Pretty self explanatory title there. Do I (J.J.) read reversals?
The answer is…
I know, mysterious, dodgy, etc. etc. But actually the times when I choose to read reversals/not read reversals isn’t that hard to figure out. I just go by the back of the card.
I do believe in authorial intent when it comes to Tarot, somewhat. If an author REALLY didn’t want their deck to be read with reversals they often don’t make the backs reversible. Some readers don’t believe in reversals. They think the images were made to be read in a certain way and that reversals can mess up their intuition/reading, often leading to unnecessarily negative readings.
Do I think that? Well, not really.
I think reversals can be a really interesting part of Tarot reading. I don’t like it when people get lazy about reversals, basically applying the inverse to whatever interpretation the card would normally have. Sometimes, said inverse is just a lame reading.
I did a post on the Lovers a bit ago. To read the Lovers reversed as “you’re NOT making good decisions right now” falls into the realm of kinda lame. I mean, often times upright Tarot card readings get interpreted as advice: “You need to start making choices that make your heart happy”. So reversed, the advice might read: “Maybe, at this point, it’s time to cut yourself off from something you think is making you really happy. Assess your life choices and see if any of them are destructive despite being seductive.” I could honestly see the Lovers Reversed showing up in a reading for someone who has an addiction, or someone in an abusive relationship. Maybe the card would show up for someone buying material possessions to make up for emotional bankruptcy (pay attention to Pentacles in the rest of the reading) or maybe it’s just someone who is clinging super tightly to something they should let go of (Eight of Cups would be a good companion card for this).
So in short, yes, I read reversals, but not if the card backs make it plainly obvious that the card is going to reversed. The Steampunk Tarot by Barbara Moore is specifically meant to be read without reversals. So I don’t read them. The Shadowscapes Tarot allows for reversals. So I read them there. I don’t know, it never seemed that complicated/contradictory to me. Maybe some people feel way stronger about it than I do?
/cue some rage-y comments