A carload of us — Bev, Lydia, Tammy, and yours truly — made the trek to Newark, NJ for the Readers Studio, a yearly event hosted by the incredible founders of the Tarot School, Wald and Ruth Ann Amberstone. It’s action-packed, educational, and enjoyable. Opening and closing sessions, three principle workshops, mini study groups, private consultations, shopping galore (tarot decks, books, jewellery, artwork, crystals, and more), and social time with folks who are astoundingly supportive and riotously funny. I came away with knowledge, love, and more tarot decks and books. Oh…and I purchased the original painting of the Star from Julie Cuccia-Watts’ Maat Tarot. Yum!
I had the great privilege of being one of the Readers Studio’s key presenters. My topic was “The Answer Is in the Question” (not exactly a surprise, is it?). People responded to the information and activities with warmth and enthusiasm. Thank you to all of you! Here are a couple of the activities that we did:
1. Turn your tarot deck face-up so you can see the images. As you go through it, create three piles — positive (“I like these cards”), negative (“I don’t like these cards”), and neutral (“Hmm…so what?”). Now write down two questions, one with a positive slant and the other with a negative slant (e.g. “What’s the best thing about…”, “What’s the worst thing about…”, “How might I best approach…”, “How should I not approach…”, etc.). Pick up your pile of positive cards and shuffle them. Pull a card from the face-down cards and turn it over. Use it to answer your “negative” question. Pick up your pile of negative cards and shuffle them. Pull a card from the face-down cards and turn it over. Use it to answer your “positive” question. This is to demonstrate that all tarot cards are neutral and that it’s our questions that tilt a card’s interpretation one way or the other.
2. Spend time harvesting questions about a topic or issue that carries energy for you right now. What in your life piques your curiosity? Write it down. Spend five to seven minutes writing down any and all questions that come to your mind about your topic. In the workshop setting, each person walked around the room to encounter three or more people. After introducing hirself to a person, s/he told the person hir topic and allowed the person to offer five questions that came to mind about the topic. Then they switched roles. The second person spoke hir issue aloud and the first person offered five questions. After this exchange, participants went to a second person, then a third. Some got four question-givers. In a non-workshop setting, you might want to jot down your topic and your own brainstormed questions, then mention your topic to trusted friends to harvest five questions from each of them. You can do this over the course of a day, a week, even a month. Only when the process feels complete do you edit, refine, omit, add, and tweak the list until you have a list of questions that will be most valuable for your exploration, whether through tarot, your journal, therapy, or personal reflection. Some people find that just the journey of collecting meaningful questions resolves something within them regarding their initial inquiry.
kevin quigley’s presentation taught me:
a) that I’m of a phlegmatic nature. I apparently demonstrated these qualities on stage.
b) that my style of tarot consultation has a traceable pattern, all the way from greeting a person at the door to the conscious changes s/he makes in hir life as a result of the session. Wow!
c) a great tarot layout to explore our style as tarot consultants. Very appropriate!
Thalassa’s presentation taught me:
a) that I’m not very good at lying. Whew!
b) that divination, being conscious, and being present in our bodies are wonderfully subversive acts. If enough of us practise these, there’s hope for our species and for our planet.
c) a terrific tarot layout concerned with change. It’s derived from the Wheel of Fortune, the Hanged One, Death, the Tower, and Judgement. Good one!
Several people had consultations with me. What a joy to witness the stories that they brought to me and that we investigated via the tarot. It’s a humbling experience for me, and one that reminds me that I’m on the right track. I applaud all of you who came to me for private sessions — your courage is amazing! I know you’ll do well in your process of transformation.
My reunion with people too numerous to mention individually (I adore ALL of you!!!) touched me deeply. There were moments of rib-aching laughter juxtaposed with moments of tenderness that brought tears to my eyes. One dreads to think of the photos that will emerge from the conference. Some of you might recognise these themes:
Superman, penguins, antennae, interpretive dance, schnaardvark with raisins, a waiter, the rat face, groupies, and the moo-goo-gai-pan chanting ritual.
On the trip home, we got a flat tire in New York State, just past the Pennsylvania border. The car company in question had an international emergency number that didn’t work. So Tammy’s mother, back in Canada, found local dealership numbers and got them to us by cellphone. An angel in the form of Dan the road worker arrived, got the spare tire on for us, then led us to a garage where we got a proper new tire. He wouldn’t take any money, telling us to do something good for someone else one day. The guy at the garage heard that we were tarot practitioners and told us that his mom does automatic writing and is connected with Lily Dale. Wow! Interestingly, Tammy’s card for the day was the Tower (boom!) and we were having a long car chat about the Wheel of Fortune (Bev’s tire).
What I most want to remember from this experience is the importance of loving support, whether through heart-melting silence, rich conversation, a song, uproarious laughter, or helpful counsel. It was present on the trip down, during the gathering, and on the way home. O Infinite Mystery, Great Goddess, thank you!
Next year’s presenters will be fantastic. The lineup includes James Wanless, Geraldine Amaral, and Rachel Pollack. Can’t wait!
More to come in future entries, but there’s a first report. Here’s a photo of me on stage, courtesy of Beth Owl’s Daughter: