We all know the image:
A woman in a turban with tapestries, crystals, and ridiculously long nails pulls the Death card in a reading, prophesying the death of a heroine or hero with music swelling in the background.
Images like these give the "scary cards" of tarot a really bad name. These misunderstood, yet definitely scary-looking, cards give so much depth and meaning to a reading that you should be HAPPY to see them come up.
It's time to bust some more tarot myths: scary card style!
I'm not a fan of the original Rider-Waite decks, which the majority of films and productions use for tarot readings. However, I do have a deck based off of the Rider-Waite - The Witches Tarot.
So, for this exercise, I'm going to showcase the Witches Tarot alongside the Enchanted World Tarot. That way you get traditional imagery next to an abstract style.
The Death card has so many different faces and forms in tarot. Majority of the time, it involves a Reaper, skeleton, or a dark figure riding on a horse.
At first glance, you might think "Oh god, Johnny Blaze is gonna come ridin' up on me in the night and burn my soul!". Definitely not the case here.
Actually, Death is a signal for new beginnings and rebirth.
You see that little boy holding up a bouquet to the night rider? Or that field of flowers and leaves around the skeleton? Both are symbols of the hope that comes with a new beginning.
For example, your car that you've had for years is finally dead. It's a change you didn't want but it was coming eventually.
True, the ends that Death can symbolize don't always come happily or wanted. However, these should be taken as symbols for change and refreshment, not horror.
Don Juan isn't going to strangle you to death. I promise.
This one's quite a sight: people are jumping off the top of a tower that's collapsing. There are lightning and fire; just all the wonderful imagery.
Think of The Tower as Death but with even more surprise. You don't expect either, but The Tower hurts so much more. This is why it's followed up by The Star when you're going through a tarot deck.
It's still a symbol of transformation and sudden change. It's not change you want at all but you can't stop it.
In our mundane lives, The Tower can be a natural disaster. For example, the Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado destroyed many homes and jobs. In fact, it almost destroyed a job I had.
Another example would be finding out your spouse cheated on you. Your marriage, home, and life, in general, comes crashing down. You leap from the wreckage a different and scarred person.
I put this card as "scary" because of the imagery it can have. The Moon can be beautiful and tranquil, like in the Enchanted World Tarot, or it can be filled with danger and foreboding, like in the Witches Tarot.
The card before this in the Major Arcana, The Sun, is about joy and happiness. The Moon is calmer and darker; it symbolizes what you don't see in a situation. You remain "in the dark" about many things in your life; this card is an archetype of these things.
For instance, let's say you're starting a business with a friend. You've known them for a long time, but this is the first time money's been involved. The Moon may arise to warn you of potential issues; your friend may try to take more than their share under the table, create an unprofessional work environment, or maybe your business loan has some hidden clauses.
Another idea that The Moon brings up is that things that look one way in the light look opposite in the dark. You may think leaving school to pick up a well-paying job is the right choice, but how does it look in the long run? Is the manager shady? Is the work environment toxic?
These are things to consider with The Moon.
Perhaps the most misunderstood card of them all: The Devil.
No, it doesn't mean you have a demon in your house or your girlfriend's possessed.
The Devil represents addiction. It's a circumstance you can get out of if you wanted to, but you don't make a move. In the original Rider-Waite depiction, a demon stands with two chained people. But the people aren't tied to anything; they stand there on their own volition.
So if you're an alcoholic, acknowledge it, but refuse to get help, that's an example of The Devil card.
If you're a hoarder and know that it's out of control, yet continue to buy things, that's The Devil.
If you're in a relationship that's full of yelling and screaming, but you have fantastic sexual chemistry and refuse to leave, that's The Devil.
This card can also represent what you're hiding from yourself. The Shadow Side, the Witches Tarot version of The Devil, shows two people running from a cloaked figure. They're running from the truth about themselves rather than facing it head-on.