Reversed Cards As Psychological Cues

I know I’m repeating myself here, but I draw few psychological inferences (not none, but certainly not many) from my tarot readings. I’m an “action-and-event” kind of guy, and would rather explore what could potentially happen in a situation and not what someone else “thinks or feels” might happen, since (putting it kindly) they may be one or two steps removed from reality in the matter. In my experience, character analysis, psychological profiling and other subjective “disambiguation” with the cards come perilously close to mind-reading, and they are not tarot’s strong suit; for that I much prefer the Sun/Moon/Ascendant/ personal planet combination of natal astrology.

But during a recent discussion about reversed cards in one of the Facebook groups, I hit upon the subversive notion that reversals may actually show where the true psychological “gold” or “hidden treasure” lies in a personal reading; everything else just indicates outward appearance or posturing, the side of the personality that the individual willingly reveals to the world. I know that there are as many opinions about reversed cards as there are tarot readers (you know what opinions are like, and “everybody has one”), but I think this concept has some merit even though it seems more Freudian than Jungian. Reversed cards are viewed by many as negative, but I wouldn’t assume they automatically imply psychopathology (although the Moon reversed might be a candidate when it doesn’t simply mean peculiar thought-patterns), just the inner workings of the mind.

One of the accepted interpretations for reversed cards is that they act internally or subconsciously on the querent, and that is the “jumping-off place” for my hypothesis that, if we really want to know what’s going on in the subject’s head, we should look to any reversed cards in a layout. These suggest subtle energies that individuals may have difficulty recognizing, processing and integrating into their personae, something which may be “hanging out” in revealing ways when put under the “taroscope,” but also something of which they may not be fully aware. Bringing them to the sitter’s attention can evoke the “Aha!” response when they realize there is more to their malaise than just emotional dyspepsia or Seasonal Affective Disorder (what we here in snowy New England call “cabin fever”). Disconnected impulses and urges can “fly under the radar” when the pertinent cards are reversed, impinging upon the querent’s psyche in ways that can wreak havoc on any kind of rational grasp of the circumstances, and it is the reader’s job to weave them  into the overall narrative.

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