Everything You Need to Know About Reversed Tarot Cards

Posted on September 04, 2020
Updated on November 03, 2020

Two tarot cards from the Astrology Answers Master Tarot Deck reversed on a beautiful spread of crystals and green leaves.

Did you just pull a reversed Tarot card? First things first – don’t panic!

If you are a seasoned Tarot reader, you’ll be well-aware that some readers avoid reversed cards like the plague. You may be one such reader yourself. There is a lot of talk among Tarot readers about the placement of Tarot cards, and what upright and reversed Tarot cards really mean — whether it complicates the reading, adds to it, or changes the meaning of a card entirely. Or, worse: what if it only brings negativity to your previously positive spread?

For instance, imagine you receive the World card in a reading. You’d be over the moon – success in your endeavors, expansion of your horizons, possible travel to new and exciting destinations. Who doesn’t want to see that in a reading?

But imagine you’re reading with reversals and the World falls out in the reversed position. Shock, horror – for here comes lack of success, being stuck in one place for too long, stagnation in your goals… the list of negatives is seemingly endless.

And who wants to see that in a reading?

Wait! Reversed Tarot Cards Aren’t Bad

Firstly, it’s important to remember that reversal doesn’t necessarily mean “bad.” Reversals can represent an abundance of different meanings.

The most common interpretation that your mind may go to is the simplest one. All Tarot cards have keywords that help to describe their meanings, so you may consider that the reversed meaning of the card could also be simply opposite to its upright meaning.

For example, take the Major Arcana card The Chariot. The upright keywords for this card include:

  • Movement
  • Determination
  • Control

Therefore, you could assume that the reversed meaning for the card could mean:

  • Lack of movement
  • Lack of determination
  • Lack of control

However, a reversal can be so much more than that.

Upright vs. Reversed Tarot Cards

Tarot cards represent energy and situations in your life. No matter who you are or what you’re going through, there are going to be easy and challenging aspects of any situation. This can actually be mirrored in the tarot.

If you have mostly upright cards in your reading, then that’s an indication that you’re on top of your situation, and the energies are flowing smoothly. However, if you have mostly reversed cards in your reading, then your situation is on top of you, and the energies are challenged in some way.

You may see a reversal (sometimes called inverted or contrary) as a card that is drawing attention to itself. It’s asking you to pay special attention to that area of your life, or that energy of the card. In this instance, the card is showing you what’s upside-down in your life—and very often, it will give you hints as to how to put things right again.

Or, a reversed card simply represents some blockage in energy. The energy of the upright card is being blocked – but why? The key is not to run from this blocked energy, but instead to face it so the issue might be resolved.

Additionally, the reversed images on the Tarot cards might be sending a specific message as well. What sparks within you when viewing an upside down image of Strength, as an example? There are a few different ways you can interpret reversed Tarot cards!

Ultimately, the key to getting over a fear of reversals is to remove the negative identification with bad and instead replace it with the more realistic identification such as nuanced, deeper insight.

Are Tarot Reversals Needed?

There really isn’t a right way or a wrong way to read the Tarot, so using reversals or not is simply a matter of preference and choice. There may be an initial learning curve to adding reversed cards to your readings, so the thought of using them can be initially daunting.

However, do give the idea some thought instead of letting reversals intimidate you immediately.

When you do add in the reversed meaning of the cards, you double the scope of what the Tarot has to offer you. Instead of having 78 different meanings running through the cards when reading just the upright images, including the reversals means that you now have a total of 156 meanings for the cards; 78 upright, and 78 reversed.

Since there is more than one way to interpret a reversal, that is even more nuance, detail, and color being added to your reading!

That being said, if you are new to reading Tarot, having 156 different meanings can quickly become confusing. Try sticking with upright cards in the beginning, and once you are comfortable with those, ease your way into incorporating reversed Tarot cards into your readings.

Discover: Are Your Tarot Cards Sad?

An Example of Reversals in a Tarot Reading

Still stumped by what your reversed card could possibly be trying to share, or what reversed energy may look like in a Tarot spread? Below is an example of what reversed Tarot cards might look like in a reading.

Let’s say you ask a question about love:

  • What will my love life be like within the next three months?

The Tarot cards you pull are:

  1. The Empress
  2. The Knight of Cups, reversed
  3. The Moon, reversed

Two reversals may appear to be an unwelcome sight at first in a love reading, but let’s look at the situation a little deeper.

The Empress

The Empress is a card representing a beautiful woman who likely has many admirers. This may very well represent you, the reader, or the person you are reading for. It may represent a person who is at their most bountiful and beautiful, so this could mean a number of admirers are on the way.

The Knight of Cups, Reversed

The Knight of Cups in its upright position often indicates an offer of romance from a very romantic individual who likes to wine and dine.

However, in its reversed state, it can mean someone who initially seems too good to be true – they may seem romantic and genuine at first, but this may simply be an act. Perhaps the Knight of Cups reversed can represent a person who has issues with commitment.

Make sure to check out The Top 10 Tarot Cards for Love!

The Moon, Reversed

The Moon upright can represent enchantment, fantasy and all magical things. In its upright position, it can show a romance that is passionate, exciting and enchanting. The Full Moon can represent beauty, magic and mystery.

In its reversed state, however, there may be a lot of fear and confusion; for while the Full Moon can represent splendid things, it also highlights the darkness that comes along with it. This would indicate a romance where things are not as they seem and the sitter/reader ought to tread carefully, lest they lose sight of the moon’s light.

Interpreting the Reversed Tarot Cards

Overall, this reading may be interpreted as having a host of admirers within the next three months and one admirer in particular standing out. This person may seem great at first, but then they may display noncommittal tendencies that are not so great after all, resulting in fear and confusion.

This reading with its two reversal cards is not negative – not remotely!

It acts as a very valuable warning to the sitter/reader, informing them that while it may be an exciting next few months, it is important to be careful about who they become involved with. This reading can stop a potentially bad situation from getting out of hand and serve as a reminder to keep an eye out for any unusual behavior in someone who may otherwise seem consistent.

Quite importantly, the reversals in this reading added a layer of detail that would not have otherwise been there with a simple upright, “negative” card. So, it is in fact not a negative reading at all, but a highly helpful and useful one that can ensure the sitter/reader stays several steps ahead.

Give Reversed Tarot Cards a Chance!

If you haven’t worked with reversed cards in the past, there is no harm in giving it a try.

You may find that reading with reversals expands your Tarot reading practice to new heights, and offers insight that you would never have received otherwise. With time, practice, and confidence, reading a reversed Tarot card can become like second nature.

Ultimately, because there are so many different ways to read a reversed card, you don’t have to stress that you’ll be reading it in a “wrong” or “right” way — your intuition and what you feel is right will always guide the way.

Interested in learning more about Tarot? Learn more with your Daily Tarot Reading!

Related article: How to Come Up With Your Own Personal Tarot Spreads

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An honest Aries with a grounded Virgo Moon and Rising, Lexi Hikari picked up her first astrology book at age 12, and has loved the language of the stars ever since. She began her… Learn More About The Author »

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