One for the Black Sheep

TaoCraft Short Sip is Tarot contemplations in the time it takes to take a sip (or two) from your coffee. Today – this one’s for the black sheep of the family.

Hello and welcome to Tao Craft Short Sip: Tarot contemplation for your day in the time it takes to sip from your coffee.

Today’s card is the four of wands in reverse.

There have been very few reversals since I’ve changed the podcast and started this short sip format. This seems to be a good time to talk about reversed cards in general. You might need an extra sip or two of coffee for this one.

In Tarot, when we say a card is reversed, it means that the card is upside down relative to the person doing the reading. It seems like every single Tarot reader has their own individual method and philosophy for dealing with reversed cards in a reading.

Some decks lend themselves to reversals more than others. Mostly I’ve been using the public domain Waite Smith Tarot on the Craft Cards Store diamond flare printing. It has an up and down orientation to the images on the back. When I pick up the deck to shuffle and draw the card, I consciously hold it right side up. It makes it less likely for a reversal to happen. If a reversal happens in spite of handling the cards that way, it is a stronger indication that the reversal is significant to the message.

Some decks have symmetrical backs that look the same either way you hold them. As you would logically expect, reversals are more common with those decks. The style of back is a deliberate choice made by each individual deck’s creator. From reading deck descriptions, I get the impression that the choice of card back is influenced by the deck author’s philosophy about reversals.

When you get right down to it, regardless of how often they happen or the kind of card back you use, how you read a reversed card is a matter of personal preference.

With the Alleyman’s Tarot that I’m using today, the backs vary from card to card and make reversals hard to consciously try to prevent. With some of the more abstract cards it’s hard to tell the front from the back much less the up from the down. The smooth cardstock feels great, but the cards are slippery. This deck seems determined to make me play a game of hundred-something card pickup. I have a hunch that reversals are going to be common with this deck.

OK. Great.

So what does that mean for a reading when a card is upside down like this?

Some people change the meaning of a reversed card to its opposite, or change it from having a positive, upbeat spin to to exploring the darker, more negative side of the card.

I’m in the school of thought that takes all those shades of meaning into account all of the time anyway. With that kind of gestalt approach, reversed cards are not really all that significant. For me, it comes down to an arbitrary, purely intuitive decision whether to even consider the reversal or not. If it feels significant, I read it in terms of energy flow. If it doesn’t feel significant, I turn the card right side up and go on as usual.

Here is a shocker for you: I see it in terms of Taoist philosophy.

You are probably familiar with the taijitu, the swirly black and white circle with the dots of the opposite color on each side. The concepts in the yin yang symbol overlap with Tarot reversals. Both positive and negative connotations are unified within the wholeness of the card, just like both black and white are unified within the wholeness of the taijitu image. It isn’t meant to be a static picture. The swirly shapes of the black and white fields symbolize movement and a dynamic interplay of opposites. That applies to Tarot reversals too. To my mind, a reversal speaks to the overall flow of energy more than a static but opposite interpretation of an individual card.

In my readings, a reversal shows where energies are blocked or turbulent. Reversals show where our biggest struggles and challenges currently lie.

The four of wands card is about celebrations, particularly broad celebrations that are rooted in culture and community. The four of wands card is different from the kind of celebrations that we sometimes see in the nine of cups. The nine of cups hints at inner circle celebrations with your closest friends and family, like Thanksgiving for example. The four of wands speaks to events that tend to connect outward. The four of wands speaks to the kind of holiday that is celebrated by going out into the community, like Independence Day.

Of course, wherever connection to community exists, so can rejection and estrangement from it. A complicated or blocked sense of connection or community is where the reversal comes into play today. This is not a card intended for everyone, by any means. Many if not most people have basically supportive families and fit into their culture to some extent, but family weirdness is common too. It’s uncomfortably personal for me to talk about this energy, but I feel pushed to do it anyway. I feel an intuitive push to talk to my fellow black sheep.

Scenes from animated Mulan about “the ancestors” come to mind here. So do memes about the one witchy person rolling up in a goat cart to Thanksgiving dinner. “Ancestor” steps forward as a keyword. If the reversed four of wands resonates with you. then this is not a day to try and revere your literal ancestors. Today’s card is about acknowledging the differences.

I hope to write more about this in my personal blog later, but what do you do when you are profoundly different from your ancestors…and it’s a good thing because your ancestors are bigoted jerks?

We all know how painful it is to be rejected by a date or dumped in a relationship. It is that painful and more to get your head and heart around being somehow unacceptable to your own family or community. Out and out rejection is unspeakably painful. The energy of tacit rejection and unspoken disapproval plays its own head games.

If birth family is not the right tribe, if they are not the ancestors of your heart, then there are communities of heart and choice that can step in. It’s not a perfect replacement but it helps a little bit. I know this is a pale nothing of a comparison, but I remember how ridiculously happy I felt when I saw the Ron Reagan unabashed atheist ad for the first time. No matter how independent or introverted we are, there really is a certain joy in seeing someone “like me.” Representation really does matter because we have a deep need to know the things that are vitally important to us are important to other people too.

My hunch is that today’s card is about giving permission. The reversal is letting us know it is ok to allow yourself time and space away from toxic, judgemental or bigoted people. It’s ok if you need support outside of or in addition to your genetic family. It’s ok if you need support outside of or in addition to the community where you currently live.

To paraphrase Richard Bach, the author of Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, true families seldom grow up under the same roof.

Today is not a day for ancestor worship. Today is a day to respect your place in the world. Today is a day to connect with the family and the community of your choosing. Today the card reversal means something important.

A family of the heart, a tribe of like mind, a community that celebrates you as you are does exist. The ideas and values we choose can become our intellectual, emotional and spiritual ancestors even if we don’t fit in with our physical ones.

Let your true light shine as best as you can while guarding your physical realm safety and well being. When your authenticity shines, it helps your true community to find you and accept you and support you. Through your authenticity you become the emotional and intellectual ancestor for future generations.

Just as a final sort of side note, I Like I said earlier, today’s reading used the Alleyman’s Tarot deck. Because I’m a lazy, lazy girl, instead of sitting down and reading the guide book, I’m just looking each card after I finish the short sip reading. I want to get to know this deck on a pure, intuitive, direct, cold reading level before reading the book entry. From what I’ve seen of the cards on instagram before my copy arrived, The Alleyman’s Tarot is super readable.

Today’s card and the energy was kicking me in the shins on a personal level and it took forever to write everything up to this point. It’s almost Easter, and that’s the time of year when the religious divide in my extended family is extra noticeable. This card was such a challenge to write that I almost forgot to pick up The Alleyman’s Notebook. Reading it, I feel validated. It isn’t the exact same wording or exact same interpretation, but there is a certain energy resonance between the black sheep of the family energy and the Alleyman’s interpretation of the four of wands in reverse.

quote “In reverse, this is unhappy unity….it may be time to leave the shelter, time to leave home ” end quote. I’m not telling you to run away from home, but this sounds like a clear OK to look for outside support and acceptance if you need it.

My thoughts today are with transgender youth and the lgbtqia+ communities in the US states that have put their rights, families, health and safety at such risk. Please support organizations that are acting to help; ACLU, PFLAG, the Trevor Project, It Gets Better project and others. Please write your representatives in support of equality legislation.

Whatever your tribe, wherever your home, your family of heart exists. In some cases your heart-family is the same as your family-family, standing by your side. For some, your heart-family may be waiting under a distant roof, yet to be met. Either way, know that you are loved. It’s ok to be a black sheep. Or a colorful one. It’s ok to be who you truly are.

Thank you so much for reading and listening. Your likes, subs, shares and follows are always, always greatly appreciated.

Author: SageWordsTarot

I read Tarot, write e-books and make stuff. 25 + years experience reading Tarot, oracle cards. Retired Tai Chi instructor. Reiki master-practitioner 20+ years

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