Tarot Reversals for Beginners: Five Approaches to Reading Upside-Down Cards by Leeza Robertson | Book Review

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This book came into my life at a very interesting time. For the past few years, I only read with upright cards when doing tarot readings. When I first began my tarot journey, I did read with reversals, and I was called to read with only upright cards because my intuition needed to engage with imagery and sensory details presented on a card and reading cards upside down was throwing me off. So I swung the other way. And then, surprisingly, a few weeks ago I found myself swinging back to where I first started: I was drawn to reading reversals again. Or rather, there was this nagging feeling in my chest when I looked at a spread with only upright cards. The picture felt lacking somehow. My inner voice was like, Kiiiiiiiim. Let’s start using reversals again. I totally feel like it now. 

I wonder what causes these perceptional changes to happen. I mean, getting an “information download” via intuition shouldn’t really require any physical adjustments if that makes sense, but perhaps it needed to consider my understanding and my perspective on reversals. The information I stored in my brain regarding reversals were perhaps in line with the insights that needed to come through for myself and for the seekers I read for.

So voila. I started reading with reversals, and soon after, Leeza contacted me and sent me her book over for review. I was surprised (yet not surprised) at the Universe’s synchronicity.

An Overview of the Book 

Let me just begin by saying what an incredible resource this book is for anybody who is working with reversals, learning about reversals, or considering working with reversals. It’s titled “Tarot Reversals for Beginners”, but I’d venture to say that no matter what level you are at on your tarot journey, this book has got a lot to offer to your tarot practice.

Personally, it’s got all of my favourite topics regarding tarot covered: tarot itself (duh), numerology, astrology, practical problem solving and personal growth. It’s got a great holistic outlook on the potential messages that a reversed card can bring to your reading, references to numerological associations and astrological connections, provides you with pragmatic and down to earth advice on how you can move forward and solve the issue in front of you, and presents you with nuggets of wisdom on how you can best learn from your experience and cultivate wisdom. I’m not one to rely on books when I do readings, but I find myself just flipping through Leeza’s book when I do my own daily draws just so I can check out what she has to say about the card I am working with – simply because I’m just curious to read about her take on things and what advice she has to offer.

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How the Book is Organized 

The book traverses through the story of majors, followed by the courts, and then the minors. In the section for courts, all the pages are grouped together, the knights are grouped together, and so on and so forth. The minor arcana is organized in a similar manner – the one’s are grouped together, and the two’s are grouped together as well. What I like about this arrangement is that it is going to be easy if you want to consider the how each number becomes manifested in each suit or element. It makes for easy comparison and for me, it makes things easy to find. For example, I can just go to the chunk of pages where all the 2’s are if I pulled 2 of Swords Reversed – and I don’t need to take the extra step of finding the suit of swords, and then finding the 2 in the elemental number sequence. It works out perfectly for me when it comes to how convenient and fast I can find stuff, which is an important consideration for me personally when I purchase books for reference.

Each reversed cards then contain 5 categories, or 5 aspects for you to consider:

  • the blocked aspect: when energy is blocked and ceases to flow
  • the protection aspect: I sort of see this card as divine intervention or a detour in the right direction – which can generate negativity in us but is ultimately leads us to a positive outcome
  • mirror aspect: food for thought, opportunity for reflection and introspection
  • shadow aspect: urges us to examine our attachments and to relinquish the darker parts of the archetype
  • retrograde aspect: taking what seems to be a step back to move forward + remaining still / shifting of cycles

A concise and super informative paragraph is written for each aspect under each card – depending on the subject matter, you either get snippets of knowledge, nuggets of wisdom, anecdotes that will lead you to a deeper understanding of the card, and flashes of insightful humour that will brighten up your tarot reading. I love the paragraph written on Stars Retrograde, for example. I learned that The Star card is correlated with Aquarius, and Leeza wrote “You can bet your bottom dollar that her water is all over the place and she is having a full-on emotional downward spiral”.

Each reversed cards is accompanied by an image of the reversed card is question. You are likely going to find yourself flipping and turning the book over or almost twisting your neck to look at the details on the printed image. (No? Just me?)

At the end of the book, you will also find sections of useful resources such as tarot spreads and spells, numerological associations and astrological connections. Super handy!

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Tarot in Retrograde 

The retrograde aspect is something completely new to me – since I don’t really utilize or integrate astrology in my tarot practice. I am aware of the concept of retrograding, but I never studied it in depth. Reading about it in a tarot context and seeing how the retrograding energy is expressed in each card is very fascinating. In my mind, retrograding is somewhat like a “cosmic lag” – like the bandwidth you register your experience on is glitching, the service or reception isn’t that good at the moment – and while you expect certain things to happen at a particular pace, since there are actions put into place and events that are set into motion, and you are paying close attention to how things are playing out – there is a delay or stillness in movement that clashes with your expectations or disrupting the regular movement of space-time. When a reversed tarot card shows you that things in your life are retrograding, it is important to check in with your expectations with how things are unfolding in the reality, to live in the moment and address the issues that are present right now instead of worrying about the future or wanting to rush things so they happen sooner. It is important to surrender control to the natural flow of things, to be patient with your place in relation to everyone else’s and with the bigger picture.

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Final Thoughts 

To close, I really enjoyed reading this book! I appreciate the attention to details, the way it is organized and the way it is written. I love Leeza Robertson’s voice – it is very clear, straightforward, no nonsense, humourous, down to earth and practical. I also read her guidebook for Animal Totem Tarot and I use that deck regularly for readings and I’m glad this book is sort of like a “sequel” to my journey with her creative works. I strongly recommending picking up a copy of this book if you are just starting out and you need a clear guide on how you can approach a reversed card without feeling like you are spinning in your own head trying to get a grasp on the card. I also recommend this book to intermediate or advanced tarot users – Tarot Reversals is an amazing resource that will help you consider your cards in new and interesting ways.

Tarot Reversals for Beginners: Five Approaches to Reading Upside-Down Cards is published by Llewellyn Books. Pick up a copy on Amazon, Llewellyn, or other booky places that you frequent!

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