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Adrenaline and Celebration: My experience at the Northwest Tarot Symposium (NWTS)

I was a presenter at the Northwest Tarot Symposium (NWTS) in Portland at the beginning of March.

This was a beautiful gathering, and one that was particularly significant for me as a Tarot professional.

Everyone was so welcoming, the workshops and speakers were high caliber, and I am told that I rocked my presentation on Tarot and Talismans as well (yahooo!).

A full house for my presentation, even on a Sunday morning when we lost an hour of sleep to daylight savings!

I haven’t been able to write about it, or process it, or really even enjoy all the goodness that came out of it until now.

Before I flew to Portland, I felt anxious. I thought about cancelling my trip because of the corona virus, but I checked all of the travel advisories, talked to my family and colleagues, and I felt healthy and fine, so I decided to go. It wasn’t an easy decision. If I had been planning to fly for a vacation, I wouldn’t have gone. But this was a big opportunity, something that I was so proud to be a part of and so looking forward to, a serious commitment that I worked hard to achieve. I didn’t want to miss it.

It took two flights for me to reach Portland from Toronto, as well as a long stopover in between, and the experience was strange and unsettling. The airports were much less crowded than usual, everyone wiped down all surfaces on their seats and tray tables with disinfectant, the hand sanitizer was flowing wild and free. People were laughing about it, perhaps even feeling a bit sheepish about it, but they were doing it.

At NWTS people didn’t hug or shake hands, rightly so, but it took an effort to remember to do it and was often accompanied by an apology.

A couple of times I ventured over to the local Target (a novelty for this Canadian) near the hotel for some supplies, and already it was impossible to get hand sanitizer or disinfectant wipes.

I didn’t realize it fully until I got home, but I spent most of my time at NWTS in a state of high adrenaline. I was nervous about presenting, I wanted to do really well and make the long trip there worthwhile. And, I was anxious about being in a hotel, in fairly close quarters with others, constantly washing my hands and not touching anything.

Don’t get me wrong, I had an amazing time. AMAZING. Soul-feeding. I got to hang out with my Tarot tribe, to learn from some amazing mentors, I did some great shopping and also got to explore Portland, a really cool place I’ve never been to before.

I love Jamie Sawyer‘s work, brought these pieces home with me!

But, by the time I was flying home, things had changed quite a bit. Even in that short time, everyone had realized that the situation was extremely serious. The atmosphere on the flights was quiet, no more laughing or apologies. I was relived to land in Canada and get myself the heck home.

On my return, I kept my distance from people for the first day or two, but I did get in some groceries and run some errands. No one advised me to self-isolate at that point, not even when I landed in Toronto. But, I decided on my own to do that. That wasn’t a light decision either! I had Tarot clients and classes booked, and I was scheduled to perform two wedding ceremonies. I had to scramble to find someone I trusted to take over my weddings, resulting in one thankful couple and one not so happy with me.

So, I stayed home for the 14 days, which has now passed, and longer. And I plan to stay home as much as humanly possible. I know nothing is guaranteed, but I didn’t breathe a sigh of relief until I was clear of those 14 days since I landed in Canada.

Now, knock wood, I can pause, breathe, and reflect on my experience as NWTS, with happiness and satisfaction.

Here are some highlights.

Rachel Pollack gave the keynote presentation, Tarot as a Medium: Readings to Communicate with the Dead. She took a relationship spread, one that explored what both parties in the relationship were thinking, saying, feeling, desiring…but the twist was, one person is alive (the querent), while the other had passed over. Rachel took an intrepid volunteer through a deeply profound and moving reading right before our eyes, truly a magical experience for all present.

Rachel Pollack in action

For the rest of the time at NWTS, three presentations occurred concurrently, so it was extremely difficult to choose which ones to attend! I wanted to be in three places at once.

Carolina Amor‘s talk, The Alchemist Reading – Transform your Inner Iron into Gold, taught us a powerful Tarot spread that we can turn to whenever we’re feeling stuck. We called upon the elements to give us the information we needed to bring true transformation into our lives. I know I’ll be going back to this spread again and again.

Liz Worth gave us all a strong call to action in her presentation, Tarot for the New Age: Five Pillars for Spiritual Leadership. She talked about how the Tarot can remain sacred in this time of popularity, through discipline, experience, commitment, objectivity and empowerment. Her wise words and wicked sense of humor delivered a much needed and well received message. I left that room feeling challenged and inspired, and I know I wasn’t the only one.

Liz and I looking pretty happy at NWTS

Jim Barker and Madame Pamita blew our minds in their talk, Palmistry-Tarot Mashup: How to Read Hands in the Tarot. We looked at the position of the hands and fingers in the Waite-Smith Tarot, deciphered the secret symbols there, and gained an even deeper appreciation for Pixie’s masterpiece. This is definitely something I want to explore further.

Angelo Nasios took us on A Tarot Odyssey: Revealing the Greek Wisdom in the Arcana. After his presentation I had a new appreciation for the power and magic of numbers and even mathematics…something that I have resisted strongly! I loved being able to relate the wisdom of Hellenism with the cards.

I was really impressed with the wide range of topics at NWTS, the dangerously extensive Marketplace, and the down to earth and friendly atmosphere. There were professional diviners, new beginners, and those in between, all were welcome and able to get so much out of what was presented.

Always wonderful to spend time with Tarot Goddess, Ethony!

A truly magical being, I adore Carrie Paris.

I feel deeply lucky and grateful that I had the chance to participate in the magic of NWTS. Thank you to Directors Jadzia & Jay DeForest, and their dedicated volunteers, for bringing us all together. Thank you to everyone who participated in my class, and who showed me kindness and friendship.

Now, in this challenging new reality, we have the time to percolate and expand on everything we learned and experienced, I’m sure many wonderful new Tarot books, decks, collaborations and other divination shenanigans will result.

May you and yours be safe and well.

I had a Voodoo doll doughnut at Voodoo Doughnut. It had to be done.

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