American Tarot Association Cleveland Tarot Conference -
June 22-24, 2001
Article by Elizabeth Hazel
I've just returned from a fabulous conference in Cleveland!
I arrived in Cleveland late on Friday afternoon, so unfortunately missed John Gilbert's intensive tarot reading seminar that was held from 9 - 4:30.
The Friday evening presentation was given by Ray Buckland, who spoke about the Craft, the Romany, and the Tarot. He has an endless fund of interesting stories and his Romany Tarot deck is quite unusual. It features depictions of Romany life in England. He has written nearly 40 books on various aspects of divination and magic, and was initiated into Gardnerian witchcraft by Gardner's high priestess in England. What a fascinating
Saturday was action packed. I started out at 9 a.m. on "Astrology of the Pips," giving a few warm-up exercises and going through all of the planets and their pips, and ended with spread/chart demonstrations. No one looked too shell-shocked after this one - I hope everyone enjoyed it!
After lunch, Mary Greer spoke about the Court Cards, and she went through several methods of thinking about and dialoging with the court cards. Mary is a wonderful teacher, and always provides a new way of looking at the cards, no matter what her topic. As the Court Cards present special difficulties in approach and interpretation in readings, it was a welcome discussion for both beginning and advanced readers.
Barbara Wright from Llewellyn came with big boxes chock full of new decks from Lo Scarabeo, and her presentation ended up as a deck drool fest, as the attendees were allowed to come up and look through dozens of these Euro decks. This included the Tarot for the Third Millennium. This unusual deck has never been seen, so it was a special treat to be the first group to take a look. Old-fashioned etchings are combined with features like barcodes and internet addresses, a singular and bizarre combination. We all got some nice goodies from Llewellyn - the new 2002 Tarot calendar, and a deck, too! Beyond this, we saw some some proofs for Robert Place's Tarot of the Saints, and the artwork is wonderful. Really - too many special treats to list here!
The final speaker on Saturday was Nina Lee Braden, and she lit up the room with intriguing tarot exercises for personal development. She might be a serious Scorpio 98% of the time, but as a lecturer she had us rolling with laughter. Nina Lee gets some of her inspiration for her tarot exercises from songs - we did one called "You're the Top" from the Cole Porter song of the same name. She was a great treat as a speaker with her Southern accent, and finished the day's lectures on a light-hearted note.
The evening was rounded off with a banquet - a wonderful gathering of tarot-minded people. Beginners, intermediate and advanced tarotists mingled freely, and the topics of conversation were as wide-ranging as anyone could have wished. John couldn't have been a more congenial or gracious host! I had to scoot outside before going to bed to take a look at the planet Mars, which was glowing in the clear night sky.
Sunday's speakers took us in a new direction. Stephen Sterling, author of the new book Tarot Awareness, offered the first lecture of the day. His focus is on self development through meditations and visualizations with the tarot. We did a special new visualization on "bardo" space - a Tibetian word that refers to the period between lives when you get your special instructions for the next life. Stephen read several poems, both from his recent book and from a book-in-progress. These were insightful, touching, and even funny! Stephen is a part of the Mandala Labyrinth Center in Sacramento, California, which offers a variety of spiritual and metaphysical development programs. Photos of the labyrinth and the healing hut made me wanna fly west!
The final presentation of the weekend was from Louise Fimlaid. She has conducted a detailed study of numerology, astrology, tarot, and kaballah, and has amalgamated these diverse systems into a streamlined method for combining the information. For people interested in a kaballistic Tree of Life perspective on the tarot, her book seems to be a very complete presentation (contact her for copies of her book, The Spiritual Study of the Tarot). Of course, there are a plethora of ways of presenting the Tree of Life and Hebrew letter attributions; for your personal information, Louise's method presents the Fool as Aleph.
So the conference was a GREAT success, and I think everyone has a rippin' good time. I'd like to make two observations, though. First, John and the ATA do an incredible job of pulling together top-notch groups of speakers for these conferences, and more people need to make an effort to attend these events. The intimate size of these conferences means that attendees can have incredible access to advanced teachers and well-known authors that simply should not be missed. If you have a question, or have read and enjoyed someone's books, at an event like this you can walk right up to them and have a detailed conversation and get to know them. This might not be possible at the ITS Tarot Congress, which, while a wonderful, exciting event, is so large as to preclude unlimited access to authors and teachers.
My second observation (both as a lecturer and as an attender of this weekend's lectures) is: for crying out loud - ask questions!!! Come prepared - write a list of things you'd like to ask the lecturers when they're finished with their topic. The floor was opened for questions after nearly every lecture, and almost no questions were asked!!! I was stunned, frankly, at the lack of curiosity. I could have asked Ray Buckland questions for hours, but felt like I was being a total pest with all of the questions I did ask.
Elizabeth Hazel is a professional astrologer, tarotist, and rune-reader. She has been studying the tarot since the early 70's, and has an unusual collection of decks acquired through her travels in Europe. Her other interests include alchemy, history, and multi-cultural mythologies. She has been published in a variety of magazines and web-sites, and regularly attends tarot conferences. Her specialty is blending tarot and astrology. She has worked as a professional musician, performing in a variety of bands, theatrical productions, and as soloist and conductor. Her original rock opera, produced in 1990, received the "Community Impact Award" from the Arts Council of Greater Toledo. She has received awards for her original compositions and for art work. In 1995, Elizabeth began work on "The Vala Tarot". It is now complete, and she is currently seeking a publisher for the deck.
Article © 2001 Elizabeth Hazel
Page © 2001 Diane Wilkes