Earth Wisdom Tarot Sacred Art

Epiphanies from the 2009 Readers Studio

in Community, Soul Work, Tarot, Travel

I’m still in recovery mode from my two weeks on the road and especially from the intensity of the Readers Studio.  My body thinks it’s still on the east coast and I’m craving unhealthy foods — yes, I even started eating french fries and ketchup Sunday evening in the bar. (It’s all Thalassa’s fault. Not.)  I’ll make a green smoothie in a bit and my body will thank me for it.

Once the rain stopped, the lush Northwest landscape (the proverbial thousand shades of green) took me to its heart and wrapped me up like a patchwork comforter.  Home.

For the moment, I am not noticing all the weeding and yard cleanup that needs to be done.  Just drinking in the green.

I think this was my favorite Readers Studio of all, so far.  I had a lot of fun socializing, made a pretty penny at my merchant table, and had a number of personal epiphanies.  What more can one ask for?

One of the key issues I’ve been grappling with in recent months is the one about career and money.  More specifically, I’ve become aware that 90% of my income comes through my web design business, while my heart truly lies in my creative / art / writing / teaching / Tarot work.  Even though I’ve been doing my creative work professionally for over 25 years, I’ve never made a full time living at it (or at least not an abundant one).  This spring, I decided that I was ready to change that percentage — to move the numbers closer to 50/50. (I do love my web design business, by the way, especially when I get to work with passionate, conscious businesspeople!  It’s just that I need to balance my two businesses out a bit more.)

So I took this question with me to the Readers Studio: “What do I need to know about bringing in more income through my art / writing / Tarot work?” The answers kept piling up, one on top of the other, and sometimes through unexpected ways.

It started with my visit to Kris Waldherr’s gallery and studio in Brooklyn on Tuesday. Debbie Lake and Kris and I had a grand time talking art and publishing.  Kris is a true inspiration to me, in the way that she has built her career.  I admire her illustrated books as well as her Tarot work.  I also admire her self-confidence and her business savvy. After visiting Kris, I realized that I want to “play bigger” eventually, after the Gaian Tarot is done and out in the world.  I have ideas for my own illustrated books dancing around in my heart and brain.  And I have confidence that I can create them and bring them out into the world.

Epiphany:  Play bigger! Raise your personal bar! Be inspired by role models like Kris!

I was mulling all this over as I set up my merchant’s table at the Readers Studio.  In the past, my goal has been to make enough money to cover trip expenses (with plane fare, cabfare, hotels and food, this is not an unsubstantial amount).  This time, I set an intention for a specific dollar amount that would not only cover expenses but send me home with a profit.  I purchased a whole table this time instead of a half table (“playing bigger” — there’s that theme again), and I brought a new product: Tarot amulet necklaces.  (I made the amulets and my friend Lunaea Weatherstone made the beaded necklaces.)  I set an intention that all 29 amulets would sell out.  And they did!  Most were gone by the end of the second day of the conference. I gave one to Mary Greer to honor her huge influence on my Tarot work. And I sold the last one from around my neck at the bar Sunday night, after the conference was over!  The final tally on my sales was higher than the dollar amount intention I had set for myself, and I came home with all my expenses paid and a nice little profit.

Epiphany:  setting a specific intention works really, really well! So does bringing a brand new product to sell.<

On Friday morning, my reading buddy Debbie Lake and I did our three-card foundation readings for each other. (This is a hallmark of the Readers Studio: you do a three card reading for a partner at the beginning of the weekend. Then the two of you get back together on Sunday and read the same cards again, using the techniques you learned over the course of the weekend.)

Debbie read for me with the Tarot of the Collective Spirit — a collaborative deck done by members of the Comparative Tarot e-list some years ago.  She turned up the Ace of Wands, the Hierophant and the 3 of Cups.  We used these positions: Opportunity, Challenge, Resolution.  This particular Ace of Wands had an image of a dancing man (I think – hard to remember) somewhat obscured by a lot of words, which described the meaning of the card. It’s a clever interpretation of the Ace of Wands, but the clear meaning for me is that the visual, right-brain arts in my life are getting covered up by left-brain thinking and coding.  The detail on the Hierophant that disturbed me was the blank eyes.  He felt soulless to me, empty.  Since the Hierophant often represents Tradition, Debbie felt that this card in the Challenge position represented my traditional belief system that I can’t make a living through my art. The last card, the 3 of Cups, looked like party time with confetti, bright colors and topsy-turvy martini glasses.  The martinis reminded me of our friend James Wells, who had been drinking martinis in the bar the night before.  From there we made the leap to our admiration of James as a business person; he is clear about his worth and his boundaries and he makes a full time living as a Tarot reader.  So James is another role model for me, like Kris.  The social aspect of the 3 of Cups also represented the Tarot community to me as well as the community of people who love my deck.

Epiphany:  my Art / Writing / Tarot business wants more of my attention!  I’m on the right track, of wanting more income to flow my way through creative work so that I can afford to spend more time on it.

When I got up on Saturday morning, I could not find my glasses anywhere. I’ve been wearing glasses since I was 7 years old, so it’s very unusual for me to misplace them.  I knew they had to be in the hotel room as I remembered watching the news on TV before turning out the lights.  I can’t see the TV without them.  I tore the room apart – bedding, everything, but couldn’t find them anywhere. I was in a mild panic.  Finally I went in search of someone who could see better than I could, and I ran into Amy Lamash.  What a sweetheart.  She came back up to my room and we found the glasses quickly — they had fallen under the nightstand table.  Now why I couldn’t find them without help, I’m not sure.  But I began to wonder.  Was losing my glasses a message, or just a case of being careless?  If it was a message, what would it be?  How about: What is it I am not seeing?

I carried that question with me throughout the day.

I sat next to Corrine Kenner during James Wanless’ session. James used the Emperor from his Voyager Tarot as an example of how to go deep with one card.  The Voyager Emperor archetype has to do with (what else?) “Work & Money.”  Why was I not surprised?  As I worked through the exercises with Corrine, I found myself asking “What would the Emperor do?” in various business situations.  Right now I’m a bit frustrated with two of my web design clients — one because of ongoing scope creep and another who owes me a fair amount of money.  When I asked myself “What would the Emperor do?” the answer was quite clear:  Off with their heads!  (LOL)  Seriously, the Emperor would not stand for it. He’d be clear about his boundaries and he would fire the client who didn’t pay on time.

The Emperor would also have minions! He would delegate work to others so that he has more time to focus on the big picture.  This is also an issue I’m working on with Elizabeth; I have hired a woman to do a lot of the coding for me on my websites, allowing me to focus on the design work, marketing and management of clients.  This frees up more of my time for creative work. I finished the Voyager exercise with a greater respect for the Emperor than I have had in a long time.  I can see that I need to develop some tougher, Emperor-like qualities in both of my businesses.

Corrine had some excellent insights for me regarding my image and my brand, and gave me some great marketing ideas.  She suggested that I ask several people to write my biography as if they were me.  This is a similar exercise to one I learned from Elizabeth, in which I ask my web design clients why they decided to work with me and what it is about my work that they value.  Later that evening I did ask a few people about what they valued about my Tarot work, and was heartened by the responses.

After the session, I ran into Elizabeth, and she reminded me that I could set very firm boundaries with the client who was asking for more and more revisions.  In fact, she said, since the contract had been completed, I had no real obligation to continue doing the revisions. I could say No.  I was thunderstruck!  The idea (of saying “no”) had not even occurred to me.  (What is it I was not seeing clearly?)

Epiphany:  When confronted with a difficult business situation, ask myself:  What would the Emperor do?  (Consider saying “no.”)

Late Saturday night I treated myself to a reading with Mary Greer, asking (of course) the same question. What do I need to know about bringing in more income through my art / writing / Tarot work?  I’m glad that Mary recorded the reading because right now I can remember very little of it.  At the time, I felt like insights were bursting like little firecrackers in my brain.  I do remember the gist of it, the takeaway, the final message:   I must put my creative work first, and let the World, the Hermit and the Lovers (all metaphors for aspects of the Divine) take care of the money.  It’s the creative/soul work that is more important, that is the priority in my life (or should be).  No doubt about it.

Epiphany:  I need to do the work I was called to do, and trust that the income will be there to support it.

On Sunday, I got back with Debbie to take a second look at the readings we had done for each other on Friday.   Debbie pulled out her copy of Emily Carding’s Transparent Tarot, and the insights kept on coming.  As I laid the Ace of Wands from Emily’s deck over the 3 of Cups and then the Hierophant, I started to cry.  There was my creative spirit, the flaming wand.  There was my community toasting me — the 3 of Cups.  And there, behind it all, supporting it all, was the broad, strong, wide tree trunk of the Hierophant, sending roots down deep and branches way up.  A solid foundation I can count on.

I felt like yes, I had found my glasses and now I could see!  (Anyone hear a chorus of “Amazing Grace” in the background?)

Epiphany: How many messages do I need?  Lady Universe is saying Yes! Yes! Yes!

The final piece de resistance came Sunday night in the bar, when Thalassa passed around her bag of cards (from many decks) and when I reached into the bag, I pulled out . . . the Emperor.

Epiphany: No more excuses or messing around. Be tough. Be bold. You can do it!


Thoughtful, sparkling comments. . .

  • Debbie Lake Sun - May 10th 2009 9:14 pm

    What a wonderful description of your experiences at RS09. It was a pleasure to work with you and thank you so much for the reading you gave me. I’m still considering various aspects of it.

  • Amy Lamash Mon - May 11th 2009 4:03 am

    This is such a great story Joanne! I am glad you are going for this. I believe your work can make a great impact on the Tarot community. I think this was a great Reader’s Studio for everyone. It was the best so far for me as well.
    Oh, and about your glasses, I recall you are the one who found them. Goes to show you really can see if you believe!

  • Anna Mon - May 11th 2009 5:41 am

    The best of luck with your new adventure! May the Goddess be with you!

  • Mark Mon - May 11th 2009 7:12 am

    What an inspiring summary (packed with insights all of us can benefit from)!
    Given how much I enjoy your work, keeping you as focused on creative productivity is entirely in my own best interest — so don’t be shy about letting me know how I can encourage more thoughts along these lines!

  • Carolyn Cushing Mon - May 11th 2009 8:49 am

    Thanks so much for this tale of Studio epiphanies; it makes for a lively recounting. It also reminded me of how The Gaian Canoe was with me all weekend rather like the Emperor was with you. I came to appreciate how you have unleased the Chariot’s potential for movement and placed it in the waters of life. As I mentioned, in the exercise James did with us, the young man in the card said to me, “Just put your paddle in the water. You have already left the shore.” It is Canoe wisdom I will be treasuring and using to inspire my forward movement with my tarot practice so a thousand, thousand thanks for that!

  • Kim Mon - May 11th 2009 10:18 am

    Thanks for sharing all that you learned. I, too, have decided that my creative and healing work comes first now. I have been trying to make my living as a writer for 25 years, but it was the library work that actually fed us during that time. Recently I was even considering quitting writing since the publishing world had gotten so bad (and sometimes downright inhumane). But NY is not the only place in the universe for publishing. As writers & creators, we must take control of all aspects of our work
    I am renewed once again. I am a writer. I am a storyteller. I am a healing and visionary artist. That’s who I’ve always been & now I’m on solidly on that path again. But I’m going to do it my way. I am not a product. What I do is sacred work. It’s a scary ride but oh what an adventure! And the Old Mermaids are right there beside me.

  • JulieZS Mon - May 11th 2009 10:39 am

    What powerful insights Joanna, I’m so glad that the trip gave you more than you’d asked.

  • Beth Owl's Daughter Mon - May 11th 2009 10:53 am

    A beautiful summary, Joanna! Thank you for sharing your RS09 experiences in this courageous, personal view. You are an inspiration, not only by what you create for us, but by showing us your process and revealing your human side as well.
    You are a gift!
    – Beth Owl

  • Lunaea Mon - May 11th 2009 11:50 am

    My thought when you said that Amy helped you find your glasses was that sometimes it takes another person’s input to help us see more clearly. You have often been that person for me! 🙂

  • James Wells Mon - May 11th 2009 5:23 pm

    Brilliant entry, Joanna. I too have been working with the image and energy of the Voyager version of the Emperor. He’s inspiring me to keep at my work, my marketing of that work, and my capacity to be a transformative leader. I’ve also been working with the BOTA version of Judgement to move the the next stage in my personal evolution and to assist others to move into the next phase of their evolution. Sounds like we’re getting some similar messages, dear friend. May Life bless us in Her best ways.

  • Shell Mon - May 11th 2009 10:28 pm

    I loved reading your story. I can’t wait to see how you used The Emperor energy to kick butt and ask questions later.

  • Lisa Hunt Tue - May 12th 2009 6:16 am

    I have always felt that if you follow the heart, you cannot possibly fail.

  • joanna Tue - May 12th 2009 9:04 am

    Thanks everyone for the great comments. Sometimes I doubt the wisdom of being so personal in my blog posts. But I am hopeful that some of you will take some inspiration as you watch me muddle through, making mistakes and sometimes even getting things right.
    Debbie, I think we make great reading buddies! Amy, thanks for the vote of confidence. I think I still needed your perspective and support in order to find my glasses! Thanks Anna. Mark – LOL! I will definitely let you know when I need some encouragement! Carolyn, thanks for letting me know about how meaningful the Canoe card was for you during RS09. Kim, I’ve noticed this new direction you’re taking in your life with the workshops and classes you’re offering and I think it’s wonderful! I’m so glad you’ve reclaimed yourself as storyteller and writer no matter what the NY publishers do. Thanks Julie and Beth, so much appreciated. Lunaea, you are pretty smart! James, you are always an inspiration. Shell – you made me laugh out loud! I did kick some butt yesterday with one of my clients and it felt good. And resolution with them is on the horizon. Lisa, what a beautiful thought.

  • e14studio Tue - May 12th 2009 5:54 pm

    I have been following your blog a long time and have admired your work and your insights with tarot. I am just a beginner but have shared tarot with many friends and acquaintances that I meet at yoga retreats. I know I should pursue becoming a reader.
    I was struck by your ability to investigate possibilities through tarot and gain isights as you contend with challenges. I wanted to comment to let you know I appreciate your honesty. I chose a card from the Enchanted Tarot deck to help me send my message to you. It is the 6 of pentacles. Need I say more??

  • yona Wed - May 13th 2009 11:11 am

    Hi Joanna!
    I haven’t posted since 2007, but I’ve been reading avidly! This is one of my most favourite posts yet! Thanks for your honesty – I am sure that your readers will find their own nuggets of wisdom as you so generously shared yours. And good luck with things!

  • Nora Thu - May 14th 2009 9:08 am

    for many, many years you have been my honored teacher, mermaid sister and sister/self….here you just keep teaching and like your web-work, you do it through beauty. It’s what I SO LOVE about you Joanna. You are keen, sharp, intelligent, and so balanced in beauty, the Goddess and more of the beauty of the Goddess.
    It’s been a divine honor to watch you truly spread your wings…you have always been awesome to me, but you are REALLY HITTING YOUR STRIDE sister, so fly ~ high ~ with beauty before you, behind you, above you and below you….you are a gift to this planet, I am so honored to receive your many many gifts. You go girl!

  • Fireshadow Thu - May 14th 2009 7:20 pm

    I found your blog today and what a wonderful read and comments. Marvelous! I have subscribed!

  • Ellen-Mary Mon - May 18th 2009 3:49 pm

    This is such a sincere post. I honored that you shared it with us. I’m very glad to know that you found your answers. I can’t wait to see what you do next.
    Reader’s Studio was an amazing experience. I’m so happy I got to meet you in person and got to know Beth, Debbie and Amy. It was a wonderful weekend.

  • joanna Tue - May 19th 2009 6:39 am

    Sharon – the 6 of Pentacles – how cool is that!! Thank you. Yona, thanks for letting me know you’re reading. Deep appreciation. Nora, love you too. You’re amazing. Thanks Fireshadow, fellow Meeter-Upper! Ellen-Mary, I was glad to spend time with you at the RS and get to know you. Glad to see you here again. It *was* an amazing weekend.