Tarot Card Reversals — some long-time readers don’t believe in reading them while others abide by them to gain full understanding. I’ve come across several who choose not to read reversals because they don’t want their readings to be “negative”. I’ve also seen some that don’t read reversals because someone told them that if they truly understood the cards they wouldn’t need to read the reversal.
For myself, I’ve always read reversals since Day 1 and I’ve never not overlooked the fact that a card came up reversed. Through my experience, observation, and deep reflection over the cards over time, I do strongly believe that the reversed cards should be read — or at least the reversal meaning should be understood.
To highlight my point, I’m going to provide a short reading example. Let’s say that I asked the cards the question: How can I increase my chances of a romantic relationship in the future? The cards I deal are: Emperor Reversed, 9 of Cups, 5 of Cups Reversed.
The 9 of Cups often signifies “wishes fulfilled” and that there is potentially some satisfaction there. However, the other two cards seem to not be quite as positive.
The 5 of Cups, when upright, shows emotional disappointment and loss. Perhaps this person is still hurt from a past relationship, conflicts with a friendship, or problems in their family. Regardless of the exact source, the person has likely dealt with some relationship problems and struggles to have this loss in their energy field. However, since the card is reversed it is actually a hair bit positive (in the case with this card) because this card can signify depression. As a reversal, that means that this energy is slightly “blocked” or “kinked”, which would mean for the 5 of Cups Reversed shows that the person is now at a moving on point from this disappointment even though the energy is still slightly present. Is it significantly impacting them at this point? No, but its not completely dormant either because if it was it wouldn’t come up in the cards.
The Emperor, when upright, expresses structure, discipline, boundaries, standards, organization, etc. Since this card is reversed the energy is, as I said earlier, “blocked” or “kinked”. This particular card, since it is one of the Major Arcana, is rather neutral and represents deep core lessons in the soul’s evolution. There is a very significant lesson in this that could potentially really change the way person’s future is shaped. So imagine to yourself what would you possibly see in a person who has the Emperor’s true energy “blocked”? If a person has trouble with boundaries and standards what would you see? That provides an answer to the reversal meaning.
In this case, I can see two potential interpretations for the Emperor Reversed:
1. The person has “too strict” of standards that they don’t allow anyone in because they fear to be “dominated” as they may have in the past.
2. The person should remember to have standards and not just settle with anyone.
Though these interpretations both appear to be at opposite ends of the spectrum, the irony is that they can both very well be true and resonate with the client. Why? Because at both ends of the spectrum there isn’t an equal balance. To set standards and boundaries we have to have them, but not make them too strict. An equilibrium has to be developed between the two, and it is then and only then that the true Emperor energy can be properly utilized.
If we did not read or consider the reversal then we may have easily looked this aspect over completely. Yes we may have picked up on a need for “structure” but we would’ve missed in understand where the client fully is if we didn’t ask ourselves “If this energy is blocked, what would it look like?” By reading and striving to understand the different potential interpretations of the reversal, we are then able to ultimately understand the full depth of the cards themselves better rather than simply look at them at face value. It’s a complicated universe with many different variables — it’s a shame if we overlook these little things and miss them entirely, especially in this type of work.
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To read the reversal or not read the reversal? These seems to be a continuous debate between tarot readers and everyone seems to have their own opinion as to which way is best.
Personally, I’ve found that through having readings done by some that do read reversals, others that don’t read reversals, and my own experimentation in reading tarot — there is no solid yes or no answer. I’ve had readers miss details of my situations by not reading the reversal, but I’ve also had readers miss details who did read the reversal.
Do I read reversals? The answer: Yes and no, as I’ve found that it depends on the context of the question and the spread being used. For instance, if I’m using a Celtic Cross spread, this spread is predominantly used to explain the external information of a person’s situation (only a card or two REALLY goes into what is going on with them and others around them on the inside) then I will definitely read the reversals. However, if I made up a spread or am looking at the cards in a spread that are directed to understanding what this person needs to inwardly overcome (a good example would be a card to represent a person’s “challenge” or “advice”), then I focus predominantly on the true nature of the card but I kind of make a bit of a mental note that it was reversed, as then I keep in mind that this development may be more difficult for them.
Overall, I’ve found that it’s certainly not one of those things that can be fully mentally grasped by the linear mind, as it is something that we can really only sense and pick up on intuitively as to which direction the energies are at the moment. Though, I will admit, some concrete knowledge in psychology can certainly help to fully understand and have empathy for what is really going on on an inner level.
Perhaps if I manage to discover some tried-and-true method for myself that I can explain in detail how it works for certain questions asked in a spread, then I’ll add more of my thoughts on this subject. For now, if anyone would like to tell me their experience for discussion that would be greatly appreciated. 🙂