On The Topic of Reading Reversals

Whether to read reversals or not can be a hot-topic issue in the world of tarot. Like anything else tarot related, choosing to read with reversals is an individual decision that can only be arrived at via experimentation. This month, the Tarot Rebels Blog Hop takes a look at how reversals fit into our own personal practice, and why we as tarot readers choose to work with them or not.

Personally, i do not to read using purposefully reversed cards.

What I mean by choosing not to read using purposefully reversed cards is that I do not physically alter the cards’ direction by turning portions of the deck while shuffling. The reason for this is that intentionally manipulating the deck to create reversals feels disingenuous to me. While I understand that one could argue that randomizing the deck via shuffling is of little difference, I have to stick with my gut instinct on this, so I always shuffle my cards upright. That said, there are times where despite my best efforts to keep an upright deck, the cards can become unintentionally reversed. When this occurs, I always pay close attention to them, and alter my reading to accommodate thier message!


Some decks include reversed keywords – 2015 Samhain Deck of the Bastard


This takes us to the question of HOW one reads with reversals – for instance, the most well known method turns the cards on thier heads in terms of meaning, so that the message is interpreted as the opposite that it would be if read upright. Another method is to read the reversal as blocked or delayed energy, where the card’s core meaning remains intact, but isn’t currently an active energy. A reversal can also indicate resistance in the seeker to the energy represented by that card, or that the energy is acting as a negative influence. As I do not purposefully reverse my cards, reading them has blocked or delayed energy has become my method of choice for interpreting those unintentional reversals, as it feels most natural and intuitive to me.

Even though i don’t physically reverse my cards, not all cards are always read as upright…

The biggest argument I have seen in reading reversals is that they provide an additional layer of information. I would argue that each card holds an complete message whether physically reversed or not. By understanding both the shadow and light aspects of the card, and designing spreads with positions which take into account both of these qualities, whether the card is to be read as it’s light/upright or shadow/reversed energy becomes readily apparent. Surrounding cards also play a factor in whether or not I interpret a card’s light or shadow side – in teasing out the interplay between the cards, we can look to the figures themselves, opposing/complementary elemental associations, or even the hierarchy of positions within the royal court. All these factors can be put into play to help the intuitive reader suss out whether a card is to be read as it’s light or shadow side.

As we can see, when it comes to reversals, there is definitely more ways than one to skin the proverbial cat! Taking the time to experiment with different techniques in one’s practice is the best way to find out what works – after that, it’s all about remaining consistent to further hone the chosen approach. So explore and have fun, and don’t ever hesitate to develop a new technique unique to your personal journey with the cards!


Visit other Tarot Rebels in this blog hop by clicking on the links below:

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