SF BATS, the San Francisco Bay Area Tarot Symposium, is the oldest continuously produced Tarot event in the world. We are taking a BATS nap in 2016 (more on that here)
If you have been to SF BATS, you know it's a Tarot gathering like no other. For those who are new to the concept, or other enquiring minds, it seems like this is a dandy time to share a little background.
History The first SF BATS took place in the Spring of 1991. What would become the Tarot community was largely isolated, which is hard to conceive of in these internet-rich times times. There were a few magazines to connect enthusiasts, but little else. There had been a few Tarot conferences before that, but they were structured more along the lines of an academic model, and they were intermittently produced.
From the start SF BATS was dedicated to being a way for Tarot folk to connect through their one great love: those beautiful, ancient and mysterious pieces of pasteboard; the wonder, scholarship and uses that have come to be embodied in the idea of Tarot unite enthusiasts in a uniquely special way.
Above all the emphasis has always been on the exchange of information in an environment that is friendly and fun. Fun has a way of relaxing the mind, and facilitating communication. (science has proven it so it must be true!) and it has been shown that a relaxed mind is more receptive to learning. Humour flies under the radar of preconceptions and enables one to look at things from different and challenging angles.
Presenters, Vendors, &c
Since the beginning, speakers have been a mix of local favourites, up-&-coming talent, and some of the most respected and venerable members of the community.
Artists, authors, teachers and readers all come to share their wisdom under the auspices of the Daughters of Divination (DoD). Other divination systems sometimes enter the mix too, just to liven things up. Lenormand and other oracle systems are increasingly adding to the lively mix.
The Tarot Bazaar, a marketplace of Tarot tools and trinkets, offers a wide array of Tarot themed merchandise for purchase, much of it sold by the presenters. The Tarot Garden is on hand to tempt with their mouthwatering selection of decks, and the retail arm of the DoD, the Millard Fillmore Memorial Spiritualist Temple Garage Sale offers gently used books and decks and other items of interest.
Readings are available by several of the presenters as well as the core Daughters of Divination in what is known as the Pagan Science Reading Room.
All attendees are encouraged to put flyers, brochures and business cards on the "Table of Shameless Plugs" to help spread the word about their doings - we believe in community suport, and getting the word out.
There is also a Raffle of Fabulous Prizes <tm> featuring wonderful offerings from all over the Tarot world, the proceeds of which go entirely to charity; at least one of these charities is always a bat conservancy organisation.
There is Nothing Like A BATS One of the most exciting things about a BATS is the tremendous camaraderie - everyone is equal is their love of, and curiosity about, the Tarot. Many books, decks and systems have come out of the effervescent ferment that is a BATS.
All levels of interest and enthusiasm are encouraged to attend. Whether you come for one day, or the whole weekend you will be assured of camaraderie, learning and fun.