Los Angeles Tarot Symposium by James Ricklef

The 4/24/99 LATS (Los Angeles Tarot Symposium) was a rather small, intimate affair. The organizer, Barbara Rapp, wasn't able to devote as much energy as usual to organizing it this time around, but she didn't want to let this semi-annual event lose momentum by canceling this Spring symposium. Small or not, it was a fun event, and what follows are some of its highlights.


The first presenter was Joan Deniken, who is a Tarot reader based in Newport Beach, CA. Joan's Tarot reading techniques have been influenced by her studies with Dr. Vernon Woolf in "Holodynamics". She focused her presentation on relationship issues since that's what she sees the most of in her practice.

First she presented a chart (based on Holodynamics) of the six levels that one's relationships can be at in several different areas. This chart is summarized as follows:

The area of Physical Development entails your energy and vitality.

The area of Personal Development entails discovering who you are.

The area of Interpersonal Development entails your rapport and intimacy with another person.

The area of Social or Systems Development entails your teamwork abilities.

The area of Principled Development entails finding your higher self.

The area of Universal Development entails your level of oneness with the world.

Joan also discussed the following about relationships and attraction:

1. You have subconscious issues that are defined by the things you wanted, but didn't get, during your childhood.

2. So does everyone else.

3. When you meet someone whose subconscious issues are complementary to your own somehow, there is a personal attraction.

4. Then what you each do in your relationship is reflect back to each other what your issues are.

(This reminded me of something I once heard Ram Dass say: "Relationships are the hardest Yoga.")

The core of Joan's presentation was an eighteen-card spread that she developed based upon these concepts. There are three rows of six cards each. The six cards in each row relate to the above areas of development.

1. The first row relates to the querent. What is s/he getting out of this relationship?

2. The second row relates to the relationship. How is it affecting both parties? What are the issues, opportunities, etc. in the relationship for development in the six areas?

3. The third row relates to the person with whom the querent is in a relationship. What is s/he getting out of it?

Then Joan did a couple of readings using this spread for volunteers from the audience.


Morning Wolf gave an interesting presentation on layouts based upon sacred landscapes. She is working on a book called "The Sacred Landscape Tarot", and she based her talk on material for that book. She illustrated her talk with pictures of sacred landmarks in Ireland from her various trips there.

I will provide a detailed explanation of just one of her layouts here:

Bridgid's Well:

This is a layout intended to be used for readings about projects.

The cards are laid out in a line, with the eighth card laid horizontally across the seventh one:

1 2 4 5 6 7/8

The cards' meanings are:

1. Hidden motivations

2. Physical foundations

3. Inspiration and creativity

4. Physical action needed and the will power behind those actions

5. What needs to be repaired

6. What needs to be communicated to others ... "How to do it."

7. Possible outcome

8. Insights showing the way through to the goal

Other layouts (and sacred sights) that she presented were:

Lough Crew Cairn (for releasing fears)

The Healing Springs (for healing and nurturing)

Brown's Hill Dolmen (for transition or change oriented issues)

Proleek Dolmen (for wishes, hopes, and dreams)

Newgrange (for rebirth/renewal oriented issues)

She then presented the following considerations for developing your own layout based upon any place you find to be sacred. This can be anything from a peaceful setting in your backyard to someplace to which you've made a pilgrimage.

1. Become familiar with the physical features and the historical associations of the site.

2. What experiences have you had there? Think about how to use what you've learned from those experiences in a spread.

3. The card layout can reflect the physical layout of the site.

4. The meanings for the cards may be based upon your experiences at that site and the lessons you've learned from them, and/or the historical associations of the site.

5. The matter(s) for which the spread is useful should reflect the overall feeling of the site.


Thalassa, organizer of the San Francisco Bay Area Tarot Symposium (BATS), gave a talk on "Is Tarot Y2K Compliant?" (Yes, Thalassa does have quite a sense of humor.) Her talk was eclectic and far-reaching (she says she rambles, but I prefer a more benign description of her style) and touched on the following issues and concepts:

There is a vast amount of information today that is required for us to live, and the rate of change of this information is fast, and accelerating. Therefore, ours is a time of transition. Thalassa dates the speed up of change back to the Renaissance, and (coincidentally?) that's also about when Tarot was "born". Since then, the changes and interest in Tarot have accelerated along with, and in step with, the rate of change and uncertainty in the world.

Today there are a lot of crabby people around--many with firearms--and today we all have to face our dark side. In times of stress we, both as individuals and as a society, look for sources of information for making decisions. Hence, the explosion of interest in divinatory tools such as the Tarot.

The more people do something, the easier it is for those who follow. (This is the "100th Monkey Theory".) Therefore, we who work with the Tarot today have a great opportunity to facilitate this change, but we also have a responsibility to do so positively.

Thalassa concluded by breaking open a deck of the Cosmic Tarot and having each of us pick a card (I drew "Judgement") and note what we thought that card meant for us today. As a sort of parting gift, we each got to keep the card we drew.


Lastly, there was a little housekeeping:

The Fall LATS will be held on 10/02/99.

The Fall BATS will be held on 10/23.

Mark your calendars!