As a reader who has never used reversals and who, quite frankly, has no desire to switch now, I was skeptical about my ability to review a book about reversals in the tarot. But when someone with Janet Boyer’s breadth of tarot knowledge and experience writes a new book, it’s definitely worth a look, even if it’s based on a technique I don’t personally use.  So I took the plunge, and while I won’t go so far as to say I’m going to work reversals into my repertoire, I will say that I came away with a ton of knowledge that I can use in my everyday practice.

First off, the introduction made me feel at ease. Boyer explained how a person could interpret reversed cards. I had always thought of them as the opposite meaning of the card, but that can be confusing given the number of possibilities. I never realized the large palette of meanings that reversed cards might evoke. Some of my favorite ones were reading these cards as an “extreme or unhealthy manifestation of energy” and “needed, but not utilized.”

I enjoyed the writing immensely. It didn’t try to be something it wasn’t. Sometimes metaphysical books want to soar into the stratosphere but end up leaving the reader back on the ground wondering how to hang with the author. This book was written for real people. In the beginning of the book, “Dealing with Life’s Reversals”, Boyer clearly states what she’s providing—including tarot affirmations (more on that later)—and then delivers. I felt comfortable very quickly because I knew where the work was going.

Each card has “a quote that encapsulates the card’s reversed energy”, advice from the card, and 20 affirmations. The level of detail that Boyer provides really makes this book a great resource. There are so many different meanings to look through and savor—I counted about 30 or so for each card, and they were simple yet understandable. Many of them were modern as well. I liked “flip-flopping” as a meaning for the Five of Swords reversed, and “cyberschool” and “cyberbullying” for the Page of Swords reversed.

Once I discovered the affirmations, I knew this book was a keeper. 20 of them per card is an impressive feat. For the Tower reversed, I liked, “I choose the red pill” from the Matrix, and “I promote myself without apology” from the Six of Wands. But there are so many to pick from that you will find one or more that work for you. I’m definitely going to try to pick up a few that I can recommend to my clients.

Pop culture and the tarot is a fascinating subject to me, and I enjoyed the fact that Boyer really tried to keep things accessible to everyone. In addition to pop culture, she manages to flavor the book with lots of references to literature, music, television (“Dexter” makes an appearance on the 10 of Pentacles) historical events—like former flight attendant Steven Slater who bailed out on his career through the plane’s evacuation slide (8 of Pentacles)—and well-known axioms like “third wheel” (3 of Cups). 

What struck me as I worked my way through this book was that I had stopped referring to it as a book on tarot reversals. It’s an excellent tarot book whether you use reversals or not. That might not seem like a huge shift in consciousness, but as you’ll recall, I started out unsure about this book.

Sadly, people can and do judge books by their covers—and titles—all the time. Don’t do what I did and allow the title to bog you down. Beginners and advanced tarotists will find a number of gems to use in their every practice, whether or not they use reversals.

~Review by Rev. John Marani, CTC

Author: Janet Boyer
Schiffer Publishing, 2012

Originally published in the ATA Quarterly Journal, Spring 2012 issue