Friday 19 October 2012

Caitlín Matthews | Reversals Part 2

How do you gauge which level of reversal to apply to a reading? This may be clearly visible from within the context and from being with the querent you are reading for.

EXAMPLE 1: Here is a three card reading for a man asking about his tour company which has been very hard hit in the recession: he wants to know what he’s doing wrong. He draws Queen of Bows reversed, 15 Death reversed, Six of Arrows. He feel’s he’s been too generous in his ideas which are now working against him. He’s not been taking up the challenge of recession and now he’s stuck in a stagnating business rut. We see that the man is his own worst enemy but that he’s aware of the problem: the reversals are on the gauge of between abating and restrained. He’s seen the writing on the wall and has been hitting the blockages enough to know it’s time to more on. The 6 of Arrows says ‘move away from here.’

EXAMPLE 2 Here’s a more serious question for a woman whose health is not good but who wants to travel, perhaps one last trip before it’s too late. She asks ‘What is important to focus on in preparing for this trip?’

16 Blasted Oak, 3 Stones reversed, 7 Vessels reversed

Blasted Oak is reminding her that recent trauma has left her shaken and that she will need to bear this in mind in her planning. Doing things slowly and at her own pace rather than running at things is best. The 3 Stones reversed I immediately feel is in transferred mode, from just being with her. She seems to be drawing upon old sources of creative nourishment until they’ve been drunken dry. I suggest that she might look at other alternative sources that will feed her: to consider some new locations on her trip that will give her fresh wells of wisdom and nurture, or to consider a heart’s desire that she’s up till now been ignoring. Here reversed 7 Vessels is showing its obverse – instead of following her illusions or memories, this woman is waking up to what is clear and desirable for her, and I take this as a good sign of her desire to change, which will in turn affect her health in a good way. She could be looking at making a travel list, ensuring that details of transfers work for her slowed-down body and that fatigue is fended off by good planning. I know that such clarity is often experienced by people who are facing death. Aloud, I encourage clear focus upon what she needs and wants now, rather than making decisions based on how things have been. She needs the blessing of this trip which for her is like a pilgrimage, I suspect.

EXAMPLE 3. This young woman artist has an original project she is taking into an agency. We arrive at the following questions together for this.

1. What is still missing from this project? 18 Moon reversed feels in obverse mode: the entrancing artwork is perhaps not coming over as well as it might because of the presentation’s pack has an overly hard business format. The words supporting the art needs to be poetic and symbolic rather than definitions that might have come from a shopping catalogue. More magic is needed. Perhaps she can find some poems or write some?

2. What is its most important and attractive feature? 9 Bows is good and clear. The art is about reactions to environmental pollution, so some of it has an uncompromising reality conveyed within beautiful collage. This shouldn’t be blunted as it communicates respect for the environment without going into brutal realism.

3. How do I make the most of my presentation? 8 Stones reversed. This feels like a tardy reversal rather than a transferred one, because it appears to be saying ‘don’t be so modest and retiring about your skills.’ I can see that the artist has a natural feminine modesty about herself, but that she’s not occluded by self-hatred or a paranoid self-effacement. Speaking with dedication and engagement about this project will serve her best.

If you want to explore reversals in deeper ways then I warmly recommend The Complete Book of Tarot Reversals by Mary Greer.

© Caitlín Matthews, 2012


  1. Great post about reversals and how to use them. Thanks for the examples!

  2. I just started reading the tarot and this Mary Greer book is the only book I own at the moment. It is awesome. But I am really interested in buying this deck as my next one and have been reading your blog to see how I like it. I put the app. on my phone too and am enjoying that too, but of course the reversals are not there and I am very interested in reading reversals

    1. Suzanne - hope that you find these 'reverse' blog posts useful. Feel free to join in on The Wildwood Tarot Study Group on facebook. It's not set up by the deck's creators, but John does pop in from time to time to have a chat/comment. Ali Cross x