Who’s Inspired Me
This chronological list is my way of paying homage to the tarot authors and teachers I’ve studied with since I got serious about tarot in 1998. I’ve also listed places and events, actual and virtual, where I’ve received inspiration. Click on the name to go to the website.
American Tarot Association: When I first went online in 1998 and searched for “tarot”, the ATA popped up near the top of the list. Its founder, John Gilbert, was my amiable and ever-encouraging mentor. Their education program filled in the holes left by my scattered self-teaching efforts. Doing readings on their Free Reading Network gave me invaluable experience in dealing with any and all types of questions. In 2003, I started a long-running series in their quarterly magazine called The Roots of Tarot, which forms the basis for the history section of this website.
Rebeccca Brents and Enchanted Spirit.com: It was a lucky day in 1998 when Rebecca’s website popped up on one of those early internet searches. She was my first tarot teacher and mentor, knocking the metaphysical vagueness out of my readings with her tough-love critiques. The card meanings in her book Interpreting Tarot: Reading the Book of Life are some of the most practical and useful I’ve ever seen. Her astrological ezines help me surf the energies of the cosmos more efficiently.
James Wanless: The first in-person tarot workshop I ever attended was a weekend in 2000 with James and his Voyager Tarot in an eccentric house built around boulders and trees in the hills behind Santa Barbara. This was my first experience with letting the cards speak to me instead of applying book-learned meanings to the images. I never miss James’ visits to Paradise Found bookshop in Santa Barbara where he gives mini-workshops and high-energy readings a few times a year.
Tom Tadfor Little hosted a Tarot de Marseille class on Yahoo in 2001. I still have my class notes from this transformational experience. Much of what I learned from Tom infuses my reading and teaching style. I’ve used some of his exercises for the Cartomany section of this website. He co-wrote Understanding the Tarot Court with Mary Greer in 2004. According to his website, he’s changed his name and no longer lists tarot as one of his interests.
Mary Greer: We first met at the now-defunct LATS (Los Angeles Tarot Symposium) in 2005 where she and Rachel Pollack presented workshops together. Attending the duo’s week-long workshops at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY in 2008 and 2010 are major highlights of my tarot career. Of all her books, 21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card has influenced my reading style the most.
Rachel Pollack: I’ve attended many of Rachel’s workshops and seminars at LATS, BATS and Omega Institute. Her book 78 Degrees of Wisdom showed me that tarot could be a collection of wisdom teachings as well as a fortune-telling tool.
BATS (Bay Area Tarot Symposium), the longest-running tarot gathering in the USA, got its start in San Francisco in 1991. Now happening every August in a hotel next to the San Jose airport, it’s two days packed with workshops, vendors, raffles, food and good times presided over by Bat Queen Thalassa
Teresa Michelson taught an in-depth online class on Elements and Dignities in 2006 that helped me experience the elements as living energies, not just a list of keywords. Her book The Complete Tarot Reader, published by Llewellyn in 2005, is one of the best for beginning and intermediate students.
TarotForum.net at Aeclectic is one of largest and longest-running online forums. The Tarot de Marseille and Tarot History sub-forums are the place for discussing decks and books and asking questions about tarot history. The monthly TdM reading exchange boosted my confidence in my reading abilities.
Robert Place gave a series of phone seminars in 2008 that jolted me out of the habit of relying on static spreads. I still have his illustrated handouts showing how to read the flow of energy in a row of cards, instead of plodding through them from left to right. He’s created the Alchemical Tarot, The Burning Serpent Oracle (with Rachel Pollack) and a reproduction late 15th century wood block deck that’s the first thing I’d grab in an earthquake (not a hypothetical threat around here).
Jean-Michel David‘s series of webinars in 2009 gave students a preview of his book Reading the Tarot de Marseille. This book is a unique blend of practical reading instructions and art history. His website is a treasure trove of scholarly articles.
James Wells‘ tarot counseling classes shifted me into a freer, more client-centered reading style where the cards prompt topics for discussion. James is one of wisest voices in the tarot community and often presents workshops at conferences.
Ferol Humphrey: For three months in 2011, I dialed into a weekly phone seminar and allowed Ferol to rewire my brain. Her “blurt” exercises joggled something loose in my gray matter. I still use her techniques as warm-ups to keep the connection between brain, mouth and cards running smoothly. She’s teaching tarot and doing all sorts of interesting things in her new location in New York City.
Katrina Wynne runs a rigorous and life-changing certificate program for Tarot Counseling. My big take-away, after attending in 2014, was being introduced to the writings of Arnold Mindell. He showed me the possibilities for conducting a session with the radical freedom of a Taoist martial artist.
Tarot Professionals, founded by Marcus Katz, has tons of resources on their website and operates one of the best-moderated forums on Facebook. I attended one of their numerous conferences in Dallas in 2013 and was very impressed by how well it was organized and the quality of the speakers. I highly recommend that everyone attend a tarot conference at least once in their life.
Andrew Kyle McGregor, owner of The Hermits Lamp website and brick-and-mortar store in Toronto, sponsored a series of Tarot de Marseilles webinars in early 2015. He gathered first-rate teachers and authors (Enrique Enriquez, Yoav Ben-Dov, Camelia Elias, Christophe Carozza and Andrew himself) for some mind-blowing classes that changed everyone’s approach to reading with the TdM. You can purchase these classes to download on his website. Andrew is also the creator of the deck Tarot Waiting to Happen, a very witty take on the TdM.
Brigit Esselmont is a business phenomenon and tarot powerhouse. Her mentoring program for people starting online tarot businesses, which I’m just completing in mid-2015, gives prospective entrepreneurs everything they need to know all in one place.
Still on my bucket list: Reader’s Studio, a trip to Italy, attending Robert Place’s talks at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, and some events that don’t exist yet – a conference devoted to tarot history, and tarot conferences located conveniently (for me) in Los Angeles or San Diego.