Mass Collective Tarot Reading at the Sydney Opera House

Over a decade ago, I started writing a regular Tarot Reading for the Collective as a monthly blog post. At that time it would never have occurred to me that one day I would be invited to perform a mass Tarot Reading for the Collective live at the Sydney Opera House! But that’s exactly what happened as part of Antidote Festival this September.

The reading took place in the Northern Foyer – a beautiful open space with massive windows that showed off the iconic Sydney harbour and plush purple-carpeted stairs where the audience was to sit. I arrived early and enjoyed walking around the space before people began to stream in.

It was rather grand seeing the audience start to arrive from the top stairs – a few family members and friends, and a large number of people I had never met before. I felt lucky that so many people had decided that a live Collective Tarot Reading was something they wanted to be a part of, and I was looking forward to working with them in this unique way.

Once everyone had arrived I introduced myself and outlined the structure of the hour’s session. I then asked them to split up into groups and come up with a community based question which I would then address with a tarot reading. It was wonderful watching everyone collaborate to create questions with people they had never met before. Afterwards when I listened back to my audio recording of the event, I loved hearing the crowd of engaged voices working in unison to come up with their questions.

There were five groups, so we got five questions (plus one additional extra in case there was time). The collective questions were:

1. How can modern/traditional sciences and ancient practices such as tarot reading combine to help us?

2. How do we connect more with each other?

3. What are our small steps for positive change?

4. How do we unite different communities when we have divergent values?

5. Literal and metaphorical fires – how do we use destruction for transformation? What can we learn from this?

The tarot deck I used for the reading was the Next World Tarot by Cristy C. Road. I chose this deck because it is the most inclusive tarot deck I have ever come across – when doing a Collective Reading, I think it is important to be able to see the whole community in the images, not just a select group.

For each question, I shuffled the cards and requested the audience to collectively shout out “Now!” when they wanted me to stop shuffling. This worked really well, and there were some moments where it seemed nearly everyone in the audience was simultaneously saying “now”!  A camera above my table projected the cards that appeared onto large screens on either side of the stage, so that people could see the archetypes that we were working with.

What I’m sharing below is an abbreviated transcript from the event – so it’s written in a more informal, ‘talkative’ way than usual. If you’re curious about which cards came up for the Collective at the Antidote Festival (spoiler – The Ten of Swords appeared three times!) and what was said, keep reading!


Question 1: How can modern/traditional sciences and ancient practices such as tarot reading combine to help us?

Knight of Wands: Suspension (Hanged One): Ace of Swords: King of Wands

Next World Tarot by Cristy C. Road Question 1

Tarot brings creativity and new ideas, and inspires people and brings them together. Traditional sciences may not want to have anything to do with things like the tarot, thinking it’s silly or a bit ‘woo-woo’. But we have to remember that tarot creates dialogue and fosters connection on a deep level. We have to talk to people more, and not hide the things we do. It’s important for those using the tarot – or anything like the tarot – to reach out and communicate with people, without worrying whether people might think we are being silly.

Personally, I’m not going to wait for scientists to come and speak to me. So it will be up to me to make those conversations happen (and anyone who does this work or similar). Perhaps not in the professional space, but in our personal spaces – going to gatherings/parties – let the dialogues happen. Be patient with the people who don’t want to listen to us.

Collective Tarot Reading - Antidote

Photo by Daniel Boud

Question 2: How do we connect more with each other?

Seven of Wands: Ten of Wands: King of Wands: Five of Swords

Next World Tarot by Cristy C. Road Question 2

We’ve got to be ready to be uncomfortable – all of us. There is no nice sweet sense of comfort that we get to have. Some of us do have a lot more comfort due to our privileges. Sometimes there will be talk of the apocalypse coming, but it could be said that the apocalypse has already been happening for a long time for many different cultures around the world, including on this land. So we need to be willing to be uncomfortable. And in order to connect more with each other we have to be willing to recognise that there is systemic injustice happening all over the world, in our own space, in our own communities

We might want to go, “ah stuff this, I don’t want to do this anymore – this is too difficult”, but it is our obligation to move forward if we’re going to be with our communities. We need to be willing to fight for each other. Not going, “oh, that won’t affect me so I don’t really want to do it.” It’s not going to be comfortable, and we may not see the end in sight.

Recognising that people are carrying burdens, and that each one of you here in this room probably do have something difficult going on in your life right now, which is kind of hard, and not many people may know, and sometimes you might wish they did know because it might make them a bit more compassionate, but nonetheless we need to keep on going…

We can do magic for each other – it doesn’t have to be some occult practice – it’s the act of having well-wishes for people, showing up, not hiding behind closed doors, being vocal about our wish to protect other people, we want to make sure that they’re not going to be meeting with harm.

With the Five of Swords, I think that’s something we need to be careful of: that desire to let go – that desire to say “this is too difficult, I don’t want to work on this anymore.” Perhaps, for the rest of our lives, there’s going to be this bit of “ehh”, this bit of discomfort that is always there. If we’re going to connect more with each other, we’ve got to be willing to be vulnerable too.

Question 3 – What are our small steps for positive change?

Ace of Pentacles: The Moon: Ten of Swords: Queen of Cups

Next World Tarot by Cristy C. Road Question 3

Small steps can just be taking off our shoes and connecting to the ground, because we are of it, we eat it through our food, it moves through us, we’ll return to it when we are dead. Looking at the moon! Looking at the moon invites contemplation – it invites self-reflection: we can see what we are hiding from ourselves, what we need to shine a light on to make sure that we’re not getting dragged into despair. Making room for contemplation, and recognising the importance of our intuition on a day to day level.

Be mindful that sometimes we’ve just got to watch it. If you know that someone is going through a really full on time – check in on the people in your life and ask yourself if now is this the right time to talk about something. Sometimes things do need to be said, but we need to check in on ourselves – is there another time that this could be said?

Honour your emotional integrity, be your unique weird self, don’t let intellect rule the way. Small steps can be crying with people/letting other people cry on our shoulder. 

Question 4: How do we unite different communities when we have divergent values?

Ten of Swords: Knight of Pentacles: Ace of Swords: Four of Swords

Next World Tarot by Cristy C. Road Question 4

Learn how to get really intricate with strong emotion. Do we jump to the conclusion that someone is trying to completely destroy us? Or are they just expressing to us their current reality right here right now? Being okay with being uncomfortable, we have to be willing to just go, “ok, so this person has had a very different life to me, and there’s probably a whole lot I’ll never understand”, and because we don’t have all day, all night and all week to listen to every single person’s story, so with that we have to sometimes be willing to just make a peace offering of some kind.

Even to just say the words, “it sounds like this has been really hard for you”, rather than just going straight into, “furthermore, this is what I want to say next!”

We need to honour that there is a process going on in people’s lives.

So if someone when watching a performance says, “that performance was really racist” we have to listen to that. We have to say “woah, okay, let’s listen to that” and to think about that and to not just ask that person to put in all that emotional labour to lay it all out, but to recognise that we have to listen and be willing to apologise from a very real place with a true desire to be authentic. Just to be authentic!

There’s so much persecution of different minority groups just in this country alone, and there are currently debates happening in parliament that may increase those disparities. We can unite by having a willingness to hear the shouts and to hear beneath those shouts, to hear the pain and to be authentic and to make a peace offering – even if it is just words. Or listening. Listening is really powerful.

It may help to recognise that even the most difficult people in the room have the seed for enlightenment – to come out of their sufferings.

I guess we need to accept that we are all heading in a similar direction, whether we like it or not. Even if it seems like some people are trying to throw all these different obstacles in the way.

Question 5: Literal and metaphorical fires – how do we use destruction for transformation? What can we learn from this?

Page of Wands: Two of Wands: Ten of Wands: Revolution (Tower)

Next World Tarot by Cristy C. Road Question 5

Something has been destroyed, and we’re still strong. Recognise that it’s a part of our process on this planet – this planet has been going through many transformations for billions of years. It’s in a constant state of renewal and destruction. And it is possible that in the next 15 years or so, this planet might reach a point where it’s no longer that nice Goldilocks temperature that works for human beings – not too hot, not too cold – and we might see more destruction that’s going on in that respect. How can we use destruction for transformation? Look at any sci-fi literature – there is hope! There’s something going on where the humans rise up – eventually – and do something revolutionary.

Revolutionaries may not know what’s going to happen beyond that moment – they are there to start the process. We need to be willing to recognise that even though communities are being destroyed , we’ve got to keep on waking up. We need to keep on talking about the things  – not only those things that are happening internationally – but what is happening right here, right now in our own communities.

We need to be grounded visionaries, recognising that the destruction isn’t the end, it is always leading to renewal. 

Things will continue to be destroyed – things will keep on burning – we can’t just be looking for nice calm places where we can be out of the way – wherever our privilege will afford us to go. We’ve got to make sure we don’t retreat from the fire, or if we do retreat – do it only if we are prepared to come back and integrate what we learn in our retreat time.

If we meditate, our practice must be integrated into our everyday lives. If we get a tarot reading, we have to integrate it too. Once the reading is over – what do you do with the information? Do you just sit back or are you spurred into action?

We can recognise that the destruction is a part of our lives, be willing to be uncomfortable with that, and connect in with other people who are really visionary thinkers. Take your crazy idea and share it with other people. We have the capacity to make change from a grassroots level. Even just by speaking to a few people about our ideas. Even just a beautiful one-on-one conversation with a friend can be transformed into something so much bigger.

Instead of wondering what it looks like beyond this point – let’s just be in it, be willing to get our hands dirty. Perhaps that’s part of the transformation. That we were never just looking for the nice sweet space to sit down to have a comfortable retirement on the water – it’s unlikely that will happen for us. Maybe we need to stay connected, learning that perhaps fire isn’t necessarily destroying us, it’s helping us rise, like the phoenix rising from the ashes. Hopefully we will always have another chance.

We do make mistakes, but hopefully we’ll have other chances. We make mistakes but from there we learn how to trust our intuition more, asking ourselves how can we change this? How can we do this differently?

The additional question at the end was:

What do we need to let go of (in relation to current global events – Amazon, US Policy, etc)?

And here was the Ten of swords again for the third time – looks like it’s the winner! We’ve got to face that, right?


Question 6: What do we need to let go of (in relation to current global events – Amazon, US Policy, etc)?

Seven of Wands: Magician: Ten of Swords: The Sun

Next World Tarot by Cristy C. Road Question 6

The Seven of Wands is helped along by the Magician, the Ten of Swords is helped along by The Sun.

We need to let go of the idea that its just going to be shit always, we need to be able to think of new ideas. We need to be able to come together, we need to be able to have really amazing conversations with each other, we need to be able to look at all our different tools.

Usually the Magician has four tools, the four suits in the minor arcana. In this Magician she has four books – Feminist Theory, Emergency First Response, Herbal Medicine and Pathology. She’s well rounded!

We could let go of banging our heads together – there’s a point where one of us (and that one could be every single person in this room) says hang on, I’ve got to learn more about this, I need to learn more about what’s going on. Then there’s the difficulty of needing to learn more about what’s happening in the world, but not wanting to be swamped by it.

With the 10 of Swords we can too easily get swamped. We are learning about all the horrific things that are going on right now – and that’s just in our lifetime – not even looking at centuries before.

We can let go of the idea that we should just give up – let go of the idea that it’s all over. There’s always more to look at – there’s always more to grow with.

There’s always more to celebrate and there’s always going to be community. It may not always look like what we want it to look like, but nonetheless, it’s here. Working with the magician requires a lot of energy and a lot of confidence.

[someone from the audience says if there were more magicians in the world, perhaps we’d be ok]

Let go of the idea that we’ve got to wait for people come to us. We’ve got to infiltrate and keep on trying again and again and again.

Collective Tarot Reading - Antidote

Photo by Daniel Boud

Wild Card

What is the best archetype to take with right now, us into the day, and to talk about later.

Four of Swords

Next World Tarot by Cristy C. Road Wild Card

Reflect upon this, or write down anything you want to take away from today: how you’ve been feeling while you’ve been sitting here, what it was like trying to come up with a question with a group of people you didn’t know.

A reminder that we do need to learn how to find our own practices, how to be more at peace within ourselves, because we’re going to be facing this crazy ol’ world  every single day, so we’ve got to have something happening that centres us on some level each and every day.

Just think about what you like to personally do for yourself whether it’s sitting around a fire, being in the sun, being by the river, sitting with your back up a tree, lying down in the grass, going for a walk in the rain.

All these things – all these practices are the things that will help us have that moment of being in our bodies so that we can better do what we need to doing in our everyday lives.

© 2019 Sarah Barry ~ Tarot Readings with Psychic Sarah

To find out more about how I work go to and

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Collective Tarot Reading - Antidote

Photo by Daniel Boud

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  1. […] My friend Psychic Sarah gave a mass collective tarot reading at the Sydney Opera House! […]

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