Updated: Jan 15
Last weekend I attended this years UK Tarot Conference in London and wanted to share some of the experience with you. This fab event bringing together teachers, authors and students from around the world, takes place every October and is organised by my lovely friend Kim Arnold. Pop here to find out more about Kim and the Conference including next year's dates and read about past conferences.
The Yeti ( my affectionate nick name for my husband) dropped me at the conference suite on the Friday morning just in time for registration. We had 2 rooms set up this year, one for merchandise, readings and nibbles and the other for the presentations. This was a really welcome upgrade on the space we had last year and it added a nice laid back vibe to an already very friendly and pretty chilled out event.
After a few hellos, nosing in goodie bags and getting bums settled in seats, the weekend was kicked off with a little meditation led by Wicca Meir Spring. As it was the 15th year of the conference, the 'theme' was Temperance ( we'll get to the trollops later ;) ) For this meditation we were asked to stand and eyes closed, feel the balance of energy in our bodies as a pendulum, eventually settling on our centres.
Kim Arnold herself followed with a talk on using Tarot as an emotional support tool. I was particularly looking forward to this workshop, having been a part of Kim's Tarot Food Group on Facebook for a while where members support each other on our personal weight loss journeys physically and emotionally, with Tarot. I knew this class would give me some more valuable tools.
We got straight into some practical exercises, choosing a court card for where we see ourselves on our journeys and then asking the cards for where they thought we were. I chose the Page of Pentacles for myself and pulled the Knight of the same suit for the cards opinion. Interesting!I know I don't always do myself justice, but this really reminded me that I'm further along my path than I tend to think I am. These courts were then worked into a 'mind map' of a problem, its challenges and how we can overcome them.
We ended with a visualisation on our court cards, joining with their energy and bringing back a message from them on how to move forward.
I had a lovely lunch and chat in the nearby square with a couple friends. Heading back to the conference hotel we bumped into Cathi Bew and Johneyfur. We were offered chips, bananas and called trollops before heading back in for the afternoon session.
For the first part of the afternoon Andrea Aste and his marvellous moustache introduced us to Tarot as a story telling machine and his deck The Book of Shadows: The lost code of Tarot. This deck is a multi media project including an art exhibition and a mockumentary on a 'lost code' of Tarot created by a fictional alchemist as well as the book and cards themselves. A huge undertaking! I've been writing a Santa list and this deck may just have found its way on to it.
We also looked at some of the stories and symbols from Tarot's history and the works of Jung and Calvino.
A fascinating presentation with a few giggles thrown in courtesy of Andrea's sense of humour and the Devil's bosom.
It was time for tea and biccies (and some gorgeous home made brownies ), but not before John Matthews and via video from the states, Mark Ryan, introduced their new book 'Wild Magic' , the workbook for the Wildwood Tarot, currently the second bestselling deck in the world.
It was as you'd expect, a brilliant reading. She read a half cross for me then had me pull a couple of extra cards for what comes next.
Finally I got to pick some charms I felt drawn to from the Magpie Oracle and place them where I felt they should go on the spread. I had a few 'Aha! moments as Carrie highlighted the symbolism of my choices. I really enjoyed the reading and feel it affirmed the direction the universe has seemed to be nudging me in, not so subtly, recently.
On to the next workshop, Chloe Mccracken took us through her findings and thoughts on the Angels of the Tarot. I'll freely admit to often rolling my eyes at the subject of Angels, finding them a bit fluffy and even cheesy, but Chloe, as always, made the talk interesting, engaging and informative. She always gives me so much to think about it. As well as looking at which Angel might be which in the cards we did a couple of Angelic spreads and were given a sheet of more to try at home. I really liked the Temperance spread looking at how we can bring more balance to our lives.
More tea! (well this is England, we are all addicts! ) and a quick break came next before the last workshop of the evening with key speaker Sasha Graham.
In this class we met an aspect of our own shadow selves and then did some card exercise. We were asked to choose a card we adore and a card we deplore at the present time. I chose the Ace of Cups and The Chariot respectively. We thought about and discussed how we use the power of each card in a destructive way and how we use it in a positive way. This was really insightful for me, especially seeing how I negatively use the Chariot energy in my life.
We then looked at our regrets and what we have learned from them with reading partners. The workshop ended with a trip in meditation through the 9th gate of the Celtic Cross to meet our fears and turn them inside out.
This was a really empowering end to a great workshop. I know I'm not the only one who had quite a deep, meaningful experience with this. My fear was of course never being able to lose the weight I want to. Turning it inside out I brought back a Star, and maybe a little tear.
The evening ended with drinks, canapes, the bursary fund auction and lots of laughter.
I was up bright and early, well early anyway, to make my way back to the venue for day two. The Premier Inn 'Good night guarantee' sadly does not include snoring husbands. Powered by caffeine and sugar I had breakfast and got going.
Wicca Meir Spring started us off again, this time with a lovely little opening ritual using the cards. Wicca's blessings always have just the right energy and tone to set us up for the day, I love them.
The first workshop of the morning was Diving with the Unseen, led by Carrie Paris. We were asked not to take photos here as we would be working with spirit energy. Carrie talked a little about the history of mediumship and how she works personally before introducing us to a photograph of a mysterious ancestor of hers we would go on to meet in meditation.
We also got to work with her scrummy Magpie Oracle which I'm now in love with. Poor 'Santa' will be getting a wish list as long as his leg this year. As table groups we tried our hands at photo reading with cards and charm casting to add detail.
This workshop really inspired me to start working with my own ancestors through divination, especially my Nan, who was definitely around this weekend and made herself known to me in various classes.
A short break for tea and more brownies and we were back in our seats for Kirsten Buchholzer from the German Tarot Association, to teach us how to move from 'despair to paradise' on the tree of life using Tarot. I have not studied much in the way of Kabbalah before so found it really interesting and learned a few things. The reading we did was a little more complex than some others with us needing to separate our cards into deck order first but none the less enlightening.
In a reading we looked at where we are now, what our paradise looks like to us and what elemental plane we can fulfil it on among other placements.
Lunch was just a quickie as we were being treated to 2 extra lunchtime mini workshops by Joanne Watkins and Tero Hynynen. Joanne talked about the importance of the mindset in interpretation and Tero took his group through a spread he had created.
The Afternoon kicked off with Steven Bright and the Celtic Cross through fresh eyes. I am not a fan of the cross. I find it stuffy and even outright boring. Steven's talk promised to bring new life to it however and he kept his word.
I found myself really engaged by Steven's views and 'gasp' am actually looking forward to trying the cross out again. I had no idea there were quite so many variations on it either. The practical part of the talk was of course to lay a Celtic Cross for ourselves. I've made a note of the cards I drew and initial thoughts to spend some more time with later.
A final tea break and Sasha Graham took the floor once more with our closing workshop 'Tarot, Romance and your Highest self'. Working with Fairytales their symbolism and similarities with Tarot readings we explored our own connection with these stories. Practical exercises included the very fun Fairy Tale Villian shadow reading and reading on how we can reach our personal 'Happy Ever After'.
I had a really profound moment in this workshop while breaking down the symbols of my favourite story and seeing where they had expressed in my life. I've always loved Alice in Wonderland and realised that for me, 'Wonderland' was always my Nan's back garden where I would escape to from anything that troubled me. I'd never made this connection before and it left me a little tearful but happy to have seen it.
We ended once more on a meditation, this time removing the challenge that is blocking us from the Happy Ever After with some beautiful audio and visuals.
The UK Tarot Conference is an event that is always over too soon. Before we know it,its time to say goodbye until next year. Speaking of next year, I've already reserved my ticket having heard that Rachel Pollack and Benebell Wen will be our key speakers! I don't know how Kim manages to pull this off year after year but she deserves a medal or 10!
Until next time,