The Readers Studio is a weekend workshop/experience created by Wald and Ruth Ann Amberstone who run The Tarot School in New York. Once a year, experienced tarotists gather together in a conference-like hotel setting to learn new ways to expand their tarot reading skills from three different teachers. The emphasis is on creating a tangible expansion of reading skills marked by the difference perceived between a spread done with a partner at the beginning of the weekend and then the same spread revisited in depth at the end. {Poster by attendee Ciro Marchetti, creator of the Gilded Tarot and Tarot of Dreams.)

In the past, most of the teachers have been tarot authors, this year they were known mostly for other contributions to the tarot field. Kevin Quigley had wowed participants previously with his reading insights and an evening session the year before. Thalassa, a former stand-up comedian and actor at Renaissance Fairs, is the long-time organizer of the San Francisco Bay Area Tarot Symposium (BATS). James Wells reads professionally and teaches in Toronto and has brought other outstanding teachers to Toronto. Thalassa and James are also known for writing tarot articles that are both practical and insightful.

This year we learned, via a seven-layered spread, just what we really have to offer our querents, about reading oracularly, and all about the art of asking questions rather than delivering pronouncements in our readings. Here’s NY tarot teacher, Ellen Goldberg, reading a spread with me.

Over the years, Readers Studio has expanded to include a Thursday early-evening workshop with Wald and Ruth Ann (since, over the weekend, they are totally involved with keeping things running smoothly), morning breakfast roundtable discussions, several choices of evening workshops by other participants, “celebrity” readings by current and past presenters, a fabulous selection of vendors (including Tarotgarden), and representatives from one or more publishers. At least six deck creators freely shared their process of creating decks and several had limited edition prints for sale.

Besides the workshops and other sessions, the most exciting part of this event has been the gathering together of serious tarotists from all around the United States, and a sprinkling from other countries. Many of these belong to tarot discussion lists, forums and Meet-ups. For some it is the first time they’ve met face-to-face with people with whom they’ve been talking for years! For others, it’s become “old home” week, when we can visit with like-minded friends who we see only once or twice a year. New projects get sparked, like the Teleconferences that Mary Collin initiated last year from England, an international Tarot Calendar from Amy Lamash, or this year’s “Tarot for Writers Forum,” which should be appearing any day now on the web.

The most surprising phenomena is something I’ve observed at every tarot event I’ve ever attended and that’s the friendliness of the participants. I’ve never met such an overall supportive group of people before. Newcomers are welcomed—if you love tarot you’re automatically part of the in-crowd! You can pretty much join with any group of people to sit and chat. Discussions are lively, funny and interesting. Ideas and resources are generously shared. There’s no hierarchy of “experts” and “students”—we’re all practitioners of the art who want to learn more. View lots more pictures from Beth Owl’s Daughter here and Elizabeth Genco here. Also visit Elizabeth’s daily RS commentary and cool stuff on running a metaphysical business here.

I didn’t talk about the Readers Studio earlier because the 140 spaces were sold out for months before the event. Next year, a larger conference room will be available as Tarot luminaries Jim Wanless (Voyager Tarot), Geraldine Amaral (Tarot Celebrations) and Rachel Pollack (too many books and decks to be individually mentioned!) will be presenting. Sign up early as this will surely be a sell-out crowd.

If you are hungry for face-to-face tarot fun and learning, then check out the more intimate workshops Rachel Pollack and I will be teaching at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck NY in June, and there’s the always popular up-coming BATS and LATS in the fall in California – more information here.