I just returned home from the Northwest Tarot Symposium (NWTS) this week, and despite
2100 miles, 7 hours of travel and 2 planes headed home, I am still filled with the magic from this past weekend! I hadn’t attended NWTS prior to the last one in 2020 as the pandemic hit, but I knew that it was going to be good because the new owners are Michelle and Roger Welch of SoulTopia in Dallas, TX. I attended and spoke at the Welch’s new conference, The International Divination Event (TIDE), this past summer and it was a hit; you can check out my recap and review of the event here.
Great speakers, both Keynote and Featured!
Barbara Moore and Charles Harrington kicked off the conference talking about the importance of liminal space and setting the stage as readers, along with several great techniques to test out on our own. One of the challenges was to read for someone without taking a question, but since I normally read that way, I forced myself to take a question and it was interesting to see how the cards played out with context beforehand.
Matt Auryn and Benebell Wen also both had fantastic presentations with topics that are incredibly valuable for those that read tarot for others. Matt covered several issues tarot readers face like what to do in the event that you feel your client is dangerous, as well as having the cognizance that the way in which you deliver a message is just as important as the message itself. Benebell talked about tarot readers as healers in the sense that we have a specialized set of skills that enable us to help clients with their physical health through the spiritual lens, and how to do it in a way that you aren’t acting as a licensed professional (unless you are one) or putting yourself at risk for legal recourse. This was the first time that I have had the pleasure of listening to Benebell and I absolutely love her approach to research and teaching. If you love the way that I go down rabbit holes and basically act as a walking dictionary filled with fascination with the world, you’ll love Benebell.
As a Hermetic Metaphysician, Qabalistic Magician and Symbolist with a background in psychology and hard science, my favorite Featured Speaker classes hands-down were Mark Horn’s “Kabbalistic Tarot as a Spiritual Path”, Siddharth Ramakrishnan's "The Neuroscience of Tarot", and Jennifer Steidley’s “Symbol Layer Cake”. If you do not have Jennifer’s newly released Tarot Disassembled deck and accompanying book, I cannot recommend it enough; this deck is incredibly unique and genius in my opinion. Mark did not have any copies of his book, Tarot & The Gates of Light: A Kabbalistic Path to Liberation, but I most definitely will be ordering it.
Ethony Dawn was hilarious as always and dove into the symbolism in the background scenes. James Divine wowed the audience with his analysis of hands and comparison to the tarot court cards as significators. Jamie Sawyer, one of the most creative people that I have ever met, did a really cool class using these newt (get it…NWTS) casting sheets featured above. Despite not being a fan of Lenormand or Oracle, I fell in love with her Nature Portals Oracle and Linocut Lenormand. Jamie truly is an artistic genius and should be the featured artist at next year's TIDE or NWTS in my opinion. Catiara Marie did a class on my favorite style of reading, losing the spread and just reading the atmosphere. If you’ve had a reading by me then you know my readings start out with no questions asked as I like to just read what I see, Cat’s class is right up that alley of strengthening your intuition and reading abilities by strictly reading instead of focusing on defining (checkout Jennifer Steidley and me swapping readings below). Jen Sankey of The Cartomancer Magazine had participants do a tarot twist by getting playful and lighthearted with their cards including a known favorite of mine, murder mystery! Using a specific division and placement of the cards, by majors, minor, and courts, you let the cards tell a tale of murder just like old school Clue!
Tarot for Criminal Investigation
Tarot for Criminal Investigation went really well! I wasn’t sure what to expect at NWTS because of the change in demographics and the class needing to be shortened to 45 minutes, but everyone seemed to really enjoy it. I can’t wait to watch the replay; the number of whole audience gasps, “oooh”, “aaah”, and “wooow” let me know the participants were fascinated and eating it up! Think about it, mashing tarot and true crime together, it’s like playing an interactive game of Clue. Several of us met after class in the Speakeasy lounge to continue talking about the case and applying the cards participants pulled.
Special shout out to Andrew Robinson, Jaymi Elford and Matt Stoker for saving my excessively large presentation. Word to the wise, DO NOT create your PowerPoint in Canva, it does not convert correctly and the image files are huge!
Friends, New Friends & Networking!
I was able to finally meet Benebell Wen, Reese Marren of Pensive Path Tarot, Chris "Onareo", Jamie Sawyer, Jenna Diaz aka Moonlit Faye, Casey Z "Imaginary Restaurant", and the well respected Mary K. Greer face-to-face for the first time! I was also able to connect with new people like Dennis McGuire, Mark Horn, Barbara Moore and Markus Ironwood of Llewellyn. Of course I loved seeing the familiar faces of Michelle and Roger Welch, the Soultopia crew, Amy Fisher for Schiffer-Redfeather, Dan (the man) Pelletier of Tarot Garden, Madame Pamita and partner Manfred, Connie Leopold-Kick and Al Juarez, Ethony Dawn, James Divine, Matt Auryn, Andrea Furtick, and Jen Sankey. Most of my time was spent hanging out with Catiara Marie, aka Cat; we ended up being my unofficial conference buddies after we happened to sit near each other the first day and took almost all of the same classes throughout the conference. We had fun having shenanigans and most definitely should not sit next to each other at a serious event. I also spent quite a bit of time getting to know Kristine Gorman, Reese, and Jennifer Steidley.
So many amazing people and so little time, checkout this slideshow!
A Few of My Favorite Things
There were so many things that I enjoyed, it truly was a great learning atmosphere and experience.
There were only 2 tracks of classes running at the same time and I almost preferred it that way because I didn’t struggle nearly as much picking which class to attend, and then knowing that I would only have a few classes to catch the replay instead of several.
Tarot Buddies! We did these at TIDE and I am so happy that they decided to have them at NWTS. Each person had a tarot card on their lanyard and you had the mini-mission to find the person with the matching tarot card for extra raffle tickets. GREAT way to get people chatting. I had the Judgment card, very fitting on a personal level as well as the resurrection and rebirth for NWTS to come back this year bigger and better than ever (or so I hear). My tarot buddy…Roger Welch!
I loved the NWTS custom crystal bracelets, tumblers and a casting board from Jamie Sawyer that we got in our welcome pack! I know some would rather have a deck as that’s “customary” at conferences, but c’mon, custom crafted NWTS swag can’t be beat.
Raffle tickets & Prize Boxes! The raffle ticket boxes were packed full of goodies, and I loved that you didn’t have to buy the raffle tickets. We didn’t have to buy them at TIDE either so I was kind of surprised to find out that you had purchase tickets in previous years. We got soooo many tickets for just attending classes and turning in review forms alone. Even though I didn’t win this time (I won two boxes at TIDE), I had fun trying! Two people even won tickets to next year’s event!
Cauldron daily card pull! They had a large plastic cauldron full of tarot cards on the front table and you could pull a card each day, absolutely LOVED IT! I hope they bring this to TIDE as well.
BINGO with Ethony and Roger! This was the most difficult Bingo I have ever participated in and by far the most hilarious entertainment at any conference I’ve ever been to. Not only did we have to Bingo on two cards on the same sheet of paper, the squares were the name of crystals, and believe me it is much harder than it sounds. People kept yelling Bingo only to find out they didn’t actually Bingo, and someone even yelled “Uno” on accident, sending the room into a roar of laughter. The funniest moment was when someone asked “can you spell that '' followed by “can you use it in a sentence”. I wish there had been a camera, it would have been like watching a consistent loop of blooper outtakes.
Madame Pamita did a Speed Friendling class much like speed dating where she pulled a tarot card and then used the matching tarot card journaling prompt from her book “Madame Pamita’s Magical Tarot” to kick start a quick 1 minute speed answer from each participant in a three person group. This is a GREAT activity that I would love to see added to each conference either Friday evening or Saturday morning before speakers begin; I made connections with 14 new tarot enthusiasts! I had an epiphany during one of the journaling prompts, the answer was so simple, and immediately bought the book at the conclusion of the class.
Madame Pamita and James Divine pulled off another successful Studio 78 Disco! Connie had me start a conga line, sure hoping someone got video or photos of it!
Check out this slideshow to spot some of your tarot community favs getting down on the dance floor!
Things I'd Like to See Next Year!
Let me preface by saying that NWTS was absolutely fantastic, these are just a few of my personal preferences. Likewise, I know Michelle and Roger will shake things up, make it their own, and each year will continue to get better and better under their new ownership.
I hope to see more scholarly & esoteric teachings being offered. Though this challenge seems to be prevalent in the community as a whole right now with the explosion of new social media readers, TikTok influencers, and the true essence of tarot being watered down to fit what is trendy. Is this a popular opinion? Maybe, maybe not. Either way, I am about depth and I would like to see more of that in the presenters. Perhaps an entire track dedicated to this type of class?
I would love to see more tarot themed activities at the conference. As I said, BINGO was an absolute blast, and I would love to see something heavily tarot influenced like a tarot themed masquerade; come to Court as your favorite court card! It could be taken even further and have a specific theme applied to all of the conference activities over the weekend like best court card inspired hat. With so many decks out there, why not pick a specific deck as the weekend inspiration. From wizard themed decks to witches, Victorian, elementals, the fae and so many more, the options would be endless! Can you tell I love a certain type of aesthetic and planning themed parties?
I’d also like to see a day dedicated to business development. They did have a co-creators day dedicated to those looking to bring a product to market, and I would really like to add a day or alternative room dedicated to networking and getting tips, feedback, and all things related to running a successful tarot business. I believe a business development day used to be part of the conference and perhaps was just not very popular.
I would love to see a custom NWTS tarot deck bag from the incredibly talented Jenna Diaz of Moonlit Faye added to the welcome packs! Even better, tag team it and have Jamie Sawyer co-create the artwork and watch Jenna craft her magic and bring it to life! No wonder they are besties and a dynamite duo.
Tips & Need to Remember for Next Time
Bring an empty carry-on or check your packing space the day before you depart home so that you have time to ship anything if need be!
The time change is a butt kicker! I went to bed at 8:30 the first night and struggled to sleep past 4 am because of my natural alarm clock being set to Central. I would definitely recommend coming in two days ahead of time instead of the day before in order to give yourself time to acclimate.
If your room lacks adequate lighting, set up your own vanity lighting by moving nightstands and removing lampshades!
Check out my last blog post on TIDE linked above for more conference tips, tricks and things to remember!
NWTS 2022: Hit or Miss?
If you weren’t able to make it this year, I can’t encourage you enough to attend next year, the Welch’s brought their A Game as expected and did not disappoint. NWTS 2022 was a HUGE HIT on every level. We had a great time connecting, learning and just living in-joy which is what this is all about! I fully expect the conference to sell out again so you’ll want to get your tickets and hotel room early! Watch the website for dates, ticket and hotel announcements. They take payment plans for tickets if I am not mistaken and I was able to book the hotel 6+ months ahead of time without having to pay until the day of checkout; some had to book at other hotels because we were full. I can guarantee you that unless there is some sort of off the wall anomaly completely out of their control, NWTS 2023 will be bigger and better than ever, just like NWTS 2022 took the cake over all the previous years (or so I hear from every single returning attendee I spoketo!).
Conference goodies (Name Badge with ribbons; NWTS custom crystal bracelet; NWTS custom tumbler; Smokey Quartz Angel from Soultopia; Praisolite wire wrapped pendant from the Psychic Fair; Relative Tarot deck bag from Moonlit Faye; Jennifer Steidley's Tarot Disassembeled deck, book, journal and cloth; Pensive Path Tarot deck by Reese Marren; Madame Pamita's "Magical Tarot" book; The "Alchemy of Tarot" and "Tarot, the Kingdom Within" by Juno Lucina; Hermitic Tarot from Tarot Garden; and the NWTS 2020 shirt!
Cards from the daily cauldron pull + a tile pull from Jamie Sawyer, card pull from Ethony, and two tarot sticker pulls!
Praisolite ring from the SoulTopia booth that I oogled over every time I went in the vending hall. Do you know how hard it is to find a size 5 ring, especially in praisiolite!
Zoltar welcoming guests to the vending hall
Me being me...what can I say, I'm a jokester by heart and love to make people laugh. Seriously though, I was picking up things that had fallen behind the curtain and suddenly felt Jack Nicholson vibes when I startled Jennifer and Cat snapped this! I told you we should not be allowed to sit next to each other at a serious event lol.
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© Brandy Rachelle
Uncredited images from my personal collection or within the public domain