Readers’ Studio 2017 Wrap-up

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.

Mansions of the Moon Sun

Mansions of the Moon Sun

Mansions of the Moon Tarot
ZADOK (dahogue@nctc.net)
Self-Published

The LWB says: The Sun represents the dynamic, vital energy of the true self. The symbolism of this energy is the inner child – that embodies innocence, enthusiasm, and joy.

TarotBroad’s Buzz: This card radiates energy and joy, exuberance and growth. The sense of joy the emanates from the horse and the flowers is almost palpable. This card reminds me of the song Here Comes the Sun, especially the line “it seems the ice is slowly melting. Little darling it seems like years since it’s been here” Perhaps the figures are celebrating the return of the sun after being held in the darkness of the lunar landscape. We have survived facing our inner shadow and grown more comfortable and confident with our intuitional nature. And now is our opportunity to celebrate this new sense of wholeness and integration.

Then again the sun can sometimes represents the face we show to the world – the mask we put on when dealing with others. If the moon is our inner selves the sun is our outer selves. In this card our outer self is having a marvelous time just celebrating being alive. We are like flowers reaching for the warming, nourishing rays of the sun. It also a reminder that after the darkness comes the light; after night comes the day. So no matter how dark or frightening our lunar experience may have we know a new day is dawning and we will have a chance to start over again. Of course sometimes the rays of the sun can be harsh too – revealing things we might prefer to remain hidden. But allowing things to remain in the darkness may prevent us from learning and growing. To me The Sun is a card of growth, radiance, new beginnings, illumination and joy.

Blankness and Joy

Have you ever felt completely blank; uninspired, uninteresting and unintelligible? I feel that way today. I want to write an amazing blog post that will explode minds, expand horizons and elevate consciousness. Instead I’m drawing a blank. This is one of the rare moments in my life when I have nothing to say, or at least nothing I’m willing to write on a public blog. So in desperation, I am going to turn to the Tarot and pull a card to inspire me. I drew the Page of Cups reversed!

Legacy of the Divine Page of Cups

My first reaction was “Oh great, a freakin’ court card!” Court cards can be something of a pain in the butt to interpret on occasion. Then I thought about it a bit more and laughed. I got the sense the Tarot was telling me to stop being such a crybaby and grow up! Of course you have things to write about, just look into your heart! So I did.

At first I was still drawing a blank. Then I realized there are a few things lurking around in there that I can share. I’ve been doing some work lately about determining my heart’s desire, my deepest, truest heart’s desire. Like a lot of folks, I’ve been acculturated to think that my heart’s desire rests in possessions, wealth or status. It doesn’t. For years I rode that horse and it finally died of exhaustion. My life experiences over the past six years have shown me that money may help relieve some stresses in life but it genuinely does not bring happiness.

Instead of yearning for things I cannot possess (especially right now), I’m looking deep within to learn more about myself and what truly makes me happy. For too long I allowed myself to be distracted or convinced myself that I wasn’t really interested in things that truly nurtured my soul. What the hell happened to me? The same thing that happens to so many of us – we think that growing up means giving up all the things we loved as children. Well I say to hell with that! It’s time for me to revisit those childhood things that brought me joy like coloring, writing poetry and talking with gods! I want to find new things that fill my heart with joy too like learning a new skill or refining an old one. I can do it! So can you! So what if people tell you to grow up, nothing says we have to listen. Let’s embrace that inner child everyone talks about so much. Let’s find ways to reconnect with that child-like sense of wonder and whimsy we had when we were young. Let’s play Kick the Can (for those of you who don’t get the connection, this was the title of a classic Twilight Zone episode)! Who knows what benefits we’ll uncover!

Green Man Tree Oracle NGetal

“When nGétal appears in divination, it suggests that health is or should be a priority now. It may indicate the danger of injury when paired with h-Úath or other challenging feda. In positive readings, it may suggest that an injury or illness is healing, or that a course of treatment for a chronic health problem may be going well. It can be a reminder to watch your health or to get something checked on that you might otherwise consider minor. It is a very hopeful fid to draw for those who are ill, as it implies active and progressing healing and the restoration of health and wellbeing.

Linked Concepts: Wounding, death, beneficial magic, healers and doctors, good health, wellbeing, regeneration, hope.” – Ogam:  Weaving Word Wisdom by Erynn Rowan Laurie

Based on the insights offered in Erynn’s Ogam book, I asked the Tarot this question:

How can I start healing myself? Prince of Pentacles R, 7 of Wands + Justice (DruidCraft)

DruidCraft Prince of Pentacles DruidCraft 7 of Wands DruidCraft Justice

I see the reversed Prince of Pentacles as telling me that I’m going to slow; being too plodding. It’s one thing to be cautious and well-prepared; another to procrastinate. I’m procrastinating. I know what steps I need to take to improve my health but I’m putting them off. Avoidance will cure nothing. If I want to manifest good health in my life and heal my body then I need to take action. I don’t need to go from zero to 60 in 10 seconds flat but I at least need to start making a few changes.

The 7 of Wands is telling me I need to be more fierce and vigilant in guarding and defending my personal space and time. Yes, I’m in a situation where I need clearly defined alone time – no internet, no cell phone and no in-laws. So far I’ve been putting my needs in this area as very low on the priority list, something easily ignored or put off until later. I need to stop doing that for my own mental health.

Justice is reminding me that balance and fairness are important. I’ve lost sight of that. To be fair to the in-laws, I also need to figure out ways to meet their needs for physical and intellectual stimulation too. Maybe a walk outside or watching the ducks would do it. Sometimes the mom-in-law can’t focus on things like that but it’s worth a shot. Of course it would also be a good idea to make sure I’m meeting my own needs for physical and mental stimulation. Watching TV and browsing the internet are all well and good but they should be kept to a minimum.

I think I’m finally getting on the right track. If I take it slow and easy I think I’ll eventually reach my goal. I sometimes have a tendency to want immediate results and when that doesn’t happen I quit. It’s time to change those patterns because clearly they are not working for me.

Changing seasons, swans and herons (Oh my!)

Ducks on the "canal" 2008

Today has been a day about aroma and scent.  I was entranced by the tantalizing aroma of fresh cut grass.  It’s been so long since I’ve appreciated that fragrance.  One of the problems of a never ending cold snap is that you forget what spring smells like.  Now we’re almost into summer and I haven’t been able to fully appreciate spring’s gifts.

As a child I could smell the arrival of Spring.  It usually occurred sometimes during the Easter break.  One day I would be standing outside and the promise of spring would tantalize my nose.  It was a crisp, warm kind of smell.  It held the promise of warmer days to come with a hint of sunshine.  It wasn’t the languorous warmth that summer breezes carried, but it was welcome and much  desired.  It offered the hope that the chilly winter would soon leave and things would begin getting warmer and brighter.

This year I thought those aromas would never present themselves.  The winter just seem determined to clench its fist around the days.  Even if there was one warm day it was followed by a gray, chilly one.  On days when the sun’s rays did warm us a tad we were soon enveloped by winter’s chill once again.  Even today, although I could smell the fresh cut grass and feel the rays of the sun, there was a chill in the air and a sweater was needed.
"Canal" of Greenwood Lake, NY 1998
I’ve always loved the changing of the seasons.  I may eventually grow tired of the heat and humidity or the cold and snow but I always love when they first arrive.  The seasons are the only change I actually like.  This year I actually feel as though I’ve been cheated of fully enjoying the changes because winter’s influence has held on for so long.
"Canal" of Greenwood Lake 2014
The one bright side is that we get visited by a heron (at least I think he’s a heron) sometimes on gray, cloudy days.  He’s ghostly and very difficult to see because he is so still and blends in so well with the surroundings.  Sometimes we don’t realize he’s there until he flies away.  There is something magical and spiritual about his visits.  They are special and both hubby and I love just standing there and watching him.  Hopefully now that the weather is warming up a bit it will bring more visits from this ethereal heron as well as the protective ducks and their ducklings and the threatening swans.  The swans are so lovely but they can be quite vigorous about defending their territory.  The first time I saw the gliding towards us hissing I was unnerved by their size and beat a hasty retreat.  When they take off they sound like jets.  It’s amazing.  I just want the weather to grow a bit warmer so I can enjoy these interactions once again.

The Heron

Tarot of the Masters Youth of Cups Tarot of the Masters King of Swords

I was inspired to ask this question after reading an email from SARK.  It struck me that I have the same tendency to miss out on the unexpected sweetness in life.  I think sometimes it’s so easy to lose oneself in the morass of negativity the surrounds us and drown in the doldrums of modern life.  It’s almost as though we’re afraid to focus on the positive or joyful things.  In fact I’ve even heard folks express the opinion that if we focus on the positive we open ourselves up to the possibility that a capricious and mean-spirited deity will take it away from us.  That seems a rather sad way to live one’s life.

I had to smile when I saw these cards.  They reinforce that the simple answer is to listen to my inner voice and look within myself; listen to my heart and turn off that left-brained overly intellectual side.  That doesn’t mean I need to abandon that side of myself simply that it needs to be given less prominence than it’s gotten in the past.  The way to reconnect with my more child-like, simple joy in life is to stop focusing on and demanding rational and logical approaches to things.

The Youth of Cups is seeking answers in the chalice she cups in her hands.  She trusts that the answers she seeks will be found within.  She does not require external validation or logical explanations for the wisdom she seeks.  The King of Swords holds a book in one hand and a sword in the other.  He is the master of logic, rational thought and skillful communication.  He is the epitome of the left-brained person.  The scientific mind raised to exaltedness.  If it cannot be replicated and verified then the knowledge is not honored.

For years I’ve worshipped at this altar.  I didn’t trust my intuitive side; my instincts were suspect.  If the knowledge arose from my psychic side I ran from it as though it was some sort of evil clown.  I couldn’t and wouldn’t trust it.  Now I’m much more comfortable with my intuitive, psychic nature but I’m taking baby steps.  It’s still very early in this process.

Drawing these two cards reaffirms that I’m moving in the right direction.  The way to embrace, celebrate and enjoy the unexpected sweetness in life.  I am learning that rather than mourning what is gone and clinging to the past, I’m happier when I can remember it with joy and still be open to new moments of unexpected sweetness.  If I focus too much on what is gone I miss out on those opportunities to celebrate the small joys and unexpected sweetness in life.  I need to trust my heart and be an optimist.  It can sometimes be fun and funny to be cynical but it does not allow for much appreciation of the small things in life that make us smile.  Sometimes it so easy to lose sight of what is good, sweet and joyful in life.  These cards offer me a way to keep them in my heart.

BoS So Below 3 of Wands BoS So Below 7 of Pentacles

The 3 of Wands reversed tells me that I need to stop trying to focus on external projects.  Now is not the time for that.  Now I need to focus on internal projects – caring for myself, tapping into my creative energies and just relaxing.  These are things I have ignored in favor of slugging (simple sitting in a vegetative state).

The 7 of Pentacles reminds me that I need to stop and enjoy the fruits of my labor.  Of course that would have to mean I’ve actually done labor so that there are fruits to enjoy.  Right now I’m coasting.  And I’m not saying that as a negative judgment on myself.  I’m exhausted, tired and burnt out so much of the time the only thing I can do it sit and stare.  I want to change that pattern but I don’t want to do it in a way that just creates more stress and more goals I can’t achieve.

I need to spend more time enjoying tea and crayons and cookbooks and friends.  I need to reconnect with the flow of things and accept that everyone’s life has seasons and cycles and I’m not exception.  No matter how much I try to fight it or how often I deny it, I end up back in the same place feeling more frustrated and defeated.  I’m setting myself up to fail and I don’t want to do that anymore.

If I want to maintain this new direction I need to take things one day at a time and keep reminding myself that this is part of the cycle.  Things will eventually change and I can embrace the change and deal with it when that occurs.  For now, I need to work within the boundaries and are my life.  They may prove to be a opportunity for transformation at a deep level, if I allow it.

BoS So Below Queen of Swords BoS So Below 3 of Pentacles

It’s time to retire that bitch!  The Queen of Swords, who has been so much a part of my persona, needs to be retired.  She will always be a part of who I was and who I am but I’d like to give another side a chance for expression and exploration.  The Queen of Swords has served me well and if I ever return to the business world I’m sure we will work together again but for now I need to find a different mode of expression.

The 3 of Pentacles reserved suggests that I need to unleash some of that creative, artistic energy I possess.  It’s not important that whatever I create be of professional caliber or even be really good.  What matters is that I allow myself to play; to simply enjoy the smell of the crayons and the blend of colors.  If I don’t want to draw I can always write something.  If I don’t try I’ll never know if I can do it.  The 3 of Pentacles reminds me I don’t need to be a journeyman at this.  Being a beginner or apprentice is just fine as long as I stay with it.  Once again the message is that the journey is more important than the destination.

So the answer to my question is that the way to better express my creative side is simply to do it.  I don’t need to second-guess myself or be hypercritical.  I can simply enjoy the process of drawing and coloring or writing.  In can put on music and dance and sing to my heart’s content.  No one is watching and if they are so what?

BoS So Below 5 of Wands BoS So Below 4 of Swords

The 5 of Wands shows a woman surrounded by disapproving male figures.  She appears to be at work, a laptop is open on the desk in front of her, and she seems to be disagreeing with the men.  In fact she almost seems to be scolding them.  She does not seem intimidating but perhaps exasperated.  This argument has gone round in circles several times already.  She is telling me that I need to let go of this repeating cycle of disapproval and disagreement.  In my case the people I battle are my own inner critics.  It’s not an external struggle but one within myself.  It’s pointless, self-defeating and relentless.  Instead of taking care of myself I’m undermining myself.

The 4 of Swords is telling me to chill out, relax, blow some bubbles (I love blowing bubbles!).  I love this image.  Rather than the harried overworked career woman of the 5 of Wands, this card shows a woman who goes at her own pace, stops and smells the roses and just enjoys the ride.  It’s been so long since I’ve approached life this way that it seems exotic.

The message this two cards give me is that I need to stop beating myself up, let go of the pointless struggle and just relax.  I need to find ways to have fun even if it’s only for 10 minutes a day.  I need to blow some bubbles and use my crayons.  It’s time for me to “don’t worry that it’s not good enough for anyone else to hear, just sing, sing a  song” as Karen Carpenter once sang.  I’ve taken to reading SARK’s books again to reconnect with that child-like, fun side of myself.

I’m going to start doing morning pages again and playing with my crayons, colored pencils and coloring books.  I miss them and used to lose myself in coloring.  It’s time to get back to that again.

Hidden Realms Fortune Faery Hidden Realms King of Swords

Whatever the actual meaning of this card my immediate response to the image is that I need to reconnect  with that innocent, child-like energy we all have.  That inner part of ourselves that still believes in blowing on “wish flowers” and that spirits live in the plants around us.  That part that knows there are faeries in the world and if we are very still, quiet and lucky maybe we’ll actually see one.

On another level I think this card is reminding me that there is a cycle to everything and my life will eventually change for the better.  I need to focus on what my wishes are.  It’s been so long since I’ve really focused on what I want to do as opposed to what I can do or what I need to that I can’t remember anymore.  What were my wishes when I was younger?  Where did I see myself when I grew up?  I’m not sure but lately I’ve been feeling an urge to tap into some unused creative energy, at least in a simple way – personalizing my Franklin Covey planner.

The King of Swords reversed is reminding me that now is not the time to be hypercritical of myself.  I need to do some exploration and find the patterns of my youth.  Logic is a very useful tool but right now it isn’t going to help me scratch that itch to feel more creative.  I need to trust in the process and not let my left-brained side take control.

These two cards show me that I need to focus more in silliness, lightheartedness and simple joys.  I’ve taken to decorating my personal calendar and organizer with rubber stamps, colored jelly roll pens and Post-Its of various size and color.  Now I’m toying with the idea of getting an inexpensive organizer/planner that I can recover and personalize even more.  I realize this is not a new idea but it’s something relative simple I can do that will help me scratch that itch.  Once I’ve done that I might even explores some other creative endeavors – who knows?

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