In various online tarot communities I belong to, people regularly ask each other how they approach reversed (i.e. upside-down) tarot cards in readings.
There are plenty of different ways you can interpret reversed tarot cards – for starters, I outlined a bunch of them here. Mary K Greer has also written a well-respected book on the topic (which I haven’t read) called The Complete Book of Tarot Reversals. Biddy Tarot provides reversed as well as upright meanings on her website, and Rachel Pollack (among plenty of other authors) includes reversed meanings in my all-time favourite tarot book, 78 Degrees of Wisdom. In short, there’s a lot of info out there for people who want to develop their own approach to reversed cards or experiment with different ideas.
The Hanged Man, from the Shadowscapes Tarot © Stephanie Piu-Mun Law
Me? I don’t actually bother. I personally find that taking a special approach to reversed tarot cards (which statistically could be 50% of the cards in a reading) adds this whole layer of confusion which bogs down my readings and bugs my clients.
But I don’t ignore them either. Instead, I take a really simple approach to reversed cards.
I’ll shuffle and lay the cards in the normal way, leaving reversed cards upside-down until I start going through the cards one by one. If there are a lot of reversed cards I might make a comment about the client experiencing a lot of confusion at this time, but I don’t make a big deal of this.
If there is a blockage around a certain card’s energy, I find that this emerges within the reading anyway. Still, it’s helpful to know which cards in particular are a source of confusion. So as I work through each individual card with the querent, I’ll make a mental note of each reversed card before flipping it the right-way-up so that the client can view it – this way I’ve acknowledged the reversal without making a big deal of it.
I find that this is as far as I need to go. I can point to sources of confusion as they emerge from the reading as a whole, but still maintain the clarity and focus of an ‘upright only’ reading.
What about you? Do you have a special approach to reversed cards?
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.