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Should You Read Reversed Tarot Cards and Learn Their Meanings? Beginner Tarot Guide.

Updated: Jan 19, 2022

Often when people start to learn Tarot cards, they limit themselves to some boundaries or rules.

Some people put aside Minor Arcana cards to learn Major Arcana on a deeper level; others ignore elements “for now”, to avoid getting confused.

But the majority first tend to ask the question: “Should I read Tarot reversals?” and try to sort of choose the side from the beginning.

I learned Tarot reversals and how to read them as a part of my Tarot education program. At the beginning of my Tarot path, I even considered them in a reading.

I also read various perspectives of different Tarot professionals on the internet, just like you are reading this Blog post right now.

But at one moment I decided to ditch the reversals completely and put all my cards in the deck upright once and for all.

No, not because it is difficult to work with reversals but because based one my knowledge and experience this was the most logical thing to do.

I will explain to you my logic and approach but always feel free to choose a path that works for you. There are many wonderful Tarot readers that work with reversals but also plenty amazing ones that never did. The choice is yours.

Reason #1: Confusion with Card Meanings and Interpretation

Yes, this is something that is worth to consider. The interpretation of reversed Tarot cards can get really vague and personal.

For example, you can “reverse” the meaning of the card, saying that the reversed Tarot card meaning is just the opposite of the upright.

In that case, if we take, for example, the reversed Devil Tarot card, we can say that its meaning is quite positive and signifies the release from the boundaries and addictions.

But we may also say that the reversed Devil card meaning is even worse than that of the upright and the person described by this card is at the point where they can’t get out.

Same applies to the rest of the cards in the deck. You can either see their meaning as the opposite of what they mean upright, or make them worse than their meaning is, in case it is negative to begin with.

Reason #2: Repetition of Cards’ Messages

This is not something you will see often if you are reading cards only in their upright positions.

Yes, you may get 5 of Pentacles and the Tower together in a business reading and both would point on financial loss but the cards’ nuances would still provide with additional information that will create one full story.

When you read both reversed and upright cards, the card meanings can once again become blurred.

It becomes much more complicated to see those nuances and differences and many cards start to simply replace one another instead of complementing. It also becomes difficult to tell if the reversed card means the same thing that the upright next to it or something else?

Reason #3: The Upright Tarot Cards Already Have SO MUCH to Tell

There are 78 Tarot cards, friends! For a reason, don’t you think?

And consider the fact that, practically in any spread, Tarot cards influence each other’s interpretation – so that the meaning of one card depends on the surrounding cards.

There really are plenty of Tarot cards in the deck and based on all the combinations, situations and nuances, we can really draw a conclusion that there is more than enough information as it is in the deck to give a quality reading. There really is no need to multiply all of this by 2.

Let’s look at a quick example here. Take the reversed 2 of Cups card that speaks about conflicts, misunderstandings and relationship struggles. Let’s say that this card came up as a Significator for a relationship reading.

Would something change drastically if there was an upright 3 of Swords or 7 of Wands card instead?

In my opinion, no. Both cards can describe the situation perfectly well, in their own ways.

For example, 3 of Swords card can say that the conflict that took place was really heartbreaking to the partners, while 7 of Wands can point on continuous arguments, clashes of opinions and misunderstandings.

And, in my opinion, these upright cards would give much more information than the reversed card, the meaning of which is quite questionable.

Reason #4: Some New Tarot Decks Do Not Have Meanings for Reversed Cards

And here you can say: “Well, a Tarot reader should be able to work with any deck.”

And this is generally the truth, but you need to take into an account that there are WAY MORE Tarot decks being created now than needed. And some people that release those decks have nothing to do with Tarot and are just hiring the artists to draw the cards choosing a popular theme, the prettier the better. Whatever sells well.

As a result, sometimes we pick up a deck that has really nothing to do with Tarot. And the meaning of the card completely deviates from the original or traditional interpretation.


For example, look at this “The Lovers” Tarot card that appears to be a Game of Thrones inspired Tarot deck.

"The Lovers" Tarot Card of the Game of Thrones Inspired Tarot Deck showing Ingrid and John Snow kissing
"The Lovers" Tarot Card of the Game of Thrones Inspired Tarot Deck

And don’t get me wrong, I’m a huuuuuuuuuge fan of Game of Thrones (House Bolton, anyone? No?)

But this card has absolutely NOTHING to do with the meaning of the Lovers, as the Loves card has nothing to do with love!

It is a card of CHOICE more so than anything else.

This is why when you look at the traditional version, you see that he is looking at her and she is looking at the Archangel and behind them is a snake. What is the path you chose?

the lovers tarot card rider waite
Traditional Version of The Lovers Tarot Card from the Rider-Waite Tarot Cards Deck

When we look at this Game of Thrones version of the Lovers card, we can see a couple deeply in love. They are together, they don’t need anything else or anyone else. In fact, there is nothing here pointing on a choice.

And you may say here: “Oh, well, John Snow made a choice. He left Ingrid and went back on the wall.” You know this, I know this. Does a person who has never watched Game of Thrones and just picked up this deck know this?

So, it may seem that I deviated from our original conversation on Tarot reversals here but not really.

The point here is that if the upright position of this card does not really mean what it should, what does the reversed card even mean? Does it point on a break up? Are they falling out of love? What if you pull this card for career? Well, I suppose, you can say that is signifies breaking of a partnership.

In reality, this is my PERSONAL interpretation and you can see this differently.

In this case, we will all just interpret the cards how we “feel” not how they should be interpreted.

Here I really like the approach of Aleister Crowley. Unlike Waite, who does talk about reversed Tarot cards, in fact, most of the literature on Rider-Waite deck talks about reversals, Crowley does not mention reversals at all.

All he mentions is “the shadow side of the Card.”

And it is absolutely an amazing way to put it.

Each card has its Shadow side but you don’t need to see it reversed to understand when it shows it.

Reason #5: The Process of Tarot Reading

This would depend on how you personally deal with shuffling and picking cards during your reading.

When I get a question, I start shuffling the cards while concentrating my mind on the question and the spread. After that I pull individual cards either from the deck itself or I spread the cards from right to left and pick the cards I am drawn to.

The most mystical process happens while you are shuffling the cards and thinking about a question. It is sort of similar to a mini manifestation meditation when you let go of the unnecessary thoughts to allow your mind to concentrate on one specific matter.

RELATED POSTS: What to Do with a New Tarot Deck? How to Cleanse, Charge & Store Your Tarot Deck? Beginner’s Guide.

What was happening to the deck before the shuffling process or how I pull the cards after shuffling is done is not important. After you are done shuffling your Tarot deck, the cards that are meant to be pulled are already waiting for you.

For this reason, I don’t favour card reading method when the reader pulls cards for additional questions to clarify something. For the most accurate reading it is one question – one spread.

So, the thing is, while you are shuffling the cards you don’t flip them. When you shuffle a brand-new Tarot deck, all cards are in the upright position. How do you then get the reversals?

You get them when you are not collecting your cards gracefully after the reading and are just being sloppy.

Doesn’t it then seem like you are the one creating reversed Tarot cards yourself?

Of course, you can continue to flip the cards while you are shuffling, but it is already way too much hustle, if you ask me.

Reason #6: Look at The Spread as A Whole, It Has A Story to Tell

During many years of my work with Tarot, I have learned to analyze the spread as a whole and not read each card individually. This means that I don’t interpret each card one by one, I look at the surrounding cards, their elements and how they influence each other.


For example, when I’m doing a relationship spread, I like to understand the nature of the partners. Not based on what THEY tell me, but based on what THE CARDS tell me.

So, I usually throw three cards per partner with the positions: what he/she thinks, what he/she feels and what he/she does.

When I analyze those cards, I look at the connection between them and also at any inconsistencies that may arise. For example, a partner may think one thing but do something completely the opposite, hide something, or may feel completely different inside.

This allows you to have a full portrait of a person as a whole.

And this applies really to any spread. You always try to read a story not just interpret one card after another.

Should You Then Ditch Tarot Reversals Practice for Good?

The thing is, there are many methods and techniques used by the readers. There are even those who chaotically throw cards on the table and pick the needed ones using their intuition.

There are many approaches to Tarot and divination as a whole.

My blog post does not call upon ditching reversed Tarot cards but rather asks to think about the process for a minute.

Perhaps, if you are a Tarot beginner, it would be a better idea to leave the reversals out and focus on other important aspects, such as elements, numerology and cards combinations.

But I notice more and more that even advanced and experienced Tarot readers leave the reversals out more often.

The ultimate choice is yours and depends solely on your preference. There is no right or wrong way.

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