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Do you use reverse meanings

Thread originally posted on the Aeclectic Tarot Forum on 21 Mar 2002, and now archived in the Forum Library.

cjtarot  21 Mar 2002 
Hi all,

when I started reading (a whole of a year or so ago) I used revereses in all my readings and I still do when using my Universal Deck.

BUT, with the deck I am currently reading with (Sacred Circle), I can't do reverses...I can't "Read" the pix.

So here's the question, do you use reverses and if so with all your decks?


.dc  21 Mar 2002 

nice poll!

i do not read reversals. i was taught, and it makes sense to me, that there are enuf negative cards in the deck as it is. to me, reversing them would sorta be a bit more of a bother in the area of learning meanings.

so why would one want to bog their mind down with having to recall enough memorized versions of what the upright cards mean and then reversing them? i do not like to memorize cards and if i used reversals, i fear that that is what i would start doing with tarot. memorizing instead of relying on my intuition.

then again, i am still working my way thru this path and maybe one day down the road, i shall change my idea on this topic.

but until then... upright they stand!

blessed be,

aeonx  21 Mar 2002 
I didn't want to use reversals in the beginning because I thought the cards got negative, or more negative, meanings. However, I have started using reversals because my view on this has changed. Like Rachel Pollack (78DW) says; reversals show us in what (area) we are blocking energies. For instance, if I get the Tower reversed in a reading, I would interpret this as a person's inability to go through/accept a neccessary change (for example, it depends of course). Three of Swords reversed would show that a person is having trouble facing his/hers loss of love. The lesson would be to face it, deal with it and move on. For example.

Reversals are not just negative, actually I don't consider them as being that. What about Ten of Cups reversed? I would interpret this card reversed as someone blocking out/not seeing/not accepting their happiness.

This is what works best for me. :) 

Briarfoote  21 Mar 2002 
I use reversals, but not necessarily in the prescribed manner. I think of it is a modification of the cards relationship to other cards. A way of saying that it has the same meaning but is expressed in a slightly different way. I don't feel that reversals significantly change the nature of the card, but that the strentgh of its influence might be less; or expressed in more subtle, hidden, or unconcious ways.

One of the first people that I talked to about Tarot claimed that a reversal actually reversed the meaning of the card. But that didn't seem right to me. 

Umbrae  21 Mar 2002 
I always use reversals. Not to do so is like using half a deck.
Every third shuffle, the cards are spun a half turn.
Meanings are not set in stone (that's the problem with books, the writer attempts to lock meaning into their world-view).
A lot gets determined by the content and quality of that which passes between the sitter and the reader.
Is a reversed 10 of Cups blocked? Negative? Reduced impact? I like to let the situation/reading tell me.
In a static non-reading situation, a 10 of Cups tells me that all the elements are there for completion and joy for the sitter, but they are not allowing themselves the freedom of joy. Look elsewhere in the spread to find the main issue.
Reversals are HUGE!
Thanks for letting me rant... 

Emily  21 Mar 2002 
I don't use reversals, I've not been practising/learning tarot long enough to be comfortable with using them. Maybe when I'm a little more experienced I might but not at the moment :) 

Original Destiny  21 Mar 2002 
I don't use reversals I look at the cards around the card to determine the aspects of the card...negative cards either side...influence my interpritation accordingly 

Temperance413  21 Mar 2002 
My thinking tends to go with the others who say that there is enough negative aspects per card. I think each card has a wide range of meanings, so reversals aren't really needed. As they say, A picture is worth a thousand words. 

isthmus nekoi  21 Mar 2002 
I use reversals, but don't have fixed meanings prescribed to them. I use blockage or development as a general rule of thumb but if something stronger hits me, then I put that type of interpretation aside... For instance, if someone is reversed and happens to be "looking" at another card in the spread and they are very related, then I'll focus more on the relation than the idea that the energy is being repressed. Usually I'll encorporate both methods... ie. This weekend, w/Vertigo, I had The Chariot reversed on the crossing part of the c/c. Below was The Sun reversed. The Chariot horse was facing the crown position, so I read it as - the Chariot is trying to pull the Sun up into consciousness, it may be slow going b/c the Sun is still developing. I may be feeling tired, like the wheels are spinning (which is why the chariot too, is reversed) but I'm still going full force ahead (there are 4 horse heads in the Vertigo chariot!!!) 

Kiama  22 Mar 2002 
I used to use reversals, but then I got the Robin Wood, and veered away from them slightly, only to find one day, that I had given up using them at all! But I do add the negative aspects of the cards in anyway, just depending on the context the card is in....


arizonagirl  22 Mar 2002 
Originally posted by Kiama
I used to use reversals, but then I got the Robin Wood, and veered away from them slightly, only to find one day, that I had given up using them at all! But I do add the negative aspects of the cards in anyway, just depending on the context the card is in....


Me, too, exactly. 

Silence Dogood  22 Mar 2002 
When I read for myself ( rare these days) I do not use reversed meanings since I use Tarotbear's method of shuffling and do not get reversed cards.

However, when I do readings for others, they inevitably will reverse cards, so I read them as such. 

MeeWah  22 Mar 2002 
I do the same as Silence Dogood & Tarotbear; however, I do not need to see reversals to read them as such. An upright card can still convey that type of energy. It depends on the moment of the throw; also the surrounding cards. 

VGimlet  23 Mar 2002 
I do read reversals, and always have because it was how I learned originally. But I think it would have been easier to start without them at first. And there are some decks I don't use them with anymore.

As far as how I read reversals, it depends on the cards themselves for me - some are opposite meanings, some are the same meaning to a lesser degree, and it also depends on the cards around them.

(ed. to make more sense, and answer the question more completely)  

lunar_rabbit  23 Mar 2002 
I pay attention to reversed cards. I see them as blocked energies, like anoex explained. Although, sometimes if the whole reading is upside down, I will take into account that perhaps the deck itself was being held upsidedown, and I will flip them all over.

I don't think reversed cards are negative, or the opposite of the card. More along of the lines of a "but...." attached to the standard meaning. Sometimes I even get the feeling that one card is reversed because it needs to be paid special attention to.

LOL... I guess I just wing it. (maybe I need to hit the books more often!) 

Lion-O  24 Mar 2002 
It would also be interesting to see how people interpret reversed cards. Totally negative or simply a "less powerfull" way of the original meaning ? Or maybe in a totally different way... 

Pollux  24 Mar 2002 
For me the same as Meewah. I simply don't use reversed because the same card can express its energy in different ways and to different extents... Depending on context, position, sorroundings, and last but not least my intuition and understanding of it! :) 

Dragonfly  28 Mar 2002 
I sometimes see reverse as signs of there is some kind of block that the persons may not be fully aware of that he or she has to go through before they can go the next step. Hey Pollux if you do not mind me asking what part of Naples are you from. The reason I ask is my parents are from Maiori. I hope I spelled that right. Who knows its a small world. :) 

harleen  28 Mar 2002 
usually, I use them...I used to think they were rather negative, but with my Whimsical deck, it is more like the energies are blocked/not as prominent...or for cards such as the Ten of Swords (that card has always made me jump for some reason!) that the worst is over and I am refusing to move on....the LWB says to just turn the reversed cards upright, but that just did not seem right to me....

I think though, it depends on the reader, the amount of experience the reader has, and the deck itself...some decks just seem to work better without reversed meanings. It really does depend on the person...just as the final outcome is not written in stone, I don't think the rules for reversed cards (or the interpretations of each card being just one way) are set in stone either.


Pedeka  29 Mar 2002 
I agree with rabbit... I dont see reversals as being negative. But then again, I dont believe that "book intrepretations" are always right either. Talk about memorizing meanings of cards seems soo dreary and counter productive. I feel that if you can "understand" the card, you will know the meaning without having to memorize things like its history class. I have a way of explaining the minors that will keep people from having to memorize dozens of different meanings. Maybe Ill fly it past you guys some day.

Diana  29 Mar 2002 

Pedeka  29 Mar 2002 
because I came up with the explaination for a 6 session class that I taught about tarot..LOL Id need to pare it down a bit to fit in here.

grailmaiden  08 Apr 2002 
As a newbie, I'm finding it enough just to be learning the upright meanings! However, the Arthurian deck I am using has been designed to be used in that way - they don't list reversed meaning in the guide book. I can handle the concept that at any time a card contains both the positive and negative aspects and should be interpreted according to the question and the other cards around it.


BluSeraphim  08 Apr 2002 
Though reading for nearly three years, I still consider myself a novice, which just leaves me free to interpret spreads in my own imaginative way, and fortunately, my family trusts my readings enough to allow me to do this. So... depending on the position of the reversed card, a reversal can mean different things. For example, the Sun in the coming influences (7th place) may mean that clarity is on the way in the near future, but not here yet. Or if a reversed card is preceeded by an upright decision card like the Seven of Pentacles, the outcome will remian uncertain until the preceeding decision is made. I also like to think that when a card is in upright position, it refers to a material lesson, and when it is reversed, it refers to a spiritual or emotional lesson. Hope this helps somebody, somewhere. Thanx, Blu. 

napaisti  08 Apr 2002 
For most of the time that I have been reading Tarot I have not used reversals. But recently I have started using a simple 3 card spread as a daily spread (1 card isn't enough info for me :) ), and I've found that while I normally can determine what aspect of the card to emphasize (positive/negative, upright/reversed) in readings, the 3 card spread has such dense info that it is harder for me to make those interpretations. So I decided to start using reversals. Unfortunately the Old Path deck (my primary at the moment) has the copyright info on the bottom right-hand corner of the card back, so even though the cards were designed to have a reversible back, they don't. Since I usually cut the deck into piles and take the top of each pile but sometimes fan (when doing the 3 card), the difference is really noticeable. All in all, I think I'm going to go back to no reversals when using this deck :(


MystiqueMoonlight  09 Apr 2002 
I never use reversed cards in my readings. As Original Destiny suggested the surrounding cards tend to influence the "strength" of a particular card's meaning.

Some food for thought though:-

If reversals are relevant what did people do when they used ordinary playing cards to read with. These are the same reversed or not.

I think the idea of a card's meaning being influenced by it's position (upright or reversed) stems from runes which are definetly changed if they are upright or reversed. Personally I feel that reversed technique is not necessary in tarot.

blessed be..... 

emily2otters  11 Apr 2002 
i've never used reversals. rachel pollack's approach (quoted by aeonx) is food for thought, and i'm tempted to try. i'll have to re-learn how to shuffle, though. *snork*

reversals may actually be the solution to my problems with the osho zen tarot. i'm in the camp that finds the air cards unnecessarily negative for my own world view, but i do so love the art work... if i use reversals to soften or block the negativity of the air cards, there might be some room for appropriate mentation after all. 

zorya  11 Apr 2002 
untill fairly recently (2 or 3 years ago), i always used reversals. i believed that i could get twice as much information that way. then i met an amazing woman, who owned the shop i was buying a new deck at. she said that she only read upright. i don't know why, but i couldn't get it out of my head. so....i asked the cards how they wanted to be read. it was a unanimous, upright. i tried it and it went well, but i was still skeptical. so i alternated readings and kept a journal of my results. it wasn't long before i realized, much to my surprise, that my upright readings came more clearly and were much more acurate. 

MeeWah  12 Apr 2002 
Zorya: I made the decision early on not to use reversed cards. The range of significances within each card means a card need not be physically reversed to imply a different type of meaning or energy. When it does occur I pay attention; otherwise, I have found my readings to be accurate using uprights only.
Reversals can be distracting, & take the attention away from the reading as a whole. As with anything else related to Tarot, the use of reversals depends on the reader & can be used successfully. 

Geenius at Wrok  13 Apr 2002 
I've been using reversals since I first started reading. It's so ingrained in me that when I see a post in "Your Readings" asking for help with interpretation and all the cards are listed without regard to orientation (i.e., all upright), I actually get befuddled, like I'm only getting half the story. I wouldn't even try reading without them. 

The Do you use reverse meanings thread was originally posted on 21 Mar 2002 in the Using Tarot Cards board, and is now archived in the Forum Library. Read the threads in Using Tarot Cards, or read more archived threads.

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