Reading Reversed Cards

reading reversed cards

My retreat holiday has been such a wonderful experience, but it’s also good to be back, and I’m diving straight into Tarot with a question my students keep asking me:

Do we need to pay attention to reversed cards in readings?

Some readers do, others don’t, and to be honest it is down to personal preference.

Here’s what I do:

In a reading, I usually make a mental note of any reversed cards and then turn them around. I cannot leave them upside down for visual reason; topsy-turvy images block my reading abilities.

It depends how many cards are reversed in a reading. I once had all ten cards in a Celtic Cross spread for a client reversed!

Immediately I thought there was a blockage somewhere in the client’s life, perhaps an inability to move forward with something, which was confirmed when I quickly mentioned it at the beginning of the reading.

Needless to say I turned all the cards around and proceeded with the reading and took the message of the reversed cards into account.

I don’t like the term “ill-dignified”, which is also used to describe reversed cards. Not every reversed card has a negative meaning. For example, the Hanged Man reversed could indicate movement after a time of stagnation, or the Ten of Wands shedding of a burden rather than carrying it. It also depends very much on surrounding cards in the reading.

I often feel that just one reversed card in a 5 – 10 card reading can be more significant than many reversed cards. Again, this also depends on surrounding cards and what your intuition is telling you.

Sometimes, a reversed card can stick out like a sore thumb, and it can carry a more meaningful message than if you ignored it.

When reading reversed cards, consider the following:

  • Do they enhance the overall message of the reading?
  • Do they weaken or oppose their upright meanings?
  • Do they strengthen the meaning of other cards in the spread?
  • Do they indicate a blockage, restriction, suppressed energies or indeed out of control energies?

Here are some examples for reversed card meanings:

Five of Wands: getting over a dispute, an argument getting nasty, not playing by the rules, quick temper

Emperor: loosing control/authority, being over-bearing, dictatorial

Tower: a disaster avoided, or something is brewing underneath the surface

Sun: burn-out, restricted creative potential, over-indulgence, hedonism

Ten of Swords (image above): on the way to recovery, releasing fears/pain/ resentment/regrets; starting over, inability to see that something has ended

Four of Pentacles: spending beyond your means, risky investment, becoming more generous with money after a time of frugality

Queen of Cups: over-emotional, drama queen, moody, insensitive, highly strung, easily stressed

When reversed cards come up, ask an empowering question such as:

  • What is the card asking you to avoid?
  • Every cloud has a silver lining. What is the silver lining of the reversed card?

As mentioned before, it is not vital to read reversed cards; you can consider both positive and negative aspects of the cards in a reading regardless which way they come up.

But once you get the hang of reading reversals and paying attention to them, you may well get some additional, valuable insight you wouldn’t have considered before.

Warmest wishes,



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