5 Simple Steps to Read Tarot with Confidence

How to Interpret Reversed Tarot Cards Without the Doom and Gloom

By September 15, 2016Tarot Basics


A few years ago, I was sitting at a table with some of the best Tarot readers in Australia. We were chatting casually about the Tarot and how we love to connect with the cards.

But then the topic of reversed Tarot cards came up and the mood changed completely.

“What? You read with reversals?! Why on earth would you want to do that?”

“Ugh, I never read with reversals. They’re so negative.”

“Reversals – no thanks. I don’t need all that depressing energy in my Tarot readings.”

The whole table of Tarot readers were dead set against using reversed Tarot cards in their readings.

Except me.

You see, I LOVE reversed Tarot cards. They bring an extra layer of depth and insight to my Tarot readings that I can’t get from upright cards.

But, I also understand why these Tarot readers were avoiding reversals like the plague.

Look up a reversed Tarot card meaning in a Tarot book and you’ll often find words like “betrayal”, “deception”, “treachery”, and “manipulation”. Not exactly the kind of vibe you want to give your Tarot readings, right?

So why do I LOVE reversed Tarot cards when many Tarot readers do not?

Because the way I read with reversals is very different to how many other Tarot readers read reversals.

In this blog post, I’m going to show you how to interpret reversed Tarot cards, without the doom and gloom.

If you’ve avoided reversed Tarot cards in the past, today’s the day to breathe new life into reversals and use them in positive and empowering ways in your Tarot readings.

Why Read With Reversed Tarot Cards?

If you’re a Tarot beginner, you might be wondering why on earth you would want to read with reversed Tarot cards and double the amount of information you need to learn to become a good Tarot reader.

I get it – I totally do.

But here’s the thing. You don’t have to learn another 78 Tarot card meanings to master reversed Tarot cards.

You only need to learn the methods that will help you take the upright energy of the card and apply it to the reversed energy of the card. Simple as that. (And I’ll show you how in this post.)

And once you master those few methods for interpreting reversed Tarot cards, here’s what’s possible for you…

You can double your insight and expand your understanding of what the Tarot cards mean for you in a reading.

You can see the light and shade of a situation and identify where to release any blocks.

You can delve into what’s happening within you versus what’s happening around you – perfect for knowing where to make the most impactful changes.

And you can even get a simple Yes or No in your Tarot readings.

Do you have to read with reversed to be a good Tarot reader?


However, reading with reversed Tarot cards opens up a whole new layer to your Tarot readings and provides the opportunity to go even deeper with your intuitive insights.

Let me show you how.

4 of My Favourite Ways to Interpret Reversed Tarot Cards

Here are 4 of my all-time favourite methods for interpreting reversed Tarot cards.

how to interpret reversed tarot card meaningsI’ve chosen these methods because…

  • They offer a balanced perspective – not all ‘doom and gloom’ but not all sugary-sweet either.
  • They serve to empower the client.
  • They are simple to learn and apply in your readings.
  • They work!

These are the exact same methods I use in my personal and professional Tarot readings, and that I teach to my students in my Tarot training courses.

Method #1: Internalised Energy

At the heart of it, Tarot cards are energy.

Each and every card is an expression of energy in its many different formats.

For example, the Empress is an expression of abundance, fertility and the mother energy. When we encounter the Empress in our everyday lives, we might experience her energy as nurturing and taking care of others or successfully bringing a new project to life.

An upright Tarot card represents ‘externally expressed energy’. That is, the energy of that Tarot card is expressed outwardly into the world and is experienced in your external environment and in your relationships with people and situations.

On the other hand, reversed Tarot cards are internally expressed energy. That is, energy that is held within ourselves or that is more private or even secretive.

For example, the upright Empress may represent taking care of others, whereas the reversed Empress may represent taking care of yourself.

To simplify the method, take the upright meaning of the Tarot card, and then add “self” or “private” to the interpretation.

What I love most about this technique is that there is no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ message here (unlike the traditional reversed card meanings which focus on the opposite of the upright card meaning). It’s simply where the energy is being felt.

This technique can also show where changes need to be made or where action needs to be taken. If your Tarot reading is mostly upright cards, then you know you’re dealing with external situations and your relationships with others. If your Tarot reading is mostly reversed cards, then you know you’re dealing with yourself and any required actions or changes need to happen within you first.

Method #2: Too Much or Too Little Energy

Reversed Tarot cards can often point to an imbalance in energy. That is, there is too much or too little of the energy.

queen_wandsTake the Queen of Wands, for example. Upright, she represents a confident person who enjoys social situations. However, what does this look like when there is too much or too little of this energy?

Perhaps she is over-confident and domineering, especially in social settings (too much of the Queen of Wands energy). Or perhaps she is a wall-flower or a ‘shrinking violet’ when in a room with others (too little of the Queen of Wands energy).

When I’m reading the cards in this way for a client, I’ll often pose it as a question. For example, “What role does confidence in social settings play for you? Do you feel over-confident, or are you lacking confidence?”

And, I’ll often add, “How can you make confidence in social settings work for you?” That is, how can you bring this energy back into balance and alignment? (Super empowering, right?!)

Method #3: Blocked Energy

This method is similar to the ‘too much or too little’ energy, with a slight difference.

Energy can often appear in our lives, but it gets blocked or isn’t being expressed in the most constructive way possible.

For example, the reversed Temperance card may indicate that you are seeking out moderation and harmony in your life but right now, there’s a blockage to fully experiencing that energy in a positive way.

Ask, “What’s getting in the way of you achieving moderation and harmony?” That is, identify what is blocking the energy.

Then, ask, “How can you release any blockages associated with moderation and harmony?” Perhaps you need to reconnect with the mantra, “Everything in moderation”. Perhaps you need to pick your battles to create more harmony. Perhaps you need to let go of the expectation that there will always be perfect harmony in all things.

To find the answers to these questions, you may simply have an open dialogue, or you may pose these questions to the Tarot to see what comes up.

Method #4: Upside-Down Imagery

I love working with the pictures in the Tarot cards, especially when I want to connect more intuitively with the situation.

If a Tarot card appears in the reversed position, look at the imagery of that upside-down card and see what comes to you intuitively.

For example, in the Ten of Swords reversed, it appears as if the swords are falling out of the man’s back. Perhaps the pain that has been inflicted in the past is now finally being released and the client can move forward into a new cycle (especially since this is a Ten – the end of a cycle).

Or in the reversed Page of Pentacles, the coin looks as if it might slip out of the man’s hands. His grip is not very tight and he doesn’t seem to be concentrating. Perhaps it is a sign that without the necessary discipline and focus, money is just slipping out of your hands.

This is a particularly powerful technique for interpreting reversed Tarot cards, especially if you’re a visual person. The images often create an instant link between your conscious and unconscious mind, helping you to connect with your intuition.

So there you have it – 4 of my favourite methods for interpreting reversed Tarot cards.

If you want to truly master the reversed Tarot cards and learn not just 4, but all 8 methods, then you’ll love my online Tarot training program, Master the Tarot Card Meanings.

In my signature program, I’ll show you how to interpret upright and reversed Tarot cards from the heart, not just the book. And I’ll teach you the ‘must know’ systems that sit behind the Tarot cards that make learning Tarot super easy. By the end of the program, you’ll have what it takes to become a confident and intuitive Tarot reader who everyone raves about!


How Do You Know Which Method to Use?

Now, with so many different ways to interpret a reversed Tarot card, you’re probably scratching your head and wondering, “How on earth am I going to know which method to use and when?!”

Well, that’s why it takes years and years of practice to become a good Tarot reader! Nonetheless, here are a few tips to help you know which method to use:

Mentally agree to use one method only

Tell the Universe prior to a reading how you are choosing to read reversals. For example, “I am going to interpret all reversals in this reading as blockages.”

This way, the Universe will present your message to you through the most relevant cards, given that you are interpreting them in a certain way.

Go with your gut instinct

Sometimes you just ‘know’ what the card refers to. Your intuition may be guiding you towards a specific interpretation, or you may be drawn to a combination of interpretations as listed above.

Look at the other cards in the reading

Look for themes across the different cards in the spread you are using. For example, the Four of Cups reversed combined with the Hermit may suggest that your client is spending too much time alone and shut off from the world around them. On the other hand, the Four of Cups reversed combined with the Nine of Cups reversed may indicate that your client has lost their connection with their inner selves and exterior opportunities are also unfulfilling.

Draw on Your Personal Experience

three_cups_rxSometimes, it really does just come down to experience. For example, I know now that whenever I see the Three of Cups reversed in a relationship reading, nine times out of ten it indicates that there is a third person involved and it is usually the client who is that third person.

To help you build your own experience, seek feedback from your clients to understand how the cards are playing out in their lives. Do this not only during or directly after the reading, but also a few weeks or months later. Find out how a particular card came to life for you or your client and understand what it looked and felt like.

How to Start Reading with Reversed Tarot Cards

Now that you have 4 simple yet powerful methods for interpreting reversed Tarot cards, let’s get you reading with reversals straight away!

First, you need to decide if you are laying out the Tarot cards to face you or your client.

There’s no ‘right’ answer – simply choose what feels right for you. But, make sure you decide before you start to lay out those cards so you know what’s upright and what’s reversed.

My preference? I like to read the cards facing me and then I’ll show the client the cards as I talk about them.

Next, you need to get some reversed cards into your Tarot deck.

My favourite method is to cut the deck into three piles. Turn one pile from top to toe, 180 degrees, so that those upright cards will become reversed cards, and vice versa. Then put all the piles back together and shuffle. Then do the reading.

Or you might prefer to do a ‘messy pile’ shuffle by spreading the cards out on a table haphazardly and moving them all around before picking them back up into a neat pile.

Or something else! Again, there is no ‘right’ way of shuffling. Choose what feels best to you.

Now you’re ready to rock ‘n roll with reversed cards in your reading.

And if you want to take your Tarot readings to a deeper, more profound level, check out my online Tarot training program, Master the Tarot Card Meanings here.


Over to You

How do you like to read with reversed Tarot cards? Share your methods and comments below.

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  • Siobhan says:

    Thanks very much for this. I use tarot to gain positivity and insight in my life, so reversals which add to the likelihood of a negative are quite difficult for me. I have so far been using upright cards only; however I do see all meanings to be possible and rely on instinctively relating the card to my situation. So for instance I could take the two of pentacles as meaning I had balance or that I needed to gain some balance in my life (a very simple example). Mostly this works very well as I read only for myself and know the situation well. However, I do realise that it would be harder when reading for others. Also there are times when I am unsure which way to go in a reading – do I have this quality, do I need it, will I get it, should I have it etc. So I have begun to wonder if I need to deal with reversed cards which would at the very least hint strongly on which way to go. You are so right about what you say in your opening to this article. It is words like deceit etc that I find off putting and alarming. Therefore I find it most helpful to be given a range of options on reading reversed cards and to know that I can choose as appropriate at the time – or even before I start. This way reversals are a nudge to me to do some extra thinking around the issue and work out what the card is saying in a constructive way. This is not scary, but empowering. So thanks very much! I’ve seen articles stating one or the other ways to read reversals but not suggesting all/any which are appropriate. This makes much more sense. And yes I can see why experience is key. I love your suggestions. I Will be taking them on board. Again many thanks.

    • Hi Siobhan,
      Thanks for your comments. I’m glad to hear the blog post is helping your Tarot readings! Plus, reversals can offer so much new depth and complexity to a reading and they don’t have to be scary but as you say empowering!

  • Amy says:

    I realyy enjoyed your post and feel that is important information to have when starting out.

    For four years I have been laying out my deck of tarot cars and have seen a pattern in the cards..

    Thank you for the advice!


  • Michael says:

    Very good description

  • krys says:

    I have a question, I was looking at this website for information .. i dreamt of a tarot card, there was a devil on it and it was upside down… I don’t know much about tarot cards, could anyone tell me the meaning of this card?

  • Dana says:

    Do you feel as though when asking a yes/no question that along with the way the card faces (upright or reversed) there is also meaning in what card is turned up?

    • Hi Dana,
      Absolutely! It is very helpful to interpret the card that has been drawn for the yes/no question both in terms of whether it is upright (yes) or reversed (no), and what its divinatory meaning is. This will give the Tarot reading a lot more depth!
      Thanks, Biddy

  • Davey Lettermen says:

    Hi Biddy! I have been using Tarot cards as my own basis for my Yes or my No. Since I was quite using it for quite a while, my friends have noticed and eventually said I should stop it because it is not for real. What should I do?

    • Hi Davey,
      The Tarot is a wonderful tool, particularly for spiritual guidance. Each card holds a message that can be important for our lives. So whether you believe it to be a divination tool or simply a spiritual guidance tool, it doesn’t matter! You will be able to benefit from the messages of the cards.

  • Aphrodisiastes says:

    Biddy, honey

    You rock! 😉 I loved it! Thanks a lot.


    )O( Aphrodisiastes )O(

  • Teri says:

    Biddy thank you for the insight into reversals. I’m relatively new to tarot and when I get a reversal I can feel myself tense up. But employing the methods you described above will help me to relax when a reversals pops up.

    Bright Blessings

  • rob says:

    hi, im not really into any of this but i remember as a kids my brother and i had our card read but a baby sitter. Our cards came out exactly the same except mine were all upside down. We watched the girl shuffle the cards and it seemed she was pretty shocked herself.
    Its bugged me throughout my life as my brother developed into a succsessful and happy person but i always struggled and had problems. Is it just coincidence or am i destined to follow the same route.

  • rob says:

    ps…a few years later..aged 13 or so i found a pack in my friends room, opened them up, ave them a shuffle and layed them out. first 2 were upside down skeletons and the third was a devil….how about that for freaking out a kid 🙁

  • Ilham says:

    i know i tend to avoid using reversed cards because it seems pretty hard. now i’m fired up to try again. maybe i could start a tarot journal too. (yes! a good reason to start a new blog. lol)

  • Elba says:

    Biddy you have such a generous spirit!, I KNOW the universe is taking notice. I wanted to add that when I started doing readings I asked the universe for upright cards, I feel the tarot is so rich that a blocked energy can be shown easily through other cards, the amazing thing is that I NEVER get reversed cards!. That’s why I know there is a higher consciousness behind the answers we get from the tarot!. Thanks again.

  • Amit says:

    Biddy!!! What a fantastic concise, clear and beautiful way of explaining the reversals, I really loved the ease of language with perfect explanations, Tarot is not an easy topic but thanks to you and your fantastic knowledge with a considerate attitude that all your posts and this one puts the budding learners at ease. Thanks a ton!!!! for all the valuable information and methods of explanation.
    Wish to meet you someday. Any plans of coming to India and holding workshops here?

    • Amit, thanks for your positive comments. I’m so glad I could help! Hmm, I might be able to Skype to India?? Or webinar?

      • Cynthia says:

        A webinar would be great……I did a reading this morning using the Celtic Cross spread. This person had five reversed cards. It appears they are depressed with financial and romance issues. There was hope by the end of the reading as the last four cards were upright and leaned towards happier times. I did stress to the individual that they need to have a more positive outlook and grasp their situation realistically.

        • Brigit says:

          If you’re finding it hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel with so many reversals, focus on the lessons that can be learned by returning to the previous cards. Much more empowering!

  • Amit says:

    Oh! Really, Plz give your skype id or if you don’t want to make it publicly here kindly add Amit Raissoni in Skype… would be glad to talk to you. I am really very happy, delighted and can’t explain in words how benefitting your post is not just for me but all the Tarot enthusiasts in the world. You are our High Priestess. Thanks for everything & the replies to every query.

  • Joanna says:

    Biddy, this write up is a god-send. I am new to tarot reading and still practicing. My headache are the court cards and yes, the reverse cards. Your write up has given me so much confidence. Thank you.

  • Mariah says:

    Hi Biddy;

    I’ve been reading through your site and am always looking to learn more about reversals because of their trickiness. Your articles and interpretations and quite informative and helpful. I have a question, though. Why is it there are no interpretations for reversed court cards?

    Thank you in advance for any advice you may provide.


  • Michael says:


    I have a question: if you are conducting a reading for a querent, which way is a card considered reversed: when it is reversed facing the tarot reader or reversed facing the querent?



  • Dante says:

    Hi Brigit,

    I never use reversed cards but in my last tarot reading as a result of a relationship came up the Wheel of Fortune reversed. I didn’t mean to use reversed cards, but it appeared like this because maybe last time I take out the cards I didn’t put them in order correctly and looked past to put this one upright. I turned the wheel of fortune around and read it as if it was an upright card. However, now I think about it and I don’t know if I did well. Maybe should I have considered its reversed meaning instead?
    I’m kind of worried, because it’s very different to have as an outcome the Wheel of Fortune reversed or upright in a reading about a relationship.

    Thank you.

    • Brigit says:

      The best thing to do is set your intention before you start the reading – are you going to read reversals or will you turn them upright if they show up reversed? Then stick to it.

      I think what’s also interesting is that it was the Wheel of Fortune that came up reversed and left you feeling confused. This is a card of fate and destiny, and perhaps it’s a reflection of the choice about whether to hand things over to fate and destiny, or whether to gain some personal control of your circumstances. You might like to play with that idea – is there something else determining my path, or is it me?

  • Richa says:

    I want to know usually the tarot deck is arranged in upright manner.After every reading i always stack them in proper way.According to me chances to have reversed card is rare to happen for me or fr my client.How reversal is possible who keep their tarot card in proper way

    • Brigit says:

      Richa, if you want to use reversed cards, you’ll need to turn some of your deck around as you shuffle. Or, if you prefer just upright, then stick with what you’re doing.

  • Jamie says:

    I have started reading not to long ago. I honestly read better with out cards. I have started to use cards to see if they help me at all if that makes any sense. Even when I start reading someone I tend to put the book down and go with what I feel. My question is when I I lay my cards down I don’t have them facing one way or another, I tried it just doesn’t work for me. When a reversed card comes up is it a card that is reversed from my client or me? I think because I am reading the client and they are their cards that anything that faces me would be reversed towards them?

    • Brigit says:

      That’s beautiful, Jamie. It sounds like you’re using the Tarot to draw on your psychic abilities even more fully. I find it best to set an intention first about which way the cards will face. Personally, I read them as if they are facing me, as the reader. Then if the client wants to see them, I show them, upside-down or the right way up. Hope this helps!

  • Janet says:

    Hello! Thank you for the helpful hints about reversed cards. I’ve always done upright cards and now I’m starting to use reversed cards in my readings. My confusion lies in the initial reversal of the cards, especially if I’m asking a question where I may have some attachment to the answer. How many cards do you reverse? At what stage in the shuffling? After each reading, do you turn them back around? I’m trying to keep my own energy out of the reading as much as possible but struggle with reversals because of this. Any advice would be welcome. Thanks!

  • Karen says:

    I love the idea of interpreting the cards as a source of energy (blocked, or otherwise). What about interpreting Reversals as a form of delay. If we consider that most cards form a progression of some sort (beginnings, stability, advancement, stalling again, conflict, etc) then I would consider some of these cards to be a message of delay. For example if I see Strength reversed, then I would certainly interpret that as the Querent ignoring or supressing their own innate strengths ( so – yes an energy application). But if I see, say the 9 of cups reversed, then I would be likely to think that their dreams and wishes are “just around the corner” but there is a delay in the natural progression. Perhaps they are too caught up in the previous card (8 of cups) or are not ready to embrace the next phase of accepting their goals being realised. Likewise if I see the Three of Wands, I would consider that a group effort in a business that is being stalled (sort of like you are saying, blocked) but with the idea that the Querent can change this energy and move beyond the delay. What do you think, Brigit?

  • Aasheesh says:

    Nice post Brigit. I really liked the visual approach. But is Reversal essential for a complete reading ?

  • Elton Cannon says:

    I really like the way you interpret the cards Bridgit. I used to read them but didn’t have the confidence to do readings for other people. Now I’ve decided to comeback to this and I find someone who tells you to use your intuition and not to fear reversed cards. Never seen it taught that way before but I like it. Looking forward to more adventures.

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