Reading Reversed (upside down) Cards  


Joined: 3 years ago
Posts: 2884
09/07/2018 10:47 am  

Marley wrote -- I've been studying Tarot for only a year now, and find myself stumbling when confronted by reversed cards. Joan Bunning's book suggests that when a card is reversed it means blocked energy of the card, or energy that is expressed internally as opposed to out in the open. As such, she suggests putting the world "self" in front of your interpretation. Other sources seem to say a reversed card represents the opposite of the energy expressed in an upright card. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to work out a satisfactory interpretation for myself and was curious about how others see reversed cards. I also have questions about court cards, but I'll save that for another time 🙂 Thanks in advance. (Should I have put this question elsewhere?)

Reversed cards mean something is off in some way.  The question remains, how is it off and what is the reversal telling us about the energy we are observing?  First of all, there is no absolute way to interpret a card. It's all a subjective experience.  However beginners need some rules to get going. Later as you become more experienced, your view of each card will become more nuanced.  At that point, you learn that upside down cards are meant to get your attention that something is not so straight forward.  Then you have to "feel" what is being said.

Marley, what you learned from Joan Bunning sounds good to me that reversed cards can be either

(1) blocked energy or

(2) something beneath the surface.  

I think of it slightly differently but really it amounts to the same thing.  I think of reversed cards as distortions or blocks, not of the card, but of the consciousness that the card represents.  So something is off when a card is reversed, but not necessarily bad.  And it is asking you to understand that the person you are reading has an inner perspective that is not straightforward.  

For a beginner, it may be easiest to read reversals as simply the opposite of what the card means when it is right side up. 

  • You can put the word "Not" in front of the card and read it that way.  This can work when you are first learning, but as you become more adept at reading  the cards, then your reaction to reversed cards will become more nuanced. 

Reversed cards are emphasizing the inner world of the person you are reading -- that something is not straightforward there.  

For me, the best way to explain reversed cards, is to tell you what has happened in pure psychic non Tarot visioning readings in which there was a reversal of the images.  While meditating on a person, I 've seen them  walking upside down or even sideways. I then learned that I was seeing these people as children who were being abused in someway or living in a traumatic situation.  The child was going to school, going through the motions of life, but she or he was not in her body really.  Rather the child's psyche was topsy turvy.  This is very sad to see in a reading.  But it is how it is for a child who is being traumatized, and it has shown up in visions when I read someone whose inner child is still suffering within them. 

The upside down card, like the upside down image in visions, is a way to get your attention that something is different than it is supposed to be. 

This doesn't always represent something negative. For example, I've seen the Thoth Defeat card (Five of swords) upside down as an outcome.  It means that the person was expecting a defeat but it doesn't happen.  


Marley liked
Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 38
09/07/2018 5:52 pm  

This makes so much sense! Thank you. I think I will re-focus by putting "not" in front, with the idea that "Something is off." Thank you, thank you.

Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 84
09/08/2018 3:19 am  

Yes, thanks very much Jeanne! I've avoided using reversals and this definitely helps.