A weekend of tarot

Last weekend, I went to the North Star Tarot Conference. The conference has been around for a while—I think this is their 10th year, although they aren’t numbering them—but I hadn’t heard of it until last year, and I had a schedule conflict then. But friends who went talked about it in glowing terms, so I decided to see what it was like. I figured, even if the conference was a dud, I’d still get a mini-vacation out of it, and anything that makes January more pleasant is worth it.

The major con event of my year is CONvergence, which has about 6,000-7,000 attendees. I overheard someone saying that attendance at this conference was capped at 60 people. The change in size was a bit of a shock to my system. Wait, you mean almost all the events are in one room? In one hotel? And a rather small hotel, at that?

Programming started Friday evening. I went to a beginning class on reading for others. The setup of the main room for the conference was several large round tables that could seat about eight people each and some rectangular tables at the back for refreshments, the swap table, and some of the vendors. So we went around our round tables, with each person doing a two-card reading for the person to their left, and the rest of the table chiming in if anyone had an insight. Afterwards, there was an Imbolc ritual to open the conference officially. This was generally a cool thing, although by this time, Friday night exhaustion was catching up with me, and I confess to dozing off for a few minutes. Oops.

The altar at the Imbolc ritual.
The altar at the Imbolc ritual. The cards are rune cards.

The conference has a different card each year as its annual theme. Ten years in (assuming they started with the Fool), they’re up to the Hermit, and several of the presentations focused on that card. For whatever reason, I kept thinking the presentations were going to be different than what they turned out to be. For instance, one was called “Insights on Tarot History.” Tarot history doesn’t interest me all that much, so I didn’t push myself to get there on time and I was a few minutes late. Well, I missed the history part of the presentation by doing so, and the rest of the hour was filled with insights into the Hermit card. And I mistook Barbara Moore’s self-description of Tarot Shaman as the topic of her presentation. It wasn’t about shamanism at all, but a look at the Fool’s Journey. In fact, it was a completely new (to me, anyway) way of understanding it. The Fool’s Journey isn’t my favorite way of looking at the Major Arcana, but I have a new respect for it now.

There were non-class activities as well. The Imbolc ritual, of course. Okay, I skipped the “Tarot Tour of Italy” and the movie night/slumber party on Saturday night because I needed to recharge my introvert batteries, but the options were there. There was a labyrinth, although I never found the time to see it, much less walk it. I did make time for a massage from one of the vendors, though (aah…).

Two tarot decks.
I was intrigued by the symbolism in the Raven’s Prophecy Tarot. The Happy Tarot insisted on coming home with me despite all my rational arguments that it isn’t my usual kind of tarot deck.

Not everything was perfect. On Sunday, two complicated and intense workshops were scheduled back-to-back. In the first one, I got one of those major the Universe would like to tell you something readings, and I hadn’t been expecting that. What I needed then was time to absorb it. But there was this other presentation, and I didn’t want to miss out on it because it might be just as fascinating. I don’t think I got all that much out of it, though, because my attention was still back on that earlier reading and by this point in the weekend, my intuition was fried.

Overall, though, it was a fine way to spend a weekend, and I’m planning to go back next year. I may have found the fix for the January doldrums.

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