How to Read Tarot Cards: 8 Ways to Read Reversed Tarot Cards

Jennifer VanBenschoten

To read reversals or not to read's a Tarot question that every reader is going to have to decide at some point as they learn how to read Tarot cards. Just like with most other things in Tarot, there aren't any hard and fast rules for reading reversals in a Tarot spread. Most of the time, you just have to go with your gut (intuition) and see what feels right in the moment.

There are some decks I've seen that state clearly in their guidebooks that they aren't meant to be read reversed. Even if you have one of those decks, you can still use your favorite method for reading reversed Tarot cards, even if you're just learning how to read Tarot. 

The biggest hurdle with reading reversals is getting past the whole idea that a reversed Tarot card is somehow bad, or negative, or an indication of DISASTER, WILL ROBINSON. (Sorry. Go watch Lost In Space on Netflix.) Reversed Tarot cards can mean a whole lot of different things, and again, it's up to you and what your intuition tells you is right in the moment. 

If reading reversed Tarot cards gives you the willies, here are 8 different ways you can interpret those reversals without doom and gloom.

  • A block in the energy. Sometimes you can feel a block in the energy surrounding a particular situation or question. If a Tarot card comes up reversed for you in a reading, maybe it indicates a block in that particular energy. Looking for financial advice and you see the Ace of Pentacles reversed? It might indicate that there's something standing between you and your financial goals. 
  • Internal work. While we tend to think about Tarot as relating to the three-dimensional world, sometimes a reversed card can indicate internal work. When I pulled The Chariot reversed during a reading for myself, it felt strongly like this meant that I needed to go within to find alignment between my inner desires and my outer path.
  • Fear of something. Dang, so when I pulled The Tower reversed as my personal theme for the month of January, it could not have rung truer. Major oral surgery this month has led me down the path of some pretty major and uncomfortable transformation (but all good). get there, I had to overcome some major fear of that transformation. That reversed Tower showed me that the biggest thing I had to fear was, well, the fear itself.
  • Energy departing or receding. A reversed card can also indicate an energy is leaving. One of my favorite cards to read reversed is the 10 of Wands - it's a major indication that a burdensome energy is on its way out the door! (Don't let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya.)
  • Need for improvement. Did you pull the 3 of Cups reversed? Maybe you need to work on celebrating your social circle and connections. There is always room for improvement in our physical and spiritual lives, so if you pull a reversed card in a reading, it could indicate that you need to focus your attention on making improvements to that particular aspect of your life.
  • Requiring a shift in perspective. The 3 of Swords is never a pleasant card to pull, but when it's reversed, sometimes it means you need to shift your perspective about a recent heartache. This is the time to start questioning your attitudes and beliefs about a certain event or situation when you  bring it to the Tarot.
  • Opposite meaning of upright. Well, yeah. Sometimes, the most obvious answer is the best one: a reversed Tarot card can sometimes indicate the exact opposite of the upright meaning. Pulled the 10 of Pentacles in an abundance reading? Maybe you need to take a look at your immediate financial health and goals instead of looking ahead.
  • What you don't know, or a need for clarity. Finally, when a reversed card comes up in a reading, it might mean that you need to do some meditation on that particular aspect or energy. Is there something that's just not clear for you or the person you're reading for? Is there something you don't know yet about the situation or question? 

A few more thoughts on reading reversed Tarot cards...

If you don't want to read reversed cards, don't. There have been times when I laid out some cards for a reading, saw a few reversals, and just thought, oh hell NO I don't have the energy to deal with that today. Not surprisingly, the readings were still spot-on and gave me the insight I needed. 

Reading reversals can make your readings deeper, richer, and more empowering for you or the people you read for. Remember, these reversed cards don't indicate doom and gloom and all kinds of horrible stuff. These challenges we face are why we turn to things like Tarot in the first place. When we embrace these blocks as opportunities for growth, we start to realize that the obstacles on our path are the path. That feels a hella lot more empoewering than the alternative, doesn't it?

As always, I encourage you to read your cards with an open heart, an open mind, and with the attitude of gaining insight and knowledge for empowerment so you can make positive change in yourself. 

You can always book a reading with me by email, phone, in person, or video call if that works for you! Just email me at any time to set up an appointment! 

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