Professional tarot reader Janet Berres can often be found at the gatherings of the steampunk mystics The Owen Society for Hermetic & Spiritual Enlightenment. She opened her home to their Yule gathering this past December, where she keeps her impressive collection of tarot decks. Berres wrote the Tarot Kit for Beginners (Llewellyn Publications, 2005) and Textbook of the Tarot (International Tarot Society, 1998). She was kind enough to answer a few questions.
How did you get involved with the Owen Society?
Matthew Ellenwood [Owen Society presenter, Terry Mysterium Artistic Director, healer] and I have been friends for over 20 years. And I know Keith Green [Owen Society organizer] for as long as he’s known Matthew. Also, I have been a fan of Terra Mysterium (a theatrical company of actors) since it’s inception. So when I heard about Terra Mysterium creating the Owen Society to help expand it’s base of support (at least that’s how I understood the original idea behind the Owen Society), I was all in! At that point, I didn’t know Steampunk from Steam-cleaning! But I soon learned the difference…LOL! I think I was “Steam punk” before there was a Steampunk, as I’ve always related to the late 1800’s and early 1900’s – the 19th and 20th centuries. On the other hand, this century so far, has thrown me for a loop!
How do tarot decks differ?
As diverse as snowflakes, tarot decks are outer manifestations of the artist’s inner life. There are three main divisions of tarot decks—Rider/ Waite/ Smith clones, Thoth/ Crowley/ Harris clones, and Marseille/ Swiss IJJ/ Historic clones. So 99% of tarot decks are modeled after one of the above types. The Waite/ Smith and Crowley/Harris decks were both created in the first half of the Twentieth Century (1910 and 1938, to be exact), while the Marseille deck is from the late 1400s or early 1500s.
Like wine, do decks get better with age?
Decks become scarcer with age, and thus more valuable. I have a huge collection of tarot decks –1,870, to be exact—and there is no way I could have bought all those decks today, at today’s prices. I’ve been collecting them for over 40 years, and began when decks were $6.00 apiece, not the minimum $18.95+ that they are today.
At an Owen gathering, you wisely remarked, “The magic is not in the cards, it’s in the person.” Would you be kind enough to elaborate?
The cards have symbols on them in the form of pictures, which are more easily interpreted by our brains. And so it’s not the cards themselves, but the person analyzing the pictures on the cards who has the ability to connect the dots, so to speak, and come up with an answer or prediction from them.
How can someone arrange a tarot consultation with you?
I can be contacted through my website: www.janetberres.com or by telephone at 847-965-9916 to set up an appointment.
Bonus Question: Does Tarot sound more like the tuber taro or like the naturalist Thoreau?
Nobody knows the correct way to pronounce the word “tarot”. I’ve used both ways, but more often “tear- o” then “tear-O”. But everyone knows what you are talking about, either way (at least everyone I know!).