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Tarot Card Reversals in the Rider Waite Smith Deck of Tarot Cards

Some people work with reversals and others don’t use them at all.

Some people completely ignore reversed cards and treat them as if they were upright. Some readers make a point of having reversed cards in the deck. The challenge with this is that you don’t know whether the reversed card is meant to be there for you or whether it is someone else’s stuck energy or even the reader attempting to take you on their personal power trip.

Before reading I tend to make sure that all the cards are in the upright position and all energies from previous readings are cleared away. In that way, if a reversed card comes up then it is probably because that is what is meant to happen and there is an important message for the client.

If someone shuffles the cards by mixing them up on the table or doing some fancy card splitting, then there may be a lot of reversed cards and sometimes it can be difficult to know which way should be upright for the deck. Often that becomes a matter of intuition to notice which cards seem to be really relevant in the reversed position.

If you have a lot of reversed cards in the deck, it is also important to get a clear sense of which way is upright and which way is reversed. Sometimes you can only really get a sense of that when you start to lay out the cards and notice whether it feels right or not to you.

Approach the Reversed cards in the same way as you would an Upright card. Look at the card and notice how the image is now different. What is now happening? Is there anything that is more striking in the Reversed position?  Look at the colours, the shapes, the symbols and how things now relate to each other in the reversed position. Does something now stand out more than it did before? Is one part of the card more prominent than another?

Notice how the card makes you feel and any insights that spring to mind. You may get a completely different sense or feeling from the card. Look as well at the reversed card in relation to the other cards around it. Notice how it changes the picture with those cards as well.

When a reversed card is significant, it will have an effect on the other cards around it. Look at the whole spread and observe it as a complete picture.  Notice how many reversed cards there are. Are they Major Arcana or Minor Arcana cards?

Sometimes a reverse card can be a major warning or sometimes it can just be a little blip on the horizon that needs to be freed up for you or your client to move forward.

In many cases, a reversed card will indicate that the energy of the Upright card is blocked in some way. Often with reversed cards, you can get a sense of something wanting to work or wanting to break through, but there being something stuck that is stopping it from happening.

Some of the cards have more specific meanings when reversed and sometimes the Reversed card can be LESS challenging than the Upright card. This can frequently be the case with cards of transformation such as the Hanged Man and the Death card. The Reversed Cards can mean that the person is more willing to embrace the changes and to move forward.

In the Rider Waite Smith Deck of Tarot Cards, the cards are very visual with clear pictures, which can be a very useful trigger to your Intuition, when the cards are in the reversed positions.

If Reversals do not occur very frequently in your readings,  it is probably more effective to use your Intuition to gauge the meaning of the reversed card in the context that it has shown up, rather than trying to consult a book on meanings.
As always, look at the whole picture, with all the cards in the spread to establish the meaning of the reversed cards.

With abundant blessings.
Amanda Goldston
Tarot Author and Coach
©2011 All Rights Reserved Amanda Goldston


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