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Tarot Reflections

 June 15, 2004

MARS 2004 Seminar Report
Sandra Thomson, CTGM

Sandra Thomson's specialty within tarot is that of an author and teacher. She is the co-author of three books (The Lovers' Tarot, Spiritual Tarot, and The Heart of The Tarot), the author of Cloud Nine: A Dreamer's Dictionary, and the author of a dictionary of tarot, Pictures from the Heart, published by St. Martin's Press.

She teaches tarot classes at the Philosophical Research Society (PRS) in Los Angeles, where she resides. Although she learned to read with the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, she is very fond of the Ancestral Path and the Shining Tribe decks, and uses them for comparative or special readings. She reads online for the ATA reading networks, and privately.


Sergio Leone Meets the Tarot and the Tarot Wins
A Summary of the MARS 2004 Seminar

That dynamic, mesmerizing duo of Mary K. Greer and Rachel Pollack made their annual appearance in Orange County, California, on May 21-23, 2004 at what is now known as MARS (Mary and Rachel Seminar, doncha know?). The topic for this year was The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly, to which the ladies promptly added "the beautiful," making it a quartenary.

On Friday evening, after getting a list of ideas from the audience about what these words might mean, and discussing their various root origins, Rachel and Mary moved into a 13-card group reading. For each term, someone from the audience drew a card to respond to each of three questions: (1) What is good in our lives (ditto for bad, ugly, and beautiful)? (2) How do we recognize it? (3) What action does it call for? Finally, we drew a thirteenth card as an "integration" card. We were all encouraged to do a similar exercise for ourselves after the group broke up for the evening.

Saturday was another full day of lectures interspersed with exercises and readings. Mary encouraged us to separate our cards into four piles: the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful, of course. Then from each of these piles we chose one that was the most good, bad, ugly and beautiful, and placed it on top of the pile. Mary then advised us that these were our prejudices, and to remember that when we are reading, these notions come through so it behooves us to be aware of them. Of course, one's choices change with time and with the deck selected. When I did this exercise with one of my classes after the workshop, many of the cards I chose were different, many the same—suggesting, I would think, transient likes and dislikes and those that are more permanent, i.e., those that did not change. I suggest this would be a useful exercise to do from time to time and with all of the decks that you use for reading.

In line with her new book on the Kabbalah, Rachel discussed the four worlds of the Kaballah, which exist simultaneously. We then we drew two cards for each world, which asked the questions, Who am I [in this world]? What is my task?

Throughout the remainder of the seminar, Mary and Rachel presented the seminal ideas on which they have been working the past year. Rachel gave us much material that related to her Kabbalah work and what the understanding of Hebrew letters and their origin can teach us about the way we read tarot cards. Mary has been reading books about Buddhism, and presented three of her new spreads, i.e., The Basic Life Question Spread, the Mindfulness Spread, and the Daimon-Lover Spread.

As always, each and every year, it was a weekend full of considering new ways of thinking about and reading tarot cards, the delight of being some of the first to be exposed to Mary's and Rachel's current thinking, and all this coupled with lots of experiential work. If at all possible, plan to put it on your calendar for next year, May 20-22, 2005. For more information contact Barbara Rapp, whose Crystal Cave is the sponsor, at


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