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Decisions and Revisions

This post was written by Barbara Moore
on June 1, 2010 | Comments (9)

Do I dare

Disturb the universe?

In a minute there is time

For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

~TS Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Every month when I get ready to write my blog entries, I ask my Facebook friends what they would like me to write about. Then I mostly ignore them. But this month, I am taking almost all of their ideas. Celeste Heldstab, proprietress of Bayou Witch Incense (where magic makes scents!), suggests that I talk about reversals and if they are needed.

I did write about reversals back in October, over six months ago, so it is a good time to revisit this subject. For my entire tarot-reading life, I have never taken to reversals. I do give them a try every year or two, just to make sure nothing’s changed. But in October, when I heard Paul Quinn’s story, things felt different. What Paul said really made sense (check it out here). And so, ever since then, I’ve been using them. And you know what? I like them!!!

I did not adopt any rigid philosophy about them that I apply to every card in every instance. I did not memorize or consciously decide on what the reversed meanings would be for each card. And if you know me at all, you will think, “well, that is very un-Barbara-like.” And you would be right.

But many things in BarbaraTarotLand are changing. I’ve been actively working on my intuitive skills and trying to loosen up a bit. So it is not really surprising that I’ve added a little more chaos to my readings by including reversals.

In addition to providing nuance to my card meanings, I find that reversed cards also show places in a situation where the querent can take action and control. If the outcome of a situation is not to the querent’s liking and they would like to change it, I check to see if there are any reversed cards in the reading. I turn them rightside up and see how that changes the reading. If that makes it more favorable, then the querent and I see how they can go about releasing the blocked energy indicated by the reversed cards. This practice came from ideas from Mary K. Greer and Donnaleigh de la Rose. I am experimenting to see if this works the other way ‘round (if the outcome isn’t favorable, try reversing cards to block the energy and thereby change the outcome…why wouldn’t it? Well, I’ll keep you posted on that).

Do I think reversals are necessary? Nope. I didn’t use them for almost 20 years and read just fine. My only real advice is whatever you decide for now, always try it the other way every once in a while to see if it feels differently. Or just to shake things up. It is easy to become set in our ways.

But what about you? What’s your opinion? And if you do use them, what are some interesting tips or techniques that you’d like to share?

(The cards pictured are the Hanged Man cards from the Shadowscapes Tarot and the Tarot of the Magical Forest.)

Reader Comments

Written By Theresa
on June 1st, 2010 @ 8:54 am

Excellent article, Barbara. Not just the reversal part but “shaking things up”. I am very old school and can be mighty fond of my own methods – but I have learned that looking at tarot with new eyes prevents one from becoming stale.

Written By Melanie
on June 1st, 2010 @ 11:13 am

Hey, welcome to the dark side of the force. 🙂 Seriously, though, I’ve used reversals from the moment I cracked open my first deck. It’s just felt natural & organic to me. There’s a shift in the energy with reversed cards – not necessarily opposite, but different. It adds a whole host of unique flavors. I wouldn’t read any other way. 🙂

Written By Chloe
on June 1st, 2010 @ 1:24 pm

I go through phases with this, too. Mostly I don’t do reversals, except if they happen accidentally in which case I’ll keep them in (it’s very rare). However, I do try to “shake it up” on occasion and shuffle one deck for reversals. When I do, I make sure it’s a deck I feel very comfortable with, as then I seem to better connect with that difference in energy. Overall, though, I like looking at the images and letting my intuition spark from there, and find that a lot harder if the image is the wrong way up 😉

Written By Barbara Moore
on June 1st, 2010 @ 2:48 pm

Chloe, you make a great point that I neglected to discuss at all! I use reversals with decks I know very, very well and read them differently than I do other decks. Decks I don’t know as well are read more intuitively and spontaneously, so I never use reversals with those decks. Fascinating.

Written By Helen
on June 1st, 2010 @ 6:21 pm

Babs , I don’t use reversals and I do use reversals – that sounds weird doesn’t it. I usually read with the deck upright, because I believe that when you read cards, you should be looking at the full spectrum of the card. That is take into account its positive, neutral and negative aspect – I let my intuition decide which is speaking, along with the surrounding cards. However, at times, intuitively I feel certain readings seem to need the visual shift in energy and I mix the deck so that there is the chance of reversals. How I read those again depends of my intuition. I have no fixed meanings, it could be the opposite, or blocked, or delayed etc.

Written By Gail Wood
on June 2nd, 2010 @ 7:38 am

Hello Barbara:
I was taught that you were supposed to read reversals and for a long time didn’t know you couldn’t. LOL, so many rules, so little time. Then I realized that you don’t have to do anything according to anyone’s rules, so I gave myself permission to relax a little. I like reversals, actually. I usually intuit the meaning rather than memorize a set of definitions. I like the idea that reversals drain or diminish the upright meanings, but I think sometimes –well, most times — the reversals have a strong opinion all on their own and are ready to speak, if you and the querent are ready to listen.

I also think each deck has its own voice and some are open to reading with reversals and some are not. I let the spread determine the reading along with the energy of the reading situation (querent, space, etc).

Great posting…always thoughtful…thank you!

Written By Anastasia Haysler
on June 2nd, 2010 @ 10:42 pm

Interesting post, Barbara! I usually read reversals as a signal to look at the shadow side of the reversed card – what is the red flag? what is not being acknowledged/addressed? This can often help the client put into words the vague something that has been bothering them, but they haven’t taken the time (or perhaps been willing to acknowledge) what’s going on in that area.

I’ll be interested to hear about your work with reversing the cards to affect the outcome!

Written By Donnaleigh
on June 15th, 2010 @ 12:39 pm

I’m so anal retentive I have to let tarot “tell it like it is.” If it comes up reversed, I have to heed the call, lol.

I like that it adds more cards to the deck and more shades of meaning. There are rare occasions when I don’t read them, but it’s natural for me to try to unlock every nuance that is brought through tarot, including those upside-down cards.

I am loving that Magical Forest Hanged Man….


  1. Reading Reversed Cards  on June 7th, 2011 @ 8:25 am

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