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  • Writer's pictureWren McMurdo Brignac

How to Interpret Reversed Tarot Cards

What do reversed Tarot cards mean?

Many of us struggle with reading reversed Tarot cards—those that pop out or reveal themselves in a reversed manner. Upon landing this way, their images tend to at first appear to be people hanging instead of standing, which can be subtly disempowering.

Negativity bias and reversed Tarot cards

Readings get murky when cards point in this “opposite” direction, which the mind can spin into new possible interpretations. And because of negativity bias (which is the human psyche’s tendency to be impacted by negativity more than positivity), we automatically see possible negatives in anything confusing.

Seeing possible negative outcomes isn’t inherently negative. In fact, it can be helpful in a Tarot card reading. This is when the cards can offer space to process and move through uncomfortable thoughts, much like a yoga session offers space for the body to do the same.

Reading Constructively

With that being said, there are positive, empowering options for reading Tarot cards, and their interpretation ultimately lies with the reader’s preference. Personally, I read reversed cards using any of the methods I’m about to describe.

1) “Potential not yet reached.”

An old friend of mine and my original Tarot teacher once suggested that reversed cards indicate that which may come to pass with more encouragement. I love this method very much and use it when using rectangular cards.

2) Resistance

Much like the “potential not yet reached” method, instead of seeing impending doom, a reversed card could reveal tension. Resistance is going against the flow of the Universe. This method addresses opposition without spinning the reading in a negative way.

Dark Days Tarot + Friendly Oracle by Steph Parrish

3) The direction south

When I read with square cards, as with Dark Days Tarot and Mother Tarot, I read the cards with the help of the seasons, directions, and lunar phases.

When using the Mother Tarot, I associate the cards’ directions with compass directions and the seasonal calendar. When I use the Dark Days Tarot, the quarterly lunar phases.

When I read the Mother Tarot, upright cards point north and indicate winter, and upside-down cards point south and indicate summer. If the top of the card is on the right-hand side, the card is pointing east and indicates spring, and the opposite indicates west and the season of fall. You may choose to see these associations differently.

4) The full moon

When I read the Dark Days Tarot, I see the direction north as the new moon, the direction east as the waxing moon, the southern direction as the full moon, and the western direction as the waning moon. Again, you may choose to see these associations differently.

For example, if I pull a Seven of Swords and the card is upside down, I might say that this card’s meaning is at peak intensity, which to me aligns with the full moon and the southern direction.

You might see a south-pointing card as indicating a new moon instead, and would associate upside-down cards with new moon energies such as restfulness and renewal.

I love working with square and other irregular decks because I often forget to pay attention to the card’s direction. The negativity of upside-down cards is removed if I don’t even see them. I apply the directions and lunar phases if I feel inspired, otherwise, I ignore the direction the cards are pointing.

5) The answer is "no".

Does a reversed card mean yes or no? Many times, we are asking a card a yes or no question. A reversed card could indicate the latter. For simplicity, let's say that upright cards can say "yes" while upside-down cards can mean no. In the case of a square deck, that no could be more of a maybe if the card lands sideways.

6) Turn the cards upright.

Some of you might feel relieved to know that many readers do not read reversed cards. They simply turn the card upright and focus on the imagery and meaning of the card. This is very much okay to do, and if you are a less confident or keep-it-simple kind of reader, go ahead and follow this method.


So, how to interpret reversed Tarot cards? It’s our choice. We can see them as any of the following:

  1. Potential not yet reached

  2. Opposition or resistance

  3. South

  4. The full moon

  5. Answer to yes or no question: "no"

  6. Meaningless

Want to play with a square, cyclical deck that can be read with the guidance of the phases of the moon? Purchase a Dark Days Tarot deck here.

Want to play with a square, cyclical deck that can be read with the guidance of the seasons and the four diretions? Purchase a Mother Tarot Deck here.

When incorporating Dark Days and Mother Tarot into your readings, try using Dark Days around the new moon of each month, and Mother Tarot at the full moon of every month.

Dark Days Tarot is designed for reflection, so it’s ideal for dark moon days. Mother Tarot is designed for inspiration, so it’s ideal for energetic full moon days.

Read this next:

Four Simple and Memorable Tarot Card Spreads

What's in My Bag? Post Tarot Reading Checklist (this applies to healers of all sorts!)

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