In 1992, tarot in Australia and throughout the world was emerging from the darkness into the light. It was finally becoming more acceptable to practice and to discuss tarot with others. After teaching for many years, founding President Anne Shotter was inspired to take tarot to the next level. She wanted to find a way to bring like-minded people together to share their passion for tarot but also to have a professional association, so that those who wished to align themselves to a professional organisation could do so. It was not intended to exclude those who had a love of reading tarot but did not wish to take this professional path and so it was also important that it would also cater for those members as well.
Anne called together a group of tarot enthusiasts and past students and the first committee was formed. The Guild was formed with the intention to raise public interest and awareness of tarot, to promote the study of tarot, to promote ethical standards in the practice of reading tarot and to provide a network for sharing information about tarot among members and the general public.
The initial committee of the Guild was full of enthusiasm and with their drive, they created a solid foundation for which the Guild still operates. This first committee included Evelynne Joffe, Joan Luxembourg, Melissa Deacon and Judith Grossman. Each of these committee members, particularly the office bearers were instrumental in establishing the thoroughly professional foundation of the Guild and a Code of Ethics and Practice was developed. They all shared the same intention that this was going to be a legally established organisation. Thus the Guild was officially incorporated in 1994 with Graham Shotter as its first Public Officer.
As with the birth of any child, choosing a name was quite a challenge. As you can imagine, everyone had an opinion and much discussion took place. Should we be an association, an organisation a club or a selection of other options? Finally a Guild was chosen, to symbolise the early guilds of the middle ages. It was chosen from the following definition dating from middle ages.
“An organisation of persons with common professional or cultural interests formed for material aid and protection”
Interestingly, we can see this symbol of a guild in the Three of Pentacles and Arthur Edward Waite, being a master Freemason, has included many images of freemasonry in his deck, particularly in the suite of Pentacles.
The surname was also a problem, should it just be The Tarot Guild or The Tarot Guild of Victoria, or Australia? The initial committee showed foresight in naming the Guild – The Tarot Guild of Australia, as its membership has spread throughout Australia. The Tarot Guild’s logo was designed by Aliza Freedman, Evelynne’s sister.
The committee went on to name the magazine for The Guild “The Magician”, corresponding to the Messenger of the Gods, Hermes with his connections to communication and writing. There have been many editors of The Magician, some professional and some voluntary. They have all given fabulous service to The Guild as it is still exciting to see the Magician arrive in the mail. Again, this could not occur without the wonderful contribution of articles from members. It is always interesting to read the different ideas and opinions that others express.
The World’s First Tarot Conference
The idea of Australia being the host to the World’s first Tarot Conference was floated in 1996. Overall, the committee at the time was very excited about the idea, but also understandably quite trepid about the enormity of the undertaking. A major concern was the isolation of Australia to the rest of the world and concern about who would come here. Anne Shotter decided independently to travel to New York to attend a workshop being conducted at the Omega Centre by Rachael Pollack and Mary Greer and to float the idea to them of speaking at the conference in Australia. They were both very enthusiastic and they, along with Caitlin Matthews from the U.K. and James Wanless, also from the US were our major overseas speakers at that first Conference. It is wonderful to see Mary, Rachael and Caitlin also speaking at this Conference. Mary and Rachael have now visited Australia many times.
A conference sub committee was formed comprising of Anne Shotter, Evelynne Joffe, Jane Lee Stewart, Betty Watson, Joe Sullivan and Graham Shotter. This first conference was called “Bridging Worlds” as a symbol of bridging worlds from a geographical perspective, but also to acknowledge the way in which the tarot bridges worlds in a psychological and spiritual dimension. There was an incredible amount of effort put in by many people to make the Conference happen, especially the conference organiser Jane Lee Stewart and the conference sub-committee.
Overall, this world first Tarot Conference was a great success with 200 attendees. Lots of friends were made, new knowledge shared and a wonderful time had by all who attended. As a result tarot conferences are regularly held around the world. Australia ran a second conference in 2013 which was also extremely successful.
The Tarot Guild of Australia is incorporated in Victoria under the Associations Incorporation Act 1981. It is also a Registered Australian Body with ASIC, the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ARBN 100 040 364).
Lenormand – Australia Leading the Way
The Guild has become known for being leaders and initiators on the world stage and so it’s not surprising that in 2014, The Tarot Guild of Australia initiated a Lenormand workshop series for its members. This series incorporated a beginner, intermediate and advance level. Due to overwhelming demand, on its released each workshop was run twice in its first year of inception. A great achievement for the Guild and one which has made international recognition. During this first year the Guild become the sole Australian distributors of Robert Place Rachel Pollack Burning Serpent Oracle, also hosting a seminar February 2015. Caitlin Matthews has also acknowledged the Guild in its achievements in her latest book ‘The Complete Lenormand Oracle Handbook’.