Sunday, May 15, 2016

Fears and Blessings from Readers Studio 2016

This was my fifth year at the Readers Studio.
I'm getting good at some things, like:
  • finding the Meditation Room on the first try
  • signing up early for a reading with one of my tarot heroes because their time slots fill up quickly
  • making sure I get enough cookies at Friday's buffet lunch
  • remembering to lower myself gently onto the blow-up furniture in the Readers Lounge
  • trying one new item from the hotel bar's menu
  • bringing a credit card because an auto club membership card isn't a satisfactory substitute, as far as the hotel is concerned. (C'mon, they're the same colour, for pete's sake!) And of course it was the year that the hotel ATM was out of order, and every jog to the ATM across the street was in the rain!
Unlike Gene Kelly, I was not doing this...

And then there's the list of fears that never fails to derail me. I know, they're all trivial in the grand scheme of things, but...

In no particular order:
1) No one will remember me from last year.
2) I'll be all alone at a table, because everyone else came with friends.
3) My partner for Friday morning's Foundation Reading will be a dud.
4) I'll say something into the microphone that will completely alienate everyone in the room.
5) I'll have absolutely nothing to contribute to a group discussion.
6) I won't be as popular as... (pick any name).

Numbers 1), 2), 3), and 5) have never happened, and probably never will.
Regarding 2), I move around, switching tables throughout the weekend, and sometimes the beginning of a new friendship is forged.
6) is always going to be true, and I know that, but it's a stubborn one.
As for 4), it might already have happened, and I'm still alive.


by Robert M. Place

This year's main speakers addressed FEAR from three different angles.
First, Heatherleigh Navarre, owner of the Boston Tea Room in Ferndale, MI, opened up the FEAR can of worms on Friday afternoon with her topic Fear Less Tarot. We began by writing a quick list of our three tarot fears, and choosing one to focus on. We worked her "Face Your Fear" spread twice: first as a solo reading, and then with a partner to re-interpret our cards, which of course always yields new insights. My partner was someone new to me, and she was a delight.
I'm always surprised by how open we are about things hidden inside us, over the cards, with a complete stranger. When we walk into that Readers Studio conference room, we shed the outside world and don something new and trusting. There's a bit of magic in that.

Sasha Graham titled her Saturday morning presentation The Shadow Self, the Shadow Tarot Deck, and Crossing the 9th Gate. We partnered up for these, each choosing three cards that we love and three that we loathe. What I found particularly interesting was this twist:

  • Sasha had us look at each of the love cards to find the darkest/most negative part of it, and think about how we wield that against others, or ourselves.
  • We then looked at our three loathe cards to find the highest/most empowered essence of each of them, and pondered how we wield that for others or ourselves.

The mainstage speakers concluded on Saturday afternoon with Barbara Moore's Space Within and Without. It proved to be the perfect vehicle to close out our intense work on fear. We partnered up again (another person I'd never met before, another pleasure). Barbara crafted a spread which began, at card 1, with an area in our life that needed clearing, examined that for cards 2, 3, 4, and brought us out at the end with cards 5 & 6: changing the initial problem story into a new reality.
Bingo! From pain-in-the-butt fear-filled clutter to the freedom of space with only 6 cards.

In closing, we each wrote down a "blessing" for our partners, using the same 6 cards as prompts, and presented it to them in a little "ceremony" of our own devising. We were nearing the end of Barbara's session, so there was no time to worry about making it perfect. Whatever its format, each was thoughtfully crafted for us individually by our partner. Looking around the hall, I noticed that some were dramatic, others more low-key. All, I'm sure, were much appreciated!


Since Readers Studio 2016 followed so closely (4 days) on the heels of my trip to Prague, I was still a bit Prague-y, and maybe a bit foggy as well, when I arrived in New York. Usually I jam piles of decks into my luggage (got to have lots of choices!) but this year I travelled light, and used my new Tarot of Prague almost exclusively while there. It was a great opportunity to put it to work - and work it did, very well!
I think that my partners enjoyed having the chance to see it too.

Prague is big on palindromes, like Dammit, I'm mad! Or Rats at a bar grab at a star. Except that theirs are in Czech or Latin, like this one from the back of the Tarot of Prague cards:
ROMATIBISUBITOMOTIBUSIBITAMOR. From the dim recesses of high school Latin, I recognize the words for suddenly and love. 

I know it's not a real palindrome, but FEAR backwards, with a bit of fiddling around and adding and subtracting letters (in other words, a lot of cheating), can become RELIEF. And that's what our three keynote speakers were all about. I came away grateful for the fear-busting tools they shared with us!