Monday, April 23, 2007

2007 Readers Studio Recap

Getting there was the hard part, but that was my fault. One act of stupidity set off a chain reaction that left me stranded at Reagan National Airport for almost six hours. I could have driven to New York in that time and probably should have in hindsight. I haven’t flown since before 9-11, so all the new security measures had me a little bewildered, but that wasn’t the problem. I went to the wrong airport. I thought I was to fly out of Dulles International Airport but my flight was departing from National. Oh well, I thought, no big deal. It’s a commuter shuttle and I’ll just catch the next one. No such luck. The next flight was full. At that point I knew I would miss the entire first day’s session of The Reader’s Studio. I wanted to get in my car and go home, but my bag had traveled ahead of me and was sitting in LaGuardia Airport. Nothing to do but make sure I got on one of the next two flights out. I made it on the next one, but by the time I arrived at the conference, the last session had just ended. I was in no mood for it anyway, so I went to my room, chilled and became human again, then went down to the lounge to see who I could find.

Corrine Kenner’s was the first familiar face I saw. I said, “I believe a Cosmopolitan is in order.” She jumped out of her seat and hugged me, “Soooo glad you made it!” she said and invited me to sit down with the others. Joanna Colbert, James Wells, and Ferol Humphrey among others were noshing and introductions were made. Too embarrassed to admit I had gone to the wrong airport, I simply said, “I missed my flight.” Oh, I 'fessed up later that weekend, and we all got a good laugh from it. I so appreciated that warm welcome. It helped ease me out of my aggravation and tension and brought me safely into the embrace of the tarot community. And what a wonderful group of people it truly is.

I checked in with Ruth Ann Amberstone and was greeted with, “We missed you!” You’d think we were old friends, but this was the first time I’ve met any of these wonderful people in person. Her husband and partner of The Tarot School, Wald, greeted me in the hallway as I left the conference room and again I felt welcomed by a familiar friend. That’s how the weekend went, time after time, people I had only communicated with online materialized before my eyes as faces and smiles and hugs.

By the way, the gig is up for you lurkers here. I met several people who are regular readers of 78 Notes to Self but who do not comment or participate. I want to see your names in the comments section, you hear me? It was so wonderful to know there are lots of you out there who feel you know me and I want to get to know you, too. For me, meeting other tarot readers, both professional and non, was the highlight of the weekend. Though the sessions were both informative and full of incredible insight and gave me lots to chew on over the coming weeks, connecting with so many of you in the tarot world was so very rewarding. It’s so easy to communicate with your own peeps, you know?

Getting up in time to make the 7:30 am Breakfast Roundtable with James Wells was a bit of a challenge for this night owl. Mornings? What are those? But I didn’t want to miss a single minute more than I’d already missed of this event. Some of my friends from Aeclectic Tarot were fantastic, prodding me to ask Dr. Elinor Greenberg for her notes from her session on Tarot Counseling I had missed the day before. They filled me in on what I missed. Marcia Masino was conducting the first session on Saturday and Mary Greer was scheduled for the afternoon. Robert Place was there selling his new Buddah deck as well as his prints. I came home with The High Priestess from his yet unfinished The Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery. I really, really want a copy of his Alchemical Tarot, but it is out of print and if I can locate a copy the price is a bit too steep for my cheapness. Jeannette Roth was there from The Tarot Garden, too, with many hard to find gems. And I won a prize! Door prize drawings were held all weekend long generously donated by the vendors as well as others. The schwag from this event was amazing. I came home with two free tarot decks, the Cleopatra and the Witches Tarot, plus the 2007 Llewellen Tarot Reader, lots of helpful handouts on various subjects from publishing your own book to techniques of reading. After hours, you could sign up for private readings with the likes of Rachel Pollack, Mary Greer, Corinne Kenner, James Wells, Julie Cuccia-Watts. The sign up sheets were already full by the time I got there, but Corinne did a short read for me anyway. Being surrounded by over a hundred tarot readers, I wasn’t really worried about whether or not I’d get a reading that weekend.

We’d get into deep discussions late into the night. Being among others who more or less share my own quirky, eclectic, mish-mashed spiritual ideas brought a sense of comfortableness. I didn’t feel like I had to watch my P’s and Q’s, not that I would have anyway, but still, it's nice to not only be accepted but welcomed into a community. At one point, folks were sharing about how tarot had contributed to their personal evolution, a question prompted by James Wells. While it was an excellent open-ended question, the kind he is known for, I found myself disgruntled by the common response: that while predictive readings were “okay” most people who answered spoke about “moving beyond that” and primarily using tarot for personal growth. Ok, fine, and that’s all well and good, but let’s be honest, brutally honest, here. You’ve got the cards, you have the skills, you’re gonna ask the mundane questions, too. I didn’t answer the question because I was getting the itch to be an ass, so I went out for a smoke instead. My answer would likely have been, “Tarot hasn’t done a thing for me except contribute to the manifestation of my out of control Obsessive Compulsive Disorder."

I guess it kinda tweaks me that there's this distancing going on in the tarot world from divination and fortune telling. I get it, cranks and charlatans have given tarot a bad rap, but the tradition of fortunetelling tarot is valid as well. Rather than distance myself from it, I embrace it as part and parcel of the whole thing. Because I do want to know what might happen next week and if tarot can give me a glimpse into that, I'm all for it. It is a tremendous tool for personal growth, so it is certainly proper to focus on that, write, teach, and talk about that. But please. While there may be a few of you who seriously do not use the tarot for divination, most of us do and we shouldn't have to feel like we're scumming up the cards to do it. It's not immature tarot reading. It's just another facet of tarot reading.

Corrine took notes the entire time and has put them up on her blog, so I'm not going to repeat them here. Suffice it to say I was incredibly inspired and enjoyed every minute. I would recommend The Readers Studio to anyone interested at all in tarot. The Amberstones don't distinguish between beginner readers and more advanced, we're all put in the same classes, the same pool, and we all swim together. I recognize the cost of the event might be prohibitive for some, but as conferences go it's not that high. I didn't share a hotel room this year because it was my first time, but next year I will. I might drive up next time as well. Some folks wrapped the trip around other activities such as visiting family and friends in the northeast, too, so that helps. If it is even remotely affordable, do it next year. I'll see you there, and next time I'll be sure to go to the right airport so I don't miss a thing.
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