Why Attend Conferences?

By Sheri Harshberger

I've gone to a few Tarot conferences, so I am asked frequently whether it is worth it or not.  When I am, my answer is always a hearty "YES!"  The followup questions are frequently "but isn't it a hassle to travel?", "doesn't it eat up a chunk of time?", "Am I really going to learn something? Aren't they just going to talk about things I already know?" or "But I saw the agenda and I'm not interested in the speakers or topics, why should I go?"  

Yes, it can be expensive to travel to and attend a conference, but it does take a significant investment by the people who put on the conferences to actually make them happen.  If you are a professional reader--someone who gets paid to read, in most cases, you can write off your expenses against the income you make as a reader (check with your tax guy to be sure, of course).   Most of the conferences I have been to, I haven't been to all of them--yet :o), are reasonably priced.

Yes, the topics presented may not be of interest to you, or you might be more knowledgeable about some of the subjects than the speakers... but that doesn't mean you aren't going to learn something.   Conferences are attended by people of all skill levels and all backgrounds.  I can guarantee that if you don't learn something from the speakers (I can almost guarantee that you will), you will learn something from those who are sitting around you and they will learn something from you.  You will sit next to the author of your favorite Tarot book or the artist of your favorite deck.  They will talk to you and be as interested in you as you are in them.  You will share experiences and tips, and you will read for each other.  You will meet people.  You will make friends.   You stay up late talking to people in person you have only ever known before online.  You stay up way too late and you have a blast! :o)

For me, though, the most important reason to go to a conference isn't for any of those things.  It is for the feelings that you get when you get there and those feelings that you bring home with you.  Let me try to explain what I mean...

Face it, many of us are located in areas where Tarot reading isn't really a mainstream occupation.  If reading at a public function or asked what we do, frequently there is an apprehension that there could be some sort of confrontation with someone who things we are Satan's spawn for reading cards.  Even meeting reading friends at the local coffee shop or restaurant can have a bit of tension because we all know there are those people who will be compelled to say something to us about what we do.  We are alone.  We feel like a minority buried within what seems like an intolerant majority.

When you go to a conference, you are set free.  There is nothing like the feeling of embracing what you love out in the open, in public and no one says anything.  You meet and see all the other people who are attending... people just like you.  You aren't alone.  For once, you are not in a minority.  The hotel hosting the conference and the restaurants making money feeding the attendees don't care what you do.  Our profession becomes "just another business conference" (but most likely a more FUN one!) in their eyes.  You see there is tolerance.  You see that you  aren't the crazy one when there is a confrontation.  

I've been reading cards for 10 years, and it wasn't until after I went to my first conference a few years ago that I had the level of comfort necessary to "come out" about it at my day job and to my relatives (other than my immediate family).  I love going to conferences!  I wish I could afford to go to all of them, everywhere!

Why should you go? Because when you come home you bring with you the confidence to be yourself and secure in the knowledge that you are not alone. Priceless.

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