Reversed Tarot Cards

What do reversed Tarot cards mean? Should they be included in readings? Here we look at the different ways reversed Tarot cards are interpreted.

What is the reversed Tarot card debate?

There is an endless debate that goes on in the Tarot reading community about reverse Tarot cards, what they mean, and if you should even acknowledge them in readings at all. Many Tarot readers choose to not acknowledge reversed cards as any different to upright ones, turning them the right way round when they appear in a spread, and reading them as normal. However, it is common amongst more experienced, confident readers with a deeper understanding of the many levels of Tarot to include the reversed cards in their readings, in order to add deeper understanding and insight into their answers.

However, those who do choose to include reversed cards in their readings debate even further still about how to interpret them, which shows the complexity of the many different layers of Tarot, and the skills involved in reading it. Some readers believe that reversed cards mean the exact opposite of what they mean upright, whereas other people believe that they simply convey weaker or stronger versions of the same message.


Reversed cards opposing upright cards

Many of the readers who read reversed cards see them as the exact opposite of the upright card. This applies to both positive cards. For example, The Chariot drawn upright suggests victory and conquest over difficult odds. However, drawn in reverse, it means that things are out of your control, and you will most likely fail at an endeavour. On the other hand, a card with a negative meaning would be considered positive if drawn in reverse. Take for example the Five of Cups, which represents sorrow and loss when drawn upright. In reverse however, although still representing loss, it suggests that the loss will result in gaining something better, and the tough times will soon end.

Reversed cards as stronger/weaker messages, or representing delayed fulfilment

Another common interpretation of reversed cards is that they don’t oppose the upright cards, but instead they increase or decrease the energy and power of the message. For example, drawn upright, the Ten of Wands suggests heavy burdens and stress, struggling to complete difficult tasks. However when drawn in reverse, the card suggests that the burden has been lifted, and the difficulties may now be coming to an end.

A similar idea is that the meaning of the reversed card is the same as the upright one, but that the outcome will be delayed. For example, the Three of Wands represents opportunity and good luck, and that you will soon see a resolution of any problems you face. Drawing the card in reverse doesn’t mean that these opportunities won’t arise, just that they will be a longer time coming, and that you will have to wait for them. This isn’t necessarily a negative thing, and can teach some valuable lessons; it can either teach you to be patient, or it could show you that there is something you need to do in order for you to achieve your goal.

This also relates to cards with more negative meanings, such as the Three of Swords, which represents heartache and misery. However, when drawn in reverse, the card suggests that things aren’t as bad as they seem, and that you will soon recover from your loss.

The key thing when interpreting reversed cards is taking into account their position within the spread, as well as the surrounding cards. Every reader considers these factors when reading reversed cards and their meanings, to ensure that they are interpreting them right. It is important to remember when you have a Tarot reading that the stigma of reversed cards is unfounded, so do not panic and automatically assume that things look bad. There are several different things the reversed card could mean, and the Tarot reader will always read the cards and the ones surrounding them carefully to ensure the message is clear. 


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