previously published at Suite101 Tarot
illustrations from Katelan Foisy's deck in progress.
Reversed Meanings In Tarot
5 of Pentacles
So many meanings are assigned to each card of the Tarot that reversals can cause serious confusion. This article attempts to make them a little easier to understand.
Many readers view the cards as already containing their opposite right-side up so do not read reversals. The way to omit them from a reading is to make sure all cards are right side up before shuffling. The way to include them is to flip some around at random before shuffling.
If you choose to include them in your readings, reversals can often provide interesting insight. Although they do add a little extra confusion for new readers, they also encourage readers to look at individual cards in a different light.
With Court cards, which many find confusing, reversals can be particularly helpful. The easiest way to interpret Court cards is to take them as representing actual people who have the characteristics described in card definitions. This is actually made easier when reversals are included because you then have a broader range of personality types.
The simplest way to include reversals in a reading is to choose what the standard meaning of a card is to you. For a good guide to this see How to Read Tarot Quickly and Easily. Then take the reversal to indicate it's opposite.
Pay attention to what happens to the images on the card when they're reversed. For example, in most decks' Tower card, two figures are falling out of the Tower on their heads. If the card is reversed, they're landing on their feet. So, you can take the upright Tower to mean a chaotic situation leaves you feeling out of control, reversed to mean that it's chaotic but you land on your feet.
Here is a brief guide to reversed meanings of the Major Arcana:
FOOL: You've wised up or need to
MAGICIAN: You feel you've lost the tools to get the job done;
HIGH PRIESTESS: You've let the cat out of the bag
EMPRESS: A lack of creativity;
EMPEROR: You've lost the will to do what is needed
LOVERS: You've changed your mind
CHARIOT: Wasting time
HERMIT: Social activity
WHEEL OF FORTUNE: A run of bad luck
STRENGTH: Physical illness
HANGED MAN: Feeling a situation is not worth sacrifice
DEATH: A situation you thought was over is still effecting you
TEMPERANCE: Alcohol or drug abuse, unbalanced emotions
THE DEVIL: Liberation from a bad situation
THE TOWER: Coming out on top of a chaotic situation
THE STAR: Giving up hope
THE MOON: You'll learn more about a situation you felt in the dark about
THE SUN: Money problems, lack of clarity
JUDGMENT: Changing your mind about a major decision