Some of my dear favorites were not able to attend this year (You Know Who You Are) but those who attended were richly rewarded with serious scholarship in the art of cartomancy and serious fun in the off hours. And I have to say that my loudly-voiced complaint is still my lasting impression: There were just too many good programs to choose from. I was SO annoyed with my inability to be in three places at once to see all of the presenters' classes. If anyone out there has a spell for multiple instances of the same person in three classrooms, I'm looking for it!
Some (not all, by any means) highlights:
- Carole Pierce's study of Virginia Woolf's surreal story "The Watchtower" and how many of the images feel much like a spread of Tarot cards. I have not studied Woolf closely in the past, so this was just like a welcome home to my original college degree in literature.
- Newcomer Benebel Wen broke down just a few of the Asian written words for Fortune Telling and Divination with a look to the origins of those words as clues to their differences in meaning in Eastern culture. How wonderful to have this fresh look from a knowledgeable source! Catch her book on Amazon if you have not already.
- The always intriguing Carrie Paris shared her new project which will become the Relative Oracle, sharing old family photos for an audience participation exercise in psychometry. It was a mesmerizing exercise, stimulating for the class participants and validating for Carrie. I couldn't help but catch up with Carrie after class to talk about the photo I had randomly selected from the pile. "Carrie, I had the most interesting experience! My photo was a man standing next to a little girl who was riding a mule. I couldn't get anything at all from the girl, but had all sorts of information about the man, including the message that he wished he hadn't smoked so much." Carrie laughed and told me that she wondered who would get that picture. Our instructions were to get impressions of people from the Other Side. My photo, as it turns out, was of Carrie's own grandfather (now deceased) and of her mother who is still alive. I passed the test! I can't wait for more from the delightful Carrie!
- Mary K. Greer's discussion of Jung was great fun with slides from ancient alchemical texts juxtaposed with Tarot cards and Myers-Briggs personality typing tying in. Mary's work is always fascinating to me. When she earlier presented a choice to the SF BATS attendees between the Jung presentation and a dissection of the historical meanings of the Lovers card I was sorely torn! Why not both?? But of course, there was so little time and there are so many interesting topics. I'm holding out for a future class on the Lovers in History.
- Rana George had a fun audience-participation Lenormand game to make us stay with that all-important question that is asked when answering using three cards. Her jumbo-size cards are from her new deck coming soon, so stay tuned! Rana threatened to be "mean" to us, but that quickly went by the wayside since "mean" is just not Rana's wheelhouse!
- My own class on the Lenormand Grand Tableau was well-attended (so grateful for that!) and was a hands-on exercise with the participants setting out their cards and looking for the major landmarks in their own spread. Naturally the worst part for me was keeping the class to an hour because...well...I talk! Class members were asked to work through their readings with the tools they had (handouts handy) in a safe space. I was at least able to reassure good friends Don and Sue that the kids had not burned the house down while they were away since the clouds and scythe were nowhere near the house.
- With all the follow up questions from my own class in the hallway, I barely made it to the very end of Kristine Gorman's class on a new spread Shaking the Tree. I was so disappointed! Lucky for me that we carpooled on the way home and she kept me entertained and awake by going through her class with my very own personalized class in the car. It's an insightful spread, great for a Tarot reader who gets "stuck" when reading for themselves. Happily all my A-HA!! moments were from the spread and Bay Area traffic conditions were ideal.
- Vendor Market: I was on a budget this time or I think I would have bought at least one of everything. The vendors were excellent this year: my friend Beth Seilonen with her handcrafted decks and boards, plus: vendors of jewelry, tea, spices, crystals, pillowcases, books, decks, tiaras, boxes and the Millard Fillmore Memorial Garage Sale where bargains galore are snatched up by the clever early birds (that's Birds+Sun+Fox for you Lenormand students).
- Donations throughout the conference went to worthy causes including the SF BATS traditional donation to bat conservancy in nature and finding a cure to white nose disease. Bats are key pollinators and bug-eaters around the world and do not get tangled in your hair! But another important cause was also highlighted this year. Tarot's bright light, Rachel Pollack, is now in remission from Hodgkins' lymphoma and while still taking treatments has a GoFundMe site to help keep her going through this ordeal. The generosity of the Tarot community was evident in the huge number of delicious drawing prizes. Rachel, get well soon and come back to SF BATS!
- Finally, one of my favorite activities at SF BATS is something not specifically on the program. It's meeting with all of the brilliant attendees and vendors, veterans and newbies, where we can sit down and laugh and talk seriously about readings, decks, spooky experiences, projects, family and plans. I love my SF BATS family! And this year I had the pleasure of meeting Marieke, Benebel, Richard, Nora and Yolanda for a little extra conversation and connection. I was thrilled to see Bonnie Cehovet at SF BATS for the first time, a respected name in the Tarot community and valued reviewer of books and decks. I was gratified at the partnership between SF BATS and NWTS organizers Jay and Jadzia DeForest of Devera Publishing. From my "old-Bies" and "newbies", I felt the love and I send it right back atcha with big Aunt Marplot hugs and a reading from an obscure Sacred Text from 1971, Ace of Cups style, spilling all over your good outfit, drowning your snackplate and dripping on your shoes! Let's do it again--soon! Now, where's that cup of tea?