Bad spell for tarot course

North Shore News
Recreation commission draws fire
A course dealing with one of the most ancient methods of divination has just been cancelled for North Vancouver students.
With the hype surrounding the latest blockbusters Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and the much anticipated Lord of the Rings, one may be forgiven for feeling a certain magic in the air. Bursting with alchemical imagery, these films promise to be the most successful box office hits this year. And if you’re a teenager, you may not have to travel all the way to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for a lesson in the occult.
North Vancouver Recreation Commission has just come under a spell of trouble.
The organization has been criticized for its decision to go ahead with a tarot course for teenagers. Sandwiched seemingly innocently on the rec commission’s Web site between Tap and Ballet for 3-5 year-olds, and Teddy Bear Work Shop for Adults, is a course advertised as Tarot for Teens. Classes have already taken place this autumn, but the course scheduled to start again on Jan. 15 has just been cancelled.
Natalie Hudson complained to the Lonsdale Rec Centre that its decision to host Tarot for Teens presents “a whole dogma of witchcraft and sorcery under the guise of choice and empowerment.
The course, circled under a general programs brochure as “New”, entices students to “Discover the ancient secrets of the tarot cards.” The course outline goes on to say that “each card has its own symbolism relating to life and experience: past, present and future,” and the class promises to “unveil the mystery” so that students may learn to read tarot cards for themselves and for friends.
However, the rec commission has decided to revoke the course scheduled for the New Year.
Commission director Gary Young admits that the course was “outside of the mandate of the rec commission.” He said that “with the few facilities available, we have to try to choose the courses best suited to the facility that will encourage the most beneficial recreational experience.”
Young said that “there aren’t any regulations when we select a course, but the staff look at our mandate, which is to ensure a positive recreational experience.”
However, the course instructor, North Shore resident Kelly Oswald, states that learning tarot is a positive experience. “I had four students, one of which was a special needs child in a wheelchair who came with her care worker. She thought it was wonderful to learn something that she could enjoy with her friends. I also had one boy and two other girls who were excited to learn about the tarot.
“They were great kids and it was a positive experience for them, and I felt at the end of the class that they were going to be responsible. I gave them recommendations for further reading and they received good positive direction without any negative connotation whatsoever” said Oswald.
But Young contends that “it isn’t much of a positive leisure experience” although he concedes that “there isn’t anything wrong necessarily with the program, but there that may be more focused on this.”
Hudson believes an error of judgment was made by the rec commission for going ahead with this type of course in the first plaice, and accuses the commission of double standards.
Hudson makes the point that “with the advent of public schools in Canada, it was decided long ago that schools and educational institutions would not be used for the sake of proselytizing.” Hudson’s perception is that there is an unfair bias in society that looks to favor atheistically driven ideology while marginalizing more orthodox religious beliefs.
“In countless cases we see those with religious beliefs being silenced and told that they can practice their religion in private but not in the public forum.”
But Oswald disagrees. “This is nothing to do with religion at all,” she states. Indeed, the history of the tarot is as mysterious and more illusive than the cards themselves.