The Most Misinterpreted Cards In The Tarot
The tarot has become increasingly popular in recent years, with numerous publications, lifestyle blogs, and occult purveyors touting the psychic benefits of giving and receiving readings.
The history of the tarot cards is as rich as it is obscure, with certain cards predating others, and almost always up for independent interpretation.
Some cards, however, seem to evoke universal reactions upon their reveal, inciting a variety of emotions that are at best misguided, and at their worst detrimental to the real value of the reading. Below are six of the most commonly misinterpreted cards in the tarot, and where their real meaning lies.
No other card in the tarot carries quite the ominousness of Death, and for good reason. No matter the deck, Death is seldom presented in a positive light, and even the most well-meaning tarot reader can struggle to assure the subject that the card is actually a welcoming harbinger of much-needed change.
Death is all around us, and not just in the literal sense. Everything moves in its own time and cycle; what is born will flourish in its own time and eventually die. We often find ourselves in situations–jobs, relationships, emotional blocks–that are no longer desired, and unconsciously look for a way out.
The Death card appears when such a change is due to occur, when a new leaf is about to be turned. The question is, will you embrace or fight it?
2. The Devil
Next to Death, the Devil card is another member of the tarot that rarely incites warm and fuzzy feelings. Let’s face it, the Devil card can be downright terrifying. But dig a little deeper and you’ll find that this card is more of an ally than agitator.
The Devil represents bondage in one’s life (no, not THAT kind!), of a potentially abusive or unhealthy attachment, arrangement, or habit that must come to an end. The Devil appears as a kind of cheerleader in these instances, urging the subject to break free and rally their strength to overcome what has been holding them back.
3. The Tower
The Tower can be an uncomfortable card to gaze upon: a tower struck by lightning and two figures falling from a great height. What’s more, the Tower card’s meaning is just as straightforward. This card is a signifier of unexpected and sudden occurrences that can shake the very foundation we build our lives upon.
Often nicknamed the “disaster card,” the Tower is a reminder that we can only control so much in our lives. Part of life is learning to handle what cannot be planned for, and working our way through unforseen obstacles. Try not to read too much doom and gloom into your future if the Tower card appears in a tarot spread, but rather look to it as a warning, and keep your wits about you.
After all, you would want to know if a storm was headed your way, right? All the better to fortify the tower before lightning strikes.
4. The Hanged Man
People are either amused or concerned for this poor fellow, suspended upside down from a tree rooted in the underworld but flourishing in the waking one. This is a bit of a puzzler card, as every tarot reader interprets the Hanged Man a little differently. For some he is a figure stuck in a mental/creative/professional rut, and unable to act for the time being, remaining suspended in a kind of limbo.
For others he represents a bad decision that has left you hanging by the very rope that was allotted time and time again. And the truth is, both of these are correct! However, the Hanged Man carries a much gentler message, which is to lay low and give pause for a time while the debris settles. Sometimes inaction is the best course of action, and the Hanged Man reminds us that we often dig ourselves deeper when we attempt to overcompensate for past missteps.
The Judgement card can come off as a stern parent, and it’s hard not to squirm a little when it’s pulled during a tarot reading. After all, no one likes to feel judged, and that’s exactly what this card does in so many ways. However, the Judgement card also asks us to reevaluate past experiences and assess them from a place of honest retrospect.
The Greek philosopher Heraclitus once wrote that character is destiny, and this could very well be the Judgement card’s motto. Where Judgement appears in a reading it’s best to consider where it may be necessary to take some precaution. Have you been in this situation before? If so, how did you react and what was the outcome? Rather than dread Judgement as a discerning authoritative figure, try to see it as your personal Ghost Of Tarot Past.
6. The Lovers
You may be wondering how the Lovers made this list; after all, they’re one of the best cards in the tarot, right? Well, that’s often the problem. People view the Lovers as a sort of tarot lottery, a promise of romance and glamour and even the possession of an unrequited love.
And while this card can certainly hint at such wonderful abundance, it also teaches a valuable lesson about living in harmony with ourselves and each other. The Lovers are smiled upon by the angel Raphael, who encourages healing through communication.
Look closely to see where the Lovers appear in your tarot spread, as they may mean infinitely more than just passion and romance.