Florida TarotCon 2015: Topical, Tropical, and So Much Fun!
Florida TarotCon was my first tarot conference since WATTS in 2007. Well, I also participated in Tarot Masters in Brazil a few years ago by Skype, but, as cool as Skype is, it doesn’t count as a conference experience.
So when Marcus Katz and Tali Goodwin reached out to me with their idea of bringing TarotCon to Florida, I was thrilled to be their “boots on the ground” and help organize a fabulous event.
It took me a while to find the right venue. The DoubleTree Hotel and Executive Meeting Center in Palm Beach Gardens turned out to be the perfect place, so much so that we are already booked to return next year!
Our two-day schedule was chock full of presentations. To begin our program, Marcus and Tali showed us some never-before-seen photos of Pamela Colman Smith, and shared with us some stories of her life. Most profound was the realization that, while Pixie drew the images that have become iconic and emblematic of tarot as a whole, she herself spent only five months of her life drawing them, and did not consider herself a tarotist before or after her “big job with very little money” with A.E. Waite.
The first workshop slot Saturday morning was mine. It was fun to try to set the tone for the conference. I was thrilled with the reception my talk received. My topic was “Talk with Tarot and Find your Flow.” I taught one of my go-to tarot methods, the “tarot dialogue” as I present it in my second book, “Tarot Tour Guide.”
Next up was Ciro Marchetti, always a witty and high-energy presenter. Ciro shared with us the new deck he has just completed, a deck of “Kipper Cards”. Will Kipper become the next Lenormand in the modern cartomancy world? Perhaps.
Ciro’s presentation included a terrific animated video. His talent as an artist, his vision, and his use of technology never fail to amaze me.
After lunch, we had to choose between “Tarot and Astrology” with Corrine Kenner and “Journeying into the Tarot of the Secret Dawn” with Derek Bain. Oh, how useful it would have been to be able to clone myself!
I chose Corrine’s class, and wasn’t disappointed. The ways tarot and astrology intersect make it easier to understand both modalities.
Next, we all regrouped in our general session room for a panel discussion of Tarot Artists and Authors moderated by Mary Ellen Collins. On the panel were Lisa Hunt, Corrine Kenner, Ciro Marchetti, Marcus Katz and Tali Goodwin. They discussed publishing in the tarot world, from inspiration to copyright violation.
Our final presenter before dinner was Lisa Hunt, who showed us her artistic process by taking key words from the audience and turning them into a beautiful drawing right in front of our eyes.
Our delicious buffet dinner was held under a pavilion by the pool. What better way to share the Florida lifestyle with our international visitors than poolside dining?
Right after dinner, Jenna Matlin and I gathered folks to perform a “Tarot Trance Dance” with the intention of making tarot more accessible and acceptable to the world. Our vision is that we, as tarot professionals, might receive the same respect in society as professionals in any other field do.
Our magickal dancing event was both fun and powerful. Jenna and I had chosen twelve Major Arcana cards to dance, and found a song to go with each of them.
After the Tarot Trance Dance, it was time for “Beadstrology” with Corrine Kenner. Folks made bracelets with beads that represented each planet. I went for the wine and the company – I strung enough beads for a lifetime while following the Grateful Dead, back in the day.
The energy of that event was so lovely that a few of us didn’t leave until the cleaning crew kicked us out. It was there that Dan Horn showed me his “Tarot of Physics”. What a mind-blowing deck!
Day two of TarotCon began early, with a choice between a morning meditation with local author Margaret Ann Lembo and a round table discussion of tarot business. Of course, I sat on the tarot business panel so I missed the meditation. The comment about the business round table discussion was that, next year, it needed to be two hours, instead of a single hour. I guess that means people enjoyed it!
The highlight of TarotCon for many was the presentation from Russell Sturgess. Russell came all the way from Australia to present his findings and theories about the Marseille Tarot, and how the images and archetypes correspond with the culture and philosophies of the Cathars.
This suggests a new historical theory around the origins and meanings of the tarot symbols. At TarotCon it became clear to me that a great deal of new research and speculation about tarot history is happening right now. Spearheading that research are Katz, Goodwin, Bain and Sturgess. This work fascinates me. Somehow, understanding the past makes a clearer way for the future.
After lunch, we had to choose between learning about working tarot parties with Jenna Matlin, and relationship readings with Gina Thies. I floated between the two, and found them both fascinating and thorough. As a veteran of many, many tarot parties, I didn’t think there was much Jenna could teach me. Turns out, she has a solution for a classic party problem that I hadn’t thought to try!
I was impressed with how much Gina Thies has added to the art and science of tarot reading with her book, “Tarot Coupling.”
The final sessions of the day were Marcus and Tali. They presented their Tarosophy method of teaching tarot in just three minutes. I loved this method because it forced me to come to the cards with a beginner’s mind. I also loved being in a “hands on cards” workshop as a student. Usually, I’m the teacher. This reminded me that we are all always students.
At the end of the conference, Marcus and Tali treated us to an informal discussion of Lenormand. I will always remember a piece of simple wisdom from Marcus about the difference between tarot and Lenormand. Tarot speaks in metaphors, Lenormand doesn’t.
A wonderful TarotCon tradition is the “Survivor’s Dinner”. Those who are still at the hotel Sunday night meet for dinner at a local restaurant. A conference attendee who lives in Palm Beach Gardens helped me choose Rocco’s Tacos, which was perfect for our group.
They sat all thirty of us at a long table outside, amid the tiki torches and open fireplace. The area was resplendent with statuary that looked to us like representations of Major Arcana cards.
The food, fun and fellowship were a highlight of the weekend for me.
Every time we gather with our tarot friends, wonderful things happen. TarotCon Florida 2015 was no exception. In fact, this conference had more information, creativity, variety and fun than any I have previously attended.
TarotCon Florida 2016 will be October 8 & 9. Mark your calendar now!
Check out the following galleries to see pictures from TarotCon Florida 2015, and to purchase books from some of the presenters.
See some of our presenters in action!
Food, conversation, fellowship and fun at TarotCon!