this past weekend in queens, hundreds of readers, psychics, mediums, and divination practitioners gathered for a four-day conference all about tarot cards. with presentations from experienced readers, roundtables and discussions, shared readings and individual practices, the studio was a time of connection, community, and education, urging attendees to try new methods of divination and continue to expand their understanding of tarot. with everything from lenormand cards to crystal ball gazing to charm casting, and presentations exploring tarot muses, shadow work, life purpose spreads, and finding meaning in every reading, the conference pushed us to explore and consider, giving us space to grow along with new resources to tap into.
in addition to crystals, decks, and books for sale, the readers studio featured three main speakers along with panels, roundtables, study groups, and rituals. the weekend began with a partnered foundation reading, where we sat with another attendee and read cards using whatever method we preferred. i used my beloved fountain tarot to give a three-card spread to a fellow reader, nervous and concerned that my thoughts wouldn’t be clear or useful. this reading was lovely and calming, and one that we revisited at the end of the conference, looking at the original cards and seeing what else we could pull from the reading. it was beautiful see what new inspiration was sparked looking at those familiar cards, and i was amazed at the new levels of depth and meaning i found after just a few days of study and work.
as i packed and prepared for four busy days, i was nervous that i would stand out as too new, too young, too inexperienced - three years isn’t nothing, but i knew there would be people with 30+ years of tarot reading behind them. it was intimidating imagining reading with professional practitioners and writers, deck creators and mediums, when i didn’t have nearly as much experience. and while the conference attendees definitely skewed older in terms of both age and years of practice, it was wonderful to also find younger readers, queer readers, those that were still tentative with their readings and client work. i felt my confidence slowly growing, even when my nerves never quite disappeared. and while some of the exercises were intense or challenging, pushing my limits and occasionally requiring personal confessions, the overall feeling was one of openness, community, and connection.
my main criticism with the studio (besides the hotel itself, which was clean and pleasant but disappointing in terms of accessibility, food options, and overall comfort) was the emphasis on psychic abilities, mediumship, and communication with spirit guides. to clarify, i have absolutely no problem with anyone that has these insights, and as a queer person i deeply understand the value in gathering with others who share a unique and often misunderstood experience - seeing so many people get to speak frankly and honestly was incredible. and yet, as a reader who has only been practicing for three years, it became discouraging to realize just how many tarot users also experience or rely on psychic connections. every formal speaker mentioned deep relationships with muses, guides, spiritual forces, or spoke of consistent visions bestowed from outside influences. and while it was amazing to hear about the clarity and generosity of these experiences, i definitely felt bits of imposter syndrome, wondering if my lack of occurrences in this vein meant that i would always be a somehow lesser reader, or couldn’t offer as much to myself or clients. and while i’m confident this wasn’t the intention, it left a lasting impression on me that i am still processing.
in the end, i still fully believe that we are all able to use tarot, to harness it as an intuitive tool, to inspire us creatively and spiritually, to find guidance and support and clarity. some combine it with other practices or forms of divination, some hear voices or see visions or feel the influence of something larger than themselves, but anyone and everyone can use this tool in beautiful and essential ways. i wish the conference had highlighted at least one voice that spoke to those ways that we can use tarot outside of psychic work, a voice to reassure those that still find power and magic in the cards but experience it in more subtle ways. but i’m deeply grateful for the people i met, particularly the ones that i felt personal connections with - readers who aren’t psychic, don’t talk to muses, who simply love the beauty and power of these archetypes and use cards to tell stories, make magic, and empower ourselves.
next year’s tarot studio will be in late april, and you can follow the tarot school’s website and facebook for up-to-date information on registration, pricing, and upcoming events. and if you attended, tell me all about it in the comments!