How to Read Reversals in Tarot
Tarot cards are full of information and deep layers of meaning. But how much more do you have to learn to read reversals?
It doesn't have to be complicated.
The answers are hidden in each card, and there is an easy way to find them.
What is the general (upright) message of this card?
Get to know what each card is all about. A few keywords that summarize the message are often enough. The trick is to really understand the lessons it teaches.
What happens when this message does not get properly expressed?
Understand the nature of a reversal in Tarot. What is it, really? It's not necessarily "negative". Neither is an upright card necessarily "positive". All it means is that the essential meaning of the card is not being expressed as it normally would. It could be blocked, delayed, distorted, avoided, softened, etc.
Also, keep in mind that everything has its opposite within itself, like the yin and yang.
Now, bring it all together. Once you understand the upright message of the card, and know that a reversal is an adjustment or blockage of that message, you realize that you don't have to learn anything new. All information is contained within that card.
Now, try it. Let's take as examples the 6 of Swords, 6 of Wands and 3 of Swords reversed.
The 6 of Swords is a card about moving on and letting go, learning from your past, setting out for a fresh start. The reversed meaning could be literally the opposite, such as holding on to your past, not letting go, not willing to learn from your experience, delays in travel.
The 6 of Wands is a card about victory and achievement. The reversed meaning could be a distorted version of victory, which can show arrogance and can lead to "resting on your laurels" when you really have more to accomplish. It could also point to delays in your achievements.
The 3 of Swords, a card about pain and heartbreak. The reversed meaning could be softened, such as an easier separation and less painful heartbreak.
As you see, the essential meaning of the card doesn't change. Its expression changes. So 6 of Swords is still about learning from your past whether upright or reversed, but how you choose to work with this energy can depend on different factors. 6 of Wands is still about victory, but upright it's a healthy acknowledgement and celebration of one's achievements, whereas reversed it becomes arrogant and stunted. 3 of Swords is about heartbreak, but the intensity of it can vary.
Finally, because each card's energies can be directed in different ways, you are able to influence the outcome by choosing to work with the highest expression of the card. So if you want to move on from a difficult past and avoid getting stuck (6 of Swords), you have to examine the lessons your experience has brought you and use it to do something differently. If you're experiencing emotional pain (3 of Swords), don't attempt to block it, just know that you can find ways to soften it.
Try to read reversals with a few different cards and see what you come up with. If some cards seem elusive or more difficult to grasp, study them in more depth until you can pick out the essential meaning.