Marcus Katz is one of the fabulous presenters at this year’s Omega Institute Tarot Conference, July 29-31st. He lives in England’s beautiful Lake District, made famous by so many romantic poets like Wordsworth and Coleridge. Truly it is a place to inspire the soul. In addition to founding Tarot Professionals and Tarot Town, Marcus is the author of two books, Tarosophy and Tarot Flip, and a doctoral candidate in Western esotericism at the University of Exeter, where he earned his master’s degree. (Picture: Marcus at Rosslyn Chapel.)
Mary: How did you get into tarot and what motivated you to found the largest tarot organization in the world?
Marcus: When I was very young I asked what seemed to be unusual questions. When I turned 12, I was sure I had missed some important lesson at school, or teaching from my parents, that everyone else other than me seemed to have received. Everyone seemed to know what they were doing and what the world was about. Otherwise how did they know what to do, what was important, and why they should do anything? So when Tarot was taught in one of our rather spectacularly alternative lessons at the experimental school I was lucky enough to have joined at that age, I saw what Tali Goodwin, my co-author, calls a “Blank Bible”. A pictorial system in which I could make sense of the world, uniquely to my own experience. So within a weekend I had created my own deck (22 Majors only, pasted onto cardboard) and learnt enough to do readings for my friends at school. Since that time I estimate I’ve done easily over 10,000 face-to-face readings over 30 years – and am still learning.
I founded Tarot Professionals to bring full-time professionalism and consideration to the craft of Tarot study, reading and teaching. We aim to marry commercial common-sense with spiritual sensibility and now after two years are able to support other Tarot projects, such as Moti Zemelman’s Dancers Tarot and Chris Deleo’s tarot documentary, featuring Enrique Enriquez, as well as consulting on the ShindigTarot.com online video reading system. Our main ambition is to restore the spiritual dignity of Tarot. Our work to support World Tarot Day brought some 2,600+ people to the site on the day itself this year, up from 600 last year. As such we were also able to donate to two important charities, and create a positive vibe for Tarot to a wider audience. The Facebook group has gone up 840% because we invest our money back into advertising such events. For those who want to encounter Tarot in a supportive environment, we offer Tarot Town, currently approaching 6,000 members. All of these offer my own research and unique, often unpublished materials, including a rarely seen Crowley sketch from his original notebooks as one little part of the full 78-lesson course!
Mary: Your main focus seems to be on tarot education and professional support and development. What do you think a tarot reader most needs to learn in order to get the most from the cards for themselves? (Picture: me, Marcus and the Fool’s dog.)
Marcus: My main focus is indeed on education. Our Hekademia Tarot program is two-years long and now has two cohorts, totaling 50 students, on what aims to be the most comprehensive Tarot course in the world. The work that the students is producing is already astonishing us! We have a showcase of the first term’s work on the main site, where students produced “Wonder Cabinets” of Tarot, entire photographic decks and essays on the oracular tradition, all within the first two months of the course! We originally planned to have one cohort of 20 students per year, we are currently looking to fill a third enrolment in September of three such enrolments this first year!
To me, a Tarot reader needs to see the cards as a language. A language which can then express insight to them which could not otherwise be communicated. I see many students on my beginner courses who have “been reading 20 years” and yet don’t seem to have progressed beyond quite linear and mechanic readings, or “intuition”. I hope they leave my beginners course with a new excitement as to *why* they have been learning that language for so long without visiting the country in which that language is spoken, and what it can express and to what it can lead. It is not the learning of French that is useful, it is when you use the language to order a delicious meal in Paris, or get directions to a one-off music event in Geneva – that is what is useful about the language. I believe Tarot is a tool to engage life, not escape it. So every time your Tarot reading takes you to a new encounter, a meeting with a new person, an event you might not otherwise have attended, a place you might not otherwise have gone, this is Tarot teaching.
Mary: You are a trainer in Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) and other communication and business techniques, what does tarot offer individuals that none of these others does as well?
Marcus: I work with clients using NLP on a weekly basis, ranging from such issues as insomnia, addictions, weight-issues, compulsive disorders, phobias, etc. I also coach clients in performance skills such as presentations, interviews, exams, etc. This is a wide spectrum of work and what strikes me is that many of my clients lose sight of their own unfolding story when afflicted with such issues. Whilst my work with them may help us undo their curse or weave a better spell, it does not fully open out into the mundus imaginalis, the world of wonder beyond that which is presented to us. The tarot enables this world to be accessed in so many different ways.
So I see the Tarot as a reflective tool, one arising and stabilizing in the same perceptual world we find ourselves in—and we find ourselves in Tarot as the blank bible which in turn is the truth of our encounter with what arises. Tarot is the picture of the Soul’s dance inside itself, the divine dance of the Fool. It transcends all material and transient nature in which business, communication and counseling all take place, each to their own world – important in their place, however only part of the full deck of possibilities.
If you look deeply into the Eye painted on the Tower card of the Thoth deck, and turn it on its side, you will see the 0 or black nothingness of the Fool in the centre. The outside of the eye now resembles the vesica piscis of the Universe/World card. And between them, vibrating in perfect harmony between the Nothing and the All, are 22 radiating lines of gold … our Tarot.
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