A common and often continuing discussion among experienced
and neophyte Tarot readers concerns the issue of using
reversed cards. "Why should I use them?" "Aren't reversed
meanings always negative or just the opposite of what the cards
mean in their upright position?" "Can't I get these meanings
just from looking at the cards upright anyway?"
I find that working with reversed cards adds a very broad
range of meanings and interpretations that I can get from a
deck of cards, and they enable me to see subtleties and
nuances that can add so much to a reading. Think of the
Tarot as a language, such as Spanish or French. Let's
assume that each card represents a single phrase; for example,
the Three of Pentacles means "Working with others."
If you only read upright cards, you have 78 phrases in your
Tarot vocabulary. If you read reversed cards, then you now
have 156 phrases and your vocabulary is doubled. I hope the
advantage and benefit is clear.
An important thing to be aware of is that reversed cards are
not inherently negative. This is totally reasonable. When
you think about it, upright cards are not inherently positive.
Just as there are many ways to interpret an upright card, there
are also many ways to interpret a reversed card. For example,
here are just a few of the ways you can interpret a reversed card:
Energy is diminished
Energy just beginning (planting first seed)
Energy is waning or passing
As you begin to explore using reversed cards in your readings,
allow your mind to go beyond any meanings you may have
learned or created for a given card. Take some time to look at
the artwork in the card and see if any new images emerge.
You'll be surprised how a deck you've known and loved
for a long time can become revitalized and fresh again.
Reading a reversed card accurately depends upon several
factors: the spread you're using, the card position's
meaning within the spread, where the card falls within the
spread, and the context of that card in that position to the
overall message of the spread. Last, but certainly not
least, your intuition plays the key part in reading the
reversed card - it really centers on what the card says to
you at that particular moment in space and time in relation
to the story you see unfolding before you.
Here's an example of a reversed card that does not have a
In this three-card spread are:
1. Issue at hand - Five of Wands
2. What's causing it - Three of Pentacles
3. Your next move - Four of Swords Rx (reversed)
Now let's assume you have a client who's been feeling
uneasy lately because she knows something is not quite right
at work; she can't seem to put her finger on what it might
be. After she shuffles the deck, these are the three cards
you've drawn and put into the spread.
The interpretations for the first two cards seem relatively
1. The issue seems to be about a particular project
and the people (possibly from outside teams) with
whom you are collaborating.
2. There seems to be some amount of serious disagreement
and argument about aspects of the project. This is most
likely with your project manager and the project managers
from the other teams.
At this point, you might be thinking, "Now wait a minute!
Does the Four of Swords reversed mean that she has to start
worrying more about this issue? Upright it typically means
being calm and at rest..." Actually it's quite the contrary.
3. It seems like your next step is to stop bringing
work-related issues home with you. You likely
can't do much about the situation and it's certainly
not worth losing any sleep over it. Let go of this
unnecessary stress and start getting a good night's sleep.
I hope you can see how reversed cards can bring more depth
and subtlety to a reading. The key is not to be afraid of
them and don't see them as being inherently negative. Use
your skills and intuition to read a reversed card just like
you would an upright card. It really is that easy.