The Readers Studio
by Bonnie Cehovet
Very early on I knew I wanted to be at the Readers Studio 2009, largely because of the presenters. Rachel Pollack (Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom) is always worth hearing, and I did not want to miss the chance to meet two people that I admire greatly for their contributions to the Tarot world - James Wanless, Ph.D. (Voyager Tarot, Wisdom Oracle) and Geraldine Amaral (Tarot Celebrations).
This is the seventh year that the Readers Studio has been held, and it has grown by leaps and bounds! In 2003 there were about 75 people attending - this year I believe there were over 200. The venue was changed from New York City to Newark, New Jersey, the new location (The Sheraton Newark Airport Hotel) being bigger, and offering many more amenities.
The program itself has grown over the years, and this year's festivities were kick started with a pre-conference session on Thursday evening on The Power of Silence. I really, really wish that I had been able to be there, but I did not get in until late Thursday evening, when the session was already over.
One of the new additions was an incredibly well set up Meditation room, a place to relax and regroup from all of the festivities! There was a remembrance table set up on one side where we could place bits of remembrance for those that had passed on. I placed a rose quartz pendant on the table for Winter Wren, who passed in September of 2008. We met at the 2003 Readers Studio, and this was the first time that I had a formal way to connect and say goodbye.
There was an option to sign up for two Lunch n? Learn sessions. The hotel provided a lovely buffet both days, and there each day featured a different presenter. On Friday Garnet (Connie Schaeffer) did a great presentation on the chakras, using the venue of belly dancing to start things off. She brought a troupe of belly dancers with her, friends from FL that included Ciro Marchetti's lovely wife Maria, and volunteers from the audience went up on stage to try their hand at belly dancing. Kudos to those brave souls! I was in the ladies room after this session, and a lady from the hotel staff was also there. She asked me about the belly dancing at a Tarot conference (nicely, of course!) and I mumbled something about how belly dancing was all the rage, and a very good way to exercise. I thought bringing up the chakras, which was the meat of the session, would be a bit much! ;-)
On Saturday the lunchtime presenter was Valentina Burton, an extraordinary lady from TX. She is bright, funny, and really tells a great story! She was discussing working with different types of clients, and in amongst the humor was really solid, grounded information.
Friday and Saturday evening there were several different classes offered. Amongst the instructors were Elizabeth Genco, who lectured on marketing (she is a Marketing Goddess, after all!), and Emily Carding, who took a rather large group of us through exercises with her stunning Transparent Tarot. Both Elizabeth and Emily had a lasting effect on the people in their group. These are ladies to watch, and work with (Elizabeth is a marketing coach).
Friday featured a mix and mingle cocktail party, while Friday evening there was a very special event - Beth Owl's Daughter, along with Gail Wood and Joanna Powell Colbert, led a large group of us through a Beltane ritual. Ladies - you done good!
I was totally impressed with the Merchant Faire, just totally impressed! Merchants included Ciro Marchetti, The Tarot Garden (with 'That Dan Guy' himself!), Robert Place, Rachel Pollack, Joanna Powell Colbert (incredible table!), Julie Cuccia-Watts, Garnet's (Connie Schaeffer) incredible wands, they were the talk of the conference!, Elemental, James Wanless, Art of Tarot, Francesca, Star Chalice Sisters Publishing, Baba Studio (they sold out all but one bag!), the Tarot Media Company, The Tarot School, and Schiffer Books (who signed a contract with Emily Carding at the conference for her next deck, based on the elements). Exciting stuff!
Throughout the conference Ruth Ann would step up to the mike, draw a name, and hand out surprise gifts. The merchants donated, and I believe that some individuals also donated. The highlight for me was 'That Dan Guy', who went up on stage like the Magician he is and handed out some incredible gifts from the Tarot Garden.
Before the first session on Friday, we all did a three card Foundation reading, with a partner. On Sunday morning we went over the cards from that reading, reinterpreting them with all that we learned over the past two days. This is an amazing process, and certainly validation that we are each picking 'something' up from the conference besides fun! My partner was Beth Owl's Daughter, an incredible person who taught me a great deal, and who very conveniently was on my same wavelength! You go Beth!
Each of the three presenters was brought up on stage and interviewed, using a list of questions that they themselves had written. What a great way to get to know the people that we were going to be studying with! Wald did the interview with Geraldine Amaral, Ruth Ann did the interview with James Wanless, and Thalassa (yes ? THE Thalassa!) did the interview with Rachel Pollack.
Geraldine Amaral spoke about the various ways in which we work with the cards, such as formal study, or interpreting the cards through a psychic/intuitive connection. She spoke about quieting the mind so that we can listen to the wisdom of our soul - the challenge in a reading is to get out of our own way! Geraldine also spoke about the chakras, and how different chakras related to different types of psychic ability. She also discussed specific ways to develop intuition. The reading that we did with Geraldine involved determining our DNA card, and then doing a reading for our partner holding their DNA card in one hand, and an item of their jewelry, or something that carried their energy strongly.
James Wanless began by discussing right brain versus left brain activity, getting to know your client, and disconnecting from any information that you were given by the client. He noted that the Tarot can help us create the future that we want to create. He spoke of readers gaining experience the more readings that they gave, and the more resources they had at hand. The caveat - know your own limitations! The opportunity out there for Tarot readers is to become not just a seer, but a psychologist that works with archetypes and shadow aspects of the mind. He gave us a wonderful list of archetypes with their corresponding issue (a list that each reader will want to fine tune for themselves). Using the Emperor as an example, and worked through the imagery of the card, the quality connected with each image, and action steps that could be taken. Using the suit of Worlds, we picked cards (face down) for the imperative and the action to be taken. We then picked cards from the entire deck (face down) for each of the business imperatives for the action to be taken. We then went through the same procedure using the suit of Cups for successful relationships.
Rachel Pollack talked about interacting with the archetypes, and had us do a reading (under the auspices of the fictional Dr. Apollo) with a partner where we developed a whole new 'personality' for ourselves, and did the reading in screamingly funny fake accents (to go along with the persona that we developed). Best of the best - Emily Carding, and her imitation of a banshee. (Emily, I know you said it was something else, but it sure sounded like a banshee!) I had the great good fortune to partner with James Wanless; I was Countess Iolana from the Black Forest, and James was a lovely Count from Transylvania, who played around with mushrooms! The spread that we were using was from Dr. Apollo, his All Purpose Mystery Spread. It is guaranteed 97% accurate!
Sunday we did our second foundation reading, and shared stories about what the conference had meant to each of us. At the very end, Ruth Ann handed out certificates to each attendee. Very professional - kudos to the Tarot School!
Readers Studio 2009 was a huge success! I was happy to see this, and happy to know that it will be held again next year. We do not have that many large Tarot conferences (only LATS and BATS come to mind), where we can meet people that we have known and worked with for a long time. We need to support what is there, form a solid Tarot network, and see where we can take it.
I met so many people that I have worked with over the years ? it was stunning! There was Solandia (webmistress and founder of Aeclectic Tarot), Major Tom Schick (from Aeclectic Tarot), Ciro Marchetti, Robert Place, Beth Owl's Daughter, Joanna Powell Colbert, Amy Lamash, Jordan Hoggard, Emily Carding, Carolyn Giles - the list goes on!
The Readers Studio is a great place to network, to meet people that you only know on-line, to take classes, spend time with like minded people - and have a great time! Next years information will be up soon at www.thetarotschool.com. One final note - many thanks to Kevin Quigley, who set up the Internet site readersstudio.ning.com, where we all proceeded to talk about the Readers Studio the while year! This is an invitation only site, so if you want to join, just ask a Tarot friend for an invitation. We all signed a huge card of thanks for Kevin at the Readers Studio, as he was unable to attend.
© Bonnie Cehovet
Bonnie Cehovet is Certified Tarot Grand Master, a professional Tarot reader with over ten years experience, a Reiki Master/Teacher and a writer. Bonnie has served in various capacities with the American Tarot Association, is co-founder of the World Tarot Network, and Vice President (as well as Director of Certification) for the American Board For Tarot Certification. She has had articles appear in the 2004 and 2005 Llewellyn Tarot Reader.