NWTS 2022 (the Northwest Tarot Symposium) Recap

Whew! NWTS 2022 was a blast! This was Michelle and Roger of SoulTopia’s inaugural year as the organizers of NWTS, the Northwest Tarot Symposium in Portland, Oregon. And wow, what a comeback for NWTS, thanks to SoulTopia’s tireless efforts, persistence, and stewardship. This year, the tarot community really showed up for an impressive turnout, to the point where we might’ve outgrown the Monarch Hotel! Time for a bigger even more spacious venue? =)

Anyway, this is a casual recap of the event from my vantage point.

L to R: Carrie Paris, Jamie Sawyer, Chris-Anne Donnelly, and me

There was an early bird Thursday event called Co-Creator Day spearheaded by our legendary Carrie Paris of Magpie Oracle fame and the recent publication of The Relative Tarot via Weiser Books.

As a panel, we talked about the process of creating and publishing divination tools, such as tarot and oracle cards. The intersection of board games and divination also came up!

Due to work obligations I had to delay my Wednesday flight to a Thursday red-eye early morning. Didn’t even get to bed that night until 1 am! I left for the airport at 4 am and arrived in Portland around 8. But the excited energy of the space and people kept me going all day!

This year, keynote speakers presented on Friday. Author, deck creator, tarot shaman, and longtime Llewellyn acquisitions editor Barbara Moore and one of the coolest tarot people I know, Charles Harrington were the keynotes who opened for us.

They took us through rituals led by the High Priestess and Hierophant, reminded us of the importance of liminal spaces, and how we can honor liminal space. I also got the great honor of being the one who introduced them onto the stage! Btw keep an eye out for Charles’s forthcoming deck, Tarot of the Vampires.

All these photos snagged from @tirjasdyn on Instagram

Who else loves the woes of taking group selfies, where we are never all looking in the same direction. 😀 I was pretty stoked that my reading partner was Michelle Norton, who is also a TarotTuber, and who I finally got to meet in person, and…*AND*… she was using my SKT Vitruvian deck! Holy smokes!! *squee*

The above is the selfie I took of our all-in-the-family reading decks! =) Oh, not to mention, Michelle gave me a kick-ass reading!

Celebrated author, artist, and rootworker Andrea Furtick walked us through Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey with the tarot and seeing the Jungian archetypes in the cards. The journey first began earlier this year in May at TIDE 2022, The International Divination Event where Andrea was a keynote speaker and talked about twelve Jungian archetypes of personality, their counterparts in the tarot, and how to do three-card readings inspired by each archetype.

At NWTS, she completed the journey with Part II of what first began at TIDE. We were blessed with two presentations in one, since she gave us access to Part I from TIDE. During her keynote, she covered the twelve steps of the Hero’s Journey and shared three-card reading spreads inspired by each step of the journey. Which means…what we now have is a portfolio of twenty-four tarot spreads, twelve based on Jungian archetypes of personality and twelve based on the Hero’s Journey!

Btw, Andrea’s book, Wild Root: Modern Works of Traditional Hoodoo Magick is set to release in March of 2023. Her decks the Afro Goddess Tarot and Afro Goddess Oracle have recently been picked up by U.S. Games for publication, so keep on the lookout for that as well. Also…she gifted everyone in attendance a green charm bag for us to use in prosperity magic. How cool!

Mat Auryn is someone whose work I have been really interested in as of late. The depth and breadth of his command over topics in both Western witchcraft and ceremonial magic have caused a lot of my occult-scholarly friends to sit up and pay attention. What’s more, his writings always remain accessible.

Mat is consistently proactive about being inclusive, and thoughtful, and most important of all, kind. I know his name is already on your radar, but I’m just reinforcing your positive first impression to let you know he’s definitely one to keep watching. If you haven’t already, check out his book reviews and deck reviews.

But back to NWTS. A thoughtful insight I loved from Mat’s keynote is the intention setting prior to readings for querents. One he shared with us: “I receive what they need to know, no more, no less.” Another great quote from him: “Do the work to be able to do the work.”

It was pretty epic that Mastering Magick launched on October 8, the Saturday of NWTS. I’ve started reading this book and so far it’s shaping up to be a really important text. Wouldn’t be shocked one bit if it ended up iconic of our era. Stay tuned for my book review! ❤

Photo by Dylan

I then did my talk, The Tarot Reader as Healer: Why Now, Why You, and How. To any attendees reading this, hope you’ve already clicked on that hyperlinked page to download the PowerPoint slides, handout, and more. ❤

The first thing you’ll realize is that the PowerPoint download includes twice the number of slides I presented on Friday. Doh. Yeah. I had to really cut it down to fit the 1.5 hour slot. But I figured if you’re someone who is going to go through the trouble of clicking on a link, typing in a password, and downloading stuff after the event, then you’re probably the type who wants the whole darn thing. So here you go. =D

I love this! Sketch of me during my talk, by Pascale Plänk Steig (IG: @chalk.artist.in.portland)

Really, though, my talk on Friday was a call. It’s a call for tarot readers to consider proactively taking on the role of spiritual advisor. Perhaps you prefer spiritual advocate, or spiritual healer. We talked through what such titles mean exactly. And then we got to the how– how do you take on the responsibility of becoming a spiritual healer.

For those who I managed to convince, that linked downloads page will get you all the reference materials and pointers you’ll need to formulate your very own tarot practice as a spiritual advocate. ❤

Saturday’s schedule of workshops was pretty spectacular. Angelo Nasios inspired me to look more into ancient forms of divination, such as cledonomancy, a form of divination where you whisper your question into the ear of a god or goddess statue at a temple, then cover your ears, go to a public square, and when you uncover your ears, the first words you hear are divinity’s answer to your question.

I also thought it was pretty funny how the “toad” card I chose for myself during Jaymi Elford’s workshop was the Five of Swords, which I journaled through. During her workshop, we explored how cards in the tarot we intensely dislike reflect an aspect of our shadow selves.

And then at Angelo’s workshop, for the prompt “Know thyself: who am I right now and what do I deny about myself that I should not?” and the card I pulled was the Five of Swords!

Mark Horn’s presentation brought a wealth of knowledge and opened new points of interest for me. The many rabbit holes I shall be skipping down over the next few months thanks to Mark’s workshop! =) In particular, I appreciated learning about the Partzufim, or the Divine Personas of the Kabbalah that bear some interesting mystical relations to the court cards in the tarot. Here’s a good worksheet to give you a general overview of the Partzufim via KosherTorah.com. See also this glossary entry defining Partzuf (s.):

Partzuf (“personae” or “profile”; pl. partzufim):

partzuf is the third and final stage in the development of a sefirah, in which it metamorphoses from a tenfold articulation of sub-sefirot into a human-like figure possessing the full set of intellectual and emotional powers. As such, it may thus interact with the other partzufim (which could not occur before this transformation).

One of the coolest presentations I had the pleasure of sitting in on was by Brandy Rachelle, who talked us through how to use tarot in criminal investigations. How do you read your cards specifically for retrieving concrete, workable information on the who, what, where, when, why, and how of a crime so that investigators can actually use that information to solve cases.

omg, I’m so thrilled and happily surprised to have gotten a shout-out!

I had a really difficult time choosing which to attend for each time slot. I wanted to go to them all!! This year, NWTS recorded all presentations on video, so attendees will be able to watch anything they missed, or re-watch anything they loved! And I definitely plan on optimizing that offer!

I mean, like, check out that line-up of workshops! (FYI: My little write-in notes are a few of the schedule changes that took place.)

really, really wanted to attend the Sunday workshops, but I was off to the airport by 10 am. =/ Make no mistake, however, I’m going to reserve weekend time to watch the Zoom recordings.

The best part of all? Hands down, the Which Witch is Which lunch panel discussion. Each practitioner on the panel represented a different perspective on witch identity and witchcraft, from whether they identify with the moniker “witch” (some yes, some no), what is witchcraft anyway, and their takes on covens, solitary practice, closed vs. open traditions, altars, ancestor work, and more.

Thank you, Mat, for giving a shout-out to Taoist ceremonial magic! And wish the incredible Onareo, who was present in the audience with me, could have also been up there on the panel to represent brujeria.

Top L: Jamie Sawyer of Sawyer’s Path, Nature Portals, Pocket of Peers, and artisan of tarot tiles. Top R: Maree Bento of Divine Muses Oracle, Lua Tarot, Lua Lenormand, and forthcoming Magical Child Oracle. Bottom L: Mary Greer. (Need I say anything more? ^_^*). Bottom R: Zaara of Playful Heart Tarot, KittenChops Tarot (Majors), and she’s currently working on Pip Speak, a Marseille deck!

I think ultimately, for me, what I like is the one-on-one connection. If any of you are reading this, you know who you are! People I’ve only had brief online conversations with I finally got to have longer in-person chats with. That is the most valuable and cherished thing to me.

with Michelle of SoulTopia, organizer of this year’s NWTS, and New Orleans psychic medium Fatima and creator of the New Orleans Oracle deck (awakenwithfatima.com)

I cherish the opportunities NWTS gave me to chat with friends old and new, talking over wine about everything from Agrippa to Etteilla and Levi, to the state of the tarot community today, from life post-quarantine to what catty thing so-and-so did this time. All of it. That’s the reason to attend these sorts of conferences.

This cocktail is called “The NWTS.” How cool is that! The Speakeasy at the Monarch Hotel created a drink just for us!

This year’s new feature at NWTS was the Friday night Meet and Greet at the Speakeasy, which I really enjoyed. Normally at events like these, it’s a whirlwind of hi, nice to meet you, thank you, bye. Like, literally.

I prefer quiet time, and a chance to get to know you. I want to know about your background, your interests in tarot, how you work with the cards, why you’re here, and what you’ve been up to. I want to leave with something memorable about you. So something like the Meet and Greet really helped with that.

If you ask me, life is short. Time is of the essence. And so I want quality conversations. I prefer to minimize the amount of time I spend on small talk. Ya know? I want conversations that share who you are, what you love, what makes you laugh, what makes you cry, your theory for how tarot works, what’s magic, and what you think the meaning of life is. And nothing less than that.

Snapshot of my NWTS haul. ❤

And, of course, the obligatory photo of my haul. Decks, books, art prints, and more!

I wish I had taken more photos. I wish I had more time to have heart to hearts with more of you all who were there, too.

I’m grateful for the newly minted memories. I’m grateful for the heart to hearts I was able to have. I’m grateful that some of my best friends for life are from this community. And for those who weren’t able to make it, I hope you’ll join us next time.

Love and toward a greater collective,

See also

11 thoughts on “NWTS 2022 (the Northwest Tarot Symposium) Recap

  1. Sally

    How fun! What a good recap–on the one hand I wish I had been there. On the other hand, I’m too shy! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and photos.


  2. Lg

    Dear benebell many years ago I bought every tarot system and book I could get my hand on and found the real tarot, but I am only interested in Chinese divination like that card set on bone divination you said could be found where you sell your other items on that site, and while studying your tao magic book I notice sometimes you resort to paganism -the Chinese are great in what they do and the 2 systems are opposed cause aleister Crowley ,elifaz levi, laury Cabot and others of the golden dawn society had their limits -Chinese systems are the make up of heaven and earth-so if you have any tarot that is Chinese or divination I’m interested, I have studied something’s on medical astrology that seem precise but with all these planets lewelen magazine and space engineers are finding in our solar system and the astro belt serving no purpose or destroyed planet -who knows I don’t believe there precise so I’m only interested in Chinese divination.


  3. Maria del Rocio Salas Valencia

    Hello Benebell!

    I am so waiting for the Revelation Tarot! It has blown my mind the profundity of the semiotics used as I have been carefully studying it here in your site. I am already enrolled in your waiting list! Hope to hear good news soon. By the way, you may call me Maria. I am from Mexico and have lived in Mexico City all my life. By the way, thank you for sharing so generously your knowledge and spiritual intelligence here. Love and blessings from here!


  4. Just like Kristin FM, I’m wondering if there is a way to purchase access to your “The Tarot Reader as Healer” link and materials if we missed getting the actual talk that was at NWTS. Bummed I missed this because your description makes it sound so wonderful. Thanks!


  5. Jo Ziggy

    Awesome recap Bell, thankyou for sharing all the joy. Your presentation and generous sharing is incredible!! Thankyou so much for the password.x


  6. Pingback: NWTS 2022 (the Northwest Tarot Symposium) Recap - Benebell Wen - Mat Auryn

  7. Pingback: Taoist Witches? What is Asian Witchcraft? – benebell wen

  8. Pingback: Reflecting on My 2022, A World (Key 21) Year – benebell wen

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