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21 comments

  1. biddytarot.com talks about the interpretation that right side up could mean the external energy of the card, while the reversal could mean the internal energy of the card. I like that because it takes away the positive/negative vibe (which can be useful, but not always). Thanks for the post! That list is going right in my journal :-).

  2. Roger says:

    Yes Beth, perfect timing! Getting into your Alternative Tarot course this is a perfect added extra to put in the mix! Thanks, Rog.

  3. Kim Van Dyke says:

    I have found that I only read reversals when they are “screaming at me” to be read that way. It took me a while to realize that *I* am the one who gets to make the rules how I read and my intuition has served me well for this subject. Don’t be afraid to make up your own rules! It’s the most wonderful thing about reading the Tarot.

  4. ncaciola says:

    I like using reversals, but I never read them as just the opposite of the upright meaning. I take the approach that if the card appears in a reading, then it’s energy is operative in some manner. But I usually consider that energy “compromised,” in some way. Possible interpretations: it’s not at full strength or perhaps dissipating; it’s not at full strength, but could be growing (the difference between these two often has to do with the position it occupies in the spread); querent is resisting that energy, but it’s still part of the situation; that energy is driving someone else who is involved in the question, etc.
    A new favorite is that the energy of the reversed card is like a nuance or overtone to the energy of its paired card. In many spreads, the meanings associated with certain positions or cards can be seen as pairs, so after I do the card-by-card reading, I usually see if there are any pairs that stand out. An inversion can bring a secondary resonance to its partner card.

  5. Xanax Buying says:

    I see reversals as a need to return to the card before. So for example, if I get the 4 of coins, then it means that the lesson of the 3 of coins hasn’t yet been fully learned, at there is an attempt to move on too early (which is how people can get hurt, depending on the lesson that needs to be learned).

  6. Lauradinosaur says:

    Thanks for compiling this list of possibilities. I’m just starting out on the Alternative Tarot Course (and loving it!) and trying to decide how I feel about reversals. Good timing for me! Thanks.

  7. Jacques D. says:

    Actually, Joan Bunning in “Learning the Tarot” doesn’t provide separate alternate meanings for reversed cards at all – her approach is quite similar to the one you describe above:

    “The meaning of a reversed card depends on what the card would mean if upright. A reversed card shows that a card’s energy is present, but at a lower level. For some reason, the energy cannot express freely, normally or completely.”

    (via Uk Xanax Online)

    I point this out because it was somewhat of a breakthrough for me to read this when I started studying Tarot nearly twenty years ago. Until then, most of the sources I consulted did indeed provide a separate meaning for each reversed cards, making the process of learning how to read literally twice as difficult. But even more important than simply being easier, Bunning’s approach simply made the most sense to me and I’ve been using it ever since.

  8. Great article!

    It’s best selecting one side as you describe. Caution, warnings or threats exist in all cards no matter the direction. After all, they provide with a deeper understanding or a significance to our intentions or actions.

    For example, the Fool is following a butterfly. Can that be an inner guidance or a naive choice?

    Could you elaborate more on the “Corruption of the card’s meaning or energy”?

    Thank you!

    N.

    • True!

      Sure – by ‘corruption’ I mean something like, it’s been taken too far so it gets distorted, or is being used for ‘selfish’ purposes (not that that’s necessarily a bad thing). Quick examples off the top of my head: say the Six of Wands is a card of personal victory and celebration, with this reversed interpretation it could mean being domineering, letting that victory go to your head or something. The Six of Cups as nostalgia, reversed could be someone living in the past.

  9. I read reversals. I find they tend to mean “this is about your relationship with yourself”, whereas upright cards tend to touch on one’s relationship with people/events/situations/etc outside of oneself. So I might look at that reversed Star and suggest that the querant needs to sort out what their values/goals/hopes actually are, as opposed to what they think they’re supposed to want or value or strive for.

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