Blog, Conferences

Readers Studio Day Three

Note: The hotel didn’t offer wifi in the rooms and I didn’t want to pay the cost of having it there. Therefore these reports are being post dated.

In the third and final installment, we find out what I did the last day; see just how deep I go with a tarot reading; and find out what happens when I stay awake all night long.

I slept in this morning. I really wanted to try either the second roundtable discussion or go to the yoga/meditation room but I figured my body needed the rest. When I tumbled downstairs for breakfast, I got invited to sit with another attendee and we just chatted about tarot and our normal lives. It was a relaxing break in-between all the action. Once full, I was ready to head out again and snag a spot for the final day’s activities.

Foundation Readings Revisited
Our first assignment was to regroup with our Day One Foundation reading buddy and revisit the reading. Thankfully Paul was just a table over from where I sat so we quickly hopped to work. Using as much as I could recall from the sessions, I plunged deeply back into the reading. I used some of the astrology to connect, as well as moving the cards around to get various perspectives. Paul blew my mind when he related the King of Swords (in the Shadowscapes) as the man who does his best thinking on “his throne”. I laughed at the joke but I could totally see where he was coming from. In the end, I felt like I was able to give him a much smoother reading that was deeper than what I had tried to do in the first part. Likewise, I learned more about the cards Paul had drawn for me when he reread them with the knowledge of the “stage cards” and some of the other techniques he learned throughout the weekend.

Wald gave some of us the ability to come on stage and relate our findings. I got to represent the first-timer group and talked about how this reading pushed me into the deep end, deeper than I had ever been able to get to and that it was a glorious thing. “Tarot is a powerful investment,” Wald says. “And it will grow and shift and deepen as I learn, read, and go to conferences and network.” I also related the notion of personal body placement. During my first reading, Paul was on my “bad ear” side (i’m deaf in my right ear) so it made for a bit of a strain to understand and grok what was reading both as a reader and client. However, during this revisit I sat on the other side of Paul where I could hear him better. I felt that this sitting also cleared my head and allowed me to do the work that I needed to do better in the reading. In the end, I was proud of myself for standing up in front of everyone and sharing my thoughts. I get horrible stage fright.

James Wells—Inquiry Circle Process
I’ve been reading James Wells’s Circle Process blog for awhile now. So it was a treat to have him get up in front of us all to show us exactly how it works. It’s a three part process where he asks a group a question, allows them to answer and pose a new question, and then he has the rest of us discuss the question and create a new set of questions that he and the first group then answers. Corrine, Mary, and Barbara up to the stage to start the process.

Themes of maps, patterns, and what tarot will become were the focus of our discussions. I picked a great spot for this as I got to hear the thoughts of Susa Black, Wald, Ruth Ann, and a few others. We totally went deep with our thoughts and it’s going to be interesting to see how tarot changes throughout the next few centuries and beyond.

Closing Session and Beyond
During the closing session, I ended up winning a wonderful majors-only deck designed by Beth Seilonen, called Watchers, (#33 of 100). The wild and primal figures just called out to me and they felt as if they belonged to the West Coast Indian tribes. I was able to talk to Beth for awhile after the Readers Studio ended and she told me the story of how the deck and the Watchers came to be in the East coast. I highly encourage everyone to go check out Beth’s Cat’s Eye tarot website, she produces a wealth of new tarot decks all the time. The one she made AT the conference is so drool worthy that I may have to acquire it for my collection when she produces it. I look forward to working with this deck and seeing what the Watchers have to say about the Pacific Northwest.

Wald and Ruth Ann performed the closing ceremony by handing out certificates of attendance to us all. I felt like I was back in college where everyone cheered for everyone else as they received their documents. They told us who was going to be the three master class presenters for next year, which got me drooling and hoping I can figure out how to go. We then dismissed the elements and the con was officially over.

I hung out and watched as people milled around to exchange last minute details. Susa had purchased a new deck and she asked me if I’d help her break it in. Honored, I allowed her to do a wonderful reading for me. We parted and I meandered around a bit more to see if any of the vendors needed assistance. Rose grabbed my arm and we headed out into the lobby to find a trolley for the boxes they needed to ship back.

As we wandered back to the ballroom, excitement rang out from beyond the doors. Apparently Ruth Ann had fallen off the stage and hurt herself. We all called to the front desk to get an ambulance and then waited in the wings for them to arrive. They finally showed up and whisked her away to a hospital. (We overheard later that she broke her collarbone and a rib. Since I haven’t heard from her much since being home, I hope she’s resting well and healing well.)

The mood now dimmed and darkened, we decided that staying in for a last meal was on the agenda. With the Tarot Media Company booth all packed we exited the ballroom to forage. Andrew, Rose, me and Susa had a light snack and a drink to commemorate the evening. Susa and I chatted more about tarot and writing and books and studies with The Tarot School and how that was going. I’m thrilled that I get to see her and everyone else soon at SF BATS this August. I’m also looking forward to Susa’s book on tarot and ritual, which promises to breathe new life into tarot and magical practices. At one point, I was called away, only to schedule a tarot reading for when I got home.

Rose and I headed back up to my room to chat more. We talked shop and shared the tarot decks we had brought with us. Andrew showed up later and provided a soundtrack for our chatting. I did a two-hour reading with her that was part reading and part transformative ritual. During this long session, kender called to tell me of the death of Osama bin Laden. Being in NYC during this was interesting. Ground Zero was too far away but the air had a bit of electricity in it. Most of the people I talked to about it seemed relieved about the event and thought it brought closure to this chapter in our history. Nothing negative or positive was said and it was a good feeling to have.

Rose and Andrew left to go to sleep around 1am and I left my room for the last time. I snuck downstairs to check out and then I used the wifi in the lobby to just web surf and chat with my West coast friends. Around 4am I grabbed a ride over to the airport where I ended up talking tarot and Qabalah with a gentleman who was on his way to Florida.

The security gates opened and I swiftly went through and got back to my gate. I ended up chatting a bit more with one other attendee who was on the same flight as I was. We didn’t sit next to one another for all I wanted to do was sleep on both plane rides home. I didn’t get much sleep on either flight but thankfully the flights weren’t delayed. Upon getting home, I DID sleep for a blessed 6 hours in my own bed. And it felt glorious— dreams of tarot running circles in my head.

Blog, Conferences

Readers Studio Day Two

Note: The hotel didn’t offer wifi in the rooms and I didn’t want to pay the cost of having it there. Therefore these reports are being post dated.

In this installment, we learn about the second day’s activities at the Readers Studio, discover how me and a partner won a cuppy cake, and how I partied hard with other tarot enthusiasts.

Sleep eluded me once again for I feel asleep sometime after 3am. I figure that the next time I do an East Coast trip, I’ll end up working up to that time zone by adjusting my sleep schedule at home for about two weeks before I head out. But I got up early enough to shower, organize myself for the day’s activities and get downstairs to nab a bagel for the Breakfast Roundtable with Mary Greer.

Breakfast Roundtable with Mary K. Greer
Unlike many of the other offerings at the Readers Studio, the breakfast round tables are more participant oriented. In this session, Mary asked us to discuss our personal pet peeves regarding tarot. She explained that we all have a certain bias towards tarot and learning and the fundamentals (we’re all fundies) and that through acknowledging where we have bias can help us overcome these blocks. She then passed around her tarot deck and gave each one of us a minute or so to discuss our opinion.

I loved many of my peers responses and have written down some things that touched me. As for what I said, I talked about how many of us take the tarot too seriously. When people ask me my involvement in the cards, I tell people that I’ve been playing with the cards since I was 13. Tarot started out as a game—which I view as being a part of the spirit of play—and it’s so easy to get caught up in the “seriousness” of learning meanings, spreads, etc. One thing I’m trying to do is just play with my deck(s) and learn what amazing ideas can just come out when one plays with the cards.

Barbara Moore— Spreads class
Barbara’s fun session reminded us that while we view the cards as our “tools”, the spreads we use and lay the cards out are also items in our toolbox. Therefore, she wanted to take us through a journey of how we can create our own spreads. Her discussion of creating spreads broke down into three parts: create a spread to focus a reading, shapes the answer, and makes interpreting cards easier. She also told us that audience participation wasn’t required but correct answers would win a lovely cupcake.

I ended up being partnered with the lovely rockstar, Theresa Reed, also known as The Tarot Lady. Upon hearing about the cuppy cake prizes, Theresa declared that we had to win one. So we set off to brainstorm ideas for our spread. We randomly picked a card, the 3 of cups, to base our collaboration off. Then we patiently waited until Barbara called upon us to share our brainstorm ideas. She was pleased with our response so we won our choice of a cupcake. We agreed on a scrumptious chocolate cupcake that had pudding inside. We then cut the cake in half, ritual style, and slowly enjoyed our win.

Our five card reading took off from being fueled by sugar. Using Barbara’s techniques we created a spread that not only could be used as both ritual and spread but it also was very flexible about how cards could be read and moved around to create even more meanings. At the end of this class, we were invited to submit our spreads back to Barbara who promised to compile our results into a book for all of us to treasure. As a gift from both Theresa and I to you all, I’ve designed this download of our spread for you to read and try our what we created. I hope you all enjoy. We created magic here and I can’t wait to start using this spread in both my tarot practice and magical one.

Caitlin Matthews— Significators class
I was definitely looking forward to Caitlin’s class on Significators. They’re one aspect to tarot that I’ve never really understood or used. I’ve never really liked the traditional method of pulling significators, which is match the court card that closely resembles the appearance of the client. Oh, how I was wrong. Caitlin gave a wonderful class on the various ways you can draw and use significators to add depth and insight into tarot readings. One method had us pulling cards as if they were stacked as a book in our hands. Loved that idea (but then again, I love books). She showed the class showing us a “mapped” method that uses two decks and two significators to show how the energies surrounding the situation can be worked on. This is something I will also play with in the upcoming weeks to see how it fits best in my practice.

Finally, she ended the class by showing us how significators can be used in a powerful and transformative ritual that can bring change into our lives. Caitlin also blew me away with her singing voice as she used it to still the excitement of working with tables into silence throughout the afternoon.

We were given an hour or so after Caitlin’s class to prep for the banquet. It sorta felt like tarot prom night as we all headed up to our rooms to don our finest tarot costumes and regalia. Because I travel so light, I brought only one real fun item to wear— the page shirt that my mom bought me especial for this trip. Originally, I was going to wear it with my purple skirt but the hotel was cold so I put on my khaki capris and felt more page-like. Then I bounced down to the lobby and started admiring the attires. Pages, Fools, High Priestesses, Witches, the happy squirrel, and even the Pizzaphant all attended our gathering. We had steampunk characters and others dressed in their fineries. During dinner, I sat with my friends from the Tarot Media Company and author, Paul Quinn, of Tarot for Life fame. Paul and I had a lovely discussion on puns, writing projects, and our cats. I was very glad to have had the opportunity to connect with him. The Tarot School brought in some musicians to entertain during dessert and they reminded me a lot of my friend s00j and her sounds. I didn’t get to enjoy the music for too long as I was getting ready for the night’s class with James Wanless.

James Wanless— Fool to Fortune
Apparently the idea of Fortune and focus was strong for me this weekend, as I attended a second break out class with the word Fortune in it. James Wanless is a fun teacher. His class taught us a technique to bring the first 11 cards from the major arcana in a way to help clarify one’s goals in life and to attain our goals in life. It was such a lovely and fun thing to do with the majors only; again, something I normally don’t do in a day-to-day setting.

The one thing that stood out in this class for me was that my partner and I kept selecting the same cards but in different orders. It was like we were orbiting around one another with our paths with what we wanted to do. Again, this process taught me lots and I want more time to play with the process and see where it fits into my practice and offerings.

More Nightly Fun
After the class, I hung out with Andrew and Rose again. We sat in the lounge and caught up on some internet silliness. Rose and I talked about her Meetup groups, and I think she almost has me convinced to sign up and start a group of my own here in PDX. We also brainstormed more ideas for my book and that had me chomping at the bit for a chunk of writing time.

I did break away for a bit to chat with Marcus and Tali from Tarot Professionals to ask them some specific questions. I also got to wish Dan Pelletier a happy Beltane just as the clock struck after midnight. Toddled off to bed around 1am again feeling very happy and full of love from this wonderful community.

Blog, Conferences

Readers Studio Day One

Note: The hotel didn’t offer wifi in the rooms and I didn’t want to pay the cost of having it there. Therefore these reports are being post dated.

In this installment, we learn about the first day’s activities at the Readers Studio, find out what my only purchase was, and just how many adjectives I try to use to describe this event.

I set my alarm for 6am, thinking that 3 hours of sleep would be alright and still give me enough time to get ready for a full day’s worth of learning. My body, of course, had other plans, for it woke me up around 7am. Ah, well, it still gave me time to shower, relax, enjoy some silence and eat a lovely breakfast with two other attendees. Meals at the Readers Studio remind me of being back at college where you just order what you want and sit where ever and with whoever. It was a nice change of pace from thinking I’d be eating alone for most meals.

Once I finished eating, I wandered around the lobby until I found the ballroom where we’d be spending most of the three days in. I checked in and received my badge, goodie bag and info packets, one of which had the words: “DO NOT OPEN UNTIL THE FIRST TIMERS CEREMONY” package. It was slim but contained something that was clearly not just paper. Thoughts of high school hazing ran through my head as I wondered what was in store for us first timers. I then entered the ballroom and selected a close spot so that I could be able to hear.

Then I meandered around the room and looked at all the wonderful vending items. My friend Aaron Rathbun was selling his wonderfully hand-crafted leather tarot cases, Beth Seilon was selling her hand made majors decks, Dan from the Tarot Garden was pushing decks, and there were tarot books galore from Schiffer and Llewellyn. The one thing that I had to see, however, was Joanna Powell Colbert’s Gaian Tarot. She had a few of the large sized decks with her and they were going for a special price. I looked over at the numbers each deck had and laid my eyes on #688.

That’s when I knew I was in trouble. Anyone who knows me well, knows that one of my lucky numbers is 88. Decks that have this number are special to my heart. Knowing that I was “in trouble” I gave into the hyper energy and purchased the deck. I have plans for this deck and as it was designed with the PacificNorthwest culture, people and energies in mind, it will become the focus of my tarot-based magical system. I squeed and ran off to sit back down and admire my new toy.

Opening Session & Foundation Reading
Wald and Ruth Ann greeted everyone and laid out the plan for the three days. They did a wonderful opening ceremony that called forth the elements and the spirits of tarot. Then they interviewed the three tarot teachers for the big classes, Corrine Kenner, Barbara Moore, and Caitlin Matthews who discussed what they were going to teach us and how this will help us grow as readers. I was particularly interested in what Caitlin had to say. She spoke about how we, as tarot readers, are in the edge of society and what this means. “We’re on the edge for a reason,” she said, “We’re there for when people run to the edge, we can help them.” We are keepers of the oracle and the spirits of the oracle are with us. It was a very potent thing to say and it solidified many of my life-long feelings about how I identify more as a being “on the edge” of everything and not really feeling apart of society in or out.

We then partnered up with someone and did the famous foundation readings. My partner was the awesome Paul Nagy who gave me a lovely reading about what this weekend held in store for me. In turn, I gave him a reading on a similar question. We took photos of the cards we used so that when we got back together on Sunday, we’d be able to quickly revisit the reading.

First Timers Ceremony
We were instructed to open our packets and remove the item inside. Inside my packet, was a stick with a small yellow bag attached. They had us stand up and put the “satchel” over our right shoulders. We were the fool, they said. We were just starting out on the Readers Studio adventures. We were then instructed to open the bag and pull out the tools. Inside each bundle were each Ace from the minor arcana. We then laid it out in circle, and were instructed to point to each Ace with our “wands” and repeat “tarot, tarot, tarot.” Then we were instructed to raise our wands high into the air, and point to the ground with our other hand and repeat, “tarot, tarot, tarot.” Once finished, we were deemed initiated magicians and ready to accept the wisdom of the readers studio. It was a lovely ceremony and left me feeling invigorated and ready for whatever was next. We had a lovely luncheon and I chatted with more and more people from all over the world.

Corrine Kenner–Astrology Masterclass
Astrology is one of the few areas of the occult that I have not really delved into yet. I know bits and pieces of astrology, enough to know what my friends say about things here and there. I know my sun sign, moon sign, and ascendant, but still really can’t fully interpret my chart. I haven’t gotten to The Tarot School’s lesson on astrology. So being introduced to astrology by Corrine Kenner was a treat. She broke the parts down in an easy to understand format and then had us fill out what each house meant on her worksheets. She then taught us some techniques to bring astrology and tarot together. I had a wonderful table for this session. An actual astrologer on my left, who not only answered some of the questions I had but also read bits and pieces of my chart which left me feeling amazed and in awe of how the universe’s energies play out. My partner and I found we work rather well as a leo-libra pair. And this reminded me of how I felt around my best friend Keli (who is a libra). I left this class feeling like I could interject bits and pieces of astrology lore into my readings and it made me want to work on what Corrine taught us a bit more.

Shawn Nacol–Finding Fortune
After dinner with friends, I headed downstairs to find my first Break out session. I decided, after hearing rave reviews from others, that Shawn Nacol’s Finding Fortune was the course to take. He taught us a wonderful method that could help find specificity in our readings. Being specific and helping my clients set goals and have a plan is one thing I strive to do in my own practice so having Shawn’s process and techniques will help focus my readings, and steer my clients to their success. One of the women at my table had brought a small deck of tourist cards that she found in the hotel’s lobby. After we did the homework that Shawn presented, she pulled the cards out and asked me to draw one. I pulled the Lion King card which she then read to me as if it were a card from a “real” tarot deck.
I’ve always loved collecting free cards like this and loved the idea that tarot can work even if it’s something that has been found. I’ll be adding a section on Found Tarot into my book, Experimental Tarot Techniques based off this idea.

Nightly Affairs
After the class, I met up with fellow West coasters Rose, Andrew, and Jude (who is the creator of The Tarot Game) in the lounge. We spent a few more hours chatting about tarot, life, and other random topics. Andrew and I had a rousing discussion on tv shows, zombies (and zombie plans). Around 1am I retired to my room to chat with kender, and hopefully find the sleep that was eluding me. Stay tuned to the next post in which I answer that question and tell you more!

Blog, Conferences

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Note: The hotel didn’t offer wifi in the rooms and I didn’t want to pay the cost of having it there. Therefore these reports are being post dated. That said… here’s how my travels to New York went.

Left for the airport at 8:30. Glad I did for when I arrived, the security line was longer than I expected at that time of day. Took me a good half hour to get through the line. Once I repacked all my gear, I bounced on my way to scrounge for foodstuffs.

Found a egg salad and wheat bread sandwich from one of the “cheeper” places. Sort of wishing I hadn’t purchased it because it really wasn’t that good. I dubbed this the World’s Most Expensive Bland Egg Salad Sandwich, at $6.50 it should’ve been better.

While moving down the escalators, my eyes spied a familiar face. My brain did the dance of “is that who I think it is” and me and this friend met glances and smiled. It was, in fact, a friend! In Concourse C there is a new spa and apparently my friend Sally works there. We chatted for a bit and caught up on the current goings on before she left to work on a client and me to find my gate.

I’m a horrible traveler. I get nervous and just can’t really seem to sit still. Airports are fun and I do enjoy traveling… just would prefer to be where I want to go to, rather than sitting and waiting. As the minutes ticked on, a murmur started among the people. Apparently, due to the poor weather on the eastern coast, our flight to Chicago was delayed. Thanks to the internet, I was able to confirm this with kender (who kept the flight info from Southwest AND the FAA up during the entire day–isn’t he awesome?). Of course, this lead us to checking in on the next flight from Midway, only to discover that THAT flight was delayed even more… leaving at 11pm CST. FUUUUU…

All this made me nervous and even more jittery. I tried to use breathing exercises but they didn’t help. So what was a delayed tarot reader to do? Pull out her deck of course. I grabbed my trusty Shadowscapes tarot and started shuffling the cards. I asked them “What do I need to know about my delay?” and received The Hierophant. This calmed be a bit for it told me that I would get there when it was the right time and only the right time. I knew that breathing and relaxing techniques would be useful here so I took a few deep breaths and refocused myself and energies to knowing that I had 24 hours to go before the Readers Studio officially opened and that I was “on time.” Then I asked the cards “what do I need to know about the next leg of the trip from Midway to LaGuardia?” and received the Ace of Swords. This told me that I would be okay, even delayed, and that I would need to use my head and intellect to get to my flight when I arrived.

The flight from PDX to Midway went smoothly. I read more of Barbara Moore’s Tarot for Beginners and relaxed in-between my two companions. I even took a small nap. When we descended from the clouds, I got to see bits of the Windy City. Normally, flights through Chicago take me into the airports during night so I’ve never really gotten to see the town or Lake Michigan. My window seat neighbor pointed out various buildings and was very accommodating to my touristy side.

We landed at Midway and I called Kender who told me that I was still delayed but only for two hours, rather than the dreaded 5 or more hours. Elated, I strolled down through the airport and made it to my next gate on time. I plugged in the innoPhone and chatted with kender and other friends. Soon after, several other Mac users strolled by and we dubbed our spot the Mac Spot. One girl had a chat window open and her friend entertained us with dancing and other silly antics. This passed the time quickly and soon after I found myself boarding the final plane.

I planned on sleeping a bit more on this flight, but found I couldn’t. I sat next to an Orthodox Jewish woman and found myself in a deep and wonderful conversation about her faith, Kabalah, and the merits and flaws of being raised in and out of faith systems.

Rolled in to LaGuardia around midnight. The airport was nothing what I expected, it was small and very easy to navigate. When I left the airport, the night time air was cool and reminded me of the normal weather we experience in PDX. I searched for the Marriott bus and did not spy it. However, it appeared a few minutes later and I was on my way again. I sat with the flight crew of my flight and a small, tiny woman who reminded me of my grandma.

Check-in was a breeze and I decided that I deserved a treat. So I headed off to the bar for a celebratory glass of wine and a light snack. I stumbled into Thalassa and Corrine Kenner, and we chatted for a bit. I entered the glass doors of the bar and looked around for a place to drop my bags. Two ladies at the bar spied me and cheerly waived me over. More attendees of RS11. I listened to their lively tarot talk while I settled in and picked a glass of shiraz and decided that a slice of cake was worth it. During our discussions, I got to hold the limited edition Gaian Tarot, whose colors were so vivid that I knew I was in trouble.

About the time the bar was getting ready to close, I said my adieu and went off to find my room. The room, was a small slice of heaven after all the airplanes. The bed had no less than 10 pillows and the bathroom was so spa-like that I felt relaxed.

I called kender to chat with him a bit more, we talked about my travels, his day and the neatness of the room. I joked that I could have a sleep over with 9 other peeps and he replied with “no only one sleeps there.” It was about 3am before I laid down and attempted to sleep. I say attempted, because I was not able to sleep due to jet lag and my insomnia. I ended up listening to a sleep meditation sound track to try and help my mind shut up. Did it work? Find out in the next installment of innowen’s travels at the Readers Studio.

Blog, Conferences

Readers Studio: One Week Left

Today marks the final 7 day countdown until I board a plane headed to New York City and The Readers Studio. I’m excited, I’m nervous, and I’m so looking forward to seeing friends and meeting new ones and chatting tarot.

I hope to be posting daily updates from my room, at least I want to, but who knows how much fun the party will be. At the very least I’ll be using the twitter hashtag #RS11 to post quick updates to my twitter feed all weekend long so that you all can follow along.

Have I started packing? Nope. I have no idea how many bags I’m taking. I like to pack light, and I usually bring one bag for week-long excursions. However, after reading posts on the Readers Studio Ning group forum makes me wonder if I should pack a large suitcase. Part of me is tempted to go light on clothing (I can get by on two outfits, right?) and then save the rest of the space in my bag for the tarot goodies. I may also bring two carry-on bags, one full and one empty to serve as that purpose. I am bringing some of the crochet tarot bags I’ve been making as gifts and swaps.

Do I know which decks I’m taking? Yep! Again thanks to advice from the Ning group, I’ll be bringing my workhorse deck The Shadowscapes Tarot, the tried and true Universal Waite, and the Sun and Moon Tarot. A new one that I have yet to really play with and would like to take with me. If I really need more decks, I can probably find some there… right? *gryn*

Do I know what journal to take with me? Sorta. I’m torn between bringing a small moleskine notebook and bringing a larger paperback sized one. As a writer, this could be a very important decision and I DO like to take notes. I do have my birth chart as that’s needed for one class.

Other than that, the countdown starts and it’s time to get excited! Wooo!