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Why Tarot Reversals Need to be Read (or at least understood!)

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.


Related posts:

Tarot Reflections

The Challenge of Trusting Your Own Intuition

Reading the 7 of Cups: The Good and the Bad


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How to Read Tarot Cards: How Tarot Cards Work

This is the start of what will eventually become a series of several posts to provide guidance for those who wish to begin reading tarot.

I feel that it is important to start out with a solid base in understanding how tarot works and why and how they do not work in order to provide you with a good foundation to build off from rather than wasting time by trying things that are not meant to work for tarot.  For this post, I’m going to focus on main questions that I’m sure many people have about tarot.

How can the cards be so accurate?

This may sound a little bit like “voodoo” but basically the cards are providing a lesson based from our unconscious selves.  Some may refer to this as your higher self, your soul, your angels, your guides, your teachers, the divine, etc.  Personally, I feel that all of these things are interconnected and will all point you in the same direction of your own spiritual growth, so it doesn’t necessarily matter as what “label” you would like to place on it.  We are all interconnected to spirits outside of us and all interconnected to each other and that is how we can pick up on the energies of others without seeing, talking to, or perhaps ever meeting the person.

We are truly spiritual beings and spirit is always trying to send messages to us via our intuition, but our human minds are so busy focused on “more important things” that we fail to listen to and trust these messages.  The benefit of using tarot cards is that it helps to provide us with clarity when our  minds are so clouded with other worldly things.

Can tarot cards predict the future?

Aside from popular belief, the answer is mostly no.  The reason is because that is not how the universe works and that is not what the spirit has meant for us.  What tarot DOES do is provide us with insights on our life’s path to give us guidance as to what lessons we need to learn and how we need to improve.  Often times the reason that we feel lost, depressed, trapped, insecure, etc. is because we are not connected to spirit and our own inner voice.  These are the side effects of repressing the voices of our soul’s true path in life.  This is not to say that you will still not deal with challenges even if you are trusting spirit and your intuition, but it is not something that you will “hold on to” for very long.  You will be able to overcome these challenges with ease rather than choose to be dragged down by them.

There are times when the tarot cards may predict something in your near future, but that is a prediction based on our current energies (thought patterns, feelings, etc.).  We are constantly creating our own futures with the universe, so the reason that predictions are often not correct is because through our free will we can easily change or shift something to change our future.

Are tarot cards evil?

Not at all.  The only way that tarot cards can be bad is if you are given a tarot card reading by a bad reader that you can determine by any or all of the following:

1.  A reader that causes greater inner confusion than clarity.  Translations can sometimes be difficult for the tarot reader to put it into words for the client to understand (it’s a continuous lesson for any reader), but the reading should still “gel” with you to some degree.

2.  A reader that causes you greater resistance by feeling more misunderstood.  There is a difference between receiving advice that hurts but you know it is true, versus receiving advice that doesn’t resonate with you or your situation at all and just causes greater frustration.

3.  A reader that is vague and doesn’t provide much guidance or  direction.  Have you ever had a reading of “If you put forth effort in X it will work?” and your reaction is “Okay, well how do I do that?”  I know I have!  The reader should be able to give at least some greater guidance as to what you should work on either within yourself or externally.

4.  A reader that provides a false hope for the future that influences you to “sit by the door waiting”.  You should never “sit around waiting for a good thing to come”.  We need to be proactive in order to create our own happiness.  This is often why long-term predictions don’t work.

Your Bad Day May Be a Sign

We’ve all had bad days: you get out of bed and stub your toe, you miss your bus, you burn your tongue on that first sip of coffee… nothing feels like it’s ever going right and you can’t understand why on earth you are suddenly having such bad luck.

Well, I had one the other day and, oddly, it wasn’t even one that started off as bad but once I decided to take an afternoon trip one bad thing led to another.  To make a long story short, by the end of the trip I found myself standing outside of my apartment at midnight with no key to get in and unable to find the maintenance guy for my building for help.

Luckily, I did manage to get into my apartment so I could sleep and be ready for work the next morning.

Most of us tend to write this off as simply having “bad luck” that day, but the truth is that when it comes the universe there is no such thing as simple “bad luck” because you manifest everything that you receive.  The bad day, the reoccurring headache, insomnia, digestive problems, etc. are all signs that the universe is giving to us to tell us that we need to make a change in our lives — and if we don’t listen, then it will continue to reoccur until we do!

Here is a simple spread that I did after this “bad day” moment in order to get a clear idea as to what the universe was trying to tell me in this instance.  I asked the following questions:

1. What was the purpose for these events? (This card will typically show what you have been doing in your life that isn’t quite following what the universe wants of you)

2.  What lessons do I need to learn? (More than likely a major card here, but it may be a minor if it is a  simple lesson depending on your individual situation.)

3.  What actions do I need to make? (The cards may tell you exactly what to do or not be too specific.  I did asked these three questions thinking it would be enough but they simply said “make a change” but I wanted the cards to specify to what area so I could be confident as to what it is and to understand WHY it is a problem, so I asked two more additional questions for clarity.)

4.  What exactly do I need to change? (If this is reversed, look at it as if you need to work for it to be upright.  If it is upright, reflect on the card itself to see what energies of this card you need to strengthen in yourself for balance.)

5.  How? (I dealt this one just for support of the 4th card, as I feel that it can still easily be too vague and, personally, I just wanted to learn the reasoning of the cards).

With these five cards, even if you are doing this reading on your own you should be able to get a good well-rounded idea as to what exact changes you need to make in your life in order to be more “aligned” to what the universe wants of you. Finally, it’s always important to just trust your intuition as your dealing these cards, as you already know on a deeper level exactly what you need to change already — you just have to be completely honest with yourself.

Does anybody else have other spreads that they have used for instances like this?  What has worked best for you?  Have you had a “bad day” lately as well?  What do you think it was a sign of?

Why We May Tend to Interpret the Major Arcana as Negative

For the past couple weeks I’ve been doing either daily or every-other day personal readings for myself for self-reflection.  During that time I have had a few combinations of cards that I felt were a bit “oddly paired together” so I felt it would be good to bring up for discussion on the tarot forums in hopes to gain further knowledge and dive in deeper into the full layers of these cards.

In two of my more recent readings I have had the card of the Emperor arise in my readings, both of which I happened to post on the forum for discussion.  What I’ve found interesting in this, however, is that many of my fellow tarot readers interpreted this card in a negative sense.  I found this puzzling for a few reasons:  1.  I’ve learned through readings and experience that the majors stand for life lessons, 2. These “life lessons”, I’ve found, are often rooted to our psychological processes and can be reflected upon Jung’s psychological model, and 3. Because the majors are based on major inner life lessons for us, they are neither positive or negative.  Instead, they are rather “another block that needs to be added in order to build the wall of wholeness”, metaphorically speaking.

What I have found that by giving my fellow tarot readers readings where I had the Emperor involved, the natural tendency was for them to say something like “Don’t be excessively rational”, “Don’t be strict”, “You have a strict figure around you”, “You need to be cautious”, etc.  I could see these as possibly being true if these cards were reversed, as they would signify the true energy of this card being “blocked” or (perhaps for a better word) ‘”warped”, but this was not the case in either of these instances.  Yet, even if this card was read as a reversal, I would interpret this as a need to bring this card upright to allow this energy within ourselves to be alive so we can grow and become whole.  I felt that these interpretations rather added to the illusion rather than to allow clarity.

So this leads me to my next question through my own observation: Why would my fellow tarot readers have the tendency to interpret this card as negative when it is truly neutral in essence? (And I have not only seen this in the Emperor, but also in other’s interpretations of cards like the Devil as well).

What fascinates me is that by looking back to Jung’s archetypes, the reasoning for this can be explained.  The first thing to consider is that there are many tendencies embedded in all of us because we all have a collective unconscious (according to Jung).  The second thing to note is that all of these additional  interpretations I received were all from women.  Now, the cards in relation Jungian psychology would symbolize that Empress = female energy/anima (the female part of a male) and Emperor = male energy/animus (the male part of the female).  For many people in this world, we tend to have a negative anima or animus to some degree that we need to learn how to control and work with (I know that I do and have, as it has been represented in many of my dreams).

So is it that the reason for our misinterpretations of cards such as these simply the cause of our own unconscious part of ourselves that we have yet to become aware of and learn how to “deal with”?  I’d suppose that awareness of the tendency is the first step of the battle (as I suppose you would now gain from reading this if you have never heard of this before).  Yet, it seems that this can prove the importance for all of us as tarot readers, psychics, psychologists, or any other person in this world who works to help people that we need to be sure to be completely aware of our own inner processes to be sure that we ourselves are giving clear interpretations rather than adding more illusion to the mix of our already illusion-based societies.

As for my cards in my most recent self-reflection reading?  The cards I dealt were: Ace of Cups, 5 of Cups, Emperor (no reversals).  I know that I’ve been on this path of learning how to work through my emotional disappointments of the past, so I am not surprised this came up.  I was simply interpreting it as just a message of “Hey, your getting those negative voices in your head toned down, but don’t forget to set strategic plans and goals for yourself — don’t get too lax in fear of negativity”.  Any other experienced tarot readers who wish to add their interpretations of this short personal reading are certainly welcome.  After all, I may be very well off on my own interpretation as not quite seeing it as negative in this context with the other two cards.  This is where the cards can become rather complex when you start really looking into the psychology of it.

Also, if any of you experienced tarot readers would like to add their own interpretations of my thoughts on reading the Major Arcana, please do so.

I look forward to your comments. 🙂



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