Reading Tarot Reversals
By Sabrina Matheny • To Reverse or Not to Reverse?
I spent years reading only the upright meanings of my tarot cards to avoid feeling unsure or confused. I justified it by saying that there were plenty of upright cards that could express challenging meanings, so there was no need to muddy the waters with the reversals. I’ll be honest…they scared me.
Over the years as my confidence grew, I shuffled my deck allowing fate to intervene turning cards upside down and learning to work with those additional meanings. Now I know that reversals can add depth to my readings as they require me to dig a little deeper to uncover their messages. The different images can help me decide if I am avoiding, resisting, or blocking the energy being expressed in the upright. Here are a few things you might want to keep in mind if you feel brave enough to let the inverted images influence your destiny.
A reversed card can mean that the full energy of the upright is unable to be expressed at this time for reasons tbd. The sun card in the upright position can indicate a situation that is out in the open. We see things clearly with an innocence that makes the situation feel wholesome and positive. When this card is reversed, there are parts of the situation that are hidden from the light of day. There could be misunderstandings as those involved are not all holding the same awareness. Open and honest conversations could give full expression to the Sun card.
A reversed card can indicate that the energy of the preceding card is not quite finished with us yet. The four of wands in the upright means a deepening of a commitment that gives us something to celebrate. When it is reversed, we can look to see if the energy of the three of wands is more active in our experience. The three has us standing on a cliff thinking about our options and seeing which ships will come into our harbor. With the three we imagine our future and may not yet have the means to manifest our desires. The reversed four of wands could indicate that we need to hold off on the celebration until we are ready to commit to our new endeavor.
A reversed card can signal the blocked energy of the upright. An upright six of swords tells us that we are on our way to recovering from a challenging situation. There is hope on the horizon. A reversal would tell us that there is something that is keeping us from finding our way to that healing. Perhaps our mindset needs to be adjusted before we can align with our well-being. As long as we hold our stance, we will keep our recovery at bay.
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How do we know which one to choose? All of the above are nuances of the same idea, yet the questions we ask ourselves will vary in order to get to the root of the message. Am I diminishing the energy of the upright by not acknowledging something? Am I not quite ready to move into the full expression of the upright due to the lingering effects of the previous card? Am I blocking the energy of the upright due to a mindset or feeling that’s keeping that card out of my reach?
By seeing what part of the image on the card we are drawn to, we might catch a clue as to which avenue of the three above we should explore. Using the same example of the six of swords, do I notice the boat in the reversed card? Perhaps my plan to recover is not yet the plan that will get me there. Because the boat is upside down, could my intuition be guiding me to find anchorage long enough to do more research? Did my eyes go to the swords on the card? Perhaps my mindset, as swords are symbolic of our thoughts, might be blocking recovery because I would rather be right than find a peaceful solution. Focusing on the water on the card would steer me towards the emotional energy of my situation. Am I feeling like the victor or the victim of the five of swords? How can I shift my perception in order to participate in a way that makes everyone a winner?
The tarot supports your inner oracle by tapping into your ability to use its symbology. Whether the images are right side up or upside down, will not change its ability to guide you. However, the reversals can make short work of deciphering if you need to do a tad more investigating before moving on in your journey. Using the reversals allows your readings to reflect reality as we all experience ups and downs. The reversals can weigh in on your quest for understanding the deeper parts of your situation, enabling you to course correct and find your way soon enough to the upright energy.