Saturday, March 27, 2010

New Look and Direction

We had a great class this week (Wednesday, 3/24) and it was great to see many new folks with interest in the Tarot. It is my hope that you felt welcome and left the class more than you knew when who came into the class. I have decided that I am going to adapt the blog a bit and write it more as a conversation from me to you rather than just continuing to post the notes. I would like to see this become more an extension of the class than simple a place to download and print the notes. Please feel free to e-mail me at by clicking on the Contact tab. I am also playing around with Twitter and if you would like to follow me there then my username is thefifthtrump as well. NO Promises! I don't know if Twitter is going to take but it will be a chance to see.

I will be posting the notes on reversals first and then in a couple of days posting the notes on Dignities. The posts get quite long because of adding the material into the post. I have also been considering that addition of exercise to augment the conversation that he have in class and on the topics that we cover. Since we will be having a break from the class for a couple of weeks I might do in the next post for you to try at home and on your own for practice.

Thanks for coming and adding to the class.


When you begin to work with spreads there is something that you will have to figure out for yourself. That issue is what to do with cards that appear in ways other than in upright positions. This is most commonly seen in Reversed cards or cards that appear upside down from their normal orientation.

Reversals have been and will continue to be an interesting topic for many. It is my purpose to expose you to a variety of ways in which you can understand the meaning of a reversed card. I hope that with this information and that you will be able to find your own way that will work. It will take some doing and personal experimentation to figure out what will work.

The use of reversals is not universal and there are many who do not use reversals at all, there are some that don't use them until they have a firm understanding of all the upright meanings, and there are some that will use reversals with some decks but not others.

I want to give you some avenues of understanding that will give you a chance to find your way to understand them and their special meanings.

First things First

If you are going to look into using Reversed cards then there is a first step that you have to take. You will need to work through the entire deck and make certain that you have a clear understanding of the cards in their upright orientation.

It is my belief that no card is inheriently good or inhereintly bad. They are images that convey ideas. These ideas have a wide spectrum on understanding and they can be favorable in some areas and unfavorable in others. Now I will not say that some cards are not more troubling than others as to sugar-coat the meaning of the cards like Death, Tower, Ten of Swords or the Devil. Each card has a place where it means something different.  If you are able to see the whole spectrum of the card's meaning then you are well on your way to understanding the way that the reversed cards may show up in a reading.

What Are Our Options?

There are many ways to look at reversed cards. I want to give you a broad view of the options that will help you to see how you can use them.

1. Blocked or Resisted

The energy or movement in this card's meaning maybe blocked, repressed, denied, rejected or resisted. This could be a correct and normal expression of fear, depending on the circumstances. This is a very common way to look at a reversed card and one that is very good to consider.

2. Projected

Projection is a psychological term used to mean the unconscious attribution of one's own characteristics (including emotions, attitudes, and desires) to someone or something else. Simultaneously, the originator denies or rejects these qualities in themselves. This would look in a reversed card that the seeker is confronting or rejecting one set of characteristics that they possess in others.

3. Delayed, Difficult, Unavailable

This may seem similar to "Blocked or Resisted" but it is different. Blocked hints that there is an action that needs to be taken to get "unblocked." Here it shows some hesitation, uncertainty, or unavailability. The card may illustrate what is going to take longer than expected, be harder than expected to accomplish or not to be expected at all. It may be that in a relationship reading this shows what a partner is not willing to do.

4. Inner, Unconscious, Private

The upright meanings can illustrate what is active, dynamic and externally expressed in a situation. Here the reversed card may illustrate what is happening behind the scenes. It may show a true emotional state that is being hidden or suppressed. It may show actions that need to be taken in a seekers inner life rather than an outer expression.

5. New or Dark Moon (and other round deck variations)

With rectangular cards it is very easy to see when cards are upright or reversed. In cards that are round you have a greater chance to engage the cards in a variety of degrees of reversed nature. One idea that can work well for both is to look at the cards orientation as part of the lunar cycle. The reversed card can signify the dark or new moon phase and show instinctual, hidden and suppressed energies.

6. Breaking through, Overturning, Refusing, Changing directions

This could show where the seeker is overturning, getting out from under, breaking free of or turning away from the conditions pictured. It can also show what is ending or passing away of a situation, a loosening or a change in direction.

7. No or not the upright meaning; Lacking

The most common understanding of the reversals is the opposite meaning of the upright. You could simply put a "no" or "not" in front of the upright meaning. This is an easy way to begin using reversals but it is not necessarily the best way. It is good to see the card in contrast and know that in the course of a reading there is a chance that you will see that a reversed card can illustrate that Seeker or a person discussed in the reading is not acting in a way that they should. For the Seeker it is good see if they are not acting in a way that is needed.  If so then the reading can discuss how to get them back on course. If they are interacting with someone else who is not acting the way that they should then the Seeker has a chance to acknowledge this.  They can begin to compensate and act in new ways.
8. Excessive, Over- or Undercompensating

The reversal may intensify or lessen the meaning of the card. This may take the meaning to extremes of overindulgence, immaturity, condescending attitudes, overdeveloped, obsessive attention to, or even senility. The reversed card can act like a child in the middle of a restaurant or grocery store that sits and throws a fit to just get some extra attention. Often when I see a card that is expressing this meaning it will stick out like a sore thumb and will at first just not fit into the flow or a reading. When I then consider how this may show what the Seeker is over doing or excessive about then it can come into view.

Now on the other hand, this is can also show where the Seeker is too laid back. Where they are choosing to ignore the issue, not act when they should and not give attention to an issue that is painful, demanding or difficult. This may seem like it is the opposite of what was just discussed but the truth is that obsessing about an issue comes from the same place as when a Seeker chooses to ignore a situation. There is a wisdom that takes place when you choose and are able to walk the middle path of just the right effort and attention.

9. Misused or Misdirected

This reversal indicates that something is not right in the timing, that there may be a faulty start or that the efforts in this area are not coming together very well. This is a warning to look at how all the elements are interacting and to be sure that there aren't any weak links, loose cannons, or flat tires.

10. "Re" words: Retried, Retracted, Reviewed, Reconsidered

This may seem a bit like a catchall category but it isn't. The prefix "Re-" is dead useful and can denote backwards motion, withdrawal, opposition, negation or to do again. This is especially important if this comes up to represent a past action or event. The Seeker may do well to look at the event or the situation to examine to ensure that they have a full understanding of what happened, what the consequences were, what it cost them. This is the card of evaluating the past and so often the tide of a reading is to the future and what can be in potential but it is often important to look back and carefully reflect on what was to see how it shapes what will be.

11. Rectification: Disease into Remedy

Got a reversed card and you don't like it, Change it! This is a great chance to look at what is not going right and needs attention. This may be a potentially immediate action that needs to take place. I have been using this method from the moment that Kris taught it too me. I love the idea of a reversed card illustrating what needs rectification. Rectification is the alchemical process of refining and purifying to the essence through distillation and by adjusting the "proof" of liquid spirits. In electrical terms, to rectify is to convert alternating to direct currents.

By Rectification we change what harms us or a situation then we move to remedy. A remedy is what will heal us. Remedy is that which will take action against what is causing harm. I like to think of this as the idea that a reversal can show us the "poison and the antidote."

12. Unconventional, Shamanic, Magical, Humorous

Now we come to the this way of looking and examining the reversed cards in a spread. Now if you have worked with Tarot for a while there are a couple of things that you will observe and come to know that are a bit harder to explain. One thing is that Tarot decks, if you work with them long enough, will develop what can be referred to as a voice. They will develop their own personality. There is a lot we don't know about how Tarot works and how it can seem that with time a deck of pictured cards can seemingly take on a personality. You will find that the Tarot can play jokes, tricks and generally mess with you head. So at times you will see a reversed card that is just going to throw you for a loop and it might be that there is something about that card that you should not look at in a conventional way. When do you do this? I don't know if i can teach it but it is something that your own intuitive sense will just need to look for and act.

Another thing about the Tarot is that there are a lot of potential uses for the cards. I have found that if one card comes up reversed in a spread then it needs to get special attention. I may be that this is a card that holds special depth or significance and not necessarily in a reversed meaning sort of way. This card may demand that the Seeker meditate on the meaning for a while. It may be the something that the Seeker needs to affirm in themselves. I often have used affirmations in my readings. If I get a sense that a Seeker needs to build these concepts or ideas into their daily life I will write an affirmation for them to repeat to themselves.

Finally, one area where I don't have a lot of experience but know that some have had great success at is using the cards in magical acts. I am using the term in the widest sense possible. While I am a straightforward Tarot reader, I also know that there is a lot more going on in this world than what I see with my own physical eyes. If a card comes up reversed it may be worth a few minutes of consideration of who this may imply or speak to the spiritual in our lives.

13. Court Cards and Reversals

Working with Court Cards and Reversals needs a bit of specialized instruction. While all of the previous ideas will work with the Court Cards here are a couple of other ideas that you might want to keep in mind as you do readings.

First as Court cards can represent specific people the reversal may give us an additional set of ideas on how to identify who they are in the Seekers life. If the card is reversed, it may indicate one who is not necessarily bearing ill intent but is bumping heads, in disagreement with or opposed to the Seeker. This may be the wife or husband who has different ideas in how to raise the kids or spend the family money. It may be the boss who is pursuing different goals than the Seeker. It can just show the conflict in the dynamic with the Seeker.

Second the Court card reversed can be referring to a person of the opposite gender than the one depicted on the card but acting the same manner as the person on the card. Example would be a nurturing Father showing up as a reversed Queen of Pentacles or a commanding officer which is a woman showing up as the King of Swords reversed.

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