This was my fourth time attending Readers Studio. I’d like to write something witty and funny about my time there, but I’m still assimilating all I experienced, and what I experienced was profound.
For an introvert and overly sensitive person like myself, a conference can be both beautiful and terrible. The people at Readers Studio are the most welcoming, talented and magical that I have ever met, and yet I find time spent in a hotel ballroom with hundreds of other psychics and intuitives to be both exhilarating and completely draining.
And, because of the recent loss of my Father, I am still more of a raw nerve than usual, my emotions are very close to the surface. To everyone who supported me without judgement when I got teary throughout the weekend, my deepest thanks.
So, I’ll give you a rundown of my experience at Readers Studio as best I can, and write more as things percolate.
But first, if you are thinking about going to RS in 2019, DO IT. There is nothing like it, it will take your Tarot practice to another level, not to mention it is inspiring, fun, and gives you the chance to get to know the most divine diviners on the planet.
This year, I committed myself to being ALL IN throughout the conference, to participating in everything I could (which could explain the emotional highs and lows, and my current state of discombobulation).
My husband, Matthew, and I arrived in New York on Wednesday morning on a red eye flight (and now I truly understand why they are called red-eye). We collected the lovely Tarot Goddess, Ethony, and headed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, with Matthew as our intrepid guide to NYC buses, subways and local sights. Ethony and I joined Robert Place‘s behind the scenes Tarot tour of the Met, getting the chance to see rare and original decks accompanied by Robert’s dry sense of humor. Wonderful. Not to mention that there was an exhibit on Medusa that just happened to be going on at that time as well.
That evening we had dinner at a restaurant in Chinatown discovered by Tarot boss and foodie, Theresa Reed. Delicious food, even more delicious Tarot wisdom and conversation with the coolest kids, including Al Juarez, and Rome Choi (author of Dreaming way Tarot).
On Thursday, I snuck off to the Cloisters with Matthew to see some unicorns, followed by the best pizza in Greenwich Village at Bleeker Street Pizza.
Even though it was hard to tear myself away from the city, we made it back in time for the welcome cocktail reception at the hotel, where I was a big Fan Girl and got to meet Benebell Wen, followed by a fascinating and really useful evening workshop by my friend, Shelley Carter, “Projection and the Tarot”.
At this point, I had ascended to a higher level of delirium and I was worried that my brain was already full, with three more days to go.
Friday was the official start, the real deal. All the feelings of being a teenager, going to summer camp alone, wondering where you’re going to sit in the cafeteria, resurfaced. Of course, all was well.
Readers Studio starts with the three main speakers finally revealing the topics of their presentations, a Foundation reading with a partner, and a ritual for RS First-timers. I don’t want to reveal too much about that process, come to Readers Studio and discover it yourself.
I was so happy to be a part of the Ritual and Meditation team this year, with Carolyn Cushing and Monica Bodirsky. The three sessions were based on Monica’s new, wonderful, mischievous, scary Lenormand deck, the House of Shadows. For me, these meditation sessions, as well as intention setting and integration rituals, are crucial. The mediation room is an oasis, a place of sanctuary away from the super high energy of the conference. On Friday, met our own little childhood monsters, and brought them out into the light.
Friday afternoon, not much happened. Just a master class with my hero, inspiration and Tarot deity, Mary K. Greer. I loved Mary’s presentation, and I have already started using the techniques she taught us with clients and students. Mary’s talk was entitled, “Tarot Symbol Work and Intuition Training”. Her words really hit home. She said that knowledge combined with experience, this is intuition. She encouraged us to learn as much as we can about the symbols in the Tarot, about the cards and the archetypes, that this knowledge would increase the skill and accuracy of our intuition. She also mentioned the importance of doing some kind of creative or imaginative work to boost our intuition.
Believe it or not, there’s more.
That evening, I participated in a workshop with Carrie Paris and Andrew McGregor, entitled “Reading of Remembrance”. We used their charm casting and card kit to contact our ancestors, family members who have gone before us, all conducted with respect and authenticity in a safe space created by Andrew and Carrie. I’m not ready to talk much about that, but the experience was real, profound, there were tears. Powerful.
And, even though I was an emotional raw nerve and bleary-eyed at that point, I went to Amy Zerner and Monte Farber‘s evening workshop. I adore Amy, and it was such a treat to get to see some of her original works of Enchanted Tarot art. Great experience to have my cards read by Monte, as well.
And yes, there are still two days to go.
Saturday started with a meditation back in the ritual room with Monica Bodirsky, Carolyn Cushing and me taking everyone to the House of Shadow’s “garden” card, a great way to ground and centre before the most grueling (but wonderful) day of the conference.
Snuck in a little shopping at Patrick Valenza’s booth. I love his decks, his creativity amazes me. Just when you think you are done, he takes you further down the rabbit whole with Mildred Payne and her Oracle.
First, Benebell Wen took the main stage, with her grace, humor and vast knowledge. She talked about accessing ancestral memory and retrieving past life memory through Tarot. She asserted that people are born with the memories of our ancestors, rather than as a blank slate, and taught us Tarot techniques that can act as a trigger or give us access to our unconscious mind.
In the break, Caroline Kenner took us through a Soul Retrieval Healing Circle, and we received messages from our guardians and deities. Again, this is something I would like to keep in my own heart right now, but the message was powerful, inspiring and there were tears (again). Caroline is generous, compassionate, authentic and awe-inspiring.
Pause for a moment, take a breath. Can you imagine how I was feeling at this point? Truly in another dimension. Wonderful, broken, drained, overflowing.
Finally, Tarot Master and also personal hero, Rachel Pollack, took the main stage for the last formal presentation of the conference. It was wonderful. I felt like I was in Rachel’s livingroom, just listening to her talking about Tarot. She opened with a vignette from a Dr. Who episode, truly my life has come full circle.
Rachel took it back to basics: “What is the Tarot for?”. We discussed different ways to use Tarot, why we read Tarot, how the reader and the cards work together, what is the responsibility of a reader, all fundamental questions that often get ignored or glossed over.
That evening we let off some steam at the banquet and party, and many people came in Tarot costume or in their finery. I didn’t go in costume this year, but was a little celestial in style.
Sunday morning, bright and early! Breakfast, followed by revisiting our foundation readings, and then Tarot Incubators. I joined Melissa Cynova‘s discussion group, Pop Goes Tarot. She talked about the power of relating Tarot to pop culture icons, movies, TV shows, that this is a way for non-Tarot clients to immediately connect with and understand the cards. Jaymi Elford and I created a Buffy the Vampire Slayer Major Arcana deck, again, awesome worlds collide. (And Cordelia was the hardest to pin down. Willow as High Priestess for sure.)
Finally, I returned to the meditation room for our Integration ritual, where we stood at the crossroads of the House of Shadows, but didn’t linger. Everyone received one of Monica’s wonderful House of Shadows cards, to point them in the right direction.
The end of Readers Studio is hard. A series of long, drawn out goodbyes. At this point, I was done. My Matthew was waiting for me, so I said my goodbyes and we headed back into the city and did an epic sightseeing walk. And I saw some powerfully affirming signs (which I will be mysterious about).
As I said before, if you’re thinking of going to Readers Studio next year, just book it. I’ll see you there.
Thanks to everyone who made this such a soul shaking and heart filling experience for me. And much gratitude to Wald and Ruth Ann Amberstone for making it happen each year.
I’ve been following your tarot writings for a while now and it was so cool to finally get to meet you in person! It’s too bad the conference goes by in a whir and we don’t get the quiet time to really chat it out one on one! Next time, yeah? ;-D See you in the near future.
Yes, please, Benebell! I’d love to have the chance to really chat. Hope to see you at RS2019 if not before. Ever been to Toronto? Lots of cool Tarot people here, just saying…:)
Lovely writeup! I hope to hear more about your Buffy Tarot.
Thank you! The Buffy Tarot was just an exercise in Melissa Cynova’s roundtable…other partners did Star Wars, Big Bang Theory, Gone with the Wind…amazing how fun and powerful it was to relate pop culture figures to the Tarot! Which card would be Buffy to you? Or Cordelia?
I would think that Cordelia is the Queen of Wands. Buffy is the Queen of Swords or Justice.
I chose Justice for Buffy, no question.
Many familiar faces in these photos. I’ve had a reading with Theresa Reed and I’m on her email list; I have Joanna Powell Colbert’s Gaian Tarot deck–one of my favourites–and I’m on her email list; and I have Benebell Wen’s massive Holistic Tarot book. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you, Carole! I really appreciate your comments, I adore Joanna and Theresa as well, and it was a real pleasure to meet Benebell!
This was a beautiful write up. You totally caught the essence of what the wonderful (and at times, “layered”) feel is like while capturing the names and experiences we will all enjoy remembering for years to come.
I am so very sorry for your recent loss. Thank you for your courage and stick-to-itiveness to be so present and generous in sharing your experience.
Thank you, Sharon. Your words mean a lot to me. xo