When you were a kid, did you ever hang by your toes from the jungle gym just to see what the world looks like from that point of view? (Children, do NOT try this at home or anywhere else! And adults, well, I hope you have good sense and better medical coverage.) Well, I was that kid. Despite all warnings, I figured out how to hang by the tops of my feet.
Initially, I thought I was preparing for my career as a circus acrobat, one that didn't pan out. But once I got there, it was the view that held me.
It may have seemed like dare-devil foolishness, but for me it was just a means to an end. I wanted to see things a different way for the experience and understanding. It was the learning that fascinated me, the way that different view made things clearer in some ways. The different point of view removed the template of habit and expectations and allowed me to study the flight of a bird, the curve of the cat's tail, the feel of the breeze. Oh, and I studied the sound of my mother's voice at high pitch and volume telling me to get down before I hurt myself. But I persisted and hung upside down by my feet whenever possible. I was lucky and strong and, for a child, careful, so I never fell.
I told my mother I was practicing to be an acrobat but secretly I just liked the refuge that looking at things a different way provided me. In the hubbub of childhood, it was a kind of separate peace, a spiritual "bubble bath" that I now recognize was part of my training as a Tarot reader.
Rachel Pollack recently spoke at the 2009 BATS in San Francisco about the nature of The Hanged Man, the guy who in our modern Tarot decks hangs upside down, often with a glow around his head as in RWS and most often with a sense of peace. How can he be at peace when he's hanging from his foot and upside down? Yet Rachel told us that he is the person who recognizes and embraces his differences and similarities, who resists the kindly urges of others to put him "back on his feet" to a mode of conventional thinking. He values both his own point of view and others.
That's the way I think of my reading. I am an otherwise ordinary person who embraces my and others' differences and seeks to look at the universe from more than one point of view. And, because ultimately I was a good, if exasperating, child, I have the urge to share.