My Experience at the Readers' Studio Tarot Conference
Hello, tarot friends! It’s been a whirlwind past few weeks and, as you may have noticed, I’ve been a bit silent here on the blog.
One of those reasons? Lots of travel, and the most exciting journey was to the Readers’ Studio tarot conference this past week.
If you haven’t heard of this gathering, it’s the foremost in the tarot community. Hosted by the amazing RuthAnn and Wald Amberstone, founders of The Tarot School, it’s been meeting for 13 years and features the luminaries of the tarot world. People like Rachel Pollack, Mary K. Greer, Barbara Moore, Robert M. Place, and so many more have attended in the past. My 12 year old tarot self was over the moon to finally be going! Let’s just say nearly all of my tarot heroes - the people who wrote the books I learned with - were going to be there.
I also love to travel, something I hadn’t done much of since buying a house here in Durham two years ago. Hopping on a plane by myself to hang out with likeminded tarot lovers in New York? Sign me up!
And so I set off in the wee hours of Friday to take the quick flight up North. The conference was in the LaGuardia Marriott, so it was easy-peasy getting there. I can be pretty stubborn about traveling (having done a lot in my late teens and early twenties, I’m a bit obnoxious about packing light and timing things perfectly) and for some reason thought it would be the best idea to arrive the morning of the first day, waltzing into the conference on 4 hours of sleep and “fresh” off the plane.
In retrospect, I wouldn’t do this again, since my half-asleep self sat down at the first available seat only to realize that, as the crowd filtered in, I was sitting at the “big girl’s table.” It took all my limited energy not to fangirl too hard as modern greats like Benebell Wen, Ethony, and Theresa Reed sat down around me! I like to think that, with a little extra sleep, I’d have been the paragon of dignity and professionalism… but, probably not.
A little note about how the conference is structured: Each day features several master classes from notable tarot professionals. During these presentations everyone pairs up to swap readings using the new techniques. So, on day one, I ended up reading with Benebell Wen AND Theresa Reed, aka The Tarot Lady. Wow.
What a way to start things off! I’d like to say it calmed down from there, but a general state of euphoria, delight, and overwhelm permeated the entire three days. Not wanting to miss anything, I attended several deck showcases (the incredible Herbcrafter’s Tarot and Chakra Wisdom Oracle), a very mysterious late-night class on mediumship, and a lengthy browse of the merchant’s fair, and so much more.
It was also quite emotionally overwhelming to be in a group of people who all practiced the same intuitive art and understood so many of the issues, challenges, and joys of the craft. I didn’t realize how much awareness I bring around with me regarding what’s “too much” to share regarding tarot and the sometimes stressful act of navigating less tarot-friendly circles. The professional camaraderie was deeply healing.
The only thing that didn’t seem to get healed was my bank account as silly “pre-Readers’ Studio Gina” had boldly decided not to purchase a single thing. Decks? I’ve got plenty! Books? They’re too heavy! Foolishly thinking that if I only brought a small tote bag carry-on I’d stick to my resolve, I found myself lugging home about 20 lbs of loot. And I have absolutely no regrets! Plus, how was I to know that my favorite eBay source for historical reproduction decks would be there??
After three days of presentations, readings, and mingling I was near-bursting with inspiration and exhaustion. The crowd itself was delightful, a fascinating mix of tarot greats (Rachel Pollack! Be still my heart!), newcomers, deck creators, witches, teachers, and more. I left with so many new friends and acquaintances (and even got to be in a video for a South Korean tarot school!).
And, most surprisingly, I got to receive so many tarot readings about my life during the workshops. As a tarot reader I’m so used to being on the other side of the table and getting these readings was so healing and tender and reminded me of the recipient’s perspective, so stay tuned for some more posts about that facet of tarot soon. These readings really cemented my goals and values as a reader, making me all the more grateful to be on this path and excited to see it grow.
So for those of you considering attending, please do! It’s a magical gathering celebrating tarot in all its forms. Just be sure to take a day off afterwards to catch up on sleep…