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Monday, 12 October 2015

UK Tarot Conference 2015

Hey, another UK Tarot Conference in London! This year the theme was Hanged Man -- but I missed all the themed business, because I attended the Saturday session, and nobody said boo about the Hanged Man on Saturday. Never mind! There was plenty to keep me busy, and at the end of it, I got a certificate!

Look, Ma! I got a certificate! 
Here are my highlights:

Which Way Are Your Cards Facing? by Caitlin Matthews

Photo courtesy Kim Arnold
Caitlin led us through some exercises to help make use of the directionality of cards in our readings. This is a practice I picked up by way of Robert Place and have been doing for years. I remember getting feedback from a client once a few years ago telling me that 'which way a card faces has no bearing on anything and is something that exists entirely in your imagination.' Funny how something I 'dreamed up' is a standard interpretation method!

Caitlin calls the direction the 'line of sight'. She addressed reversals and provided this mnemonic for interpreting, TAROT:

Tardy - things are slowed down or delayed
Aberrant - the card's usual effects are lessened
Restrained - stuckness, obstacles
Obverse - the opposite to upright meaning
Threatens - the card's power becomes ominous, shadowy or burdensome.

This could be of use, but I find the words a bit abstract for me. I prefer Benebell Wen's mnemonic, offered in her book Holistic Tarot, because for me it is simpler, WIND:

Weakened energy and meaning of card
Inverted meaning, ie, opposite of upright meaning
Negative influence on seeker
Delay before outcome will materialise; not all factors fully matured

You can see that the various ways to interpret reversals are there in both mnemonics, I just find the second one easier to deal with.

Two Techniques Using Direction

1. Mirror Pairs
Caitlin taught us a simple method of asking a question, selecting a number, and then cutting the deck into two piles. Count down the number of cards you selected into each pile. Turn those cards over. How does this pair relate to your issue? Swap the cards round. Does that change anything? Add a third card to resolve them. If the cards are looking in a certain direction, see what they're looking at by placing the third card in their line of sight. Try moving the card around. How does that change things?

2. Rectifying Reversals
This was something I'd never heard of. I don't tend to read with upside down cards (reversals), and so never need to 'rectify' one. Caitlin never explained what she meant by that, so I have googled it and found this quotation from Mary K Greer's book, The Complete Book of Tarot Reversals:

'If you or your client receive a reversed card but desire its upright associations, is there a remedy? Of course. A tarot reading is about becoming aware of what you are creating with your current attitudes and choices. [A card's full range of meanings] is there for you to access, but ...you are going to have to extend your imagination and exert yourself to achieve a desired change' (33).

Greer goes on to describe ways to rectify a card. Caitlin's way as demonstrated in this session is to merely draw another card and put it above the reversed card. If that card is also reversed, put another card above that.

Caitlin used this technique in what I call a 'story board reading' (and she drew that analogy as well), which is something I often do when reading for myself. You draw one card, three cards or however many. If this leads to another question, draw another card and add it to the line. Using Caitlin's two techniques of Line of Sight and Rectification, you would place the card to find out where someone is looking, and how to correct (rectify) the reversals. The reading draws to a close when the directionality is capped (for example, you've had two cards looking to the right and the next one you draw looks back at them to the left) or when the questioning comes to a natural finish. It's a 'story board' because you read, not for set positions, but by stringing the cards together into a story. (She did offer the tip of not allowing a reading to sprawl more than three lines!)

'Heresy!' by Richard Abbott

Photo by Chloe McCracken
Richard's talk was my favourite, in which he discussed ways of finding meaning in life, calling them 'mono-valence, multi-valence and omni-valence':

mono-valent - there is only one meaning per thing; only one interpretation of events (or cards)
multi-valent - there are many meanings to things, but there is still a truth
omni-valent - anything means anything, everything is one

The place we want to be is multi-valent, but in reality we move up and down the spectrum and sometimes get stuck in one spot (some deeper than others). I'm not sure why he called this talk 'Heresy', as most of us seemed quite in agreement with him.

I liked his idea of asking clients to stir the cards around (mudpie, he calls it) and select three cards. The manner they go about this, he says, shows a lot about the way they live their lives.

Lunch - 'Lenormand Magic' by Chloe McCracken

Photo by Lisa Eddy
Chloe shared her presentation on using cards in magical practice, this time using Lenormand cards. (See my notes from the Summer Tarot Festival here). The focus was on using the four elements as template when designing spells, then using the cards to help reinforce the energy and embed in the subconscious mind.

As usual, the day was packed and there wasn't much time to touch base with the people I only see once a year. But next year, it's a THREE DAY conference -- 13th, 14th, and 15th October. That sounds like the perfect year for me to finally attend all the days, and stay over in the hotel and the whole she-bang. If all the speakers and attractions appeal, I will do that. Can't wait to hear what Kim is cooking up for us.

And there's still Summer Tarot Festival (please, please in a different venue, we were wilting in the one used this year) -- and hopefully a TABI Conference. :D


  1. I take it you're a proponent of the 'if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all' school of thought :) Glad I managed an 'also ran' paragraph, at least ;)

    1. It was getting long, I was tired. I decided to be nice for once, even if by omission.

    2. :D Though I don't agree with that "for once" - you're a good person :)