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Reversed Meanings in General

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Reversed Meanings in General


Although I attached this material to another post on reversals, I wanted to start a discussion of some of the typical qualities you apply when using reversals ("delay, blockage, etc."). I spent some time scouring my memory for all the different "flavors" I could think of that can be squeezed out of the occurrence of reversed cards in a spread. Note that - although I should - I have not yet read any of the books specifically on reversals (Mary K. Greer, Joan Bunning, etc.) so any similarities are purely coincidental.

Reversal can highlight a sensitive or vulnerable period for the querent, perhaps a "tipping point" where the situation could go either way. There are countless variations on this theme. Numerous reversals in a spread may show an “undercurrent” that is working at cross-purposes to the main thrust of the reading, "for good or ill." This can also reflect a very complicated or difficult situation. However, the human spirit is usually inventive enough to work its way around almost any obstacle, even if there is no "perfect" solution.

The Significance of Reversed Cards in General

"Delay;" inconvenience; a missed connection or wrong turn; interrupted, inhibited or incomplete action (often our own fault).

"Detour" or “U-turn;” temporarily and unavoidably put off-course, rerouted or side-tracked (usually an external obstacle).

"Surprise;" expect the unexpected; something sneaking up behind you; being "blind-sided" by events; lesson learned. “Oblique" and “skewed” are similar ideas for "out-of-left-field" influences.

"Blockage," but more often a “difficult passage" than an insurmountable barrier; adversity; "hard truths."

“Avoidance,” as in literally “looking the other way;” "head in the sand;" a “Hanged Man moment,” sacrificing time and initiative; procrastination; "sitting on one's hands;" denial; "blame-shifting;" passive-aggressive behavior.

"Idling" or “marking time,” chronic backsliding; wasted effort; “stuck in neutral;” loss of focus or traction; “wheel-spinning;” an opportunity lost or at risk - missing "the point," the "boat" or the "big picture;" "the one that got away."

"Time-out," a pause to reassess the situation from a different angle ("take two steps back and one deep breath"); a chance to rethink or regroup; "buying time;" mitigation; "damage control;" "putting on the brakes."

“Passive,” casual, informal; indifferent; noncommittal; unenthusiastic; incurious; yielding; accepting; benign; slow-and-steady; monotonous; humdrum; uninspiring; giving up; letting go; "going with the flow."

"Diminishing" in its potency or significance, more inert than dynamic; mild, faint or weak; rudimentary or provisional; declining; fading; faltering; "out of gas;" slack; impractical; unripe; unlikely at this time.

“Internalized” or held in the subconscious; something that is suspected but not known for sure; speculation; a hunch or premonition; a subjective viewpoint; suppressed; withheld; withdrawn; private; reserved; aloof.

“Confused;” unclear; inconclusive; near-sighted, distracted; vague; fuzzy-headed; flaky; lost; "a sinking feeling;" clueless; opaque; unobservant; mistaken; insecure; inattentive; careless; obtuse; taken aback; wrong-headed; vulnerable to error.

“Contrary;” negative; unresponsive; uncooperative; unsympathetic; unyielding; obstructive; obstinate; reluctant; touchy; incorrigible; obsessive; closed-minded; critical; an open enemy; opposition; the "Devil you know."

“Subtle” or unobtrusive; “behind the scenes,” sometimes not uncovered until it's too late; implied; suggested; devious; misleading; underhanded; manipulative; evasive; furtive; reticent; illusory; imaginary; unique; concealed; latent; a hidden enemy; the "Devil you don't know."

"Ambivalent;" uncertain; indecisive; of two minds; fickle; on the fence; hedging; waffling; self-doubting; conflicted; two-faced; unreliable; vacillating; (esp. court cards); “the “horns of a dilemma” (no “right” answer).
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Not yet having learned the lesson.

An incompletion of some kind.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnemoneRosie View Post
Not yet having learned the lesson.

An incompletion of some kind.
Good points! I'll see if I can work those in under one of the general categories. The second one jogged my memory on something I thought of and then promptly forgot. Thanks!
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Interesting post, thanks!

The problem that I see with reversals could be something like: what keyword can I use to interpret this reversed card?

I love when we have choice, and in this matter (reversals) we have a large choice, but it can become a bit confusing as well.

Each upright card has generally a clear meaning, with a few variations sometimes according to decks but there is a framework.
With reversals the framework isn't always clear: a "delay" isn't something "unconscious" or a "surprise". Difficult to decide, even with the context sometimes! Or we need a kind of "mastery"!

For the Bonefire Tarot her creator said that her deck can be read reversal, but she doesn't necessarily encourage this; she says that it's difficult to use his or her intuition with a reversed card, because we don't see the card clearly.
In some ways I agree, actually the several possible ways to read reversal confuse me a bit, but I still don't know if I will decide to read reversal myself or not.
Well, anyway it is an interesting topic!!
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Two of my favorites from Anthony Louis:

Chronic (vs acute)
Subjective (vs objective)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by decan View Post
Interesting post, thanks!

The problem that I see with reversals could be something like: what keyword can I use to interpret this reversed card?

I love when we have choice, and in this matter (reversals) we have a large choice, but it can become a bit confusing as well.

Each upright card has generally a clear meaning, with a few variations sometimes according to decks but there is a framework.
With reversals the framework isn't always clear: a "delay" isn't something "unconscious" or a "surprise". Difficult to decide, even with the context sometimes! Or we need a kind of "mastery"!

For the Bonefire Tarot her creator said that her deck can be read reversal, but she doesn't necessarily encourage this; she says that it's difficult to use his or her intuition with a reversed card, because we don't see the card clearly.
In some ways I agree, actually the several possible ways to read reversal confuse me a bit, but I still don't know if I will decide to read reversal myself or not.
Well, anyway it is an interesting topic!!
The trick is to try to turn the usual keyword meaning on its head without just creating a mirror image; that's where I see the main subtlety in reversals. It's entirely too simplistic (at least for me) to just say what it "isn't." These days I hardly notice the image on the cards, just a flick of recognition and orientation, so the visual disparity doesn't have any hold on me.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Krystophe View Post
Two of my favorites from Anthony Louis:

Chronic (vs acute)
Subjective (vs objective)
Excellent! I have his advanced book but not the basic one, which is where I assume this came from.
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Something that needs adjusting, dealing with first.

Something your in denial about.

If all card were reversed then extreme passiveness, even if the cards were all wands.

Something your not dealing with very well.....and are maybe even trying to sweep under the carpet, and expect to go away of own accord.

Stubbornness.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barleywine View Post
Excellent! I have his advanced book but not the basic one, which is where I assume this came from.
Yes, it did come from Tarot Plain and Simple. I do need to read his other book...the title of which escapes me at the moment...
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SunChariot (Babs) has her own take on reversals. She sees them as attracting special personal attention ... applying to oneself rather than something or someone else. Inner, rather than outer, if I remember correctly! (Apologies if I've mis-remembered, Babs!)

Decades ago, I was taught (and used myself) reversals to mean, literally, 'the reverse of the card's usual meaning'. Or else the meaning ill-dignified. So the Emperor rx could indicate a lack of executive decision-making & control, or a 'bad' or tyrannical leader /boss.
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