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Reversals or not ???

Thread originally posted on the Aeclectic Tarot Forum on 02 May 2003, and now archived in the Forum Library.

Dark Eyes  02 May 2003 
Hi all,
I was just wondering about reversals. I don't know if anyone has done a thread on this before, I am sure they have. I just wondered what the feeling was of those in the forum regarding reversals. Who uses them, who prefers not to use them and why?
I recently spoke to a reader who swears against using reversals. He believes there are enough negative cards with negative meanings in the deck without creating more. I personally don't agree with him, I actually find some reversals very positive. I have also been told by another reader that they use reversals by directing the querent back to the previous card to re-learn the lesson from that card. I have tried this, it sometimes works, but usually I prefer to use the reversal for just what it is ... a reversal of the meaning of the card. I would welcome some other ideas on this subject, as sometimes reversals can throw me a bit.
Many good wishes
Dark Eyes. 

Diana  02 May 2003 
Dark Eyes: There have been so many threads on this subject. Here are a few links:

I'll stop here, because I reckon there's already enough for you to read!

As you will notice, this is a debate that makes for some pretty interesting arguments, sometimes they even get a little heated. 

Dark Eyes  02 May 2003 
Hi Diana,
Yes I can imagine that there could be some rather heated discussions regarding this one ! It is one of those subjects, I guess it is really a matter of personal preference, and the trust you have in yourself to deal with reversals. Thank you for the info on previous threads, I will go through them with interest.
Best wishes Dark Eyes. 

Nao  02 May 2003 
I myself had done a search for topics on reversals when I was still lurking around and not posting yet. I never got to throw in my 2 cents...but I'd just like to share something really quick. This was what I used to do a lot and still sometimes do with reversals.

Back when I first began to read reversals, I edged in to it by choosing to read them as "important or needs attention" cards. I didn't necessarily change their meanings or alter them..but I decided to look at them as cards that I need to pay closer attention to than other upright cards. This way, it had allowed me to have lesser trouble in "altering the meaning" while still making something out of the reversed position.

I've since moved beyond that and my understanding of the cards had come a long way since...but a lot of times, I had also discovered that sometimes seeing it as a card that needs attention is also quite important and beneficial to a reading. There are decks that I would read complete reversals with...and decks that I don't read reversals with. However, most of the time these days, I hardly read reversals anymore....BUT I still often go back to read them as "important cards" rather than cards where I altered meanings in. I think that's what I would always pay first and foremost attention to when I see a reversed card.

I included this because I wonder if it might help some beginners who are just starting out with reversals...if you think the meanings alteration/change will overwhelm you- then think of it this way, they don't HAVE to least not yet. You can always choose to view reversals as a blockage or important card to pay attention to- then you can later decide to to change the meanings for reversals if you wanted. In some way, I guess this is a "compromise method"-- between using reversals or not. ;) 

jmd  02 May 2003 
This, as well as each and every topic we have looked at, is so worthy of re-considerations - and thankyou Diana for those earlier links, to which I too have contributed.

Nao, I really like what you contribute here when you say that you read reversals as cards which merit particular attention, without the need to see them as having their meaning either reversed nor negative.

Personally, I prefer to read with reversals. These can really accentuate the ways in which the peculiar energy/message/meaning of a specific card either flows or is somewhat obstructed in a specific spread.

I realise many do not read with reversals, and without entering the numbers game (how many more possible permutations there are with reversals, an argument which leaves me to just shrug my shoulders with 'so?' - for then it could also be used to argue for the augmentation of the number of cards in a deck), I see that reversals allow for particular ways in which specific cards may 'speak' which may otherwise just not be possible (eg, for the Fool to face the left of the thread - or the right if using a RWCS).

This is, as always, an important aspect worthy of ongoing discussion - and the linked threads above worth a re-visit... which I'd better get to now! 

punkangelgcm437  10 May 2003 
Usually I interpret reversals as 'blocking the energy of the right-side up meaning'...I've found it works better than most other theory's I've heard, but sometimes I see it as the reversed meaning. Sorry about misspellings, It's early in the morning here. :)


Keslynn  10 May 2003 
Honestly, it depends on the deck and my mood. I tried to not use reversals on my World Spirit deck recently but, despite my shuffling the normal way, it ended up with reversals in there anyway. The darned thing really wanted to have reversals so I read them that way. On the other hand, the Gill is quite content to work without reversals, and I think the artwork looks better that way.

I can see the merits of reading with and without reversals.

Nao: I really like what you said about seeing reversals as something that needs attention.

:) Kes 

NeXoRiouS  11 May 2003 
There is no answer to this question. I mean, if you think carefully, when your mind-set is no, no matter how many opinions, suggestions or arguements can hardly change your own decisions. Even if you have been influenced, the moment you start doing things that you dislike, you will tend to slide away.

In fact, with or without reversals, as long as the results/predictions are accurate and with your ability to ensnare their thoughts, you will still be able to ease their headaches.

Why care so much about opinions people give regarding this topic, in the end, the solution still lies in you. 

paradoxx  15 May 2003 
I try to avoid reversals for the most part but that means that when they do appear (by accident or otherwise) the meaning is intensified or lessened depending on the reading. I pulled the 10 of cups reversed in two seperate decks both in regard to the women whom i have daily contact with.

My rule of thumb that seems to make sense is that if the backs do not reverse, then fronts do not reverse, but even this does not hold true with every deck. non-picture pip cards would be the best way to use reversals in any readings.

As it has been said before, therehave been many opinions expressed, and in the end its apersonal preference. 

Dark Eyes  15 May 2003 
Thanks for your opinion paradoxx,
I find it very interesting to hear the different ways around reversals. It is an area that has confused me in the past, but I do like to use them. The variations with this are amazing sometimes.
Regards D.E. 

sagitarian  16 May 2003 
This is just one of those topics that goes around and around and around and around, and the answers are endless.

I used to not read reversals at all ever, they felt wrong to me.

Then I collected a few other decks, I finally got the Universal Waite deck, as I wanted to go back to some traditional symbolisms. With this deck, it felt right to do reversals, but I still didn't truly understand in what way to read them, wether it's blocked energy, or what have you.

I talked to my sister about this (Alissa) and she had read an author (wish i could remember who, and i would place her name here if I could remember) that reversals is really the work that needs to be done internally. This felt "right" to me too using the Universal Waite deck.

Reversals ~ To me and my UW deck, the card has the same meaning as it would right side up, but it applies to a deeper internal part (what I like to call internal truths) vs the material world around you. (Material world is the physical going ons, friends, family, jobs, relationships, etc, it's on the outside vs. the inside, Material vs. Internal truths.)

Really, it just depends on what feels right to you. Does the deck your using, does it seem appropriate to use reversals, and if so, then research out what reversals to you and your deck mean specifically. 

Dark Eyes  16 May 2003 
I really like the idea of the reversals meaning the same but with a more internal emphasis. Therefor, if the card is reversed, you need to look inside yourself to find what the card means to you more spiritually perhaps? It may be an area that you need to work on internally so that you can deal with it externally, Yes, I will try that way. Thanks, My deck does lend itself to reversals, I think so anyway, and I really want to find an interpretation that always works, that I can work into the reading smoothly. Thanks again, I will let you know how it works for me.
Best wishes Dark Eyes. :) 

Moongold  16 May 2003 
Hello Dark Eyes,

I use reversals most of the time for all the reasons that people have mentioned already. Mary Greer wrote a book. The Complete Book of Tarot Reversals which is interesting.

Reversals really make me stop. I almost said "think" but I really need not to think when I see them, rather listen.

I don't use reversals with some decks: the Mythic, the Sephiroth, Osho Zen and Thoth (which I am just beginning to use).

Many blessings 

Dark Eyes  16 May 2003 
Hi Moongold,
I just recieved my copy of tarot constellations, it is a fab book. It will take me some time to get through it all, but I love it. Interesting , I would like to get the reversal book too, she has a very good style of writing which makes it all seem easy.
I have just ordered the thoth deck myself, it hasn't arrived yet. I am excited about it, I feel like it is time to try a new deck. I have had my usual one for quite some years, but just lately felt the urge for a change.
Thanks for the advice, I will look out for the book.
Take care Moongold,
best wishes Dark Eyes. :) 

bec  16 May 2003 
I love reversals, life has its ups and downs and so does the cards.

To me it is rather pointless not to use what is handed to you - that is my opinion about it, and you are all welcome to disagree, that won't spoil my day, and certainly shouldn't spoil any of yours either.

What I use the reversals for varies from one reading to another.

Sometimes they mean the quite oppisite, soemtimes they need attention, sometimes they are showing where the real issue lies and sometimes they throw a hint, like if a major is reversed and 3 minors around are not, I tend to read the minors reversed and the major not. That is my system and it works for me.

Sometimes I wish we had a whole reversal section here at aeclectic, so the ones who actually Do use reversals could get some quality feed-back and insight from eachother - it is a bore having to read the same posts over and over of why the same people don't use reversals. It's been said and read already.

But as it seems, this is what happens every time someone starts a reversal thread, for and against - what a drag really - we could use space and time together so much more effectly and have more fun - if only we could get a thread with out all the "Idon't use reversals because" Really, we know you don't like the cards up side down, and we know some of you think it is hillarious that others even care to view the cards differently.

Could we have a clean reversal discussion, just for once ? 

fairyhedgehog  16 May 2003 
Originally posted by bec
But as it seems, this is what happens every time someone starts a reversal thread, for and against - what a drag really - we could use space and time together so much more effectly and have more fun - if only we could get a thread with out all the "Idon't use reversals because" Really, we know you don't like the cards up side down, and we know some of you think it is hillarious that others even care to view the cards differently.

But the question we were asked here was 'Who uses them, who prefers not to use them and why?'

I can understand your desire to discuss only with other people who use reversals, though, like in a study group where you don't have people coming in saying 'I really don't get on with that deck, why do you all bother to use it?'. Have you made the suggestion for a reversals section in the Suggestions forum? Maybe it could be another study group? It seems like a good idea. 

bec  16 May 2003 
yes you are right fairyhedgehog, I am sorry, these reversal threads gets me going -

I will go to study forum and see if others are interested in a clean thread - my opologizes to you and others who have only responded to what was asked. 

fairyhedgehog  16 May 2003 
Hope the new study group does well - it looks like it will do :) 

Dark Eyes  16 May 2003 
I think a reversals thread , with discussion on the positive use of reversals is a great idea. Fantasdtic, lets do it !
Dark Eyes 

Moongold  16 May 2003 
Perhaps we could even have a What Reversed Card would describe this scene quiz :) ? 

Dark Eyes  16 May 2003 
yeah Moongold, great! a new game !! 

Aerin  17 May 2003 
Answering the question, having paid due attention to Moongold's game idea and the great suggestion of a reversals study group (where hopefully all ways of reading them would be discussed)...

I always use 'reversals' with round decks.... but I go on the amount of the rotation. I think about the question and also what I want reversals to represent in that context e.g. blocked energy, the most upside-down vs. right way up meaning one could imagine (I have problems thinking of upright vs. reversed because I tend to read rectangular decks with upright cards but use a full spectrum of meaning). Then I read accordingly, depending on the amount of rotation in the card. Why? Because round decks end up twizzling cards anyway no matter how I shuffle and it seems kind of disrespectful to just twiz them right way up again.

I don't use them much for rectangular decks, unless it seems right to me for that question and context. The main reason is that I don't like to think in polarities i.e. positive/ negative, blocked/ released, whatever and if I'm not careful I find that using reversals somehow trammels my thinking.


bec  17 May 2003 
what a great idea Moongold !!! 

raeanne  17 May 2003 
Hi all,
I think a public forum for discussing Reversals would be a great idea. This topic keeps showing up again and again.

There also seems to be a great deal of interest in the card guessing games. Perhaps a separate forum for those would be nice too. 

Yaan  16 Jun 2003 
I'm new to tarot and I find it difficult to remember the meaning of reversals...and also a teacher taught me not to read reversal. Still everytime I do a spread, I'll look at the ratio of reversal cards, if the ratio is high, it seems to me that the energy somehow is being blocked. But then after that, I'll just read as they're upright, actually I'll place the cards back to the upright positions as I find it hard to concentrate on the reversed cards... 

Dark Eyes  16 Jun 2003 
Welcome Yaan,
it seems that you would probably benefit from a reversals study group or even a game as was suggested. maybe if we get enough interest, one could be started. It would help us to remember some of those reversals that we have trouble with. Good luck Yaan, keep at it.
Regards Dark Eyes :) 

bec  16 Jun 2003 
the reversal study group is already up and going, Dave and I have loads of fun there :) come join us, please :) 

fairyhedgehog  17 Jun 2003 
For those who can't find it, where is the reversals study group, bec? Is it in the General Study Group Forum? 

Dark Eyes  17 Jun 2003 
Yes, I am looking for it too. If I find it, I will let you know fairyhedgehog. I havn't looked very far yet, but will be later.
Regards Dark Eyes. :) 

Dark Eyes  17 Jun 2003 
Hi fairyhedgehog, for you and others who may be interested in a study group on the tarot card reversals, it is in the general study forum.
See you there
Dark Eyes. :) 

bec  17 Jun 2003 
sooory - yes it is in general study forum, they all start with reversal -- we are on the High Priestess right now 

dolphinprincess  17 Jun 2003 
I am new to tarot too - and I haven't used reversals yet. I'm just curious - for those that do use them, do you recommend using them right from the start - or learning the cards upright and incorporating reversals later?


Keslynn  17 Jun 2003 
dolphinprincess, it really depends on how you learn best. If you're the kind who works slowly and methodically and likes to get a solid grounding before moving on, then I would wait until later on to begin to incorporate reversals. If you learn fast and can handle lots of information all at once, then by all means, start whenever you want to. I'm the second type, and I wanted to learn tarot as fast as possible because I loved it so much. I was using reversals within 1-2 months of starting to read. However, I might also be missing some of the upright depth of the cards. Neither way is better.

Also, you shouldn't start reading reversals til you read Mary Greer's book on them. That's what I'd recommend at least.

:) Kes 

dolphinprincess  17 Jun 2003 
Thank you for the response! I think I am the second type too! Patience isn't one of my strongest attributes - when I become passionate about something, I want it all at once :o)

I have been looking at the Mary Greer book and I think on that recommendation I will finally purchase it. Maybe I won't be so intimidated by reversals if I have a good source of info on them! 

Trogon  17 Jun 2003 
Hi DolphinPrincess!

By all means... do get Mary Greer's book... it gives a great deal of insight, not only to the reversed meanings, but to the upright meanings as well. I can't recommend it enough.

As for whether or not to dive in to reversals, for what it's worth; I jumped in with reversed meanings almost immediately when I began learning. In some respects, and looking at it with 20-20 hindsight ;) , this might have slowed my learning down a little bit. However, in the long run, I feel that it has been better for me because it now just feels natural to have reversals. I can't imagine doing readings without having reversed cards in the deck... they add a great deal of nuance and different ways of looking at things for me. 

Tor  17 Jun 2003 
In the beginning I used reversals, but now I prefere to read all cards straight.

I feel reversals were a bit confusing and blocking my intuition. Maybe I'll change my opinion again... 

NeXoRiouS  18 Jun 2003 
I started reading with reversals and it's very accurate but I will always have mental block so I decided to abandon it before I master the upright meanings. 

Emily  19 Jun 2003 
When I started to learn the tarot with the Rider Waite, I started out using reversals but it was confusing, also some of the books I was using didn't give reverse meanings.
I stopped using them, I also think that there are enough negative cards in the decks to give good readings without reversals. 

Dark Eyes  19 Jun 2003 
Hi Emily,
It is interesting to hear the different reasons for reversals versus no reversals. Somebody else once said to me that they didn't like using reversals because they thought there were enough negative cards in the deck. I have to say though, that some of the reversals can be positive. I see the tower in reverse as maybe constructing some solid foundation, perhaps rebuilding as opposed to faulty or unstable foundations which are crumbling.
I guess it is a matter of preference, but it can add a certain depth to a reading I believe, especially if the cards arn't all that exciting as can happen in some rare readings. I have been practicing reversals by incorporating them into my readings more frequently lately, and I have had top results. How the reader feels with the cards and spread with reversals or without, is the main thing.
This is a universal discussion that never ends. Hehehehe
I guess there is no right way really huh !!!
Warmest wishes
Dark Eyes. :) 

Yatima  14 Jul 2003 
To me, reversals of the cards are not necessarely reversals of their meaning; what makes reversals so astonishing, disturbing and sometimes, as some have noted, blocking intuition, is that they do confuse the mind seeking clarity--at first glance.

I do see the "negation" they contain as mirror of my reading of the cards rather than their meaning. So I do not count them as negative at all but as turing the symbol of the card right to your heard! It "really" matters, it wants to say (either negative or positive). It appears to me as is a highlight of the upright version when I look at the whole spread. 

Little Baron  18 Jul 2003 
I don't have any hard and fast rules about reversals. I always use them because I feel it gives the reading balance. It always depends on what other cards are there, of course, and I will look at their relationship to try and figure out why the card has fallen that way up.


Macavity  18 Jul 2003 
An idea I came across (due to Banzhaf) that cards could "encourage" OR or "warn against" now appeals more to me. They are then not necessarily physically reversed, but their function depends more on background... question, context etc. With that in mind, I'm always trying to move towards those "elemental dignities" that get mentioned from time to time. But, to say I have a full (any?) grasp on those would be flattering to say the least. We can but try ;)

As an (obscure?) thought, I try to incorporate added symbolism e.g. Hebrew Letter, Rune, I-Ching, Astrological assignment (e.g. with the Haindl) as "modifiers", so I never know quite whether to invert these attributes as well! But then I'm far too mechanistic... or just overly ambitious? :laugh:


P.S. If I do DEAL inversions, I can always put them the right way up, if they don't work for me in a particular context? }) 

Snowman  19 Oct 2003 
I have a pretty easy and straightforward routine when it comes to reversals. First, I memorized the numbers and meanings of the minor arcana cards. Whenever one of these cards shows up in a reversed format, I simply subtract one from the number and a meaning for that number becomes the meaning for the card. For example: if I laid down the 10 of cups reversed, instead of using the general description for 10, I would use nine, reckoning or culmination.

As for your fellow reader who said that there are enough cards that have a negative value, I would disagree wholeheartedly. Cards should not be positive or negative, it is the reader or the seeker that has negative or positive values. 

The Reversals or not ??? thread was originally posted on 02 May 2003 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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