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How to Read reversals

  • 8 min read
How to read reversals what to do when your tarot cards are upside down | tarot with gord

When I first started reading Tarot cards, the idea of reversals was a bit daunting. I felt like all my cards were upside down and that nothing made sense. I was convinced that something must be wrong with me or with my deck. Now I know better: reversals are just another way to look at a card’s meaning, and they’re not as scary as they seem! In fact, you’ll find that understanding reversals can help you become even more proficient at reading tarot cards.

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How are cards reversed?

When a tarot card is reversed, it essentially means that the card has been turned upside down. A reversed card isn’t always negative but can have different meanings depending on how you read them.

As an example, let’s say you draw a Court Card (Page/Knight/Queen/King) and the suit is Wands. If this court card is right side up, it could mean that there is some kind of energy or activity going on around you and in your life. However if this same court card was reversed—upside down—it would mean something entirely different: boredom or even laziness!

Don’t ignore them!

Reversed cards are a double-edged sword, and they can be difficult to interpret. However, they shouldn’t be ignored. Reversals can indicate the absence of something that is usually present in the card’s upright position. For example, if you draw the Queen of Wands reversed, this means her energy has been blocked by external influences and she is unable to bring her full fire to bear on your situation or issue at hand (whatever it may be).

Reversals add another layer of meaning to each card because they represent an alternative way for that energy or principle to manifest itself within your life. When reversed cards appear in your readings, don’t ignore them! These will often provide important insights into how things are playing out at our current level of awareness; these insights might not always match up with our initial impressions about how things should turn out (or even what we want).

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Don’t panic!

As a tarot reader, you know that your deck of cards is like an oracle. It gives you messages that can help guide you through your day and give some insight into what’s going on around you. But when the cards are reversed, they can also be confusing and sometimes frightening.

Don’t panic! When a card is reversed in the reading, it doesn’t mean that everything will go wrong forever—it just means there may be some adjustments needed for things to work out well for everyone involved. The good news is: the reversed card may actually be helping improve the situation if read correctly (or at least provide clarity).

They don’t always mean the same thing.

When you see a card reversed, it doesn’t necessarily mean something negative. Depending on what deck you’re using, the reversed meaning can be positive or negative. Some decks even have different meanings for upright and reversed cards!

As with most things in tarot, reversals are an added layer of meaning to your reading that may or may not be relevant at all. But if there is any significance to them—and I’ve found that there often is—it’s important to know how they work so you don’t confuse yourself by misinterpreting the card’s message because it seems off from its original meaning.

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Remember that context is king.

Remember that context is king.

Tarot reversals can be used to add another layer of meaning to a card, or they can be used as a signifier of lack. For example: if you draw the reversed version of The Sun (a card symbolizing happiness and optimism), it might mean that you’re not feeling as positive or optimistic in your life right now. Reversed cards are often seen as warnings or messages from your subconscious mind—they represent an opportunity for introspection and self-reflection before making any decisions or taking any actions based on those cards’ meanings.

Reversals can indicate a lack of prevalence.

Reversals can indicate a lack of prevalence. For example, if your card is reversed and it’s the Queen of Wands, you might be feeling that your creativity isn’t as prevalent in your life as it could be. You’re not as creative or inspired as someone else in their career or relationship could be.

This can also happen with cards like The World or Strength: these are cards that show up frequently for people who have a lot of inner confidence and strong values but aren’t outwardly confident or showing their true self to the world (or even themselves).

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Reversals add another layer of meaning to the card.

Reversals add another layer of meaning to the card, making them more complex and nuanced. They can be used to find out more about the card and its meaning, or they can be used to look at the card in a different way. You might also find that you want to look at the reversed meaning of your cards as well – sometimes it’s helpful to know what could happen if you don’t follow through with something that is suggested by your first reading.

Something else reversals can do is introduce an opposite energy into your life, which is why they’re often referred to as “energy shifts.” In life we always have ups and downs; sometimes things are good but then something happens that takes us down a notch for awhile before we bounce back up again. Reversed cards help us see these ebbs and flows so that even when everything seems bad on one side (reversed), there’s always hope on the other side (non-reversed).

Reversals can indicate a lack of awareness.

Reversals can indicate a lack of awareness. This can be the result of a lack of attention to detail, a lack of concern about the consequences, a lack of foresight, preparation or understanding. It could also mean that you are ignoring the signs around you and acting without thinking things through first.

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Tarot cards are presented in different ways and have different meanings in different decks, but if you understand the context, you’ll be able to use them for your readings

In order to read a tarot card, or any symbol for that matter, you have to understand the context in which it is presented. This can be as simple as knowing what type of deck you’re using (eg: Rider Waite Smith or Thoth) or the more complex nature of the cards themselves (eg: The Emperor).

Let’s take an example from my own experience with reversals. I was reading for someone recently who asked me about a family member and I pulled The Tower reversed. She was upset because she didn’t think it looked like her family member at all! But if we look at The Tower reversed in its context, we see it as being about breaking down old structures and coming out into fresh air after having been trapped inside. In this sense, it could apply very well to someone trapped by their family circumstances; or maybe they were just feeling trapped inside their own mind and needed some outside perspective (which they got when they asked me what I saw).


This is all about using reversals as another layer of meaning to read the card. You can take this one of two ways: either say “wow, there’s so much more to this than I thought!” or “oh no! It’s reversed!” Both are valid reactions and both are good for different reasons. If you want to learn more about tarot and how it works with your life, then go for reading the cards in their normal orientation. You may find that some cards mean something different when they are reversed (maybe even nothing at all!), but still make sure that if there is something significant happening in your life right now then it will show up on its own whether it’s upright or not.