The Most Feared Tarot Cards Explained

most feared tarot cards

When people are searching for answers, a good Tarot reading can shed light on a problem or issue. Sometimes, however, the message isn’t always what you want to hear. As I tell my clients, “The cards never lie.”

Like life, Tarot is never black and white. Each Tarot card has a light and dark side. Even the most feared Tarot cards have a light side.

Sometimes, these hard truths are difficult to accept. Just remember: Tarot readings are never set in stone because you have the power of free will. The next time a Tarot reading pulls up one of the most feared Tarot cards, keep in mind that even the “bad cards” help you on your path to living an authentic life. 

Here are the most featured Tarot cards explained, with an explanation of their light and dark side:

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thw tower

The Tower Card

A lightning strike hits the top of a tall stone structure, causing flames to burst out of the windows and people to fall from the sky. Ominous. Foreboding. Who wouldn’t be afraid of the Tower?

The Tower is the 16th card in the Major Arcana, the part of the deck that signifies big life themes and karmic energies. When the Tower comes up in a reading, it points to a sudden, unexpected change in your life that causes upheaval and means that life is never going to be the same again. In the end, the Tower inevitably comes crumbling down because it was built upon falsehoods, misconceptions, illusions or even lies. 

The light side: 

To me, the Tower card represents the ultimate pursuit of authenticity that puts you in alignment with your Highest Self. It’s the promise that when you rebuild, you will create a foundation rooted in truth, stronger than it ever was before. The lightning bolt that causes the tower to burst into flames is a sudden realization that serves as the catalyst for major change in your life. 

I pull the Tower card a lot in my own readings. My husband laughs because for a while, I pulled the Tower for every reading. As a personal development tool, Tarot points out challenges and opportunities in your life. Whenever I pull the Tower card, I smile because I know I am rebuilding myself stronger than I was yesterday.

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The dark side:

Sometimes, a sudden life change can mean a newly diagnosed illness, the death of a loved one, a job loss, the end of a relationship. The Tower card can mean chaos, resisting change, fear brought on by unforeseen disturbances to your life. Tarot tends to have a reflective quality, so the cards pulled often confirm what you already know. 

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the death card 1

The Death Card

As the 13th Major Arcana card, the Death card depicts a skeleton in armor atop a white horse holding a black flag with a white, five-petal rose. The priest and children at the feet of the horse are looking up, seemingly pleading for their life while another man of the cloth lays on the ground. The very name — death — conjures literal images of the physical body dying. However, the Death card often reveals change and transformation

The Death card is a Major Arcana card that represents major life events and karmic energy. The cycle of life isn’t always about death and birth. The Death card is the ending of one chapter and the beginning of the next chapter. 

The light side:

The Death card is a wonderful reminder that this big, messy thing called life is beautiful because of its unpredictable ups and downs and artful synchronicities. When the Death card appears, it means that you are purging something in your life to make room for something even better. In the background of the Death card, are two towers with the sun rising in the distance. The inevitable change you are about to experience means good things will come. 

The dark side:

The Death card sometimes emphasizes unhealthy patterns in your life that no longer serve your best interests. Resisting change prevents you from moving forward to a deeper, more fulfilling life. Letting go of a stagnant relationship might leave you feeling sad, even devastated, but it will free up your heart for a more meaningful relationship later on. 

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the devil card

The Devil Card

At the center of The Devil card is Baphomet, a monster that is half goat and half man. He stands behind a naked man and woman who are chained together. The horns on their head mean they are becoming more like the creature that is ostensibly holding them prisoner. The Devil Card is the 15th card in the Major Arcana. I’ve always considered The Devil a warning that you need to face your inner demons. It’s about codependent relationships, addiction, restriction, the shadow self. 

The light side:

If you look closely, the chains around the couple’s neck are loose and can easily be removed. The Devil may make you feel like you have no control over your life, but the truth is you always have the choice to make positive changes in your life.

The dark side:

The Devil exposes the habits, thoughts and behaviors that are holding you back from being the best version of yourself. This could be addiction to drugs, alcohol or food. Or it could be a toxic relationship that is causing you to make decisions that go against your inherent sense of right or wrong.

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10 of swords

The 10 of Swords

When it comes to scary imagery, this most feared Tarot card displays a man lying on his stomach on the ground with 10 swords sticking out of his back. A black sky adds to the creepy tone of this card. The 10 of Swords represents painful endings, a betrayal (being stabbed in the back), a loss or crisis.

The light side:

The 10 of Swords is a Minor Arcana card that represents temporary, everyday occurrences. The good news is that this is the end of painful times; you won’t be hurt by this particular person or circumstance again. If you look closely at the 10 of Swords, the black sky is dissipating and a yellow, sunny sky is on the horizon. The painful ending promises the dawn of a new day. The tranquil sea means that even when things seem dark, there is an opportunity to remain calm.

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The dark side:

The 10 of Swords symbolizes deep, painful wounds. When it comes to betrayal, it’s easy to fall into a victim mindset. You are presented with the choice of picking yourself up and moving forward or wallowing in self-pity. 

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3 of swords

The 3 of Swords

Framed by fluffy clouds and lines of rain, three swords pierce a red heart. The 3 of Swords signifies sorrow, pain and grief. In Tarot, water symbolizes emotions and swords symbolize thoughts and actions. The heartbreak you are feeling could be the result of an argument, hurtful words from another person or a sense of betrayal from someone else’s actions.

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The light side:

The storm clouds overhead mean that this situation is temporary. There is a silver lining to your hurt heart. The important thing is that you find a way to express your feelings so you can move on to clearer skies.

The dark side:

As the 3 of Swords indicates, you are experiencing emotional pain brought on by another person or people. In relationship readings, the 3 of Swords can indicate a break-up or an affair. In a career reading, you may have had an argument with coworkers. Once this storm passes, your once clouded judgment will break free with clarity.

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