For their day jobs, Fiona Lensvelt and her best friend Jennifer Conwie are a journalist and strategist, respectively. It’s in their other life however (one which embraces a love for the occult and Buffy the Vampire Slayer) that they are collectively known as Litwitchure. What started as two friends learning the art of card reading has become a literary tarot cabaret and consultancy company. We spoke to Fiona to find out why it’s making a comeback, how bookers can incorporate it into their events, and how it can even motivate their staff.
First thing’s first: what is tarot card reading?
Tarot has its roots in the 15th century, but it wasn’t until much later – some time in the 1700s – that the cards took on their divine meanings. Simply, there are 78 cards in total which are split into Major Arcanas (one’s that deal with the big issues in one’s life such as The Lovers, The Sun and The Hanged Man) and Minor Arcanas (those that are aimed at the nitty gritty issues like mental health and physical wellbeing). I think most people see tarot card reading as something sinister to do with reading people’s future, like fortune telling. For me though, modern tarot is about having deep conversations and working out the meaning of what’s going on in someone’s life now.
How did Litwitchure start?
After we took a two-month course, two years ago, to learn to read the cards, it quickly became our party trick, bringing them out when everyone had had a bit too much to drink. However, we soon realised that on top of it being extremely entertaining at parties, it also had real value in everyday life. With my day job as a journalist, I started thinking that using the tarot cards would be a really interesting way of interviewing people. So, we approached a couple of festivals who loved the idea and we spent a summer interviewing authors and it really started there.
Do you think corporate event bookers should think of it as an alternative to traditional entertainment?
Without a doubt. It’s really fun as a form of entertainment (we often refer to what we offer as ‘literary tarot cabaret’) as we can make it as theatrical – and funny – as necessary for the type of event we’re performing at. It can also integrate our original idea of interviewing people using the cards into our events offering – we’ve interviewed company CEOs in front of their employees before which, as you can imagine, went down really well. We can also do workshops, teaching groups to read the cards together, as well as one-on-ones with us reading employees cards for them.
Can it go beyond event entertainment and enter into the realm of staff motivation?
In the right format tarot readings can definitely be a way of motivating workers. We’ve done events with lawyers and accountants who see it as a form of mindfulness. I think the fact that we live in increasingly difficult times, where our future is unknown, is part of the reason we’ve seen such an influx in interest towards tarot. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the last time it gained mass popularity was in the early 20th-century – a similarly unstable time. People want reassurance and most of the individual readings we do are around two main requests: love and work. With the issue of work, people like the different perspective tarot readings give them. It helps them see what they’re overlooking or not confronting (confidence, taking another path, etc.). Of course, they already know the answer to their concerns – they just need a different way of looking at the problem.
How bespoke can you go?
We really encourage our clients to approach us with what their event is about and we can tailor it around them. Past events have seen us personalise invites to guests and giving each of them a tarot card character to be for the night. We can even tailor the event to specific topics going on in the world that might be a matter of interest to a company – imagine having a tarot reading based on the outcomes of Brexit. We love the challenge of thinking outside the box.