Tarot Instructor Madeline HD Brown

Castle in the Air is proud to welcome Madeline HD Brown, your tarot instructor for the first two classes in our Magic & Divination series. Madeline spoke with us about what students can expect in “Tarot Basics” on July 6 and “The Fool’s Journey” on July 13.

What first attracted you to tarot?

My mom introduced me to tarot cards when I was about five years old. From then on they were just always around. There were also lots of occult books in our house, which enabled me to study and practice tarot, so my love affair with the cards has always been partially intuitive and partially academic. I’ve found a steadfast kinship in their evolving images, archetypal relationships, and intuitive inspirations.

I’ve worked with the cards for friends, clients, and in my own meditations and magical workings since 1997. I’m always learning more. Tarot cards are also quite practical! They travel well and are diverse, so they never get boring or predictable. At this point I think of the cards as friends, so classes and readings are really a chance to fraternize with old and new friends alike.

How would you describe your teaching methods?

We all have access to the collective wisdom contained within tarot cards. When I teach, I like to offer every student enough structure so that inspired play feels possible and supported. I teach as a sort of tour guide, pointing out timelines, possible meanings, and personal experience patterns.

It’s important to me to provide each student with a deep experience of inner empowerment. I do this through detailed explorations of the cards’ meanings, and I suggest various intuitive practices. Classes and their take-home materials are also set up to encourage further practice and learning after the class is over. Each student’s unique experience continues based on what they do with it all after the class is done.

What advice would you give people who are new to tarot?

If you are unfamiliar with the tarot but find it appealing, focus your studies wherever your pleasure lies with the cards. New pathways of learning and experience will open up from there. Some people like the rich, archetypal character figures in the major arcana, including The Fool, Strength, and The Moon. Other people like the ritual aspects of tarot. You could also get joyfully lost in the history and evolution of the cards’ symbolic art. Thanks to their variety, tarot cards are accessible for folks with a wide range of beliefs, practices, and interests. If you’re interested, just start with whatever catches your eye and leap in!

Which decks will students receive when they take your classes this summer?

For Tarot Basics on July 6 we will be working with a beautiful modern deck—the Medieval Scapini Tarot—which is inspired by the Visconti-Sforza, one of the oldest known decks. Early tarot decks are interesting in part because they were also playing cards. The images in the Scapini are updated but still hold true to the original medieval spirit.

For the Fool’s Journey class on July 13 we’ll work with the image-rich Vision Tarot. Like the Voyager and Vertigo Tarot decks, the Vision Tarot is a popular deck incorporating contemporary photographs while still alluding to the images from the early history of tarot. Its imagery is greatly influenced by the Marseilles deck from 15th-century Italy, and will help bridge gaps to other decks as students further their tarot studies.

What led you to choose these decks?

These were tough decisions! There are so many amazing decks to choose from. Ultimately I narrowed it down to those that used a classic numbering system, which is different from that of the popular Rider-Waite deck. This is nerdy stuff that I’ll explain in class! It may seem a slight detail, but knowing we were going deep into the cards, I wanted to keep the decks and numbering systems as streamlined as possible, giving everyone the same strong foundational information.

Thank you, Madeline! We look forward to learning more in class!