So, it’s been almost a week since I returned from the fun-filled, eye-opening, networking event that is Readers Studio. As usual, there were some amazing moments and some sad moments, some silly moments and some profound moments.

I attended the Tarot & Psychology pre-conference this year. The presenters were Jayni Bloch, Katrina Wynne and Elinor Greenberg (Jenny Suzumoto was originally scheduled but became ill and could not attend). The sessions ranged from connecting Archetypal Portals (similar to the concept of chakras) to Trump Cards to Process Work and Dreamtime to Gestalt techniques and using Tarot for relationship work. I realized after attending several of the Tarot & Psychology pre-conferences that while I enjoy the workshops, they don’t always address what I would like covered. I usually do find useful tips & techniques in these workshops but I’ve realized that what I really want is techniques for crisis intervention (if needed) and practices that are more in line with life coaching than counseling. The truth is that if I had wanted to become a therapist I would have pursued my doctorate in counseling or psychology.

The main event of Readers Studio was three workshops – one led by Kooch & Victor Daniels that incorporated working with Tarot and chakras, one facilitated by Mitchell Osborn and one led by Ferol Humphrey. It can be very difficult to explain what one gets from these workshops so I’ll just provide a brief summary of my takeaway: the Daniels are very knowledgeable and have some interesting techniques to share; Mitchell Osborn is just awesome and Ferol Humphrey is a firecracker. Useful tips and techniques were taken away from all these sessions. The best part of the workshops for me was the foundation reading. My partner (the brilliant and dynamic Heatherleigh Navarre) was insightful and extremely helpful. I only hope I proved to be the same for her.

Now for the best parts of Readers Studio – the in-between stuff. One of my favorite moments was while I offered to help Joanna Powell Colbert set up her vendor table. She was already finished but as I looked over her art I felt drawn to purchase something. It was a very difficult choice between her Gaian Strength icon and her Elder of Fire icon done using an encaustic technique (I honestly have no idea what that entails but they were both beautiful). I ultimately chose the Strength icon because I love the image and the prayer included. I may still add the Elder of Fire to my collection. I’ve always found that image very powerful and moving.

My next vendor purchase was at Rachel Pollack’s table. I am inveterate collector/fan of Rachel’s necklaces. As soon as I saw her Sun necklace made of translucent Chinese amber I had to buy it. It looked like captured sunshine. As I was chatting with Rachel (I really don’t get to see her enough) she gave me a lovely necklace she made using the Samulet from Supernatural. The only thing I might be a bigger fan of than Rachel necklaces is that show. The acting skills of Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki as Dean and Sam Winchester have kept me watching loyally for 12 seasons, even this one (which in my opinion has been mournfully disappointing). Rachel share my appreciation for this show and noticed my Samulet necklace last year (nothing special just the Samulet on a leather cord). She is such a generous and kind woman that she made me a spectacular version on a lovely Rachel necklace. It absolutely made my weekend. I think I actually glowed while showing it off to people. I wandered back towards Rachel’s table a few more times over the course the Readers Studio and her Lovers necklace kept catching my eye. The pendant was a reproduction of an ancient Greek coin with Aphrodite on it and a necklace with pink chalcedony and citrine beads. It was lovely, so of course I had to buy that too. What can I say – I’m addicted to Rachel necklaces.

I continued to roam vendor tables and found myself drawn to Monica Bodirsky’s Lucky Lenormand. Despite my resolution not to purchase any more Lenormand decks, I couldn’t resist this one. The watercolor painting behind the images just called to me and I had to have a copy. Next I roamed by Patrick Valenza‘s table. I’m a long time fan of his Deviant Moon Tarot and found myself drawn to his latest deck – Trionfi della Luna. It’s a Deviant Moon take on Marseilles style decks. I tried to resist but his darkly quirky art just appeals to me and I added the Italian version of this deck to my collection. My final stop was at Rachel Paul’s table. I am a huge fan of her Dark Carnival and Sacred Bridges decks so it was great to catch up with her again. While looking at her wares a gorgeous necklace caught my eye – it had a RWS Empress pendant and a necklace of sandalwood beads. Naturally I had to add it to the stash.

Once my contributions to supporting Tarot artists were complete, I spent the rest of the event socializing and catching up. Diane Wilkes managed to make it up for the Tarot & Psych conference so we got to spend a bit of time together but not as much as either of us would have liked. I also got to see the lovely Sasha Graham for a few brief moments. My roommate this year was Gail Woods and I had a great time rooming with her. We both share an appreciation for tea and quiet time so there was some quiet bonding time. I made a few new friends – Mitchell Osborne, Al Jaurez and Bev Frable and reconnected with some old ones – Joanna Powell Colbert, James Wells, Sally Rose Robinson, Jaymi Elford, Heatherleigh Navarre, Theresa Reed and Hilary Haggerty (who I didn’t recognize for almost a whole day because she is blonde now)

One of the things I realized this Readers Studio is that even when I don’t especially enjoy the workshop (and believe me I’ve been to all Readers Studios and there was only one workshop I walked out of ) I always take something new or interesting away from them. I’ve learned that whether one appreciates a workshop is very subjective. Certain presentation styles that I enjoy do not work for others and vice versa. Sometimes a topic might be very interesting but not something I like. Sometimes presenters have a lot of knowledge and information but just are not effective at presenting it others. The bottom line is that it takes a lot of courage to get up on the main stage and put yourself out there and anyone who has ever presented at a Readers Studio has my admiration for doing so.

One of the other takeaways I got from this Readers Studio is that whether or not I find the workshops especially useful, it’s the camaraderie, the in-between stuff and the bonding that keeps me coming back. Some of my favorite memories of this Readers Studio are:
Getting a beautiful Samulet Rachel Pollack necklace
Laughing myself sick during the banquet while Sally Rose shows me highly inappropriate toys on her cell phone
Singing “I’m Tired” from Blazing Saddles with James Wells and Ellen-Mary O’Brien and then clucking Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.
Continuing to cluck various songs during the last goodie giveaway and certificate ceremony including a confusing moment when I thought I was clucking Pomp and Circumstance but instead was clucking Hail to the Chief
Winning a free 30 minute reading with Mitchell Osborn
The banquet show – which included some amazing performances by V and Jaymi. I’m impressed by V’s mastery of the hula hoop and Jaymi’s control of those light balls on cords.
Watching James Wells laugh as he watched Betty White’s “Muffin” skit on SNL
The absolutely wonderful and welcoming staff of the LaGuardia Marriott
Having Kooch Daniels come up to me and casually mention that I had been a witch in many past lifetimes.

I was very sorry to learn that this will be the last year at the LaGuardia Marriott. Apparently they’ve made some management changes and will be doing renovations so The Tarot School will need to find a new venue. I hope that happens soon because I’m already impatient to return to this marvelous event. If you can ever make it to a Readers Studio, I highly recommend you do so. If not, try to find a Tarot event in your immediate area, believe me the sense of connection and finding your tribe is more than worth the time, effort and cost.