Reversed tarot cards can make learning tarot even more intimidating. When you start out on your journey to learn tarot, you are learning the meaning for 78 different cards, when you add in reversed meanings, you’re now looking at learning 156 different meanings for the tarot cards. This can be overwhelming.
Some readers prefer not to use reversed meanings claiming they are not needed to give a full reading. I have also heard that you may not need to use reversals if your intuition is strong enough and the cards are just the starting point for your intuition to really kick in. I’m not sure how I feel about this idea. Feels like it bashes people who read with reversals and says they’re not as in touch with their intuition. But that’s just my opinion.
Other people love reversals and say that they bring an entirely new layer to the tarot reading.
In the end the choice is yours whether or not you read with reversals. You are no less of a tarot reader with either decision.
I personally chose whether or not to read with reversals based on the deck and sometimes just how I feel that day. It’s hit or miss. You don’t have to commit to one way or the other.
Now that I’ve gotten all that out of the way here’s some basics about tarot card reversals.
What is a reversal?
A tarot card reversal is when the tarot card you pull comes out with the face up and upside down.
Note: If you are working with a spread that uses a horizontal card that goes from left to right, you need to make a decision on which way (left or right) is up and which way is down, and stick to this decision so your guides or the Universe will know how to give you the cards.
What do they mean?
Each reversed tarot card has its own meaning. How you interpret the card is up to you and what you feel guided to. There are multiple ways to interpret a reversed tarot card, the way that you interpret the card is up to you and how it feels at that time. Most times, it’s a variation of the upright meaning like in the example below.
Example: 4 of Cups: Upright the 4 of Cups can mean that you are bored with things and that you don’t want to look at what is being presented to you. You want to continue to sulk and feel bad. When reversed, the 4 of Cups can mean that you’re bored with what you have or you have missed an opportunity that was presented to you.
Ways to Read a Reversed Tarot Card
Internal Versus External Energy
Reversed cards can symbolize that you need to work on something within yourself. For example, if you get the Sun reversed it may mean that you need to work on learning to create your own happiness and stop relying on other people to tell you when you are happy and when you shouldn’t be happy. When you are working on yourself, and bringing the focus inward, you are no longer focusing on the external energies that are acting upon you and affecting your choices and decisions.
A reversed tarot card could mean that the energy of the card may be delayed in coming to you. For example, the 8 of wands shows that energies are quickly moving forward and passions may be moving along. But reversed this card may show that there is a delay in moving your passions forward and that you either need to give it some time, or there is something blocking these energies from getting to you. You may need to clear out these blocks before this speedy energy can get to you.
When the card is reversed, it may mean that the energy is the opposite of the upright meaning. For example, the 7 of cups is showing you all of these lovely options from which you can choose from. These are all of the things that you want. When the card is reversed, it looks like all of these lovely things are falling out of the cups and falling away from you and you are chasing them, trying to grab them, before they’re no longer in your reach.
Going to the Extreme
A card in reverse can mean that the normal meaning of the card is put to the extreme. For example, the 5 of Swords can mean that there are people fighting you and you’re feeling defensive. When reversed, this defensive feeling could be coming from no where, because the people fighting you are now above you, symbolizing that the fight is in your head.
The energy of the card may be being blocked by yourself or others when the card is reversed. There may be something that is just out of reach, and you could have a subconscious blockage that you need to work through before you can achieve or attain what it is that you want. Think money. With the Law of Attraction a common issue is that you don’t believe that you deserve the wealth that you desire. this though pattern keeps you where you are, because deep down, you feel you have what you deserve, not what you desire.
Moving Away From the Energy of the Card
When the card is reversed in a reading, it could mean that the normal energy of the card is moving away. You are leaving the period of time when your energy was in the state portrayed by the card, but now you are leaving that state and moving forward. For example, the 4 of Cups, shows that a person is bored and doesn’t notice the cup being offered to them. When reversed, you may be coming out of a period of boredom and isolation, and just starting to notice the opportunities that are being offered to you.
How do I know Which Meaning to Use?
Good question. And one that i can’t really answer for you. This is where your intuition comes into play in tarot reading. There are some cards that you ” just know” mean something different than they typically mean.
A good way to see which reversed tarot card meaning to use, is to cycle through the meanings. You can use the acronym “bio-med” which stands for:
I hope that these ways to look at a reversed tarot card were helpful to you in your tarot journey and please remember that there is no “right way” to read a tarot card. There’s only YOUR way.