One of the things that Tarot can help us identify is where our strengths are working, where they may be blocked or, often with the best intentions, are being misused. This is often shown in the reversal of an element. I should stress from the start that I am not necessarily just referring to a card being upside down. Reversals of cards are not as simple as the opposite meaning of it right way up. I should also mention that I don’t always pay attention to a physical reversal, it can sometimes be more the muting of the card’s potential (a little like the two pedals on a piano, sustain and mute). This is where the “reading” of the cards is different from simply memorizing what a book says they mean. The messages of a card have a consistency but the inflection changes everything. Sometimes a reversal may be indicating a potential not yet realized or working on a more unconscious level. This can be a warning depending on what is present in the bigger picture.
When other people are described in a reading (through the court cards), I try to remember that it is not an absolute definition of the person. It is the aspects of that person in relation to the person being read. We might have a difficult conflict with someone who may or may not have those difficulties with others. This is where I always have to remember that a reading is subjective and also that the main focus has to be in identifying what the client can work with. If the other signals (both the cards as well as what I am receiving intuitively) indicate problems resting with someone else, we can only go so far in terms of identifying that other person’s stuff. We cant drink medicine and make someone else get well. A very big part of what a reading SHOULD do is show us where our own elements are on track and where they are not.
It is also often, (but not always), the case that when a quality in someone else rankles us, it can be a good opportunity to look at something in our own character that is being triggered. When someone sticks their big oar in our plans, when someone has the audacity to ask “just who do you think you are”, these are opportunities to see where our gifts or strengths might be getting the better of us. Same goes with those times when we find ourselves saying ” I try and try and I keep getting the same result”. These are the moments where we can wake up and recognize we are sometimes in that reversal ourselves. Usually something our ego thinks is terribly necessary needs to be let go of. We need to pause and see where we may be running up the down escalator.
One of the very big signs that an element is reversed is the lack of satisfaction. There is never enough. Classic examples of this are when our compassion becomes tragic martyrdom, constructiveness becomes negative competitiveness, protection becomes domineering tyranny and our values become manipulative greed. However people are rarely as simple as comic characters. What we often view as heroes or villains are usually people with mixed qualities (and motives). There are truly very few absolute “good guys” and “bad guys” out there.
Most recently the situation of Conrad Black could be easily described as King Of Pentacles reversed. This is someone who obviously has had an enormous amount of talent and charisma to have accomplished so much, but there aren’t many who have sympathy for this guy right now.
In the instances of dealing with other people’s reversals, we can learn from their mistakes, not play into their game and sometimes ask the question; “what is it I need to recognize and learn from this”? We can’t always choose what life puts on our path, but a reading can show us what kind of place we are giving these things in our consciousness, what we are giving up our own worth to and where we often have the choice to engage or detach and move on.