Tarot for the 21st Century by Mary Greer

I had the pleasure of attending a three day workshop with Mary Greer on this subject last year, so I went in expecting to hear an abreviated version of that workshop. I was quite pleased to discover that Mary covered all new material. Mary started by reviewing the history of Tarot starting in 1771 with Comte de Gebelin. In the mid - 19th century (1850 - 1860), Kenneth MacKenzie and Eliphas Levi Zahed were working with the concept of applying Hebrew letters and astrology to Tarot. The late 19th and early 20th centuries brought Papus, Wirth and Waite-Smith. Mary discussed how Smith's training as a theatrical set and costume designer influenced her Tarot artwork. The mid - 20th century (1945) brought the Crowley/Harris deck, which is partly based on a personal mythology. The 1960's and 70's saw the advent of the Jungian/Psychological Tarot. It was during this period that Tarot mushroomed into completely new areas. In the 1990's, we have seen whimsical decks, computer generated decks and readings, and a proliferation of personal decks.

Mary initiated a discussion on the impact of the computer on Tarot. The possibilities of virtual reality and interactive software were discussed. One idea I liked was a concept made possible by mass storage - the idea of a software program which would produce a deck by providing thousands of card images allowing the user to pick which ones he or she wanted. With inexpensive color printers, and the mass storage capabilities of CD ROM, I am surprised no one has thought of this before. Mary also shared her views on Tarot users as being outside the mainstream for the most part. She feels that as the normal predictive systems fail, people will turn more and more to systems like Tarot. If Tarot becomes a part of the mainstream, where will they turn?

Finally, we did a group reading using the William Blake Tarot to answer the question "What is the future of Tarot for the 21st Century?" A three card past, present, future spread was used with oversized cards being drawn by members of the audience. The cards drawn were:

Past - XV Error

Present - VIII Assessment

Future - XII Reversal

The group offered interpretations for each card, which were written down. After all of the interpretations from the audience were recorded for each card, Ed Buryn, creator of this deck, provided his thoughts on the cards. It was quite a lively discussion. As always, Mary got the old neurons firing off in new directions and the lecture was the perfect way to end the day's official activities.

You can get more information about Mary Greer and the William Blake Tarot here.


Copyright 1997 Michele Jackson