| James Wanless
James Wanless, PhD, the creator of Voyager Tarot, author of "Way of the Great Oracle" and "Strategic Intuition for the 21st Century," will teach Beginning Voyager Tarot and Advanced Voyager Tarot at New Renaissance Bookshop on December 4 and 5 and will be available for readings December 3 and 6-8. Call 224-4929 for information.
Connie: How did you get started with tarot?
Jim: It just happened. When something happens that you have a passion for, it's time to jump. I had a reading and said "I want to learn this." And I took a few classes and that's that.
Connie: Have you ever had times when you thought "why am I doing this?"
Jim: My friends and parents thought I was absolutely nuts - "the fool" - for getting involved. I knew then I was on the right track. The Fool is following one's own destiny. When someone says you're a fool, bless them and know you're on the right track. I responded to the tarot because of the power of the imagery and the symbolic art. It's a medicine path of empowering, healing and bringing insight in a very systematic and intuitive way.
Connie: What came first, tarot or writing?
Jim: Tarot was definitely first. I was using traditional tarot decks and said "Gee, I'd love to make a contemporary tarot deck, and with an artist friend I started making the cards. I wanted to implement my philosophy that each of us is a small universe and the cards represent that universe. The art came first, then the writing. Intuition leading the logic. A real trusting of the inner priestess, kind of as a mystical scientist checking it out. I put stuff in the cards for no real reason except that it felt right intuitively and a year or two later read about it and said "Wow, that was absolutely correct!"
Connie: When did the deck happen?
Jim: I'd been doing tarot for about 2 years and was thinking to myself "I'd like to do a deck when I'm an acknowledged 'Tarot Master.'" So at that moment I said to my friend, "let's make the Magician." Somehow there was an acceptance of my mastery!
Connie: When I teach classes, I have people make treasure maps which are a collage. When I first looked at your deck, I thought "these are treasure maps."
Jim: It's true, and the treasure is discovered through the outside world. The power of the tarot is the symbolic imagery. Because that's what really moves our conscious and subconscious self.
Connie: Is the Voyager one of the top selling decks now?
Jim: I'm pretty sure it's in the top 10 used decks in the world. I think the Voyager deck is so real to our real time, real now, present, contemporary experience. I put the titles on the cards. You don't have to go to a book. It suggests the concept behind the card.
These are contemporary values that we have as well as ancient, ancient ones. The collage art process is fragmented like our dream process. It's like a waking dream. And that's how I use it with businesses. Let them look at the imagery and what does that suggest - it's really outside the box, metaphoric thinking.
Connie: Tell me about your writing career.
Jim: My books are tarot and tool related. I'm not a novelist. These are all "how to" books for self- empowerment.
Connie: Did you write a book about the Thoth deck?
Jim: Yes, a book called the New Age Tarot and the Thoth Deck. It's not the Crowley interpretation. The beauty of symbols is that anybody can interpret them any way they want. The nice thing about Voyager is I wanted it to be an open system so anybody could find their own meaning.
Connie: When did you start teaching?
Jim: Right away. I'm a natural born teacher. I started teaching the Crowley deck when I first was learning that deck. The best and most satisfying way to learn is to teach it. Readings can help people - you give them the fish, but if you teach them how to read you've given them the tools of fishing which I think is where it's at. It's about empowerment. A reading may be of value, but ultimately you have to do it your own way, your own path and that's where the teaching comes in.
Connie: What do people learn in your workshops?
Jim: To use the cards in a reading kind of way, in a useful way, to look at yourselves. Also, one gets an entire reading for themselves and gives readings to other people. So there is an extraordinary amount of self-discovery and insight in the day or weekend as well as learning to use the tool. The person comes out of that pretty excited about what they have learned about themselves and how to use the Voyager.
Connie: You have Certification program?
Jim: Yes. Some people like to get a diploma as a certified Voyager consultant. Consultant, rather than reader. A reader is about prediction and fortune telling and Voyager consulting shows a person how to create their future. It's not fortune telling. It's fortune creating. Giving people the steps of the cards, clues of what they can do, the action they can take to meet the universe half way in the creation of their lives. Not a passive predictive process, but a proactive creative process. The weekend workshop and 20 hours of readings and they're certified. So those who do the weekend at New Renaissance Bookshop will be set-up for certification except for the 20 hours of readings - they will have done the course work.
Connie: What else would you like people to know about you?
Jim: I believe in right livelihood which is where your spiritual path and your higher purpose are in alignment with your profession and way of making profits, and they are linked in with your passion and your play. Then you have a really juicy life. And I've found it in this medium. I'm a role model of how to do that. I'm also interested in teaching people how to use Voyager as a means to find their own right livelihood. It's not easy. I call it the hero's journey. It's finding out what is our deepest inner quest. Since it's the hero's journey it takes sacrifices and meeting the inner demon to move through to the other side.
Connie: How often should a person do a reading for themselves?
Jim: Certainly when there are major decisions or crossroads in our lives. I like to do them on special holidays - birthdays, number one being our own special new year. It's the best time. And I counsel and I do my own practice with a card a day. It gives me an insight and focus for the day and also suggests an action for the day. At the end of 365 days if you've done that every day, your life will be different - I can guarantee that.
Connie Hill works at New Renaissance Bookshop and is a local astrologer. She can be contacted at 291-8229, ext. 2.