Last week, some of you asked for tips on reading reversals. This one’s for you!

The Complete Book of Tarot Reversals

The question of whether or not to use reversals in a reading comes up a lot, even amongst seasoned tarot readers. When an experienced, talented reader is asked “do you use reversals,” she may somewhat sheepishly answer, “no, I don’t.” There is sometimes a feeling a guilt about not using reversed cards, as if that is a decision of a lazy or less intelligent person. Naturally, I do not agree with this assessment. I am, after all, a reader of over 20 years experience, I am not lazy, and I do not think I am lacking in intelligence.

For some background on my journey with reversals, read THIS and THIS.

To update…I have again revised my usage. I’ve using the Anna K and the Tarot of the Sidhe almost exclusively for about 9 months now and I have NOT been using reversals with them.

Many people don’t like reversals for one of several reasons:

1. they don’t want to memorize 78 additional meanings (although, as we will see, this is not really necessary)

2. the “traditional” meanings don’t make sense in relation to the upright meaning or the image

3. they haven’t selected a unified approach to reversals and consequently everything feels chaotic and muddled

Mary K. Greer wrote an excellent book called The Complete Book of Tarot Reversals. In it she explores the fascinating world, one with serious shamanic undertones, of upside down cards. She provides 12 unified, logical approaches to reversed cards. The key to not memorizing senseless meanings is to pick one of these approaches and apply it across the board. Here are her suggestions:

1. Blocked or resisted energy

2. Projected energy

3. Delayed, difficult, or unavailable

4. Inner, unconscious, or private

5. New or Dark moon

6. Breaking through, overturning, refusing, changing direction

7. No or Not (of the upright meaning); lacking

8. Excessive, over- or undercompensating

9. Misused or misdirected

10. “re” words: retried, retracted, reviewed, reconsidered

11. Rectification: disease into remedy

12. Unconventional, shamanic, magical, humorous

In her book, she explains these all indepth. So, if you are curious…you know where to go! But try using all or some of these ideas with one card.

1. Pull a card from your deck

2. State your upright meaning for the card

3. Go through each of Mary’s 12 suggestions and apply it to the card you pulled.

4. If any feel natural to you, note them. Pull another card and use the approaches that you liked.

5. Continue in this manner until you arrive at one. Then apply that one to a few readings and see how it goes.

6. Comment here and share your experience.

Written by Barbara Moore
The tarot has been a part of Barbara Moore’s personal and professional lives for over a decade. In college, the tarot intrigued her with its marvelous blending of mythology, psychology, art, and history. Later, she served as the tarot specialist for Llewellyn Publications. Over the years, she has ...