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Storytelling with the Tarot

Thoth EmpressOn Wednesday, May 25th, to celebrate World Tarot Day, I led a workshop entitled ‘Demystifying the Tarot’ at a natural food store in Erin called Treehaven.  The small turnout caused a ‘rethink’ of the structure of this workshop. So, three Tarot peeps… me, a woman who had been part of our bi-monthly Tarot study group and another who I had met through the Guelph Occult Meetup group proceeded to spend 2 hours just talking Tarot. I must say, despite my initial disappointment at the turn out, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

We began by simply talking, about our favourite decks, cards we see often in our Tarot work, our past experience with the Tarot and how we work with it. The three of us asked each other questions. We moved to an unstructured comparative look at cards from different decks, looking at the differing symbols and meanings in front of us.

We then moved to a storytelling activity. I can’t give direct credit as to where I got the idea from but I won’t claim it as my own. I know Rachel Pollack does a significant amount of story-based work in the Tarot. Maybe I read it in one of her works. I was also inspired by the teacher-librarian at my school who had shared a storytelling deck with me that she was using in one of our classrooms.  Regardless, I’m sure it’s an adaptation of someone else’s idea.

To prepare for this workshop, I had previously divided the decks I brought into 3 sections: the pips, the courts and the majors.  I suggested we use these 3 piles to tell a story. We selected the Thoth deck and randomly drew our cast of characters from the courts, our theme from the majors and began developing a plot with the pips. It was a great process. At first, we laughed a little at a suggestion that the story might become risqué. We then began the process. The deck shared our sense of humour and offered up the Empress, home of abundance, fertility, and sensuality,  as our theme.

Thoth Queen of CupsWe continued the exercise by drawing the Queen of Cups as our protagonist (a supportive, but at times overemotional and menopausal mother), the Queen of Swords as a secondary character (her sharp-tongued adult daughter – although, upon reflection, maybe her equally sharp-tongued neighbour would have better suited the Queen but, for our purposes, the daughter worked fine) and then began constructing our story. Our starting plot points were the 6 of disks (success) and the 2 of swords (peace).  I believe, had our time not expired, we would have created quite the story; we appeared to be in fine form 🙂

Try the activity. Divide your deck into three sections (pips, courts, majors). Shuffle them well. Begin by drawing a card from each. Remember that your major card will remain the overarching theme of your story. Draw just one. You drew ‘The Fool’? Your story could develop into an adventure story. ‘The Chariot’? A fast-paced story a la ‘Fast and the Furious’.  ‘The Moon’? Could be a little twisted and scary, don’t you think?

You might find that, once you’ve drawn your characters, beginning your story with ‘Once upon a time, there was a …’ and then proceed to describe the character using your knowledge of the Tarot or the image presented on the card. Then make them go somewhere or do something by drawing cards from the pips.  The 6 of swords might take them on a journey over water, the ace of wands might be the sign of a new song idea or the 5 of pentacles might indicate a struggle to make ends meet.

The three of us decided that at some point, we would take this concept further. If you decide to as well, please feel free to post about here.

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‘Demystifying the Tarot’ workshop in Erin

On Wednesday, May 25th, from 6:30 – 8:30, I will be leading a 2-hour workshop entitled ‘Demystifying the Tarot’ at Treehaven Natural Foods in downtown Erin. This introductory workshop will provide attendees with a brief overview of the ‘histories’ of the Tarot, its structure, its meanings and its uses.  Its intent is to shed a little light on this ‘mysterious’ little deck. The cost of the workshop is $15 which also includes light refreshments. The cost for the workshop is payable in advance at Treehaven or at the door. Space is limited so please R.S.V.P. at whitesagetarot@gmail.com,  by calling me at 519-217-7243 or by contacting Treehaven at 519-833-9006.

I will also be available for in-person Tarot consultations on Saturday, May 28th and Saturday, June 25th at Treehaven Natural Foods from 12:00 – 6:00 p.m.  To book your consultation in advance, please use the same contact information stated above.

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What I can see in tea

Tea Leaf reading
Tea Leaf reading

On Wednesday, July 21st, 2010, I attended a divination workshop at The Reiki Centre in Alliston, Ontario. It was led by Angel Lanthier, a local Raising Energy practitioner. She led an engaging workshop on different forms of divination. But more importantly, she gave us an opportunity to explore with Tarot cards, pendulums and tea leaves. Although I always enjoy Tarot activities regardless of the audience they’re geared towards, I really found the opportunity to play with tea leaf reading fascinating. As Angel explained it (and I am paraphrasing here), tea leaf reading explores the symbols that show up at the bottom of a tea cup after it has been drunk. It is helpful  to have the ‘imbiber’ focus with intent on a pressing question or issue.

And I find this to be the key.  Symbolism combined with intentional focus is also the key to working successfully with the Tarot.  I find time and again that symbols, wherever they may be, emerge when and where we need them. The images in the remnants of tea are not meaningful by themselves but, when they draw on the symbolic knowledge locked away in our subconscious, they can be quite powerful.  Symbols draw on our existing knowledge, be it individual or collective. Why did that bird at the bottom of a tea cup, in a cloud just over the horizon, in the folds and crevises of a crumpled piece of paper or in the background of the Rider-Waite-Smith Star card jump out at you today yet you missed it yesterday? Did you see it as a dove? Or perhaps a sparrow, an eagle, a pigeon or a vulture? Each of these birds brings significantly different associations to mind. Or why not just a meaningless smudge of tea at the bottom of a cup, wisps of water vapour against a clear blue backdrop or an insignificant image on the background of a printed card?

Food for thought: In what symbols can you find meaning today? When you see one, whether it’s the man who crossed your path who bears a striking resemblance to your late father, the way the dust bunnies you’re about to sweep up look a lot like an olive tree or the shape that colourful spilt liquid forms at the bottom of the Tarot card you just drew , take three breaths and ask yourself, ‘How can what I truly see in this moment be of assistance today? What is it that I need to know from what I’m seeing right now?’

I am hosting a Free Tarot Talk on Thursday, August 19th, from 7:00 – 8:30. It will be an open discussion. I will share some activities I learned at the Readers’ Studio 2010, talk briefly about my upcoming article but mostly give people a chance to play (so, as always, bring your deck if you have one) and ask/answer questions. Please RSVP at whitesagetarot@gmail.com or at 519-217-7243 if you have any questions or are planning on attending. Tea, coffee and snacks are provided. Although not required, a small donation to help cover the costs of refreshments is always appreciated.

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March 31st Workshop

The Magician from the Gareth Tarot
The Magician from the Gareth Tarot

It all starts again!  I have a Tarot for beginners workshop starting up on Tuesday, March 31st, 2009. I always offer the first class as a come-and-see with no financial obligation. I firmly believe that guide, student and content need to connect and the best way to determine that is to allow people to come out and check it out. This popular workshop runs for six weeks and will cover an overview of the origins of the Tarot, The Major and Minor Arcana, Court Cards, spreads, games, and more. It is really intended for those who have little or no knowledge of the Tarot and are looking for a great place to start. Contact me at

whitesagetarot@gmail.com if you’re interested.

I am always available for readings in person, via telephone, IM or Skype and am currently taking booking for April, May and June, 2009.

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New Tarot Seminar Starts February 23rd

The Magician from the Motherpeace deck.
The Magician from the Motherpeace deck.
For those of you in and around the Orangeville, Ontario area, I have a Tarot for beginners workshop starting up on Monday, February 23rd, 2009. The first class is always offered with no obligation. I firmly believe that guide, student and content need to connect and the best way to determine that is to allow people to come out and check it out. This workshop runs for six weeks and will cover an overview of the origins of the Tarot, The Major and Minor Arcana, Court Cards, spreads, games, and more. It is really intended for those who have little or no knowledge of the Tarot and are looking for a great place to start. Contact me at

whitesagetarot@gmail.com if you’re interested.

If geography is a problem, the same workshop could easily be adapted to IM, Skype or email.