Green Tara House: an Eastern oasis in Ashrafieh, Lebanon

Date: Tuesday, April 08, 2014
By: Kate Maddox
Source: The Daily Star

BEIRUT: Situated in the heart of Furn al-Hayek in Ashrafieh, Green Tara House is big and airy, with colorful rugs and textiles filling most rooms.
The vibe is distinctly Eastern in the French Mandate-era house, however, which goes well with the slew of new yoga classes and alternative therapies being offered on the second floor of the old building. For the next two days, the space will host a series of conferences and private sessions with tarot master Patrick Spennato, who specializes in the late 18th century practice of reading the cards as a form of alternative self-development.

Green Tara Gallery, opened by Karima Hawwa in December 2012, sells imported fabrics, art, furniture, rugs and clothing from a whole slew of Eastern countries, some near and some far, including Tibet, Nepal, India and Syria. Most of the goods are handmade, and all are hand-picked by Hawwa, who curates the space as well.

The recently opened second floor takes its decor cues from the shop downstairs, with colorful rugs and pillows scattered across the floors. But the lack of furniture gives a hint of what the central area is now used for: Group classes in yoga and meditation are held there most days of the week.
The rooms off the central hall, presumably once bedrooms, will be used for private massage and therapy sessions such as aromatherapy, Thai massage and the alternative-medicine practice of Reiki, Hawwa told The Daily Star, to give customers an “extra boost of energy.”
“People get drained by life, it’s very challenging all over the world but especially in Lebanon,” she said.
Hawwa added that while the private sessions were important, it was the group classes in yoga and mediation, as well as the conferences she has planned, that would allow for more self-development. She first envisioned expanding her shop to include an area for courses after a memorable singing-bowl therapy session in Nepal, which inspired her to create a space for such practices in Beirut.
“They will enable you to direct your own energy, to work on yourself,” she said of the courses.
One such conference is currently being held in the space until Wednesday with Spennato, who has traveled from Switzerland to lead introductory sessions and give private readings.
Having practiced for seven years, he uses the cards as a form of self-discovery and not, as he emphatically insisted, for “divination.”

Tarot, Spennato says, can be used to unlock unconscious energies that we may be unaware of in order to reveal to “a new outlook on what is around us and the world in general.”
Spennato said the tarot deck’s 22 major arcana cards, all with significant meanings that, when dealt and laid out a certain way, can be used “as tool to look inside oneself.”
Much like the practice of tarot that is used for fortune telling, the self-discovery approach first entails asking a question of the cards. Then, Spennato said, “a person can take a look at their cards and see the energies” at play.

When the cards are laid out, each position represents a different aspect of life, from past to future and the various relationships in between. If a card is set in place the right way, facing the asker, then this energy is “recognized.” If a card, however, is facing the wrong way, then it means the energy is not recognized and therefore “transformation is needed to bring that energy to light, to reveal it from the unconscious.”

The private sessions, Spennato said, should allow enough time for two readings while the conferences, being held from 10 a.m. to noon and from noon to 2 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, will offer an introduction to tarot as a personal guide. At the group gatherings, Spennato will explain the evolution of life from the Big Bang till now through the cards to show the order he says is present in the universe.

If you aren’t ready to consult the cards just yet, visit the shop for the calm vibes and beautiful textiles or check out a yoga class to get your inner peace on.
For more information, please call 03-928-595 or visit

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