Learn Tarot – Reversals
Reading reversals (when cards are drawn from the deck inverted) can be traced back as far as the earliest days of Tarot’s use as a divinatory system. The earliest reference to reversals I can find is from Antoine Court de Gebelin in 1781. Antoine’s writings formed the basis of Eliphas Levi’s system, later adopted with modification by the Golden Dawn which ultimately led to Waite’s re-interpretation with Pamela Coleman-Smith (the RWS deck).
Despite this early reference to reversals neither Waite or Crowley appear to have used reversals in their systems; at least there’s no reference to reversals in their accompanying texts.
Traditionally if reversals are read they mean the opposite of the upright meaning. This becomes troublesome in the Major Arcana; consider the Death card – how do you read the opposite of death and rebirth?
For this reason many readers are now interpreting reversals to signify something ‘blocking’ the upright meaning of the card, or perhaps viewing reversals as the equivalent of retrograde motion in astrology.
Alternatively, many readers feel the upright interpretations of the 78 cards express everything that is required (both positive and negative) and so do not read reversals.
Ultimately it is up to you as the reader to decide if you wish to read reversals and if so – how.
Next, let’s take a look at an example reading: Learn Tarot – Example Reading
Note: This article is a placeholder until a more detailed piece is written.
Esotericist with particular interest in tarot and the underlying magical traditions/systems.