Sunday, 24 July 2011

TABI's 10th Anniversary Conference: or My Weekend of Bliss

I originally up-loaded this image to use in a post discussing the Ten of Cups in different incarnations.  My main point being that the notion of the perfect family shown in the Rider Waite Smith image often just annoys me or makes me think of unhelpful or even hurtful idealisation.  I love Emily Carding's take on this card in her Tarot of the Sidhe - so much more community-based, and about using emotion to build something powerful and creative.

And I guess in some ways, that's still what this is about :)  I've just spent the weekend with a bunch of lovely people, talking about and practising with the Tarot and with Oracle decks, experimenting with spreads, and just generally having a fabulous tarot time.

Sue on the left receiving a reading from Cilla
The first evening was spent meeting friends, old and new. The chance to chat with like-minded people is always great, and though everyone has their own perspective and other interests, that just adds to the richness of the experience.   One of the people I met is a lovely lady who's just started blogging - definitely one to watch.

On Saturday, the first workshop was presented by Cilla Conway, author of two beautiful decks: the Intuitive Tarot and the Devas of Creation. Cilla talked about how to combine oracle and tarot readings, as well as the benefits and potential pitfalls of doing so. She demonstrated with a brief sample reading for one of the participants, then had us try reading that way for each other.  Not only was it an interesting experience to be on both sides, so to speak, of the reading, it was also an interesting way to connect more with other people, getting an insight into their lives, and into how they read.

Birthday Cake and various TABI Members
After a lunch full of chatter and with the grand entrance of the gorgeous TABI 10th Anniversary cake, we reconvened for two more workshops.

First, Mary Collin spoke about "How to be a Real (Tarot) Pro". She shared lots of information on planning for success and on using social media to put yourself out there.  I loved her consistently positive and supportive attitude, and also the fact that she encouraged clarity about a vision of what you want that is based on your values. It reminded me a little of Joanna Powell Colbert, author of the phenomenal Gaian Tarot, and her striving to create abundance while staying true to what she most values, including her spiritual beliefs. The message that we can be successful without selling our souls or compromising our beliefs is one that I think is important for a lot of people in the tarot community.

Mary Collin
The final workshop of the day saw Emma Sunnerton-Burl guide us through a visualisation of the Star from the Thoth deck, and explore how to read the Thoth intuitively. This was a very practical workshop, with varied exercises, and although it confirmed for me that the Thoth deck doesn't speak to me, I found it very interesting, and highly applicable to reading with any deck.  Once again, it was fascinating to hear different people's experiences, opening up a sense of commonality and difference, and how both can lead to growth and connection.

Another thing I got from this was an interesting perspective on visualisations. A couple of us discussed how we don't really "see" much, being more auditory or verbal.  One suggestion, which I plan to try, is to do the same as a stream of consciousness journalling exercise.  We also discussed just seeing "snapshot" images, which made me wonder if this connects with our liking of tarot images, and my own preference for numerous decks - each one adds to the "stock" of images my unconscious has to work with.

Will Worthington and TABI Chair Alison Cross
After a little rest, we met again to talk with the extremely talented Will Worthington, artist for the DruidCraft Tarot, the Wildwood Tarot, and several other oracle decks. It was fascinating to hear about his artistic career path, and learn a bit about how the whole deck creation and publishing process works. We also had the chance to see some of his original works: stunning. I found it strange to hear how little respect he has received as an artist, given how well he is regarded by many in the tarot community, myself included.

In this photo, Alison was wearing some amazing grey suede shoes, but you can't really see them :(  Maybe she'll put up a pic on her blog - they were fabulous!

Group photo
Dinner was another lovely opportunity to socialise, and also saw the TABI raffle, with prizes ranging from tarot journals, books and decks to original artwork by James Battersby for the forthcoming Simply Deep Tarot with Chanel Bayless!  Later, Will judged the numerous entries in the "Create an X - The Wheel card" competition.  It was great to see the incredibly varied takes on this, and the winning entry, by Nevin, will be on the front cover of the next TABI Ezine.

Later there was a Skype conversation with Mark Ryan, live from Los Angeles, which I sadly missed. However, it sounds like it was very interesting, giving some background to both the original Greenwood Tarot, the decision and process of creating the Wildwood, and also a more general background on Mark himself.

Emma Sunnerton-Burl
On Sunday we had another two workshops.  Emma Sunnerton-Burl talked about using counselling skills when reading tarot, and there was a lively discussion of the similarities and differences between the two modalities. 

After lunch, John Matthews talked us through his part in re-visioning the Greenwood to create the Wildwood, explaining the logic behind many of the alterations. He walked us through the archetypes of the Major Arcana, then we tried out reading for each other using the powerful Bow Spread.  We finished off with a guided meditation through the Wildwood.

It was wonderful to spend the weekend so focused on tarot theory and practice, learning and exploring, and also meeting and talking with so many interesting people.  Kudos to Alison Cross, TABI's chair, for doing the bulk of the organising, and to the rest of the team, and roll on next year's conference :-)


  1. Thank you for sharing in such detail. In my dreams I'll get to a conference one day.

  2. Oh, I love going to conferences! This was my fourth. I dream of getting to the New York Readers Studio one day!

  3. This sounds marvelous, Chloë!

    I'm so glad that you got to go. BTW, I totally agree with you about the Thoth--I never connected with it, either.

    I also agree with using a variety of decks and having various images to draw from. Of course I haven't being changing decks quite as frequently lately but I still enjoy doing so.


  4. Hi MM,

    Yes, I was so glad that I got to go - I'd booked it back in February!

    As for decks, I have you to thank/blame for a number of my recent deck purchases ;) I love the variety of insights, the variations in symbolism, and just the different beautiful images. OK, so I'm a deck-aholic, and not likely to change any time soon :b