The Tower – REVERSED


Reversals are kind of interesting. My first question is reversed compared to what? If intuition pulls from outside of normal time-space (which seems to be why distance Tarot is so effective) then why on Earth would we be tie ourselves to a cards 2 dimensional orientation on a tabletop? As a practical matter, however, no matter how careful you are, short of sorting through the entire deck before each and every reading, just as a product of normal use cards will turn over with some facing one way and others the opposite. Fine, no big.

Anyone can create any card layout they want, the key is having a firm decision in mind from the start about what each card position means. The same has proven true for reversals. Having a firm plan in mind before you reveal the cards is more important than what the plan is.

My system for reversals is pretty straightforward. First, define what reversed means. I sit across the table when I give a reading, so cards that are upside down to me are the only ones that look right side up to the sitter. I choose to define a reversal as any card upside down relative to the person giving the reading.

Next, what impact, if any, does a reversal on the reading?

As a general rule, I don’t put a lot of stock in reversals. It doesn’t mean an automatic change in the meaning of the card to something dark or opposite of its usual meaning. I like to take all of those connotations and nuances of a card into consideration, no matter how it turns over on the table. I like to consider all the card has to offer, the good, the bad, and the upside down.

By the same token, reversals aren’t entirely meaningless. They are just coincidence, but they are sychronistic ones sometimes. If a card turns up as reversed, I take it under consideration. That consideration comes in the form of pure, unadulterated intuition. If it feels significant, that could mean that there is stagnant or slowed energy around that particular issue or message. The sitter may be feeling frustrated, blocked or even in denial of that particular point or issue. To me, the card feels “warm” (not literally, just makes more of a mental impression or feels like it carries a little more energy). Sometimes, a reversed card feels ‘cooler’…it feels obvious that the card being oriented that way is just dumb luck, and carries no extra meaning at all. When that happens, I just turn the card upright and keep going as if the reversal never happened.

For example, today’s card is the Tower.

Its classic meaning is chaos, something sudden and unexpected. So does a reversed Tower card relate to something orderly and entirely expected? It could happen. But orderly and expected stuff seldom makes a person want a Tarot reading for guidance. It does feel significant to me, in fact, it made me giggle a little because all that came to mind in the beginning was “slow motion train wreck” and Carl Weezer on the old Jimmy Neutron cartoon trying to trick his teacher into allowing him to leave class using some kind of quadruple negative sentence “May I please not never be disexcused…

But again, slow motion train wreck are probably the least damaging and the easiest to avoid….like the comedy meme where someone is in a panic about a steam roller that is moving so slowly they could run circles around it. Not the kind of thing that sends us running screaming to Tarot.

This time the hint is less in the traditional card meaning itself than in the feelings and images  I call that a daisychain of intuition. Sometimes the card and its classic meaning carry the message. Sometimes the card evokes mental images, words, sounds, feelings that in turn carry the message. That is the case here. The reversal is significant, but not as an exact flip-flop of the cards meaning. The hint is in the humor it evokes, like Carl’s silly sentence or the person screaming at a slow moving steam roller.

Put all those little bits together: chaos, sudden change….reverse….laughter, humor…..

I take that as a stop worrying message. Fast or slow, change and chaos can be hard. The message is softer, not as dire as the change seen in the Death card. The lightning on the card makes me wonder if that worry has a touch of ‘post traumatic’ quality about it. A sort of a ‘bracing for the worst, it’s happened before’ kind of worry. The reversal makes this feel more like a “wait up….slow walk that panic a little” sort of message. Functionally, it is a message of reassurance from one of the more dire looking cards, but not quite a direct opposite of the card’s meaning.

Tarot is complex and nuanced sometimes, which makes it all the more useful and beautiful in my opinion. Turning a tower upside down is sometimes a good thing.