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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 Structure Questions for Tarot Readings

I’ve experimented with tarot for several years now.  I’ve read for myself and for others.  I’ve read for some friends casually in-person and have read for several online for people I have not personally known.  I’ve gone through spouts of trying to test my intuition to the max where I asked people to not tell me anything about their situation and to see what I pick up.  I’ve also gone through spouts where I’ve asked people to tell me a lot about their situation.  I’ve done general readings to see what things I can intuitively pick up.  I’ve done readings asking very specific inner and outer variables of situations.

One thing that I’ve learned through all of this experimentation is this: You need to give a solid structured question to ask the cards for the best accuracy and understanding.  Now, this is not to say by any means that the cards are necessarily “wrong” because I have yet to see them as “wrong”.  I’ve asked the cards general questions for myself and have also asked general questions for others.  The results that I’ve always seen with this is that the cards do certainly tell me what is going on, but it can very easily become non-helpful because the cards will tell things that are not necessarily relevant at this time.  For instance, I make ask the cards: When will Alice get over her current issue?  As the reader, I don’t know if this is love, career, financial, or friendship related.  I may see that there is a Knight of Pentacles in this reading.  This Knight may very well represent Alice’s current boyfriend to the T but her boyfriend is not relevant to this question and, as a result, the reading starts to steer off course from what the client was actually asking about.

The lesson comes in that the cards are going to tell you only what you ask of it.  If you ask a general non-specific question then you are going to get a general answer of you or the querent’s current life situation.

Here are some guidelines that I like to follow (as of now, this may change) that can help you in getting the best reading:

1.  Specify what area of your life you are asking about.  If you are asking about love, then the cards most likely will only tell you about your love life.  If you are asking about career, then the cards will tell you about your career.  It will avoid energies from other areas of your life coming into the reading.

2.  Don’t be general in asking a question of “When will I get over my current struggle?”  You need to ask what this struggle is exactly because, in all reality, you may have several struggles going on in your life that the universe knows you are dealing with.  If you ask this question, the universe is going to tell you about all of them rather than the one that you would like to know about.  How can the universe know which one you are referring to exactly unless you specify?

3.  If you want a truly deeper more spiritual or psychological reasoning and understanding of the area then you need to ask questions that are deep in nature.  Card spreads like the celtic cross are great, but they are set up to only tell the reader and the querent only the current external variables of the situation (much of which you may already know yourself).  Therefore, if you really want to know how a person in your life currently truly feels then ask something like “What is Alex’s current block?” or “What is Alex’s current challenge?”.  However, by asking these deeper questions a much deeper understanding of the cards as well as a lot of empathy without judgment is also needed by the reader (just a heads up for anyone who is doing this on their own and they’re just starting out with tarot).

If you keep this simple guidelines in mind, then you will get get a reading with the full clarity that you desire.



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?

Giving Tarot Readings to Tell “Life Purpose”

I had a tarot reading request this week by a middle aged woman who wanted me to tell her her life’s purpose.  I felt a little skeptical in providing this reading, but since it was free and I knew it’d be a good learning experience for me, I conducted the reading as requested.

As I seemed to suspect beforehand, the cards simply gave me a fairly general answers that I feel would easily be true for any person.  Most of it was surrounded by lessons for us to live in the moment, not seek fulfillment of security in material things, use your creative energy, etc.  The answers given by the cards were certainly not wrong, as I could see these as true lessons for all of us but it was not at all tailored to any individual.  Naturally, the feedback she provided in response was that she felt confused with this reading, as it wasn’t very specific and tailored to her.  I completely understood her perspective of this and I explained that from my experience with the tarot cards thus far, I have not seen any good way to use them to explain in detail the characteristics of a person’s soul or higher self.  I have only found that this particular stack of 78 cards will only tell us where we are in terms of our evolution — not the uniqueness that lies within each and every one of us (which I could see is what she was truly seeking).  As a result, I simply recommended to her a psychic reading by a credible psychic or an Akashic Record reading because I personally have found these helpful with this particular question.

This now leaves me to contemplate what is truly the best method for questions or areas about this.  There are a few methods that I have found to be good in explaining your own individual unique characteristics: a psychic reading from a credible psychic, Akashic Records, astrology, and analyzing dreams.  I’ve found that each methods brings up different aspects of you in their own regard, though I can’t quite say that I’ve felt that any “one” of these methods is better than the others for the following reasons:

– Working with a credible psychic that is only using clairvoyance and perhaps mediumship (no other tools), I’ve felt that it can certainly be a liberating experience.  I can say that I honestly felt like I might’ve been talking to an angel directly because of the great clarity, empathy, and understanding without me ever saying a word.  Though by interacting with such a person in itself certainly allowed some “awakening” and  greater awareness to occur, the layers of issues that had to be worked through were still there.  She was only able to point them out.

– The Akashic Record work was similar in the regard of providing clarity and understanding.  It is amazing what things we can pick up and understand about other people once we are able to tap into our own higher awareness!  The downside with this I found, however, was similar to that of the psychic.  Though I was told these things and the meditations we did helped in the short term, the build ups of past pains would still emerge.  Even conducting these meditations in itself was not quite enough to get a full grasp in understanding that I felt was needed.

– I’ve never been one who is really into astrology, but I did find some benefit by receiving an astrological profile to know and understand how other planets influence me in this life.

– Keeping a dream journal to reflect on an analyze I’ve felt has been beneficial.  Though it doesn’t quite provide the same “quick clarity” as other methods, this method I feel allows you to become completely aware on your own time.  You can see through the dreams what blocks are embedded in you from you past, become aware of them, and then kind of watch how things shift and evolve in the dreams as you become more aware of them.  It’s like tarot cards, in that they reflect where you are in terms of your evolution, though it is more specific because you have people and characters in your dreams that can recognize your past that have become aspects of yourself.

To sum this up, I’ve felt that the psychic, Akashic Records, and astrology were good at pointing out your strengths and areas that you may be good at as far as a career goes.  Personally, I’ve always held a high standard for those that are able to really tap into another’s soul completely with complete authenticity, empathy and understanding — and I do feel that by being able to do that you can that be a source of “stopping the cycle”.  However, the true issue boils down to when YOU are really at the point in time when you are meant to truly become more conscious, which can either be a short or long process depending on the individual.  It is only when you fully get in touch with that inner part of yourself that it can really stick.

What are your experiences?  What are your thoughts?  What method mentioned or failed to mention that has worked for you?  Have you, in fact, discovered a method that tarot can give person a good individual idea of his or her true purpose?

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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