Fearsome Tarot Cards

Tarot Cards

What makes people fear tarot or think some cards are scary?


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Understanding tarot cards: Are some tarot cards fearsome?

There are many reasons why someone can be against tarot or fear certain cards. Before we delve into some of them though, I feel I have to point out the obvious. Tarot cards are just pieces of cardboard with images on them. Some cards might look fearsome but they cannot hurt people, save for maybe a paper cut. They don’t force their messages onto anyone and they definitely can’t do magic of any type.

So what’s the story?

Fortune telling and free will

Some people simply don’t want to know what their future might hold. Knowing their fate could just be too scary. We can perhaps understand the sentiment when we consider how grotesque or graphic some cards look. Then there’s all the times such cards are used to represent bad omens in scary movies. Throw in a story from a friend about a terrible card reading they had, or some religious beliefs about hell and the devil and, yep, suddenly tarot can look pretty fearsome.

Most card images are in fact quite beautiful, even the fearsome ones, and all are designed to relate to perfectly normal life events. Not all situations in life are pleasant though, thus the corresponding cards don’t always look pleasant either. And let’s be honest, tarot card readings wouldn’t hold much truth if they were only about successes, pretty pictures and cuddly bunnies.

Tarot cards can reveal a lot

Tarot can reveal a lot about what is going on at any stage in our life. In a reading we can look at past and present situations and maybe see a possible future but it’s good to remember that everyone has free will. The cards tell a story about you in a given moment of time. If you choose to deviate from the story after a reading, even slightly, there’s a good chance your future will change. After all, lots can influence it, none of us lives in a vacuum. Despite this, a good reading can provide clarity about what is currently going on. You should be able to walk away with helpful guidance on what to do next regardless of what the individual cards actually look like.

Unfortunately this isn’t reason enough to convince certain people that the cards are not evil voodoo. Look, not everyone needs to love tarot. I’m just happy that there are plenty who do.

Tarot cards tell a story

Tarot is comprised of two sets of cards. The 22 cards in the Major Arcana relate to possible karmic and universal influences, IE: The big picture. They depict a story that readily corresponds to the growth of our awareness and experiences in the cycle of life. It begins with a naive “Fool” who sets off on an adventure, trusting all will be well. It comes full circle when the Fool has passed through all the experiences presented on their journey. Some of these experiences may be treacherous but the Fool survives and gains the wisdom necessary to move onto the next.

A very similar story can be traced with the zodiacs and planets around the astrological wheel of the year and also on the pathways of the tree of life. All of these divination tools have elements which could be considered fearsome, unpleasant or difficult. Just as life can have serve up some fearsome, unpleasant or difficult circumstances.

Everyday Events

The Minor Arcana is a set of 56 cards that address our everyday lives. Most are delightful to look at but just like the Major cards, there are one or two that could be considered fearsome cards at first glance. It’s not really what they look like though. Often the issue is what they represent. Typically it’s a situation we don’t want to face. The sort of thing that, deep down, we already know about and hope will just go away if we ignore it long enough, despite knowing in our heart that it probably won’t. While these cards can be troubling, this is precisely where a tarot reading can be really useful.

A tarot reading can help us find ways to deal with icky issues. Also, it’s worth keeping in mind that in a reading no cards are read in isolation. Every card is tempered by the others that surround it. If you have had a bad reading in the past, you’ve likely met a bad card reader, not bad cards.

The fearsome Death card

One of the most common tarot cards people fear is the Death card. Some card creators have tried to alleviate the fear by giving the card a different name. For example, it might be called Transformation or Rebirth. Despite this the card meaning generally stays the same.

A skeleton or a ghost carrying a scythe is a very common way to portray death. It’s no surprise that it is a frequent image on a tarot Death card and it’s easy to see how horror movie-makers might latch on to it. The images can sometimes look a little grim-reaper-like. However if you look at the Death card more closely you often see other symbols on it that help soften the picture. It’s not a card that typically portrays violence.  

Endings in everyday life

Death simply refers to the end of something. Yes, sadly it could mean the death of a loved one, or a beloved pet, but generally it refers to something much more mundane. When your car breaks down and can’t be repaired, or your mobile phone accidentally ends up in a backyard pool, these unfortunate situations are often considered a death. It’s a card that might appear to signify the end of a bad situation. It could just as easily relate to the end of those house-plants that you always forget to water. The thing is, death is a part of life. There is no sugar-coating that bit, death is something we will all face one day. 

Death, rebirth and transformations

Death can be an uncomfortable topic. It’s not uncommon to want to brush over it and focus on a rebirth or some type of renewal. Some folks like to see it as a transformation where the end of something will make way for a new beginning. It’s true of course, death is followed by change. For the most part though, if the Death card appears in a reading it will mean a death of some sort. It is rarely a happy card but it can encourage us to recognise and honour our feelings. In a way, it gives us permission to feel sad, to grieve and to respect periods of mourning. 

There are so many variables at play when we have our cards read. Where each card is situated, the cards that surround and influence it, and the intuition of the reader will all have a bearing on what it all actually means. A good tarot reader will help you understand the meaning of the cards. All the cards, the ones that look good and the ones that don’t. Each card contributes to a story that is unique to you and your individual circumstances at the time. Tarot is a wonderful tool to help us find clarity and tap into our inner wisdom. Even the fearsome cards can help us discover our best life.

The Tarot Death Card

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