Time Capsule #1
The World Tarot Congress, 1997 . . .
First: Can’t resist saying that I’m over The Moon about a new Substack feature, which offers a “magazine-style” home page layout. It’s not as flexible yet as I’d like, but it’s hugely better than the old design. And I hope it will encourage more browsing.
Next: This is the first post in the weekly “Time Capsule” series, which will be highlighting some of the items I recently found in several boxes that had been missing for a while.
I think many people who have discovered Tarot in the past few years—or even since 2000—are not aware of the amazing burst of Tarot scholarship and creativity that took place in the quarter-century between 1975 and 2000. During this period, writers and artists not only built on foundations that had been laid in the 1950s by a number of Beat poets, but also added some influences that developed in the 1960s, ranging from transpersonal psychology to deep ecology.
If you are a new EP reader, I think you’d enjoy catching up on this period with the timeline I’ve offered in Transforming Tarot: “A New Revolution.” I’ll also try to tie my “Time Capsule” stories to relevant content from previous EP newsletters.
I’m starting the series near the end of that key period, with an event that was in many ways the culmination of three previous decades: the 1997 World Tarot Congress. And I think the best way to share that event is to reproduce the printed program . . . .
However. It turns out you can’t read the text very well if I just scan the pages. So I’m transcribing the text—slowly! The Congress included two full days of lectures, in four rooms, and some of the descriptions are fairly long. So today’s post will contain the Saturday program, and I’ll do Sunday in the Time Capsule #2.
By the way, each presenter submitted their own descriptions, which were printed in the program without editing.
11:00 AM WANDS ROOM
Shuffling a Full Deck: How and Why to Peek Under an Oracle’s Skirt—Thalassa
Why are we drawn to divination? What purpose does it serve? How can we get the most out of our chosen divinatory method? Thalassa will explore the impulses that drive us and the techniques we use to peak behind the Veil.
We will focus primarily on the Tarot, of course: its structure and manifold uses. We will explore different ways of looking at the three components of the Tarot—Major Arcana, Court Cards, and pips—and we will confront what we want, what we need, and what we get when we consult any Oracle, but especially the Tarot.
It will be a lively ramble down the Royal Road to knowledge, so bring a sense of humour. Questions and discussion will be encouraged.
11:00 AM CUPS ROOM
Tarot: The Door That Swings Both Ways—Julie Cuccia-Watts
Tarot will be viewed as a spiritual doorway that contains a door that swings both ways—from spirit to matter and vice versa. In this lecture Julie will conduct an open forum for discussion on Tarot symbols as they occur in dreams and visions. The symbols reveal your personal Journey.
11:00 AM SWORDS ROOM
Tarot Soul Questions and the Body of the Goddess—Rachel Pollack
When we think of readings we think of personal questions, such as ‘Will I get married?' or “Will this job work out?" In the past few years Rachel Pollack has begun to ask the cards wisdom questions, such as “What is the soul?“ or What is birth?’ For this talk she will discuss her new book, The Body of the Goddess, and ask the Tarot for its perspectives on themes of religion and the body.
11:00 AM PENTACLES ROOM
Court Cards as attitudes: Their Role as Pointer Cards in a Reading—Norma Cowie
This lecture is an exploration of how the Court Cards represent attitudes towards life. While using the Rider Waite Deck to understand how the Court Cards work as pointer cards in a reading, you will discover that they unlock a reading to a greater depth. In this exploration, an understanding of how the suits relate to the act of creating will also be discussed. Court Cards have often been referred to as the hardest cards to “read" and Norma’s explanations will aid in understanding their importance. She will go beyond traditional meanings, go beyond the Court Cards being people, and enter a world of attitudes and responses. Pages, Knights, Queens and Kings will take on a new dimension. You will learn how to relate to them in a whole new way, and gain a whole new understanding, with a whole new response.
2:00 PM WANDS ROOM
Whose Tarot?—Cynthia Giles
Almost every question or controversy that surrounds Tarot is in part about ownership. The issue of Tarot’s origins concerns ownership of the original images--who invented them and why? Or did they just emerge--and if so, do they belong to a particular time, a particular country, a particular culture? Similar questions arise on several levels, from the psychological to the legal, when artists today create new Tarots, and when publishers commission them.
In a larger sense, does the Tarot tradition belong to all its interpreters, or to some person or group who has the “true” story? How is it that some Tarot enthusiasts tend to create exclusive, rather than inclusive, versions of Tarot interpretation and practice?
These questions should spark lively debate at the least, but they also afford an opportunity for foundational inquiry about the nature, history, and practice of Tarot. One way to begin addressing them is to construct a model of relationships between Tarot and tarot, archetypes and artifacts. The model will have to include personal, cultural, practical, and artistic influences, as well as invention and enactment, response and revision, and more.
With Tarot artists, entrepreneurs, and practitioners all richly represented at this Congress, it seems an ideal opportunity to explore some of these quandaries. This presentation will be an opportunity to discuss a tentative model and consider just “whose Tarot” we're talking about at any given moment!
2:00 PM CUPS ROOM
Tarot Cards and Zen—Geraldine Amaral
In the Osho Zen Tarot Deck the practical wisdom of Zen is captured in the rich imagery of the Tarot. This presentation takes a look at the powerful combination of the Tarot’s potent symbolism and the simplicity, practicality, and spirituality of Zen. The deck and its companion book are based on the teachings of Zen Buddhism and Zen teacher Osho, and the deck and book are meant to be an initiation into the Tarot’s system of esoteric wisdom, but with the down-to-earth pragmatism associated with Zen practices. Geraldine will share a bit about her own personal work with the deck and will present a brief look at the basic tenets of Zen studies and the structure of the Zen deck. The class emphasizes the practice of using the Tarot as a tool for personal insight and inner transformation and, in keeping with the Zen practice of quieting the mind, will include a unique meditation using the Zen deck. This is a great class for anyone wishing to get to know this deck a bit better or wishing to obtain a better understanding of Zen principles and practices.
2:00 PM SWORDS ROOM
Queer Mysteries—Brian Williams
Sexual free spirits and odd birds—lesbians and gay men, bisexuals and asexuals, the transgendered and the poly-morphous perverse—have long been involved with the mysterious Tarot cards: as creators, interpreters, diviners, mediators, and healers. For almost twenty years, the women’s community has had the powerful Motherpeace Tarot of Vicki Noble and Karen Vogel, and an extensive feminist Tarot literature. Only recently, though, has Tarot culture begun to intersect with queer culture (the old insult has been reclaimed) in an extraordinary way. In this talk we’ll look at the special significance of the symbolism of the traditional cards in the light of the new sexualities—the Divine Androgyne embodied in the Temperance card, for example, or the priapic sexuality of the Devil—but we’ll also look at new decks, just published or about to be published, in which a fresh spiritual aesthetic fully emerges. These new decks are not only stunningly beautiful and powerful by any standard, they are also striking examples of a new stage of mastery in queer spirituality and art.
2:00 P.M. PENTACLES ROOM
Choice Centered Tarot and Relationships—Gail Fairfield
One of the perennial issues that arises in our lives is that of relationships. Whether we’re concerned or curious about lovers, friends, parents, children, or work associates, people impact us in big and small ways. The Tarot provides a wonderful tool for enhancing our understanding of relationships. Choice Centered Tarot helps us to explore our interactions with others in ways that leave us feeling empowered and creative. Instead of using the Tarot to predict if and when someone else will arrive, leave, shape-up, or meet certain demands, the Choice Centered approach helps us focus on our own needs and behavior. Used in this way, we can determine what we really want to do or feel within a given relationship and discover what we need to do in order to have what we want . . . or to gracefully let go.
In this seminar, we will touch on Major and Minor Arcana card interpretations as they relate to interpersonal dynamics. We’ll delve into the meanings of the suits and numbers with regard to questions about ourselves and other people. We’ll also discuss the Major cards and their significance in our relationships. And we’ll talk about the differences between upright and reversed cards in relationship readings. However, we’ll spend more time exploring how to ask choice-centered questions about relationships, how to design layouts that give us useful and insightful information, and how to apply the card interpretations to the questions asked.
Come to this workshop, prepared to practice Tarot and develop your relationships!
4:00 PM WANDS ROOM
Tarot for the Twenty-First Century—Mary Greer
The most popular Tarot deck in the world (Rider-Waite-Smith) was created in 1910 as the result of an occult revolution at the end of the 19th century. We are now empowered to create what will become the Tarot of the 21st century. What new forms is Tarot taking or has yet to take? Will they be filled with vision, heart and soul, or with crass commercialism, exploitation and quick fixes? Do we need to re-interpret the meanings of the cards, and how do we go about it? What are the issues facing us? And how are we to respond to them?
We will take a whirlwind ride through the Internet, look at the state of Tarot publishing, discover what the rest of the world is up to, and examine the issues and ethics of 900-psychic lines (are they an emerging folk-therapy or societal cancer?). Should Tarot consultants be licensed? Can anyone with a week’s worth of experience set up shop, or create a valid deck of divinatory cards? How do we protect our traditions of spiritual growth, counseling and healing, self-insight and personal development? Or does anything go? Are there only questions or are the answers right before our eyes? What does the Tarot itself have to say about all this? And what difference can we make?
4:00 PM CUPS ROOM
The Holy Qabalah and Sacred Tarot: A Divine Relationship!—Amber Jayanti
The Qaballstic Tree of Life is an ancient, yet ageless symbol that brings the personal self together with the greater impersonal Self. As such, it depicts the interactions between universal and human consciousness as well as the progressive mastery of forces that surround and play through us. The Sacred Tarot is a pictorial representation of the paths upon this remarkable glyph
Amber will lead you through an experience of Qaballstic ritual and invocation. Following that, you will have the opportunity to experience what your affinity with the Tree of Life is and may become. See this powerful diagram come alive in such as your body, mind, and spirit, the Godhead, cosmos, and all that surrounds you. Learn more about where the Tree of Life originates and how it is structured. Find out how knowledge of the Tree of Life may deepen your comprehension of the Tarot.
Mystics state that "Equilibrium is the secret of the Great Work." The Tree of Life holds the potential to expand your understanding of this ancient dictum and to bring greater balance and harmony to your life and work.
4:00 PM SWORDS ROOM
Divination, Love, and Violence: A Study of Domestic Abuse Through the Window of Tarot—Arthur Rosengarten, Ph D.
This lecture will feature a discussion of the Tarot Research Project conducted in Southern California, focused on the invisible side of domestic violence as accessed through Tarot readings. Composite Tarot profiles of both the recovering male perpetrator and the female victim, based on quantitative analysis of experimental Tarot protocols from volunteer subjects in this groundbreaking pilot study, will be explored, along with narrative translations of each group's composite spread.
4.00 PM PENTACLES ROOM
The Spiritual Tarot: The Keys to the Divine Temple—Marie-Claire Wilson
The Tarot looks at the manifest world as an illusion. And indeed, we human beings are trapped in this illusion of the world. Having understood that, we’re ready to take up the journey along the Spiritual Path.
Marie-Claire's presentation will examine examples from the 22 major arcana, by focusing on key elements such as the spiritual "keys' to understanding; numerological significance and interpretation; symbolism; and practical applications. The 22 "keys" apply to our daily lives, our circumstances, our thought processes, and our spiritual growth. It is all we need to Iearn, to understand and to use as we move through along this Earth Path.
After having resided in several countries around the world, Marie-Claire has found that everyone—no matter what nationality, culture, religion, or language—who comes to her for a reading has the same objective: to find happiness. But how? This is the most basic question of all, a question that each person asks at some point in this life.
In revisiting the outlines of this event—I’m struck once again by what an exceptional experience it was. I met attendees from Japan, Europe, and South America, and had the opportunity to share ideas with people whose approaches were quite different from my own.
I’m also realizing how much what was discussed in the Congress has carried over into my thoughts about Tarot today. Next week, I’ll make comments along those lines, and offer updates on some of the presenters.
As always . . . thanks for reading. C