Everyone seems to take a different approach to reversed cards.
Some people learn 78 whole new meanings, whilst others read them as a blockage of the card’s upright energy. For some they point to an opposite meaning, whereas for others it’s a corruption of the original. And some people just flip ’em right on over. Also, some decks, like one of my personal favourites, the Shadowscapes, say they don’t ‘have’ reversed cards.
I’ve not written about card reversals on here before, largely because I’ve yet to collectively give them the thought that that would require. I’ve shied away from the issue, and then quietly freaked each time I get a reversed card in a reading. I guess the time has come to stop sorting my decks so that all the cards are upright (!) figure out where I stand.
One thing I know is that I feel that reversed cards need interpreting on a case-by-case basis, just like upright cards. I’m not one for learning 78 new meanings. So I’ll start by making a list of the different ways I’ve tended to interpret reversed cards:
- Fear of/unwillingness to work with
- Corruption of
- Blocking of/inability to achieve
- Enhancement of/too much of
- Opposite of
I drew a card randomly in order to try reading it in each of the above ways:
Ten of Cups
Okayyyy, let’s go with…emotional fulfillment, community, family, security, love, joy.
Fear of/unwillingness to work with
Ummm…fear of commitment springs to mind, as this card does suggest commitment, though that’s not something I tend to think of when focusing on the card’s ‘positives’. It could also suggest a resistance to the heteronormative ideal many decks present.
This could suggest that this happy families image isn’t all that it seems?
Blocking of/inability to achieve
Maybe this card points to a person who doesn’t feel they deserve this kind of happiness? That is, to be loved unconditionally, to feel the security of those who love us being all around us, to have a family or community… or perhaps it’s someone who’s blocking this type of happiness because they’re in a relationship with someone else, or there’s some practical reason why they can’t just embrace the joy.
Enhancement of/too much of
Well, with this card it’s easy, as that lot could be kinda sickening, surely? In a ‘Waltons’ kinda way, like someone is living in a sugar-coatehyper-perfect version of reality where nothing can ever go wrong, everyone loves each other, everyone gets As in their exams and loves their siblings…you get the picture. Ew.
Loneliness, emotional unfulfillment, sadness, isolation. Jeez!!
So that wasn’t too hard. Five (or more) different ways of interpreting the Ten of Cups reversed. I’m sure someone cleverer and more published than I has presented this type of exercise in some best-selling Tarot book I haven’t read, but for tonight, I’m gonna pootle through a few more cards and practice this, chuffed to bits that I’ve finally found a way to address the barrier I’d built around reversed cards. I know there’s far more to it than this, but at least I’ve made a start.
I’m a 30-something writer, artist, tarot reader, and perpetual explorer of the space between thought, feeling, and action.
I believe that spirituality and ritual are for everybody. I’m about the journey, in all of its messy, non-linear, chaotic iterations. I am excited by anticapitalist business and living with my whole entire self present. I use tarot cards to bring forth hidden truth, and ritual to affirm my commitment, over and over, to my ever-shifting path.