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.