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Do You Have To Read Reversed Tarot Cards?

    When you start learning tarot, you soon find out there’s a thing called reversed cards. Reversed cards have another meaning. You suddenly understand there are not 78 cards in the deck, but 156! But do you really need to learn reversals?

    69% read tarot with reversed cards. As a general rule, you don’t have to read tarot with reversed card meanings. Reversed tarot cards bring balance and nuance to tarot readings, though. Some tarot readers do not need to read reversals, while others depend on them.

    Reading reversal tarot cards is a hot topic, and there are many opinions. One camp means the reading will get more nuanced and balanced with reversals, and the other that it doesn’t matter. To shed light on the question, I surveyed tarot readers from all over the world.


    A reversed tarot card is when your card is upside down in your spread. The head is pointing down. The meaning of a reversed tarot card is different from the card in its upright position.

    The reversed card can indicate blockages, give intuitive clues and cues, point to imbalances, and predict delays. There are many different ways you can interpret a reversed card; this makes it tricky. 

    How you decode a reversed card is much up to your personal preference. With time and experience, you will discover what suits you and your reading style.

    When you start learning tarot, begin with learning the upright meanings first. You implement reversals into your readings when you get the hang of it.

    The easiest way to get started with reversals is to read upright cards as external energies and reversals internal factors. 

    For example, if you get the Death card upright, it will mean that something is about to end and something new starts in your life. Maybe you will get a new job or relocate. If you get the Death card in its reversal, it will mean that the change is happening inside – perhaps a new way of thinking or a new habit is about to start.

    I have written an article on the subject if you want more information on decoding reversed tarot cards. You get a handy table with keywords and much more. You find a link below the picture. 

    A reversed tarot card is on its head, upside down.


    According to a survey I did in a tarot community on Facebook, Tarot Tarot Tarot, 69% of tarot readers use reversed cards all the time or sometimes.

    The result correlates with my experience as well. With this said, 31% said they didn’t read reversals. The result shows that it’s common to read tarot with or without reversals. There’s no right or wrong in tarot as there are no “rules.” All readers read the cards according to their style and vibe.

    You find the result from the poll in the picture and table below.



    A great benefit of reading reversal tarot cards is the depth and nuance it brings a reading. The reversed tarot cards add a layer of information to the reading you might miss if you only read with upright cards.

    There are different ways to decode a reversed tarot card. With experience, you will be able to adapt the method you use. Let your intuition be your guide. A reversal might be a big blaring answer if the reading is about finding a blockage. If you’re reading is about internal struggles, the same applies. 

    Reversals have their place in tarot, but it’s not the end all be all. As your intuition is the key to an accurate reading, reversals might not be necessary. It all depends on your style and vibe. 

    Never feel pressured to read with reversals because people say it’s the “right” way to do things. The truth is there are no right or wrong ways of reading the tarot.


    Even if reversed tarot cards bring depth and nuance to readings, there are some cons to consider. If you are a beginner, reading reversals might get you stuck, and you lose the momentum you need for your intuition to work at its best. 

    If you have to stop and overthink, you lose essential information stuck in your subconscious mind. Therefore, I recommend reading reversals when you feel confident about the upright tarot card meanings. 

    There are other traps you can fall into when reading reversal cards. If you are prone to think of reversals as cards of doom and negativity (or at least the negative aspect of a card), it’s easy to upscale the importance of the cards.

    We tend to focus more on cards with “bad omens” than the ones with good. When the Tower shows, we often jump to conclusions that something terrible will happen, even if it is accompanied by the Sun. It might just be that a drastic change is coming that will turn your world upside down – but for good. Not necessarily the bad. 

    Some look down on readers that don’t read with reversals as they are lesser readers. That is so far from the truth. Depending on your level of intuition and psychic abilities, you might not need to use reversals. That is often forgotten in the debate.

    It’s easy to focus on reversed cards as they have “negative” connotations. The eye instantly moves to the Tower – it’s easy to “miss” the positive message from the Sun.


    A majority of readers implement reversal cards in their reading. 69% stated they use reversals all the time, or sometimes.

    Reading with reversed tarot cards brings depth to tarot readings. With that said, there are occasions when reversals don’t make a difference. If you are highly intuitive or psychic, you might not need to read reversals to get the message you need to hear. 

    The same goes for beginners. If reading reveals, stop your flow reversals stay away from them until you have the upright card meanings down. Your readings will be more accurate with a flow than if you stop and overthink things. I promise! 

    Never judge anyone for reading without reversals; some just don’t need information from reversed cards. They get the message by other visual or psychic cues.

    Sandra Törnroth

    Intuitive multi-modal tarot reader with a love for crystals and everything esoteric


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