Today, for Day 15 of my month-long gratitude practice, I give thanks for Triangle Tarot and Friends (the Raleigh-Durham Tarot Meetup).
When I whine to my friends about being too busy, or stretched thin, invariably, someone suggests that I give up being the organizer of the Meetup. I know that someday I will have to. But even though it takes a bit of work and care, it is seldom draining.
Just the opposite, really. It is a pleasure and an honor.
Yes, over the years there have been occasional klunkers among our membership that have given me headaches. But the ground of our group is not fertile for people with unwholesome personal agendas, and they rarely stay for long. Especially with the emotional, logistical, and magical support of my terrific assistants, Laurel and Morgan.
And yes, I have had my issues with the Meetup.com platform itself. On several very unpleasant occasions, the Meetup software has been revised and changed with little or no consideration for their paying customers. Meetup is not a free service; we, the organizers, pay a monthly fee for our groups.
But all in all, I love the purpose of Meetup. Their mission is to “use the internet to get off the internet — and grow local communities.” It’s a wonderful way to cultivate meaningful friendships in real life.
Like most people I know, I spend way too much time fooling around in cyberspace hangouts. But new studies show that even if we have a gazillion friends on Facebook, we are all lonelier (and more narcissistic) than ever.
It is tremendously important to be with actual, living human beings, in physical reality. But, yes, it can also be hard to find like-minded souls in our own hometowns. Voila! Meetup.
A Brief History of our Tarot Meetup
Once upon a time, shortly after Meetup first started in 2002 (as a direct result of Meetup founder Scott Heiferman’s 9/11 experiences), I started receiving emails notifying me that if someone would lead, there were “x” number of other people in the Triangle, wanting to get together to share their interest in the Tarot.
One such gathering may have actually occurred (in a bar, somewhere in Raleigh, I believe). But no one ever volunteered to be the paying organizer, and every other proposed get-together fizzled. Finally, I got a notice that since no one was stepping up as the leader, the prototype Tarot group was going to be dissolved.
At the same time, I had been increasingly impressed by the monthly meetings that my friend, Tarotist Geraldine Amaral, was organizing for her Washington DC Tarot Society.
So, I figured, what the heck! Meetup is offering a turn-key package with plenty of support. It would be a shame to let it fold up without at least giving it a shot.
And so in February, 2003, with shaky hopes, I managed to scrape together four other souls for our first ever Tarot Meetup, held around a tiny table at a Barnes and Noble Bookstore cafe.
Since then, we have met in person every single month without fail, except in January, 2009 when we had a huge ice storm. We have had to change locations about five times to accommodate our growing numbers. And we’ve grown to about 370 online worldwide members, making us one of the world’s largest Meetups that is strictly focused on Tarot.
But our priority remains our local camaraderie. We’ve had as many as 50 or more folks attend (when we had a bigger meeting space), with the current average turnout each month being about as many as our venue can accommodate — around 22-25 Tarot enthusiasts.
All levels of experience are warmly welcome. There is no charge to participate, although donations are welcome, and our restaurant hosts appreciate our patronage.
Over the years, other Tarot Meetups have come and gone, because yes, it does take time, effort, and tenacious enthusiasm.
I have seen the hatching and demise of Tarot and non-Tarot groups that are thinly veiled self-promotional tools. They rarely last because in the long run, to thrive, it cannot really be self-serving, but a gift of service to others.
Why I am Grateful
Thus, as we prepare to celebrate our 10th anniversary next February, I give thanks for the ways that Triangle Tarot and Friends has been a gift in my life!
It is such a treat for me to see new members’ faces light up when they discover that this weird, crazy love they have for the Tarot is shared by others. And those others turn out to be quite wonderful – smart, funny, friendly, and as passionate about the Tarot as they are!
It is even more lovely watching those connections develop and deepen into true friendships, as our members start sharing hobbies, events, personal spirituality, life passages, and family celebrations together.
And I love how our members have overcome the well-known, number one, biggest fear (supposedly bigger than the fear of death!) – the fear of public speaking!
Every month, our folks have generously volunteered to present the many monthly programs we’ve offered over the years: working our way through the Major Arcana (including talks by Marie White that featured her sublime work-in-progress at the time, the acclaimed Mary-El Tarot), learning about the Tarot through the lens of numerology, delving deeper into the suits and the court cards, and currently, working our way chapter by chapter through the classic 21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card, by Mary Greer.
So .. thank you to each and every one of you who has helped build our “good vibe Tarot Tribe” over the years. We are not the most pedantic or esoteric Tarot people of all time (and frankly that suits me just fine). Instead, we are some of the most talented, passionate, and adventurous Tarot enthusiasts you will ever meet.
Thank you for (almost) 10 years of “learning, laughter, and going deeper.” It is my profound privilege to serve you, and the Tarot itself.