Wrestling with Reversals

So, hopefully the title won't make you groan as harshly as I have at the concept of reversals. For my first deck, I pretty quickly ruled out using reversals, as the cards had oriented backs and I was still learning my way around the minor arcana. But all of that started changing when I found my current deck, and it came to a head yesterday.

This current deck has mirrored backs, and while the guide book said that the author/creator created the deck with reversals in mind, she also said they weren't required, so I figured I'd just be on my way as usual. But the cards themselves are very slick, and seem to want to spin around. Also, when I was doing daily draws, I would often lose track of which way the deck was pointing, and would sometimes pull the card upside-down. For a while, I just shook my head and said "oh, I'm sure it doesn't matter."

But then yesterday, while I was having a recharge day off at home, the deck seemed to decide to force the issue. I tried doing a few spreads for myself, to add pictures and examples to the etsy store I just opened, and the spreads were coming out oddly negative. I was asking questions like "what does my spiritual self look like" or "what is my current spiritual challenge" and the 3 of swords came up twice in a row, despite me being in a pretty happy place right now. It just didn't make sense. But for whatever reason, the idea of using reversals floated out into my mind. So I asked my deck if I should try them, and it gave me the King of Cups, a card I feel especially close to because it features an Octopus, and I took it as a resounding "yes! They will expand your understanding and love of the cards."

For the rest of the day (as well as this morning) I kept feeling like the cards were still coming up negative, but were at least moving in a better direction. I eventually got the sense that my frustrations with adding reversals felt like starting over was most likely causing the negativity, but it took me a while to get there. What felt like the deciding factor was when I tried to go back, and refaced all of my cards to one direction.

While I was shuffling, the 4 of Wands slipped out, seeming to say "you're back in your comfort zone," so I decided to draw a couple more cards to see where it was going. The next two were the 4 of Cups (also featuring an Octopus) and the 10 of Wands. "You're rejecting inspiration/growth from an outside source, and you need to keep going despite feeling overwhelmed — see this through to the end." While this deck has felt extremely clear to me, this was the first time it seemed to feel disappointed. Like it was saying "don't stop now." I even pulled one more card, asking "is this about the reversals?" and it gave me the 2 of Swords — an ostrich with it's head in the sand. It was making fun of me now!

So I re-reversed and dealt out again: The Lovers, Temperance, Reversed Ace of Wands. "You're hearing/feeling the call, and it's upending what you thought you knew. The way ahead is to embrace duality, open yourself to both paths, otherwise, you'll be snuffing out your potential." Like, it felt like it knew what was happening, like I was about to give up before I fully understood what I was doing.

Today, this morning, I've felt so frustrated. Like I thought I was getting a hold on Tarot, I thought I was ready to face the world, but now I'm back on square one (not actually, but that's how I felt.) Every time I've asked my deck "how are you today?" or "how are you doing?" it's spat out a reversed 3 of Swords to me. It knows I'm frustrated, it knows I'm struggling. The last two spreads have been better — feeling like the reversals are actually adding meaning to things rather than just twisting or distorting them. One was an unblocking spread that showed how I felt like I was starting over and failing all at once, but that the key would be to rest, and let this new information settle. The other was a Celtic Cross, which felt like the gentlest of my reversal readings so far. It showed that despite how I felt like I was struggling, I'm on the right track. I'm answering the call (The Lovers showed up again) and that this is truly the path to growing into a better Tarot reader (thanks to the 9 of Cups.) It even provided a way forward, showing me the Queen of Wands, implying that I was afraid of my magical side, and gave me the Knight of Swords as a final outcome. "Go forth with clarity of vision, and you'll conquer the troubles before you."

My deck still seems a bit sensitive around the topic (or maybe that's my freshly stinging enlightenment) but it's also encouraging me that it's here to help, and that I need to rest and focus on myself and my own development. Despite this feeling like a bit of an argument or spat, I'm thankful for the deck I'm working with (Otherkin Tarot by Siolo Thompson) and that it seems to want me to be the best version of myself that I can.

Thank you for anyone who read through this rambling/venting adventure. And how about you? What is your take on reversals, and has anyone else felt something like this, with a deck pushing you into them?

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Kerrie Mercel

Currently Kerrie Mercel, inspirational speaker, author & facilitator for the health and wellness industry. Kerrie enjoys working with professional business women helping them to find the power to live life on their terms.

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