Today, in Part Two of this four-part series, I’ll talk about my tarot-licious time in New York as it unfolded on Friday, 24 April. To read Part One click HERE.
Friday marked the beginning of the Readers Studio proper. During and after breakfast on the 24th, the place was abuzz as those of us already in the Marriot greeted those who were arriving and as Registration and the ever-popular Merchant Faire opened. Goodies galore — tarot decks, books, bags, cloths, jewellery, candles, and more — called out for our attention (and wallets!).
Ruth Ann Amberstone started the proceedings with a simple ritual, inviting the best qualities of the four elements and tarot suits to be present at our gathering as she held up each emblem and others drummed and rattled. This uncomplicated ceremony that Ruth Ann performs every year is deeply penetrating and sets just the right tone.
During the Meet the Instructors interviews, our three key presenters — Ellen Lorenzi-Prince, Theresa Reed, and Carrie Paris — responded to questions in ways that allowed the assembly to get to know them better as people as well as tarot practitioners. They whetted our appetites by revealing what their topics would be. The Tarot School encourages presenters to keep topics under wrap until the conference itself in case fresh, exciting material comes forth that the teachers want to include without being bound to something that’s already in print. This is genius at its most realistic.
All of us were then encouraged to pair up with someone in the room and do short readings for one another. This was the foundation reading, the consultation one does at the beginning of Readers Studio and revisits on the final day to see how skills have improved over the course of the weekend. Another bit of Amberstonian genius! My partner for the foundation reading was named Barbara. I did an original four-card spread for her question using the Motherpeace Tarot. She read for me using a 10-card pyramidal layout and the Rider-Waite-Smith deck. Barbara’s fluency with the cards and her confident delivery addressed my topic (“What is the fresh mystery that is calling me?”) very neatly.
The substantial buffet lunch nourished me so that I could do a couple of private readings for people on Friday afternoon, one with the Fountain Tarot, the other with the Voyager Tarot. Warmth filled me as the readees and I put everything together in meaningful ways. What a privilege!
Ellen Lorenzi-Prince‘s presentation was an elegant exploration of the four elements as real elements of fire, water, air, and earth rather than as abstract suit symbols. She guided a meditation for each element and each progression of numbers. In between, people were invited to share their experiences of the meditations so that we could learn from one another. Ellen asked us to come up with a single word for each element, based on our personal encounters with them during the guided journeys. Mine were:
- Fire: Expression.
- Water: Humility.
- Air: Alive.
- Earth: Merging.
Then we did something that I always relish; we each created a four-position tarot spread using our elemental words. The four questions that comprised my layout were:
- What is my ideal form of expression at this time?
- What does authentic humility look like for me at this time?
- What keeps me alive at this time?
- With what/whom is it helpful for me to merge at this time?
The cards I drew at random from the Thoth Tarot really “rang” for me and gave me a helpful map with regard to those parts of myself. This session closed with a final guided meditation during which we noticed where each element supported us. As ever, Ellen Lorenzi-Prince took us to profound places in ourselves, in the tarot, and in the cosmos with restrained grace.
After the dinner break, I offered an evening study group called A Four-Fold Path to Tarot Excellence, an exploration and enlivening of four cross-cultural archetypes — the Warrior, the Healer, the Visionary, and the Teacher — to assist us to become more well-rounded tarot practitioners who can make our consultations experiences of empowerment, creativity, love, and wisdom. I rooted it in the groundbreaking work of the late Angeles Arrien whose image graced the altar in our midst. April 24 marked the first anniversary of her death and her presence was felt in the bones. After invoking the seven directions, the four archetypes, the spirit of Angie, and the ancestors of the place where we were gathered, I presented the attributes of each archetype:
- Warrior in the North: “Show up and choose to be present.”
- Healer in the South: “Pay attention to what has heart and meaning.”
- Visionary in the East: “Tell the truth without blame or judgement.”
- Teacher in the West: “Detach from outcome.”
After some meaningful discussion, I led the 15 people through a four-card layout to help them discover how their tarot readings best embody all four energies. This was accompanied by corresponding meditation postures and instruments: rattle, drum, bell, and sticks. After we thanked and released the Supportive Beings, all felt that something worthy and transformative had taken place. I felt honoured and blessed.
A small drink and some conversation with friends brought Friday to a happy close before I retired for the night.