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How do you interpret reversed Tarot cards?

There are various schools of thought about the meanings of reversed cards. Traditionalists say that a reversed card should always be read as the opposite of what it means upright - therefor a bad card would be considered good and vice versa.

However if you try to apply this idea you tend to start running into quite a bit of trouble with the Major Arcana - for instance what is the opposite of the Death card????? Also when using the traditional method you can often find that reversals make no sense at all in the context of the reading.

Modern Tarot readers tend not to apply the 'opposite interpretation' rule any more. Instead, if the deck was all definitely upright prior to the shuffle, and a card becomes inverted during the shuffle process, it's usually more efficient to simply regard that card as 'ill dignified' - i.e. not to be interpreted 'at its best - or worst'.

So for instance if you present the Star inverted, look hard at the cards surrounding it to see whether its terrific gift of opportunity might be blocked, or somehow delayed. Equally if you have the 10 of Swords invert, you'd feel that any apparently disastrous occurrences were nowhere near as serious as they at first appear.

So long as you start with all cards in the deck the right way round, if one is inverted on the shuffle, then I take this to mean that the usual interpetation of the card is in some way emphasised in a negative sense - not automatically the opposite, but ill-dignified. So say I was reading the 9 of Swords invert, I wouldn't see this as petty malice and spite, I'd see it as a deliberate and calculated act of cruelty (so therefor more of the usual meaning, rather than the opposite of the usual meaning). If I was reading the Ace of Cups invert then i would see this as indicating a relationship in trouble.

However I would always refer to the cards surrounding the invert one as well. Also if, whilst shuffling the querent deliberately turned numerous cards around (like in a riffle type shuffle) I'd place much less importance on invert cards - in this case, I'd tend to ignore the negative meaning unless other cards supported it. Hope this clarifies the query!!

I've always found it much more accurate to interpret with regard to surrounding tarot cards than to pay too much attention to inversions.



© 2003 Jan Shepherd

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