How do reversed cards work?


How do reversed cards work? Im rather new to tarot...

Does it depend on the spread? Or am I to shuffle cards so that they face both directions; face up and down? Or is a reversed card a card that is upside down?

Also, what does a card mean if it's reversed? Basically the reverse of what it originally means face up, or mabey a lack of it? Do cards that weaken eatchother still do so when reversed? Or do they loose that effect?


Generally, as I've read about it, a reversed card means that the energy of the upright card has been blocked in some way. Oh yeah, reversed is an upside down card. You have to shuffle in such a way that some are in opposite directions. The way I like to do that is to put down my deck and swirl it all over with my hands (but there are plenty of other shuffling options - you choose which works best for you). It allows me to touch more of the cards and for some to be reversed.

Most of the little white books (commonly abbreviated LWBs) have reversed meanings. I get many of my meanings from Rachel Pollack's excellent book 78 Degrees of Wisdom. She also gives good explanations for upright cards and tarot in general. There is also The Complete Book of Tarot Reversals by Mary Greer. I haven't read it but you can check it out if you're really interested in reversals beyond what the other resources can provide.


Thx that really helps. Yeah, I didn't think reading cards turned around was very pratical.

Im using a thoth deck and I just discovered that the "LWB" says not to use reversed cards and, instead use cards next to it for description. But since this is still a 78 card deck, im going to use reversed cards anyway.I think it adds more possibilities and gives the deck a chance to give more acurate/diverse readings. Thats just me though. This may be a total "no no" and someone let me know if it is, but I don't see why it would be.

Also, if the energy of a card is blocked... lets say I have a trump inbetween a sword and a pentacle. Acording to the Thoth LWB, these cards would weaken or go against eatchother. Now lets say the sword was turned upside down. Would this mean that the cards reversed effect is not weakened by the pentacle and the pentacle is not weakened by the reversed sword card?


The only problem I can see with reversing the Thoth deck is that the artwork on the back is non-reversible. In other words, you'll be able to tell when you're about to put down an upside down card. You might want to try another deck that is intended to be used with reversed cards. Check out for some really good basic info (though it's based on the Rider-Waite deck). Bunning reommends that you not start out with reversals til you get a feel for reading with the deck upright. But it's entirely up to you. Do what feels right for your readings.

As for weakening, I never really thought of anything that way (though that doesn't mean I'm right). The interaction between the cards is highly dependent on the spread you are using. Generally the meanings of the cards work along with the meaning of the card position to tell you what you need to know. The card being reversed ties into the card meaning for me. Because the card is reversed, it just means something different. I hope that made some sort of sense. It's hard to express it really. But definitely check out the tarot webcourse (link above). It's got some good basic info though no reversed meanings.


Ah I noticed that. I don't really look at my deck while i shuffle it tho, I concentrate. I do see now though that this deck really isn't meant to be used in reverse... thats ok tho. Unless looking at your deck while you shuffle/deal is of great importance.


Hi there DTH (can I call you that?)

Here is are two good (old!) threads about reversals that you might like to look at:

As you can see, there are buckets of different opinions on the forum about whether to use reversed cards in a spread, and what they will mean if you do.

If you post a thread under 'Tarot Decks', they'll probably be someone out there that knows about reverals as regards the Thoth deck (I'm a rider waite girl myself!)

Hope this helps some


Yes you can call me DTH, thats what I usually go by.

Thx for the links, I'll check them out!