A Weekend with Newts (NWTS 2019)

A Weekend with Newts (NWTS 2019)

WOW...what a weekend! So many new ideas to work with, so much to learn, and so much fun. This year's Northwest Tarot Symposium (NWTS--playfully known as "Newts") exceeded my expectations. Whatever your level of interest in tarot--from just browsing the decks and artwork at the vendor fair, to taking classes with some of the brightest and most knowledgeable names in contemporary tarot, there is something for you at NWTS. Put it on your calendar for 2020!

I'm going to be processing everything I was exposed to for some time. Some of the info will be immediately integrated into the current project of creating/updating the Cards section of this site, some will likely be connected to blog posts and videos, and much will be integrated into my practice and workshops. If you're curious about what goes on at NWTS, or you'd like to get the flavor of some of the things I am or will be working on, here's a short blurb on each of the workshops I attended:

A Jungian Approach to Tarot - Mary K. Greer

The conference keynote that started NWTS 2019 off with a bang! Mary drew several parallels between the work of A.E. Waite (creator of the popular Waite-Smith deck) and that of Jung, demonstrating a strong resonance that the Waite-Smith tarot has to Jung's process of individuation. By extension, the Waite-Smith deck can be a way to work with addressing parts of the individual psyche such as the ego, shadow, persona(s), anima/us, and the Self as a whole. Most of the information from the presentation can be found in her book 21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card, a personal favorite of mine and one I recommend to anyone interested in working with tarot (including those just starting out). I had a lot of personal insight into my own life during the talk and working through the exercises, and renewed a spark of interest in exploring a Jungian approach to tarot and incorporating more in my practice.

Timothy Yuen, excited to be at NWTS
Getting ready for the keynote at NWTS 2019
Getting ready for the keynote at NWTS 2019
21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card

Tarot and Kabbalah: An Introduction - Murray Porath

Kabbalah is integral to the tarot of the Golden Dawn and its derivatives, including the Waite-Smith and Thoth decks, from which most of the Anglo-American decks are directly influenced or structured. While I had been introduced to the high-level concepts presented in this workshop before, it was great to revisit the basics and pick up bits I hadn't heard in other places. What I appreciated most, though, was that the workshop leader was also a teacher of Hebrew, so I was able to hear a lot of words pronounced "natively" that I had previously only read, or had heard via others that also don't speak (much) Hebrew. This workshop gave me the inspiration to create my own Tree of Life study chart (based on Kat's--Murray's wife's--wonderful chart) in the near future to help with solidifying which paths connect which Sefirot and the implications of the various pathways.

Tarot and Kabbalah
Astrology of the Minor Arcana: The 36 Decans

Astrology of the Minor Arcana: The 36 Decans - Dazmond Natalie Moravec

One of my focuses in working with tarot right now is getting a handle on the correspondences between 36 decans and the tarot pips in the Golden Dawn tradition. The astrological decans are subdivision of the 12 zodiac signs into 3 parts, making a year of 36 decans. Since each zodiac sign covers 30° of the circle of the year (360° ÷ 12 = 30° each), dividing each sign into three parts makes 36 sections of 10° each (ten degrees, from deka Greek for "ten"). There is a nice correspondence to the 40 pips if one removes the Ace from each of the four suits (the Aces have a special quality different from the others), leaving 36 cards. Thus the decans can be associated with 2-10 of each suit, each decan nicely corresponding to one card. Dazmond Natalie did a great job walking through these basic correspondences, and added a new layer with astrological triplicities that I hadn't seen before. Also, since the decans were consulted for divination with correspondences of their own by astrologers from the middle ages forward, those sources have been seen as further potential correspondences for the study of tarot. Dazmond Natalie compiled five of these sources and created a fantastic handout that brought together the older astrological correspondences with the GD correspondences

Writing Magic into Your Life with Tarot Correspondences - T. Susan (Susie) Chang

Ooooohhhh...so good! I was most excited for this workshop and left with my hopes exceeded. Susie is the author of Tarot Correspondences, my current favorite tarot book. She lead us through three ways of crafting spells using tarot correspondences--through symbolism, through Qabala, and through Planetary (Astrological) Magic--using poetry (primarily simple couplets). The melding of poetry, magic, and tarot are right up my alley. It even happened that of all the 100+ charts and tables in this 400-page book, the one page/chart I have dog-eared was one she used to introduce the section on Planetary Magic. Love it! (Not to mention a string of synchronicities with the Page/Princess of Swords this weekend...a story for another time.) Check out her book and podcast Fortune's Wheelhouse, co-hosted with Mel Meleen, if you are into the esoteric side of tarot.

With T. Susan (Susie) Chang, NWTS 2019
Tarot Correspondences, NWTS 2019
Tarot Correspondences, NWTS 2019

Tarot as a Transformative Rite - Jaymi Elford

Jaymi's workshop offered a way to construct and use tarot in a time-bounded ritual for personal transformation focusing on a goal--for example, wanting to create a new handmade crafts business within the next 12 months, or forming a new habit and perspective on healthy eating over the next 6 months. We touched on choosing the right elements to sustain the practice, adjunct supportive modalities (like going to the gym, receiving financial or personal counseling, etc.), choosing spiritual allies, and more. Jaymi has just published a book, from which the content of this workshop was derived.

Tarot Squared, Updating the Celtic Cross into the 21st Century - Fred West

Fred's workshop offered a revised Celtic Cross spread. One of the most well-known and widely used spreads, the Celtic Cross was presented by A.E. Waite along with the original Waite-Smith deck, and appears as the spread of the little white book (LWB) that come with every Waite-Smith deck since. His take was insightful and I can see using this spread with just a bit of practice. Fred organizes the San Diego Cartomancer Collective.

Practical Shapeshifting and Tarot - Jay DeForest

Jay's workshop was an exploration of practicing and using natural shapeshifting abilities--that is, the ability of our body to create a structure to hold the energy of our attention. For example, the postures, facial expressions, and "vibe" of someone that is afraid, or confident, or at ease tell a story and reflect a certain kind of energy. We all adapt different "personas" for different social situations and to express certain relationships. The practice is very familiar to me through aikido training, and is apparent to anyone who has watched a good actor take on a role and "shapeshift" into someone else completely. The workshop was showing ways to invoke the spirit of the cards of tarot (especially the Major Arcana) to bring it's energy and personality to a situation. Jay is one of the organizers for NWTS (along with his partner Jadzia).

Marketing 101 For Tarot Readers - Charles (Charlie) Harrington

Great little overview on marketing oneself that all small business owners should learn, along with specifics for tarot readers. I got some great ideas from this workshop, as well as a useful new spread that I can see using fairly frequently.

Tarot Rituals and Creating Sacred Space for Readings - Ethony Dawn

Always a lively and entertaining presenter, Ethony shared with us a glimpse into her daily rituals connected to readings and how we might construct our own. Lots of fantastic and practical bits to work with in my own practice. Ethony organizes the Tarot Readers Academy and Awakened Soul Coven.

A big shout-out to Jay and Jadzia DeForest for organizing this homecoming, to all the volunteers who kept it running, and to the workshop leaders and attendees who made this event so much more than a conference. Looking forward to 2020!

The Newts of NWTS 2019 consulting Zoltar

The Newts of NWTS 2019 consulting Zoltar