Expanding Tarot into the 21st Century Weekend Workshop June 14 - 16, 1996

Day One

The workshop officially starts at 8:00PM Friday night. At that time we all meet Mary, her husband Ed Buryn and each other. After the introductions, we settle in and Mary leads a small Tarot ritual. She takes a small table, covers it with a piece of purple velvet cloth, and a beautiful cotton bandana with a large pentacle in the center surrounded by symbols of the four elements in the corners. A symbol for each of the elements is placed in each corner, a candle in a brass and red glass holder, a silver athame, a copper wand encrusted with crystals, a stone with a pentacle drawn on it, and an onyx egg in the center to represent the Majors. The Aces from a Giant Rider-Waite deck were also placed on their respective corners. We then asked the Gods/Goddesses/God/Goddess/Higher Power to bless our meeting and make it fruitful.

The First Exercise

There are 9 of us here, with different decks and skill levels. To put everyone on an even playing field, we use the William Blake deck, a deck with which none of us is really familiar. I thought this was an excellent idea. It made us all beginners, so to speak, so no one had to feel as if they did not know enough to participate fully. Mary mixed the deck on the floor and had each of us pull two cards, one face up and one face down. We were not allowed to look at our face down card yet. We went around the room and formally introduced ourselves. During the introductions we looked at the upright card and used it’s symbolism to describe how we were working creatively with Tarot at that time. We then turned over the other card and used it to describe what we would take away from the workshop that weekend. I cards I drew were II - Mystery (equivalent to the High Priestess) and Ace of Painting (equivalent to the Ace of Pentacles). Creativity turned out to be an excellent theme because everyone present was working with Tarot in some creative way, such as writing (several authors, and two Tarot Magazine editors), or artistically (two new decks in progress). Mary then went around the room asking if there was anything specific we wanted to discuss during the workshop and what we would like to get from the workshop. One of the participants had brought a deck of Angelic Messenger cards and we each pulled one. My card read: “ Your way to freedom is by total acceptance of your incredible differences.” The message was very appropriate. (If you knew me personally you would understand). We finished up around 11:00 P.M. and called it a night.


Day Two

We meet at 9:00 A.M. Mary starts by briefly explaining her “Breakthrough Process” and how she uses Permutations with the Celtic Cross Spread. We did some examples and discussed writing affirmations based on what we discovered from the Breakthrough reading. We used the two cards we pulled the previous evening to write individual affirmations. One of the topics suggested the night before was reading for Career Issues. To address this subject we broke into pairs and did a short career reading. Mary gave us a simple spread:

Card 1 - The Issue (business or career)
Card 2 - What is benefiting you
Card 3 - Where liabilities or dangers lie
Card 4 - The next step
My partner was an excellent reader and she was right on target in her reading. Many of the participants read or teach tarot professionally, so the conversation shifted into reading professionally and some of the problems on encounters when doing so. We also discussed the 1-900 lines, pros and cons and how to help those readers who work them. We broke for a Pizza lunch in the hotel lounge, where we continued discussing various issues.

After lunch, Tarot Constellations were discussed. Angeles Arrien originated the concept and Mary has written a book about them. One of the participants has done hundreds of Constellation Charts and as a result of this experience, she has taken the concept a step further, using Constellations in areas such as relationships, and career paths. She is currently working on a book about the patterns she has observed in the constellations and what they mean. We discussed various projects we had in the works and gave each other ideas on how to deal with various problems we were experiencing with our projects. At 5:15 we broke for dinner. Everyone was invited to eat with Mary and Ed at Bennigan’s, which was right next door.

At 8:00 P.M. the group got together again for “Show and Tell”. New decks were passed around, including one participant’s deck, which is a work in progress. Sample copies of Tarot periodicals were passed out, as well as articles dealing with intuition, divination, and the electronic age. A demonstration of the World Wide Web was given by yours truly. One of the participants teaches Tarot and she took us through one of her original exercises. We used the Osho Zen Tarot.

A Tarot Exercise by Geraldine Amaral (co-author of Tarot and Ritual: A Language for the Unconscious Mind, currently under contract with Samuel Weiser)

I found this exercise extremely useful. I have since used it when tackling difficulties, using just the visualization portion if I didn’t have my cards, or if using them would be inconvenient.


Day Three

We met at 8:00 for a continental breakfast. Several of the participants are authors, some published, and some looking to be published. We discussed some basics, such as how to find a publisher, what type of advance to expect, color vs. black and white printing, etc. We also discussed taking Tarot into the 21st Century, which was the theme of the workshop. We talked about where we thought Tarot was headed, where it should be headed and what we could do to make these ideas a reality. The topic then moved to Tarot and Ritual. We dismantled the altar we created on the first night and placed the cloth on the floor. We each sat around the cloth and placed our various decks along the edge. Each of us placed cards on the altar that represented where we wanted to see Tarot headed in the 21st Century. We placed the cards in a tree pattern, which started branching out in different directions. Next we placed cards to represent issues we would like to see resolved on the altar, with cards representing the solutions placed on top of them. Crystals, personal jewelry and the symbols of the elements were added. We held hands and raised and directed our combined energy into the altar. It was a powerful experience! After this ritual, we were ready for a break.

Following our break, we discussed turning our creative visions into reality and marketing. Techniques to give a better reading were discussed as well as methods of becoming more familiar with the cards. One of the exercises which I found interesting was choosing a card and then becoming that card physically. We posed our bodies as the person in the card was posed and tried to imagine what they were thinking and experiencing. It definitely put a new perspective on the card! Finally we pulled out the list we compiled the first night of things we wanted to discuss. We checked to make sure that we had covered each one of them. Next we gave out the cards which we had pulled on our first night of the workshop and reviewed the second card, which represented what we would get from the workshop. One by one we interpreted this card in light of what we had experienced that weekend. Finally we passed out our certificates. We passed them around the room and each participant signed everyone else's certificates on the back. The group presented Mary with flowers and we gave her a certificate as well. I have not related everything that we covered as space would not permit it. Mary was extremely personable and immediately made you feel like an old friend. Some of us knew each other from the on-line services and the Internet, but most of us had never met each other before. We had writers, artists and teachers. We had participants who had been reading over 20 years, and some who have been reading for only a few years. There was incredible energy in the meeting room throughout the entire workshop and even though we had just met, we meshed like we had known each other for years. The camaraderie, the exercises and the new ideas combined to make this weekend an experience I will never forget. I will have to attend one of these workshops each year to re-charge my Tarot batteries. If you ever get the opportunity to attend one of Mary’s workshops, take it! You will not regret it.

Mystery and Ace of Painting from The William Blake Tarot, Copyright 1995, Ed Buryn


This page is Copyright 1997 by Michele Jackson