What a decade it has been for Tarot; the joy of seeing Tarot become more mainstream, with card images featuring in high profile adverts is getting people talking. Certainly, when I began reading 30 odd years ago, you were regarded as some kind of woo woo weirdo if you read the cards, or if you had any association with the ‘new age’ movement. People were definitely more narrow minded then. I won’t get in to the church nonsense, and prefer to block from my mind the cost of new tyres on my car as nails became a regular occurrence. This was only one of the numerous ways in which the Evangelist Church protested against my use of Tarot cards and the fact that I owned an esotorical shop. (Apparently, if you are a Church member, you are entitled to act as Judge and Jury)! I have always been passionate about Tarot and this has been the instigator of many upsets over the years. One example that comes to mind involved a major article in “The Independent” newspaper 16 years ago about my Conference, entitled “Tarot comes out of the Suburbs and in to the 20th Century”. This resulted in concerted condemnation from the Tarot community around the world. Total misinterpretation of what I had written, etc. etc. It was hurtful and unacceptable to be vilified by those you assume are on your side in promoting Tarot as a positive tool. However, I moved on in the way I believed I was meant to, by creating and organising what became the annual UK Tarot Conference.
There must have been thousands of new decks produced over the last decade, and many have passed through my hands for reviews. From quirky, traditional, modern, saucy, and some just plain weird, we accept that each of us have our own ideas of what works for us and what doesn’t. This is what makes Tarot so wonderful, it’s wonderful ability to be both diverse and inspirational.
This is a brief summary of the UK Tarot Conference during the past decade. I have missed a few of the years, not because they were not inspiring, but because I am homing in on key and memorable moments.
In 2010, after a few years of varied venues, we finally found a ‘home’ at the Thistle City Barbican Hotel, Mary Greer was our key speaker and Hermann Haindl shared stories of how he created the Haindl deck and also his teenage years as part of the Hitler Youth. Hermann had us belly laughing with his stories. Such a kind, gentle man. It was an honour to have met him. Sadly, Hermann passed away in 2013.
2013, our 10th anniversary celebration saw our first Thursday evening event. With the help of Geraldine Beskin, I booked a private pod on the London Eye to represent the Wheel of Fortune, Geraldine wrote a historical tour especially for us and we ended the day at Atlantis Bookshop for more talk and food. It dawned on me then that the Thursday evening prior to the Conference should be a regular event, and so the pre-conference evening was born. 2013 was significant in many ways. My book “Tarot Masters” was written and produced in honour of our 10th anniversary, featuring the stories of 22 wonderful Tarot teachers who had spoken at the Conference in previous years and my 22 Major Card Tarot Master deck based on my 22 contributors was self-published.
Jumping to 2015, when the lovely Jonathan Dee joined us as a Speaker. He was the funniest, sweetest man, and his sense of humour really appealed to me. To this day, something he said during his workshop still makes me laugh. Martin (husband) said to me, “you were the only one who laughed. I knew you would find that funny!!” Jonathan was one of those people that once you met him, you wanted to be his friend for life. I was devastated to learn that a few days after attending the Conference he passed away due to a brain tumour. His publisher later told me, that when I approached Jonathan and asked him to speak at my Conference, he was very excited and happy as he said it gave him a sense of being part of the Tarot community after a few disappointments. After the event he was full of stories about the warm and wonderful reception he received at the Conference. It makes me very happy to know that his final days were happy.
2016 turned out to be the busiest year. The UK Tarot Conference is entirely my own work, inspiration and creation; therefore, I had never worked with a partner before. However, I wanted to spread my wings but, for some unknown reason, even allowing for the increasing numbers and greater success of the Conference, I had lost my confidence. I spoke with Geraldine and Bali of The Atlantis Bookshop and suggested that we create the London Tarot Festival. Within a few months the venue was booked, and we were on our way to a new Tarot event in London. The Festival was always intended to be a taste of Tarot and not as in-depth as the Conference. Always one to go overboard, I also approached my dear friend Wicca Meier-Spring about a Tarot Festival in Switzerland, and this was born in 2017.
2017 saw our last event at the Thistle city Barbican which was headlined by Sasha Graham who I had met at the New York Readers Studio the previous year. Now, we were literally turning bookings away as we were hitting capacity months before the Conference. Kim Arnold’s UK Tarot Conference was exceeding expectations. Swiss TarotFest was launched this year and many new friends made worldwide. Although, there is of course, a serious aspect to these events, I have never laughed so much as with the very naughty David Wells and my girls from the UK.
In 2018 we took our seats in our new Tarot home, the Holiday Inn Kensington. Rachel Pollack and Benebell Wen were our very special Key Speakers. The venue was excellent, attentive and efficient staff, prestigious location and a room fully equipped with monitors enabling every attendee full access to the presentations.
The 2019 Conference saw the launch of “The Esotoracle Magazine” a joint venture with Steven Bright. Our Key Speakers were Mary K Greer, Davide de Angelis, Avril Price, Richard Abbot, and Katrina Wynne. Again, we came away from the event full of wonderful stories and having renewed existing friendships and enjoyed making new ones. We truly are a Tarot family!
Over the years my Conference has been privileged to launch new decks, grant access to Speakers who have been exclusive to our Tarot community in the UK and, most importantly watch our Tarot family grow. Lifelong friendships have been formed. I promise you I take nothing for granted and consider it an honour to serve the Tarot Community. I confess It has not always been an easy ride, some years have been more challenging than others, but I promise you I put my heart and soul into each and every Conference.
With that in mind, I look forward to seeing you next year as we are joined by ………………. Sorry you will have to wait until January for that announcement.
Merry Christmas and a happy new year my darling Tarot family, may you all be blessed with health, wealth and much joy in the coming year. Kim xx