Can we talk about reversals in tarot?

To read reversals, or not read reversals: That is the question.

At least for a lot of tarot readers out there.

It’s come up in every tarot class I’ve taught, and I often see minor dust-ups online between tarot readers about whether reading reversals matters or not.

Some might find it hard to believe that tarot has controversies, but it does.

However, I’m not of the opinion that there is a right or wrong answer here.

First, for those who aren’t familiar with reading reversals, it’s a technique that allows for reading a tarot card upside down.

This technique is deck-dependent to some extent. It can depend on the artwork of your deck.

Or on the type of deck altogether. If you’re using Tarot de Marseille, playing cards, or even oracle cards, reversals may not factor in at all.

I used to read reversals. But then I stopped.

Why? Because my tarot reading style had changed, and I got to a point where I no longer needed them. As I got more influenced by other types of cartomancy, I started to see my tarot cards differently.

But just because I don’t read reversals doesn’t infer that I feel strongly about whether anyone else reads reversals or not.

Tarot is all about techniques, and there are different ways to come to the same conclusion in a reading.

And it’s about finding what works for you as a tarot reader, not necessarily doing what everyone else is doing.

Some readers look at reversals as a way to see challenges, obstacles, denials, and blocked energy. Or things that haven’t happened yet.

But you can also use a tarot spread that covers those same messages, and read the cards upright as they land.

Or, you can be direct and ask those very questions of your cards: “What challenge do I need to be aware of? What am I not acknowledging at this time? What obstacle is in my way?”

There are a lot of ways to get to a valid answer in tarot.

Sometimes I meet beginner readers who feel overwhelmed by having to learn how to read reversals before they’ve even figured out how to read a tarot card at all.

When I wrote my first tarot book, I wanted to address the various contexts we can read tarot cards in.

But I felt that talking about upright and reversed meanings alone might alienate tarot readers who don’t read reversals, or who were still figuring out how to understand the basics of tarot. So I decided to write about how cards might manifest differently – as challenges, not just reversals. And as opportunities, insights, intentions, and more, too.

That was my solution to offering alternative approaches to tarot without making hard and fast rules about it, or pushing anyone into adopting a technique they aren’t ready for. Because at the end of the day, tarot reading is varied and techniques differ between readers. There is no one authority or one voice that can say tarot is this, but not that.

Which is why, as a rule, I don’t debate on tarot or get into arguments about tarot cards.

But one argument for reversals that irks me every time is the belief that people who don’t read reversals are only interested in giving positive, happy readings.

This is a massive generalization that assumes to know what every single reader is able and willing to discuss.

There are indeed ways readers can still opt-out of the tough stuff. There are real fears tarot readers run into about having to say something that might hurt a client. Or we can be caught up in a need to please, or worry about delivering a disappointing message.

But those struggles are not exclusive to card reading techniques. Who’s to say that someone who reads reversals won’t still gloss over a challenging message, or hold back in order to save a querent’s feelings?

Choosing not read reversals is not some kind of avoidance strategy.

So no: You don’t need to read reversals to see into the challenging aspects of a card, or a querent’s life.

There are other entry points you can take to get there.

At the end of the day, the techniques you choose to use in your readings should allow for you to communicate clearly and effectively. How you get there in tarot is up to you, and the choice is yours as to which methodologies you feel work best in your readings.


Until next time,

Liz xo

p.s. Want to know what I focus on in my readings instead of reversals? This free tarot masterclass will show you: 


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