Reading the Antique Tarots - Tom Tadfor Little Workshop
Report by Diane Wilkes

This image of Tom Tadfor Little as Hierophant is particularly apropos for this workshop write up, since he was teaching with the intention of enabling the acolytes/participants to access traditional tarots.

So many of us have copies of the Visconti-Sforza, the Marseilles, and other traditional tarot decks that sit stacked in their boxes, collecting dust in their unused state. We have become used to pictorial images that serve as mnemonic devices and/or stepping-off points for the intuitive process and find the simply decorated pips lacking in some way. Tom spent the workshop showing us one way to personalize the pips in a meaningful way while retaining traditional interpretations of the suits and numbers. If the Hierophant is the gatekeeper to the sacred, Tom's open-gate policy makes him a Hierophant to admire.

He provided the class with a handout that introduces the concepts of magnitude and parity, and developing our own points of reference for the Minor Arcana using events from our lives. Yet he also accentuated the traditional correlations for the suits, reminding us that in Renaissance Italy, the golden coins were the province of the very wealthy and represented luxury, and Swords connoted elitism, professionalism and refined conflict.

Tom used the overhead projector to share Major Arcana and Court Card images from the Mitelli, Minchiate, and Soprafino that he found particularly engaging, but the emphasis of the workshop was on using the pip cards. He showed some wonderful examples of pips arranged in such a way that they correspond to RWS imagery, such as eight swords enmeshed, forming a claustrophobia-inducing cage.

He ended the workshop with a simple two-card reading limited to the pip cards. The first was insight into an issue, the second card providing unknown or "shadow" information. Because I was sharing a deck with Ellen Lorenzi-Prince, we also shared the reading, both of us using the same cards. We found our issues remarkably similar and spontaneously devised a quick but powerful prosperity ritual, positioning ourselves to mimic the same pattern on the Ten of Pentacles we received. This ritual, along with Tom's lecture, has made me excited about using all those dusty decks in my credenza, and I'm confident that others shared my newborn excitement about the antique tarots.

Photograph of Tom Tadfor Little as Hierophant 2002 Chris Asselin
Report and page 2002 Diane Wilkes