The three-day Readers Studio began on the 26th of April and ran until the 28th. Energy and enthusiasm permeated the hotel ballroom as the tribe gathered. Vendors tempted us with tarot and oracle decks, gorgeous fabric bags, spirit-themed jewellery, books (some out of print!), artwork, tarot-themed clothing (you should see my new vest!), and much more. Ruth Ann Amberstone called in the elements and tarot suits in a simple ritual and the occasion began.
Readers Studio always begins with a foundation reading, a 20-minute tarot reading offered to a partner, then from the same partner. One records the cards and what came up during the reading so it can be revisited on Sunday. I was paired with a pleasant young woman from Australia named Jennifer. She used the Rider-Waite-Smith deck for my reading and I used the Gran Tarot Esoterico for hers. Both of us felt satisfied with what came through in our mini sessions.
The first key presenter of the conference was Nancy Antenucci from the Twin Cities, MN area. Nancy brought in body awareness and using different senses (see with your ears, listen with your eyes…), being a witness to the sitter, and based a lot of her presentation on XXI, the World card. What I took from her session was that multiple factors contribute to a reading, and we can give ourselves permission to open ourselves to these factors, allowing them to dance in the mandorla that is the tarot experience. Ambiguity can be a gift that allows us to shed being “right” so that we can be “real” with ourselves and querents. There’s no need to fix, just receive in a way that helps the client to become a better human. I enjoyed the sense of creativity and embodiment that Nancy brought.
Dallas TX’s Tom Schick’s presentation allowed us to hear the story of Tom’s journey to the tarot through a variety of life experiences and trainings. His centred presence held my attention and was an excellent model for how a tarot practitioner can be when working with either individuals or groups. The grounding and centring activity that we did in this workshop was simple and deep, taking us (in the imagination) through our roots to a safe cave where a guide resides. A ball of energy — merging both earth and cosmos — pulsed in our hearts. I appreciated Tom’s phrase, “Belief is unnecessary! But suspension of disbelief is helpful.” Another useful statement was, “Once one has used the tarot to perceive, one can use the tarot to shape life/reality.” Each small group offered perceptions to their tablemates about their simple two-card spreads — the layout positions were, “What I do perceive that can help me” and “My barrier to an important perception”. Our table was full of excellent observations about the cards. Tom’s session had a steady, grounded pulse that nourished and centred us.
Ferol Humphrey (also of Dallas, TX) took us through an energised workshop of getting our inner editor out of the way as we turned over cards and blurted what came to us, learning to trust more fully what wants to come forth in the moment. She wove a safe and efficient container into which the unexpected could flow. Some of her open sentence blurts included: “Right now, I ____”; “I accept ____, I reject ____”; “You may embrace ____”: “My love is ____, my sex is ____”; and many more that derailed our usual way of thinking about the cards. The phrase that comes to mind when I reflect on Ferol’s presentation is “rigorous discipline that contributes to a liberating tarot encounter”.
On Saturday night, after our banquet, I offered a short workshop called Tarot as a Spiritual Practice to a group of 13 people. We used visio divina (a form of meditation or contemplation of a sacred image), simple poetry writing, and body postures/movements to take us where we needed to go with regard to our cards. I gave people a series of questions based on the last seven tarot trumps to use as the basis for journal writing, a tarot reading, group discussion, or therapy sessions. The participants engaged fully and some real “aha” moments took place. Thank you to all who attended!
On Sunday, we revisited our foundation readings with our original partners and added any bits of what we had learned or experienced over the course of the weekend to what we did before. This certainly made a difference to Jennifer and me as we came back to the cards we drew and the questions we posed.
Before lunch, seven topic tables were set up, each hosted by a different person, for a Tarot Incubation Process. If people wanted to explore and hold conversations around tarot as a business, creating their own deck, writing a tarot book, broadcasting a tarot-themed radio show, using their laptop as a “home base” for creative soul experiences, combining tarot and coaching, or learning more about historic tarot decks, there was a table for them. People came away with great ideas to take with them into the world and implement in order to become more like the tarot practitioner they want to be. Fantastic!
My overall perception of this year’s Readers Studio is that it was about entering states of being that enhance the tarot experience by shifting our perceptions in a helpful manner. Vast waves of gratitude to Ruth Ann and Wald Amberstone for hosting such a spacious, friendly, and skill-building event!