In preparation for our conference this year, we are interviewing each speaker to get a more in-depth idea of who they are and what they’ll be presenting. Next up is Caitlín Matthews. Read on to get to know her better!
TABI: Which card would you describe yourself with and why?
My personal favourite trump and the one I tend to identify with is the Last Judgement: I love this card because most of my shamanic work is with the Ancestors, where I use my voice for this work. The calling of the dead to arise, to step out of serial time into eternity is a powerful concept: in reality, ancestral work enables many clients who come to me with issues of ancestral causation, family fragmentation, or trailing the burdens of their forebears’ trauma or stuckness, to step into new relationship with their wider ancestry and spirits. This work is, for me, the true understanding of the ‘Judgement’ part of the trump: not a dictatorial sorting of sheep and goats, or heaven and hell choices, but about sifting and separating what needs to be left behind or detached so that the soul can move on, where the living can begin to step out of the grave and resume their lives in better balance.
TABI: When, how and why have you started to use the Tarot?
I bought my first tarot in 1969 when I came to London to attend drama school. I had always wanted one, but such things were unobtainable in Portsmouth, which had no source of supply in those pre internet days. My initial interest in them was divinatory and largely remained so.
TABI: Please give a short bio of yourself. You could include family, hobbies, work, achievements, favourite food/movie/music, tarot… whatever you think is good to know about you! (Not that there would be anyone who doesn’t know you!)
I have been a professional writer since 1986, and written 78 books on a variety of topics, including the Western Mysteries, Shamanism, Myth, Folk Story, Fiction, and Divination. In addition, I teach these topics internationally, and have had a shamanic practice in Oxford since 1990. My forthcoming books are Untold Tarot, The art of reading ancient tarots; Celtic Book of the Dead; and Lost Book of the Grail. My favourite tarots tend to be pre 19th century, and I am very fond of the petit jeu oracles of the 19th century like Lenormand, Petit Etteilla, and Vera Sibilla: these speak directly and more succinctly than modern tarots and oracles which tend to be psychologically read. Singing is the central well-spring of my life: not performance singing, but singing as prayer, healing and understanding. I would be pretty much at sea without its guidance.
TABI: Please give a short summary of what you are going to teach us at TABI’s Conference in Birmingham.
In What Wisdom Lies Within, I will explore the reasons why we do not use our many tarots more, what we can do about it, and enable us to look more closely at one unused deck we have brought, getting to know it better, so we can better judge how it might serve us and the kinds of divination that we each do. PLEASE ensure that everyone brings an unfamiliar deck, otherwise we will all have to borrow decks from each other.