Archive for August, 2010

SF BATS 2010 Report

August 29, 2010

I attended the San Francisco Bay Area Tarot Symposium yesterday. It was terrific—as it is every year.

There were three or four presentations offered each hour, and it was hard to make a selection. The sessions I ended up attending were all fantastic. Here’s a bit about each:

Leisa ReFalo’s presentation on The Planetary Star of the Magi Spread was inspired and inspiring. Leisa, host of The Tarot Connection, developed this 7-card spread for a weekly reflection. She likes to do it on Sunday when she has time for herself and leaves it out for the week. Each card represents a different day of the week, which corresponds with each of the 7 planets of the ancients: Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn. She uses candles, incense, and tarot pebbles that she made to turn the spread into a beautiful mandala and ritual centerpiece. She generously gave each attendee a beautifully designed 12-page handout detailing the presentation, one of her hand-made tarot pebbles, and a gorgeous card with the spread and planets on it, which could be used at the center of the spread. (See below.)

I did Leisa's spread today. Wonderful! I used Ellen Lorenzi-Prince's Tarot of the Crone deck and a spread cloth from the Tarot Connection shop. Looking forward to embellishing the mandala more in upcoming weeks.

I like how the Grandmother of Wands reflects the glow of the candles here.

Next up was Mary K. Greer, whose presentations are always a highlight at BATS. Mary gave a fascinating lecture—Cartomancers in Western Art from the 16th to Early 20th Centuries. I was glad to hear that she was working on a book on this topic. Her blog has some of the artwork and information she shared with us. Here’s one of my favorite paintings, which Mary shared. It can be found on her blog.

Gustave Doré - Les Saltimbanques (Entertainers), 1874

Gustave Dore Les Saltimbanques 1874

After lunch, I attended Carole Pierce’s presentation, T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland and Tarot. Last year Carole did a presentation on Yeats and the tarot, and it was exciting to see the room packed with literary enthusiasts. The crowd returned this year and was not disappointed. Carole led a close reading of the first 76 lines of The Wasteland and discussed  how the tarot reading, which Eliot incorporates into these lines, “connects to the larger themes and myths that he explores throughout the poem.”

Below is the section of the poem that includes the tarot reading:

Madame Sosostris, famous clairvoyante,
Had a bad cold, nevertheless
Is known to be the wisest woman in Europe,
With a wicked pack of cards.  Here, said she,
Is your card, the drowned Phoenician Sailor,
(Those are pearls that were his eyes.  Look!)
Here is Belladonna, The Lady of the Rocks, The lady of situations.
Here is the man with three staves, and here the Wheel,
And here is the one-eyed merchant, and this card,
Which is blank, is something he carries on his back,
Which I am forbidden to see.  I do not find
The Hanged Man.   Fear death by water.
I see crowds of people, walking round in a ring.
Thank you.  If you see dear Mrs. Equitone,
Tell her I bring the horoscope myself:
One must be so careful these days.

Carole interprets the “drowned Phoenician sailor” as the Ten of Swords, and “Belladonna, Lady of the Rocks” as the Queen of Cups, and the “one-eyed merchant” as the Six of Pentacles. The other cards are, of course, the Three of Wands, the Wheel of Fortune, and the blank card that was included in older printings of the Waite-Smith deck to which Eliot must have been referring. (As Carole points out, The Wasteland was published in 1922, and at that time, the only deck with illustrated minors was the Waite-Smith deck. Eliot describes the Three of Wands—”Here is the man with three staves.” No other deck at that time would have included a man in the image of that card.)

Carole gave us a fabulous essay that she wrote on Madame Sosostris’ reading. She has posted it on her website!

Carole Pierce talking about T.S. Eliot's The Wasteland and Tarot

Next, I attended Ellen Lorenzi-Prince’s experiential presentation—Seven of Cups: The Power of Fantasy. Ellen says, “Forget the idea of choosing just one cup; let’s drink from them all!” Cheers to that!

I always love Ellen’s presentations because we get to play with the cards and also delve into guided imagery. She began her presentation by having us reflect on this provocative question as we pulled a card: What idea has me fixated so I am unable to see other possibilities? We then did a guided meditation followed by a reading to complement it.

The final presentation I attended was Jaymi “Innowen” Elford’s, Inspiring the Muse with Tarot, Using a Tarot Deck To Tell Stories. What a great way to end the day. We pulled out our cards, and Jaymi guided us in techniques for plot ideas and character development. She also addressed how to use the tarot deck as a writing coach. It was a productive hour for me. I was able to get clarity on a fictional scene I’ve been working on.

I was sorry to have missed Emily Carding’s presentation on her new Transparent Oracle deck. (It was offered during the writing workshop, and I’ve been trying to make writing more of a priority in my life.) Anyway, I sat next to Emily during Ellen Lorenzi-Prince’s workshop, and got a glimpse of the reading she did for herself with her Transparent Tarot deck. I was blown away! This is a revolutionary deck. Images on transparent cards can be layered and configured in numerous ways.  Her reading looked much like an Exquisite Corpse collage that could have been produced by a group of surrealist artists partying in the 1920s. I got the deck at the Tarot Garden booth at BATS, and did a reading about a couple characters in my novel-in-progress. Here are a few photos to show how the deck works:

I pulled two cards for each character.

I then combined each character's cards to visually represent their feelings during a particular scene.

Here's what all four cards look like when stacked together.

I got two other decks from vendors at BATS: Stafania Boschi’s Il tarocco di Luce also from the Tarot Garden, and Robyn Tisch-Hollister’s The Minute Deck: A Tarot of 78 Quick Insights from The Tarot Connection. More on these decks in future blog entries.