarot of the Creative Imagination and I will be premiering my new book, Who Are You in the Tarot?.

At the end of September, the Association for Tarot Studies is having its TAROT CONVENTION “History & the Esoteric” at a castle in St. Suzanne, France, which is sure to be one of the most exciting tarot events of the year. While greatly saddened by the untimely death of deck creator and co-organizer, Jean-Claude Flornoy, the event will honor his memory and celebrate his tremendous achievements in resurrecting many of the earliest Marseilles-style decks. Many of the participants will be going on to Italy for the Tarot Tour (sorry, all booked up).

If you can’t travel, it’s no real problem. Take a look at the offerings at Global Spiritual Studies who are hosting a whole series of Courses and Webinars on Tarot and related subjects. I highly recommend Evelynne Joffe’s practical approach to the Kabbalah with “Living the Tree of Life” as well as webinars by both me and Rachel Pollack and many others.

Read Jason Pitzi-Waters’ report on “A Summer of Psychics” at The Wild Hunt. He begins with this CNN puff piece on psychic predictions about the economy and then examines why the media does these pieces when it’s obvious that other news commentators are going to sneer at their doing so. What’s interesting to us is that there were two tarot readers interviewed, one using a well-worn 1JJ deck and the other The Voyager Tarot.

You can view it here.

This is an interview with me by Rachel Pollack, as part of our series on the presenters at the Omega Institute Tarot Conference happening July 29-31st. You can read plenty about me right here on my blog, so let’s get on with it.

Rachel: Your work has featured endless ways people can develop their own style and ways of reading.  And yet, you are also steeped in Tarot knowledge and tradition.  How do you integrate these two sides in your teaching?

Mary: I am a life-long learner; I feel history can enhance anyone’s life, and that natural skills can be refined and augmented by study. I don’t fully integrate history and technique in my teaching, although I try to do so in my practice. Carl Jung advised that one should learn everything possible about symbols and then, when working with a dream, to forget it all. It’s a paradox involving an intelligent ‘forgetting’ that allows one to be fully present in the moment with a person’s own material. In actuality, all the learning forms a backdrop, which helps me recognize patterns that may elucidate the whole situation.

When it comes to reading tarot, you don’t need to know tarot history, just basic card interpretations and a few spreads. Some people are intuitive readers and don’t need book meanings to help people via the cards. I really try to honor this potential, so most of my class exercises are designed to develop a person’s natural abilities and insights—to help students discover how much they already know and what their own reading style is. But that’s really only a starting point.

Skill development and history are very useful when faced with crises, blocks and difficult situations. I believe it was George Santayana who said that those who do not know their history are bound to repeat it. We get stuck in old patterns of thinking and behaving, but models and techniques are available that can help us break out of these. Tarot is a kind of story-telling, and history consists of stories from the past. But, a study of history also teaches us how to evaluate these, for all stories are not equally relevant or helpful. In my longer, on-going classes I bring in quite a bit of history. I’m trying to find ways to make history more relevant to a workshop environment, because dry facts can be deadly when students are wanting and needing to experience tarot directly. It’s one of my current challenges.

Rachel: In recent years you have devoted yourself to the history of Tarot and fortune telling.  How does new knowledge of the past affect what we do with Tarot today?

Mary: History is accumulated, collective knowledge. It helps us meet challenges and opportunities that we may not have yet encountered on our own. Here’s a couple of examples.

The history of oracles and cartomancers gives me a sense of belonging to one of humanity’s oldest professions, present in every time and every culture. As an older woman I can see that this is a skill, that while practiced by men and women of all ages, has been a speciality of elder females, for which they have been revered, ignored, sought out, villanized and even killed. Caitlin Matthews expressed it eloquently at the last Readers Studio when she said, “We live on the edge for a reason, so that when people are on edge, they run towards us!” History makes us aware of just what that edge looks like, how others have met the challenges, and conditions under which an ‘edge’ existence becomes honored or dangerous. Knowing this, and seeing how other professions have improved their status, suggests possibilities for elevating this profession for myself and for those who come after.

A second example involves the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, where I have discovered that the Minor Arcana suits illustrate stories chosen by A.E. Waite. For example, Cups tells the story of one of the first Grail myths, and Swords is the foundation myth of the Freemasons. They lend a certain archetypal, psychic power to this deck that has been intuited by many who have copied the artwork, but not previously understood. More importantly, perhaps, is that when we recognize that we are living out elements of a great myth through getting cards in these suits, it gives a greater meaning to the experience and helps us to recognize possible outcomes and make clearer choices.

Rachel: You’ve worked with astrology and Tarot “birth constellations.”  Considering our theme of “Fate and Free Will,” do such structures suggest a more fixed fate than readings where we just shuffle the cards and see what happens?

Mary: There’s an old astrological axiom: “The stars impel, they do not compel.” Impel suggests an urging while compel is about being forced. I sometimes feel that life is like floating down a great river carried by a particular current made up of current events and our own character (or karma). I can go with the flow, enhance it, or fight it. I don’t think that Lifetime Cards tell us who we will become, or that Year Cards tell us what events will happen that year. I find that they have more to do with sensing the existing flow and then discerning the meaning those events can have for us. They reflect qualities that bring a sense of fulfillment—no matter what happens. Were we fated to be born on a certain day? I really don’t know, but I like to think that my Higher Self chose circumstances that would best facilitate my soul’s journey. When I live life as if that were true, then everything seems more vital, exciting and purposeful then when I don’t. Meaningful synchronicities abound, leading to ‘probability enhancement’—one of my favorite definitions of magic. In readings, I like mixing free will with considerations of chance, fate and destiny, which I hope we will do in my conference session.

See interviews with other presenters:

Marcus Katz is one of the fabulous presenters at this year’s Omega Institute Tarot Conference, July 29-31st. He lives in England’s beautiful Lake District, made famous by so many romantic poets like Wordsworth and Coleridge. Truly it is a place to inspire the soul. In addition to founding Tarot Professionals and Tarot Town, Marcus is the author of two books, Tarosophy and Tarot Flip, and a doctoral candidate in Western esotericism at the University of Exeter, where he earned his master’s degree. (Picture: Marcus at Rosslyn Chapel.)

Mary: How did you get into tarot and what motivated you to found the largest tarot organization in the world?

Marcus: When I was very young I asked what seemed to be unusual questions. When I turned 12, I was sure I had missed some important lesson at school, or teaching from my parents, that everyone else other than me seemed to have received. Everyone seemed to know what they were doing and what the world was about. Otherwise how did they know what to do, what was important, and why they should do anything? So when Tarot was taught in one of our rather spectacularly alternative lessons at the experimental school I was lucky enough to have joined at that age, I saw what Tali Goodwin, my co-author, calls a “Blank Bible”. A pictorial system in which I could make sense of the world, uniquely to my own experience. So within a weekend I had created my own deck (22 Majors only, pasted onto cardboard) and learnt enough to do readings for my friends at school. Since that time I estimate I’ve done easily over 10,000 face-to-face readings over 30 years – and am still learning.

I founded Tarot Professionals to bring full-time professionalism and consideration to the craft of Tarot study, reading and teaching. We aim to marry commercial common-sense with spiritual sensibility and now after two years are able to support other Tarot projects, such as Moti Zemelman’s Dancers Tarot and Chris Deleo’s tarot documentary, featuring Enrique Enriquez, as well as consulting on the ShindigTarot.com online video reading system. Our main ambition is to restore the spiritual dignity of Tarot. Our work to support World Tarot Day brought some 2,600+ people to the site on the day itself this year, up from 600 last year. As such we were also able to donate to two important charities, and create a positive vibe for Tarot to a wider audience. The Facebook group has gone up 840% because we invest our money back into advertising such events. For those who want to encounter Tarot in a supportive environment, we offer Tarot Town, currently approaching 6,000 members. All of these offer my own research and unique, often unpublished materials, including a rarely seen Crowley sketch from his original notebooks as one little part of the full 78-lesson course!

Mary: Your main focus seems to be on tarot education and professional support and development. What do you think a tarot reader most needs to learn in order to get the most from the cards for themselves? (Picture: me, Marcus and the Fool’s dog.)

Marcus: My main focus is indeed on education. Our Hekademia Tarot program is two-years long and now has two cohorts, totaling 50 students, on what aims to be the most comprehensive Tarot course in the world. The work that the students is producing is already astonishing us! We have a showcase of the first term’s work on the main site, where students produced “Wonder Cabinets” of Tarot, entire photographic decks and essays on the oracular tradition, all within the first two months of the course! We originally planned to have one cohort of 20 students per year, we are currently looking to fill a third enrolment in September of three such enrolments this first year!

To me, a Tarot reader needs to see the cards as a language. A language which can then express insight to them which could not otherwise be communicated. I see many students on my beginner courses who have “been reading 20 years” and yet don’t seem to have progressed beyond quite linear and mechanic readings, or “intuition”. I hope they leave my beginners course with a new excitement as to *why* they have been learning that language for so long without visiting the country in which that language is spoken, and what it can express and to what it can lead. It is not the learning of French that is useful, it is when you use the language to order a delicious meal in Paris, or get directions to a one-off music event in Geneva – that is what is useful about the language. I believe Tarot is a tool to engage life, not escape it. So every time your Tarot reading takes you to a new encounter, a meeting with a new person, an event you might not otherwise have attended, a place you might not otherwise have gone, this is Tarot teaching.

Mary: You are a trainer in Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) and other communication and business techniques, what does tarot offer individuals that none of these others does as well?

Marcus: I work with clients using NLP on a weekly basis, ranging from such issues as insomnia, addictions, weight-issues, compulsive disorders, phobias, etc. I also coach clients in performance skills such as presentations, interviews, exams, etc. This is a wide spectrum of work and what strikes me is that many of my clients lose sight of their own unfolding story when afflicted with such issues. Whilst my work with them may help us undo their curse or weave a better spell, it does not fully open out into the mundus imaginalis, the world of wonder beyond that which is presented to us. The tarot enables this world to be accessed in so many different ways.

So I see the Tarot as a reflective tool, one arising and stabilizing in the same perceptual world we find ourselves in—and we find ourselves in Tarot as the blank bible which in turn is the truth of our encounter with what arises. Tarot is the picture of the Soul’s dance inside itself, the divine dance of the Fool. It transcends all material and transient nature in which business, communication and counseling all take place, each to their own world – important in their place, however only part of the full deck of possibilities.

If you look deeply into the Eye painted on the Tower card of the Thoth deck, and turn it on its side, you will see the 0 or black nothingness of the Fool in the centre. The outside of the eye now resembles the vesica piscis of the Universe/World card. And between them, vibrating in perfect harmony between the Nothing and the All, are 22 radiating lines of gold … our Tarot.

See interviews with other presenters:

Ellen Lorenzi-Prince is one of the featured presenters at this year’s Omega Institute Tarot Conference, July 29-31st. She is creator of Tarot of the Crone and Tarot Paper Dolls, both available at The Tarot Connection, and she has a forthcoming tarot deck inspired by the ancient Minoan culture (see sample below). As well as being an innovative artist and writer, Ellen is one of our most outstanding tarot presenters, leading participants gently on their own personal journey, helping them find the story in the cards. Visit Ellen at Crone Ways. Here she is interviewed by Rachel Pollack.

Star from Tarot of the Crone

Rachel: Where some people write books you create Tarot decks.  The Tarot of the Crone, The Minoan Tarot, decks of just the 22 Trump cards–do each of these express a different side of Tarot?  Do they expand Tarot’s possibilities?

Ellen: Do my decks express different sides of Tarot and expand its possibilities? Yes. But no. Yes, because they do provide other windows and passageways. But not really, because Tarot is more of a power than an artifact, more than something with a predetermined amount of sides. It’s a power that is generative and fundamental for the artist, reader and mystic in me. Tarot is a power that is alive, and it’s a realm that deepens the more I explore it. New card images are like keys in a hall of doors. The good ones take you places.

Rachel: In your Tarot of the Crone study group you have avoided the traditional way of teaching meanings and instead developed a great wealth of readings and exercises.  Do you think we understand the cards and what they can mean for us primarily by working with them?

Ellen: Study is important. So is experience and exploration. We grow in understanding through both hands. I like to provide new experiences in Tarot because that keeps it challenging and fun for me. But the nature of the study group also reflects the philosophy of the Tarot of the Crone: immediate, personal, and transformational. I don’t take a formal approach because the deck is about the individual journey.

Rachel: You have traveled to sacred places, especially in Greece, and gone deeply into myths as living stories.  Do the mythic figures come alive in the cards?  What guidance do we get from them?

Ellen: Sometimes mythic beings literally come alive in the cards. I may get a reading that knocks my socks off, where I feel a deep and powerful voice speaking to me. Sometimes because of how the image strikes me, the context of the question or other cues, I recognize certain qualities in the voices. Qualities similar to those that speak in the sacred sites. Characteristics that allow me to give a voice a name, and through a name, a form and a story.

You can get good advice from these figures precisely because you do know their story (although never believe you know the whole of it). You know where they might be biased. You know what choices they made, what they believed and what they valued. Through understanding their story and recognizing where it touches your own, you learn how they would handle your situation, information which can help you create or avert the outcome suggested by the card.

Chariot from The Minoan Tarot

See interviews with other presenters:

 

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:

I’ve been busy recently doing a couple of interviews as well as my two-part webinar, and I wanted to make these links available.

Tarot Can Help Interview

I was thrilled to be asked recently to do an interview with Fiona Tankard from Italy. In return she offered to do a reading for me, which is included in the interview. After a couple of rough starts via Skype we had a really enjoyable talk. Then she discovered that her recording hadn’t worked. Luckily I was trying out my new iPad as a digit recorder and was able to send her the file. Ah, technology. Enjoy Fiona Tankard and myself at Tarot Can Help. Her reading for me really helped. I can’t tell you how exciting it was to be on the receiving end of a reading and get direction about a big issue.

Tarot and Change Interview

I also did an interview with Andrew Kyle McGregor in Toronto for his blog, The Hermit’s Lamp. Andrew has been asking people about change and how we, as tarot readers, handle this with our tarot querents, and what our philosophy of change is. We had a really interesting conversation that you can find here.

And be sure to check out Andrew’s monthly podcast conversations with James Wells, available here, as well as Andrew’s other interviews on change with people such as Nancy Atenucci – here.

Webinar on Cartomancers

Don’t forget that you can still access the 2-part webinar that I did through Linda Marson’s Global Spiritual Studies on “An Analysis of the Role of Cartomancers through Western Art.”  You get access to the webinar classroom where you can watch the PowerPt presentation and listen to the complete talk. The only thing you miss compared to being there ‘live’ is the opportunity to ask questions and the short after-class discussion and wind-up.

Yes/No Tarot iPad App

I was completely surprised to discover that a reading I designed for tarot.com has been turned into an app for the iPad called Yes/No Tarot (just out this month). The animated introductory scene is outstanding!—worth the price of the app for that alone. The Spread has been vastly simplified from the version available at tarot.com—the Yes or No Tarot Reading. In the App-version, you get the basic answer but the only details about the cards in the spread are a short comment for each Major Arcana (if any turned up in the reading). That’s disappointing since, in the on-line version, you also get an analysis of suits and what elements are missing from the spread. I guess the point of the app is that you get a quick answer and then can ask again (or from a different perspective) as much as you want. You can also save your answer to a journal. If you would, please leave a review or rating, as well as letting me know what you think here.

I’d love to hear from anyone who has listened to these interviews or talk and wants to continue the discussions we had there.

Now, I’m off to Readers Studio 2011.

ADDED: Check out Carrie Paris’ gorgeous new website, Learn Tarot and especially her interview with the Hierophant! My talk on “Death, Emperor and Fool”  for LETS can be viewed here.

Webinar: Mary K. Greer on “An Analysis of the Role of Cartomancers through Western Art” Part 2. This Thursday!! It’s okay if you missed Part 1 (or purchase the video recording).

Marie Aimme Eliane Lucas-Robiquet, Young Woman Drawing Cards - 1890

Sign-up here for the live “Webinar” through Linda Marson’s Global Spiritual Studies program.

from the website:

“Bravo!”, “Thanks so much for organising this”, “Wonderful stuff – great to have the images”. These are just a few of the enthusiastic responses to the first of the two sessions from internationally-renowned Tarot author and teacher, Mary K. Greer. In these webinars, Mary takes us on an exploratory journey into the role of card readers over the centuries. Purchase access to the recording of the first session NOW and register to join the live audience for the second session on Thursday 7 April at 6pm US Pacific time. Only a few places left, so be quick!

Little is known about cartomancers before the 20th century: who were they, who were their clients, where did they practice, what decks were used? Written information is scarce beyond basic instruction books and accounts of Mlle. Lenormand, who was famous for doing predictive card readings for Napoleon and Josephine in the 19th century.

An historical record does exist in genre art that depicts ordinary people going about their everyday work and recreations. In this slide presentation and talk, Mary analyses the visual content of paintings, prints and postcards showing cartomancers from the 16th through early 20th century. She brings to light both the professional and recreational characteristics of those people who practised cartomancy and reveals their largely unseen and under-acknowledged role in everyday Western society.

It’s an empowering experience for card readers to see themselves as part of a long-lived profession that ultimately goes back to the oracles and diviners of ancient times.

Live webinar requirements

All you need to participate in live webinars is a broadband connection. Only 23 places are available in the room, so sign up now to participate in the live sessions where you have the opportunity to ask questions or make comments through the room’s text chat function. Depending on the number of participants, audio interaction may be possible. If so, this requires you to have a headset and mic plugged in before you login into the room.

The webinar will be recorded for later sale, and participants in the live sessions will have free access to recordings: here.

Not many people realize that one of the most outstanding museums dedicated to tarot is in Heffen-Mechelen, Belgium. Guido Gillabel has recently posted a large number of photos documenting his collection on his Facebook Page (open to all). The museum can be visited in person by appointment. I’m posting a few pictures to give you an idea what to expect from his virtual tour. You’ll find plenty of close-ups. I’ve seen lots of decks and artifacts that I never knew existed and things that have been on my wish-list since forever. Can you find any gems that you’d like to have—like tarot socks or statues in the style of Niki de St.Phalle!

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Mary K. Greer has made tarot her life work. Check here for reports of goings-on in the world of tarot and cartomancy, articles on the history and practice of tarot, and materials on other cartomancy decks. Sorry, I no longer write reviews. Contact me HERE.

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