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2019 Readers Studio Wrapup

I’m at a write-in at a West Massachusetts library attempting to put all the things we did this weekend into words. These write ups seem hard to process, especially when it feels like the event isn’t over. I won’t really feel reintegrated into “normal” reality until May 6, when I board a plane back home to Portland, OR.

Official poster for Readers Studio 2019. Art by Callie French.

Another successful Readers Studio has come and gone and I sit in the liminal space which comes with having a most wonderful time. This year’s conference was transformational for me on so many levels. 

I reconnected to my tribe on a deeper level. I opened myself up to many individuals and went very deep. Told them about the various changes in my life, why I left Facebook (and may return with limiting plugins), and where I want to go next in my work. I had a wonderful talk with someone I want to continue chatting with on the conference off-seasons. My best friend and I have grown closer due to some of our discussions. I even connected to a new member of our Readers Studio family.  I feel a renewed sense of belonging.

The material presented in both Divination Day (Thursday’s pre-studio conference) and in the Readers Studio classes gave me information which I will be putting into my practice immediately. I feel like I have leveled up with some skills, and can grow my practice in ways I didn’t think about.

A collage of all the instructors from the classes I took. This includes Divination Day, Readers Studio proper, a study group, and an incubator.
A collage of all the instructors from the classes I took. This includes Divination Day, Readers Studio proper, a study group, and an incubator.

Readers Studio classes tend to lie between giving new techniques or having an experience. I felt this year brought a lovely mix of both. Ethony Dawn shared her 13 divination muses with us. A wonderful system, which I will bring to my practice immediately. George Koury showed us just how deep a 3-card reading could be with his “Peter Pan” spread. And Sasha Graham brought us deep into the fertile ground with magic and transformation drawn from a single card’s imagery. Really powerful stuff. Their experiences and knowledge transformed me to my core and I feel ready to tackle on the new challenges and changes life brings.

My RS 2019 loot. Four books, three crystals, and a lovely purification spray.

I didn’t plan on buying goodies from the vendors this year. However, the stones have been calling me and I purchased a labradorite stone and a selenite wand, both to integrate in my tarot travels. I bought Paula Scardamalia’s wonderful Fiction for Tarot Writers, and got it signed. I received a copy of Ethony’s Your Tarot Court, which is out this month! She honored me by using examples from the Triple Goddess Tarot. Liz Worth, handed me a copy of her latest book, The Power of Tarot, which covers topics we normally don’t think about in our practices. Last, and definitely not least, Lisa Freinkel Tishman gifted me with a copy of her Mindful Tarot, a book I’ve been chomping at the bit to get. So, for once I will be leaving with more printed books than ever. I look forward to spending time with all my new treasures and seeing what information they offer me. Oh, and I also won a wonderful raffle prize: a Purifying Spray from crones and stones. It’s been a helpful companion as I reintegrate.

As I stated above, I’m not back in my “reality” yet. I’m hanging with my friend Carolyn Cushing, who has opened up her house, her town, and her practice for me this week. We’re doing a poetry oracle event, I’ll be teaching Pop Culture Tarot with the Mass. Tarot group on Saturday, and then we cohost a tarot and writing retreat on Sunday. I look forward to the experiences this week brings to me.

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May 2019 Planning Spread

To recap, in 2019 I’m using these decks: Awakened Soul Oracle, the Luminous Tarot, and Mudras for Awakening: The Energy Body Deck. I chose them because they fit in with the idea of giving me a theme, a means to apply the theme, and a physical hand position to guide me into the lesson. This last card sits at my desk and helps remind me of my goals and gives me support when I need it.

Theme: Silence
How: 6 of Pentacles
Helper: 31. Inner Truth

May 2019 Planning Spread.

Ah, May… the time of the year in which most of my conferences end. It seems fitting to see Silence as a theme for this month. I’ve spent a lot of time in the past months talking, promoting, and sharing ideas. This month, I’m being called to still the sounds, and listen. Listen to my body, listen to my mind, listen to the world and what others have to offer. Ethony says, “I know when silence is all that is needed” and I agree. Let the words and sounds of what is around me guide me this month.

Showing me how to still my mouth is the 6 of Pentacles. I’ve always liked the balance this card brings. Reciprocity, or balanced give and take is the key of this card. I’ll reset the balance of noise by stilling my own voice and allowing others a chance to speak and be heard. I love how the image in this card seems to radiate out from a figure’s mouth. I’ll honor the spheres of sound around me and let the reflection teach and guide me.

The mudra for this month is Inner Truth. It’s form assists in communication and integrity. It also benefits the vocal cords by bringing them balance. I see this mudra being an important one for this month as I attempt to bring silence into my world. I envision myself using the mudra as I sit and witness the words of others. I hold space for others and allow their voice to shine. Once again, I will attempt to incorporate this hand position in my morning and evening rituals.

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Tips and Tricks to Surviving Tarot Conventions

Official poster for Readers Studio 2019. Art by Callie French.

I’m getting ready for my third tarot conference of 2019. This is the big one, the one I consider a family reunion… Readers Studio in New York. There’s something about traveling cross country for a conference which sets off my anxiety a bit more. What do I pack, what can I count on? So many details can get lost in the excitement and confusion.

This post contains some tips and tricks I’ve learned over many years of flying from Portland to New York, to have the best Readers Studio experience I can.

Limit the Decks You Bring

I have an extensive tarot and oracle collection. Readers Studio gives me the chance to use many of the decks I don’t use in my private or event practices. Sadly, due to my traveling style, I can’t bring everything with me. Therefore, I limit the amount of decks I carry. I’ve found that over a four day conference, I never use more than three decks. Therefore, I bring:

  1. A familiar deck. This is a deck you know inside and out and can read with while under pressure. This becomes a trusted friend and comfort during some readings.
  2. A lesser known deck. Sometimes this is the last purchase I haven’t had time with or a deck with an interesting structure. In any case, it can be a good get-you-out of your rut deck or the wildly creative deck.

Lenormand/Oracle: Same rule applies to Oracles and Lenormand decks. I recommend the smaller/mini decks if you have them. Convention tables aren’t big enough for everyone to do a personalized grand tableau. Mini decks conserve space on the table and in your luggage. 

This limitation seems conservative. However, I know I’ll be walking away from the convention with at least one, or two, new decks for my collection. One NEVER goes home with less than they bring. It’s a tarot convention law. Keep lots of space in your luggage.

Know Your Safe Spaces

The energy in classes or the ballroom can overwhelm. In addition to your hotel room, conferences create several “safe spaces” for attendees to retreat to. The foyer is always an option. It’s within earshot of the classes, but does not have all the bodies in it. There are many sofas and chairs to seat you.

The Tarot School creates two unique spaces every year: the Lounge, and the Meditation Room. Both of these areas are safe spaces for you. The Lounge has blow up chairs and sofas, and pillows. It’s a fun space to have low-key conversations with others. The Meditation room is a SILENT Space for you to regroup. Conference staff post signs indicating each location and the program guides also let you know where the rooms can be found.

You can always opt out of activities and spend time in your room to sleep, shower, or refresh. A lot goes on during divination conferences and you will NOT be able to do it all. Trust me, I’ve tried.

Employ a Touchstone

Being a first time attendee at a conference can be scary when you don’t know anyone. I’m a Readers Studio Ambassador so I help a small group of first timers get through their experience. There were no Ambassadors at my first Readers Studio. Thankfully, I recognized two people from other West coast gatherings. They became my touchstones (they consented to this) and I consider them family.

A touchstone person is someone you can reach out to if you need anything. Consider me a touchstone. If you need anything, are feeling bad, or are nervous, please reach out to me and I will do my best to help you out. The same goes for all the other Ambassadors. At Readers Studio Ambassadors wear a purple lanyard around their neck. 

Also, everyone at Readers Studio is super great and helpful. Once first timers know more people, they know who to reach out to for assistance.

Bring a Notebook

Image of the front page of my 2015 Readers Studio notebook in a Moleskine Cahier.
Example of my RS2015 cover notebook

Writing on computer is easier for me. However, at a tarot conference, I take lots of notes by hand. There’s no way I can type as fast as the information comes. Plus, I want to capture all the details I can. Sessions at most conferences aren’t recorded and not all of the presentation slides are available. I take lots of notes and supplement them with pictures from my phone of relevant slides. Sometimes I use colored pens to color code, jot more thoughts, or add in bits I may have missed from reviewing what notes others have taken. I dislike missing out.

I’ve found Moleskine Cahiers to be a great portable notebook with more than enough pages in it to track notes, conversations, or other tidbits. At the end of every Studio, it becomes a scrapbook which I refer material from over and over again.

I also bring business cards. That way I can hand them out to everyone I connect with. Do you run a podcast, or do you have a book or deck? Even if it’s coming out, I recommend you make promo materials and bring them! We love knowing what’s going on in our tribe.

Know Your Limitations

As I mentioned above, Readers Studio has a lot of activities. You can’t do them all. I’ve tried to do everything in past years when I was younger, and have never completed everything in one go. No one will look at you wrong if you take a break. 

Early rises can take advantage of the Breakfast round tables. Those are fun. 

Night owls can stay up later and take a break-out class, or hang out with the community in the bar. Some of my favorite interactions have happened in the bar, or in relaxed spaces with everyone.

I try to follow a general convention rule of: 1 shower a day, 2 meals a day, and 6 hours of sleep! It’s harder as a West coaster going to an East coast con, but your milage may vary.

How do you keep sane through your divination conferences? Have any other knowledge to add? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear how others survive the jam-packed and fun schedules.

Also, if you live in Western Massachusetts I’ll be visiting the area from April 29th to May 6. I’ll be signing books, leading some classes, and running the Decoding the Messages of the Muse Retreat at the Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton, MA. Details in the link regarding time, cost, and registration. All levels of writers and tarot enthusiasts welcome! Come see how tarot can help your writing.

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April 2019 Planning Spread

To recap, in 2019 I’m using these decks: Awakened Soul Oracle, the Luminous Tarot, and Mudras for Awakening: The Energy Body Deck. I chose them because they fit in with the idea of giving me a theme, a means to apply the theme, and a physical hand position to guide me into the lesson. This last card sits at my desk and helps remind me of my goals and gives me support when I need it.

Theme: Leadership
How: Page of Cups
Helper: 21. Determination

April 2019 Planning Spread.

Leadership is the theme for April. Ethony says this about the card, “your actions and words dictate the type of leader you are. You are called to empower others and what you say you are going to do. Don’t be afraid to shine with confidence in your abilities and skill.” I have several events going on at the end of this month (and in May). Time to think about what type of a leader I am and how I can use my poise and position to help others grow and learn. 

How I’ll do this is through the Page of Cups. I see this court card as a visionary. They have imagination, and youthfulness. Combined this is an inspiring messenger to receive. Leaders have a vision, a game plan of what they want others to know and take away from an experience. So, I’ll start with the end in mind and use my creative skills and talents to become a leader who delivers that key idea.

This month’s mudra is Determination. This position is said to assist in transformation and aid in spiritual discipline. Two key aspects for leadership. I believe leaders need to be flexible. While they do have an idea for where they want to end up, sometimes the delivery or methods to get there need to bend or ebb and flow with the tides. This mudra, when used before events, could help me transform and be flexible to the messages I am delivering. Be positive, assertive, and know I lead others to a positive destination. Once again, I will attempt to incorporate this mudra in my morning and evening rituals.

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March 2019 Planning Spread

To recap, in 2019 I’m using these decks: Awakened Soul Oracle, the Luminous Tarot, and Mudras for Awakening: The Energy Body Deck. I chose them because they fit in with the idea of giving me a theme, a means to apply the theme, and a physical hand position to guide me into the lesson. This last card sits at my desk and helps remind me of my goals and gives me support when I need it.

Theme: Devotion
How: Knight of Wands
Helper: 40. Reverence

March 2019 Planning Spread.

March’s theme is Devotion. Ethony says this about the card, “I bring an open heart to my work in the world.” Devotion comes from something we are passionate about. There’s lots I’m passionate about: tarot, writing, teaching, books. You’ll find I’m rather committed to and disciplined when it comes to these things. I spend a lot of time reading, practicing, and creating new ways to share my love for all these things. With NTWS kicking off the beginning of March, I get a rare opportunity to share my devotion to all my passions. I get to teach tarot, share my book around to those who may want to purchase and read it, and I get to write about the new connections I’m seeing in our community. March is a great month for me to rekindle my passions and devote myself to the arts.

How I’ll do this is through the Knight of Wands. This knight is very passionate. They’re so passionate that they get excited about every little nuance of their desire. They shake and shiver with anticipation, and rush forward to share their love to everyone who will listen. In a sense, I’m the Knight of Wands personified. When I get excited about something, I don’t just smile and enjoy it. I rush into the art full force and scream my love for it. I wiggle, I get really animated, and I share the love for it to everyone. *Ahem* If you’ve seen me in person, you know exactly what a force of nature I can be. So, I guess I need to be me this month… get excited for what I love and share it with the world.

The mudra for this month is Reverence. It assists in divine union, and spiritual devotion. I love that this mudra and theme align in synchronicity. Each mudra card has a lot of fun information printed on the back of each card. The focus of this position says, “I bow with reverence to the divine heart within.” It almost echoes what Ethony says of the theme card. I view what I do with a sense of reverence and this month I’ll be able to share it physically using this mudra. Once again, I will attempt to incorporate this mudra in my morning and evening rituals