Sunday, May 5, 2013

Time, Talent and Treasure

I couldn’t help telling my wonderful chiropractor that I just flew in from New York and, boy, are my arms tired. When those old jokes crop up in unfamiliar places, they get a life of their own again.

But I did go to New York and I did come back home and I was tired all over. Ruth Ann and Wald Amberstone are so good to try to warn people not to attempt to do everything at Readers Studio. This tosses the gauntlet down in front of me and my Aries sun says, in my best Inner Child voice, “I can TOO do everything if I want to!” My Inner Child needs a spanking. But, oh, my, what a good time!

Time – This year’s Readers Studio included a new extra day of Psychology & Tarot with three lecturers with expertise and unique points of view. First, David Van Nuys, PhD, of gave his talk on The Power of Story, the Jungian model, the collective unconscious, synchronicity, archetypes, alchemy and amplification. Tossing in a little Joseph Campbell and Dr. Dave easily pointed out that the roots of psychology and Tarot lie in shamanism. Dr. Dave also talked discreetly, for the most part, about some of his own experiences and the evolution of his career. We ended with a little meditation.

And suddenly, I was standing on a rocky shore with a beach below me, looking at the sea and the bright blue sky. I am the 3 of Wands. A seagull cries. OK, break.

Elinor Greenberg’s session was entertaining and informative. What a revelation! Go back to Looney Tunes and notice that the point when Wile E. Coyote falls into the canyon isn’t the instant he leaves the cliff; it’s the moment he notices he is the Fool walking on air. In the spirit of “a bad life makes good art,” we were provided with materials to make our own oracle decks, reducing concepts to a single word or pictograph to trigger the essence of meaning.

Mary K. Greer was a surprise and welcome substitute when the originally scheduled lecturer for the third session called in sick. Her lecture on Intuition and Transference was eye-popping and sparked conversations long after the session was over. She posited some definitions. Intuition was described as personal bias projected onto a situation with its basis in information available within the environment even if not consciously. Intuition differs from being psychic since the psychic arrives at conclusions with no information in the environment. And, from a psychological point of view, tarot works because it is a projection device. Metaphors do not exist in the concrete world. Truth is intersubjective congruence, the story agreed upon with the example given that we would all say the sky is “up” from where we are and, yet, objectively, the sky isn’t really up. You might say the crowd was stirred; for some, these were “fightin’ words.” There are those who must embrace the concrete and nothing else, however, and this was a good reminder of how much of the world views what we do and the ways we get information in a reading or otherwise.

Still, when I read for a client this weekend, I realized their child was “adopted…sort of”, in fact the product of the miracle of in vitro donor egg and donor sperm. I don’t know where I got that information because I don’t know the client at all, but I did see it as a result of the cards. And I met the adorable child, a miracle herself. How interesting are the many ways we seek to understand how that works!

The next day, we started Readers Studio as I have grown used to. My partner for the Foundation Reading was a newbie from India, the delightful Chandni who is a talented young reader.

Our afternoon teacher was Nancy Antenucci. Known to her fans as “Nucc” (say NOOCH), she was our guide to thinking outside ourselves. With grateful thanks to the generosity and energy of wonderful, wise and funny people who could not be there this year, Nucc walked us around the room letting our imaginations take our personas on a short trek to a strange place. When Nucc said, “Now, walk as if the Chosen One is in the room,” I looked up from my feet and there in the streaming ballroom lights was…Paul Nagy. Naturally, I had to tell him about his Chosen Oneness (with profound apologies to James Wells who may have been misinformed).

Favorite Nucc quote of the day: “I found myself too funny there for a minute!”

Lucky me that I was able to attend Carrie Paris’ oracle class in the evening! I dragged my great collection of Junk Oracle toys a/k/a the Choking Hazard Oracle to her class and they were lovely fun to demonstrate. If you see tarot readers with their fingers boxed like a film director, you’ll know we were the ones in Carrie’s class, practicing one of the oldest forms of augury.

My Day Job took my hours from 11 pm to 2 am and interrupted the first half of the next morning’s session with Major Tom Schick. Tom was delightfully “in the now,” something I sometimes call “Be the Dog” since my dog understands “now.” Tom’s point was to approach tarot from a place of love. My favorite statement of his is that Tarot is counter-indicated for narcissists, psychopaths and sociopaths because it is a tool for shaping reality.

Our final lecturer for Readers Studio was Ferol Humphrey who brought us her Living Tarot method. We found ourselves blurting the completion of sentences like, “You may embrace…” and turn over the card and blurt. “You may reject…,” turn over the card and blurt. Ferol met her goal of getting us out of our comfort zones!

Talent – I dashed upstairs as quickly as my bad knee and favorite frog cane would take me for a quick costume change. I had to transform into my “altered ego,” the Page of Wands in time for the Readers Studio Banquet and entertainment. I was almost ready when my roomie Beth Seilonen popped in from her table in the Merchants Mall and shrieked with, well, I think it was delight. She made a couple of key suggestions, anchored my tiara in a jaunty pigtail in back, rolled her eyes at the tutu and pink tights and I was ready for show time!

Dinner was delicious but I could barely eat because of the pre-show jitters. I was grateful for the salad and the righteousness of eating just a little of the salmon I had ordered and then, the curtain call!

As the Miscreant of Ceremonies, I was pleased to introduce one of the stars of the tarot world, Ciro Marchetti, who earlier this year announced his retirement from tarot. He presented a video that showed us that Ciro has moves we never even dreamed of and the power of a thrift-shop red jacket. His contributions have influenced the vision and color of tarot forever. I have admired his basilisk lizard-wrangling technique for some time (a lizard took refuge in his kitchen one day and he published photos…Photoshopped? On Facebook) and it was a pleasure to sit next to him for dinner and talk about the future of publishing tarot decks.

For our next act, a musical interlude from a tarot trio: Mike Hernandez on guitar, Jeannette Roth from Tarot Garden and songbird Maribeth Edwards Elliott Pittman sang songs from the Tarot Songbook, the one that isn’t published yet. (Some pipes, there, Maribeth!!)

Our third and final act from our own troupe of Tarot Players of the Tarot Theatre showed us how those really difficult cards in the deck feel when the party hostess says, “Oh, and leave out those scary cards," you know: Death (Rhonda Lund in exquisite skull makeup), the Devil (I maintain Dan Pelletier is typecast) and the Tower (Nancy Antenucci…and that girl can dance). In spite of their costumes having been lost in the mail a couple of times and never actually arriving at Readers Studio, their play was The Thing. I hope I didn’t actually spit coffee on Ciro while I was laughing.

Treasure – Ah, the third of my indulgences at Readers Studio! Where to start? Carrie Paris’ Lenormand Oracle. Beth Seilonen’s decks new for RS13 and a hands on shuffle through her Schiffer-published Dream Raven Tarot coming out later this month. Judy Nathan’s one-of-a-kind deck covers made of antique embroidered silks and other precious materials. Books. I bought books. Lots of books. Decks, oh, I bought decks, all right, thanks to Tarot Garden. I traded for a couple of things at the swap table. Even our extra-curricular bus trip to the East Village was a score when I followed Theresa Reed to Momofuko, a restaurant that makes Ramen noodles like no packaged noodles I’ve ever had, plus a shitake bun, then branched off to nose through shops and find a couple of yummy shawls at the Tibetan shop. All that made up for the bus driver who was lost and the chance encounter by Jeannette and Dan who happened to stumble across our return charter bus. Better to be lucky than good!

I’d like to give a special shout-out to Gina Jean for her mind-blowing perfume creation fresh from Paris, her Oracle Belline. I was the lucky buyer of what will I’m sure be entirely too small a purse spray size of this heavenly scent. Trans-scent-dant, I say, and sure to be an es-scent-tial at future tarot events. I predict this magical perfume will be a future hit!

I loved getting a chance to talk to old friends and make new ones. You'll read more about them in coming episodes. There really wasn’t enough time in the week to talk to everyone but I sneaked a hug in to Donnaleigh de LaRose, Kendra Hurteau and Rachel Pollack, learned that the ever-fascinating Robert Place's friend Phil says that rats taste a lot like squirrel (uh, ewww), met Maralyn Burstein, astrologer extraordinaire, and was thrilled to see SO many first timers at Readers Studio.

Finally, I want to thank someone who could not make it this year. Thalassa Therese, without you, the show would not have been able to go on. On a whim, I packed the red clown nose you gave me. When the theatre troupe’s costumes were lost, that nose became the key element to the Devil’s transformation to a much more user-friendly card!

Oh, yeah. I’m going next year.

Best wishes.
Photos reprinted by permission from Oliver Puzon Photography.

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