This year’s conference was held at a new venue for TABI, The Ibis New Street Station Hotel in Birmingham. The venue was conveniently close to New Street Station, the food and customer service was excellent and the meeting rooms spacious, cool and comfortable. The bedrooms could have been cooler but as it happened we were in the midst of a heatwave. A Jazz Festival was in full swing for the weekend in venues nearby and attendees who had arrived early were able to enjoy the music and drinks at the bars and restaurants hosting it. Thankfully the band inside the hotel did not affect our dinner up in the dining room which also doubled as the evening’s workshop venue but it certainly would have done if we’ve used the room they had intended for us to use originally.
After a tasty dinner and lively conversation around the table, the evening workshop began.
The workshop was hosted by James Douglas, creator of the Darkwater Tarot (see the review on the blog by Margo/Treewitch). James took us through the creation of his deck and spoke with us about intuitive insight in reading images, including those of the tarot – a selection of comparable images and themes based on traditional tarot decks. There was an introduction to set the objectives and participants then worked ‘hands-on’, in groups with their own decks or copies of The Darkwater Tarot James had brought with him.
Saturday morning saw the arrival of all the attendees at the Conference, some enjoying breakfast and checking out of their rooms beforehand. What a smiling and excited group they all were and it was great to see familiar and new faces.
Once seats had been claimed and the goody bags distributed it was time for Paula Pearson our Chair to begin proceedings.
First up was Alison Cross who hosted her workshop on Tarot Genetics: Unzipping the DNA of the Tarot Court . The Court Cards are the one area of the deck where beginner and experienced readers can struggle to find useful interpretations when the cards arise in a reading. In this workshop we worked with the court cards OUTSIDE of the confines of the Tarot deck and then used new insights to help us work with them more comfortably INSIDE our Tarot readings. Alison put us through our paces in this workshop, working with each card’s element and each suit’s element to discover the personality of each and placing them within the Wheel of the Year. It was very interesting, gives new insights to work with and we are all looking forward to Alison’s book coming out soon.
A break for refreshments and then Liz Dean took to the floor with her workshop Talking Symbols: Powerful ways to revitalize your connection with your cards and to tell us about her fantastic experiences co-creating and writing the Game of Thrones Tarot for HBO.
The impetus for her workshop came from this experience, a process that taught her just how the ‘knowledge reflex’ can keep us in the past, in our archives, rather than in the present moment. And from this, she devised ‘I.I.F.’ – ‘instant intuitive focus’ – a technique which can be applied to any spread to be in the ‘now’, freeing up our creativity and powering up our intuition. Group exercises and readings helped us identify the symbols that spoke to us, we activated the symbols, worked with them as living energies, and opened the doorways to our higher self, and to other levels and forms of consciousness using various spreads.
We went behind the scenes of the Game of Thrones Tarot and along with a group interpretation of a selection of cards, we got to see why some Game of Thrones ideas were discarded (as knowledge got in the way) while other alignments between card, character and plot worked perfectly. What a treat to hear about this and to try out some new ways of working.
Lunchtime and a chance for everyone to relax and catch up with one another.
Juliet Sharman-Burke opened the afternoon session with her talk Why Does the Nearly 600-Year-Old Tarot Continue to Hold Its Fascination?
Juliet lead us through an examination of the archetypes contained in the so-called Seven Archetypal Stories to track the way they link to the images on the Major Arcana. We deepened our understanding of the myths and symbols contained in the images, because the more we understand about what underpins each card, the better equipped we are to understand them when they appear in a reading. There was plenty of interesting information to prompt us to investigate and learn even more about this subject.
Oephebia Laidi was the final workshop of the day with her workshop Tarot and Healing the Crone (Tarot and the Menopause, with an emphasis on healing mind, body and spirit to reclaim our body, mind and soul).
We spoke about the Crone, its historical importance and its place in our modern society. We explored many of the hidden symptoms of the menopause and how to spot them when doing a Tarot reading for yourself or for clients.
We practiced specifically designed spreads to pinpoint menopausal symptoms within the body, but also the mind and of course the spiritual side. Practical solutions with the Tarot and other natural therapies were suggested for embracing one of the most powerful time in a woman’s life and for men to understand and offer support to the women in their lives. An interesting workshop and food for thought for many of us personally and the people we may read for.
Then it was Raffle time and goodness me we had a wonderful collection or prizes to be won from our very generous supporters (our supporters are listed in the bottom section of our website pages). Some prizes were donated by TABI Member Juli who gifted the raffle with handmade tarot items and an adorable mini tarot bear.
Without our supporters we would not have the goody bags that every attendee and speaker receives or the prizes for the Raffle which brings in funds towards the next conference.
In closing the conference it was time for shopping and swapping and lots and lots of selfies, hugs and waves goodbye. Some attendees stayed to make a weekend of it.
Thank you to all our wonderful speakers for so generously giving their time and sharing their knowledge with us. Thanks also to our conference attendees for making the day so much fun.
Should you wish to see more photos from the Conference then head over to the Gallery which is located here.
Written by: Karen Wiederhold, Secretary and member of the Conference Planning Team