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Are They Really So Bad? – The Cards You Fear

Little Fang


The Wild Unknown Tarot © Kim KransOriginally published on Little Fang Tarot with some minor edits.


Many people dread getting a reading done and having Death appear.

“Does it mean I’m going to die?” No!

What I’m here to explain is that often times these cards don’t hold any literal meaning behind them!

Death, The Devil, The Tower, the Three of Swords, and the Ten of Swords, are all some of the most feared cards that could come into a tarot reading.  Just look at the pictures at the left, don’t these look ominous?


What if I told you that these cards can be used as a warning and a chance to grow instead?


I want to break these cards down and show you that there is nothing to fear and there is everything to learn!






Consider the phoenix of myth.  It has lived its life and is now worn and tired.  What is there left?  The great bird has reached the end of its long life, once majestic and bright, now shattered and dull.  In a burst of flame and ash, the phoenix sheds its older shell and returns renewed and majestic once again!

Something is coming to an end.  It’s time to Transform.

You are burning something that is no longer needed in your life and coming back better and stronger for having gotten rid of it.  It can be scary, and it can be hard, but you’ll be way better off for having gotten rid of the burden that you carried.

The Devil

This card can be a warning against temptation and addiction.  You may be being led down the wrong path, but knowing is half the battle!  Consider the actions you are currently taking in life and determine the reasons behind the choices you have made.  Do you have everyone’s best intentions at heart?

It’s time to slay the demons within yourself and find the light of the matter.

Don’t let fear be your enemy, face it head-on!  This feeling of powerlessness is under your control, and you can choose to break the chains that bind you and free yourself.

The Tower

The changes that Death brings may be more gradual, much like the flow of life itself.  However, the Tower is a sudden and abrupt change that may shake the very foundations of your life as you know it.  The best part about this crumbling tower?

Once it comes down, you can build something BETTER in its place!

It’s hard to deal with a big change, but it’s inevitable.  When this card comes up you can be better prepared to face it head-on and then start planning what you want to put in its place.  This card gives you more power than you realize!

Three of Swords

Ah, the card with the swords that spear the heart.  The typical sign of heartbreak and despair.  Pain is a sad part of life, and it’s not something you can always avoid.  Pain is a challenge that allows you to grow and expand!  The Swords represent the logic and thought and the heart is emotion, therefore…

Your emotions may be holding you back.  Release the grasp they have over this situation!

The Three falls under the Empress’s domain, so it’s important to nurture and be kind to yourself.  Don’t allow the pain or grief to overcome you, you are strong and you can grow.

Ten of Swords

Great, the card where something or somebody is being impaled by a bunch of swords.  How can THIS be any good?  It’s not the best card or the nicest looking, no, but it also signifies an end to something with a chance to bounce back from it.

Once you have hit rock bottom, there is nowhere else left to go but UP!

You have reached the end already and you are feeling the pain of all those swords upon you.  Just because it’s the end of one story doesn’t mean you can’t start writing another!


Don’t be afraid.  Knowledge is Power!


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I agree. I often look at meanings as useful advice and it helps when I get cards that are a little harsh cause that's what tells me something is wrong or extra important to keep an eye on. Great article. 🌟 

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I think a lot of the fear comes from misunderstanding perpetuated by media and religion. Divination tools have been outcast by "THE CHURCH" for hundreds of years. Religion told people they are dark, evil tools of Satan. That was enough for most people to shy away from them. Then Hollyweird comes along, looking for something to scare the pants off of people. Hey! Let's use these Tarot cards and whatever other strange witch stuff we can find! Of course, you have your occasional person who is highly susceptible to suggestion and begins to believe these things are trying to either harm themselves or force that individual to cause harm to others. The news media and "THE CHURCH" thrive off of stories like this as it gives them more fuel for their fires. Thanks to stuff like this, people develop preconceived notions that are erroneous and never do any actual research to find the truth.


Thankfully, anyone I've ever done a reading for is actually put together well enough for me to explain what each card means before freaking out over something like Death, The Tower or the 10 of Swords. And thankfully, there are forums like this which can spread knowledge and information rather than fear and gaslighting. Excellent descriptions, @Little Fang

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I really like these explanations, and use some of them myself.

The ten of swords, for example, is actually a hopeful card for me.  It always means the worst has been experienced, and things will only improve from here.  (The reversed card, however, is NOT one I like to see, because it usually  means there is more unpleasantness to come.)

I often think of The Devil as a creature doesn't exist; this devil only exists in your head. Once you recognise this, you can throw it off. Obviously physical and mental addiction goes beyond this, but so many people see devils as something that oppresses them, without understanding that they can decide not to allow the oppression to continue.  The person maintains his or her own captivity ...is shackled by guilt, superstition, religion. Refuse to entertain morbid fears.  Free yourself from self-destructive habits, temptations, and obsessions.  Can also indicate a residue of bad feelings from a former distressing experience that need to be dealt with. The reversed card indicates a willingness to make changes and being aware of destructive behaviours or obsessions.  Fears are confronted and eliminated.  Oppression is thrown off.

Death is actually a good card to get when you want something FINALLY to be gone.  I have always felt that Death indicates something that has been ongoing for a long time, but has finally come to an end.  The end usually comes as a relief, even though tying up the loose ends can be stressful.  I have to say, though, that once in a blue moon Death does indicate physical Death.  I haven't died yet, so it's not been for me thus far 🙂 ...and I've got this card umpteen times. But it HAS cropped up just before somebody on the periphery of my life has unexpectedly died.  However, when this has happened (at least to me) the Death was unexpected, so when it pops up in a reading having nothing much to do with the topic at hand, I usually file it away in my head, and be aware that it might actually mean a Death.   But this has only happened to me on 3 occasions, and I have been card reading for myself since the mid-1970s.  Death usually means a necessary, long-developing ending to something that needed to go.

The Tower for me is one of my least favourite cards.  I don't like unpleasant surprises, and this usually means an unpleasant surprise.  Again, like Death, I have received this card umpteen times in readings, and I'm still here, still in one piece. But I never like getting this card.  It doesn't always mean that what comes after will be better.  It usually means something important is going to blow up in my face, or something destructive is going to occur out of the blue that I don't have much control over.  And the aftermath is unlikely to be pleasant.  It's an anxiety-producing card for me, as it's not usually something that I can forsee.  The reversed card usually means the disaster isn't as bad as it originally appeared to be, or simply that I've dodged a bullet (in a figurative sense.)

Another card I don't like to see is the 5 of Pentacles—the poverty, isolation, nobody cares card.  If it's not actual physical poverty, it's usually a transient state ...but still not a comfortable one.   



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Until now every single time I got the tower physical death involved 

I m afraid of this card 

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I don't dread any cards, I am currently going through a storm right now, and had all of these cards present in a reading I did for myself. Life is not always wonderful. It is sometimes painful. Filled with sadness and misery. Sometimes, the pain cuts so deep that you can barely breathe. You are just hoping for relief that never comes. But within that pain, there is goodness and beauty. I don't dread any card because with each of them, comes a lesson and a blessing. During the storm, you might not see it but afterwards you understand. Sometimes, a  part of you die forever, never to rise again. And other times, it transforms into something completely different. 


The tower is my favorite card in tarot. I use to dread it but once I went through a tower moment, I learned to appreciate it. The tower card for me is revealing the truth. The tower crumbles everything around you that is false and brings you face to face with the reality of how faulty your foundation truly it. I does offer a chance to build again. What you end up building once the tower crumbles everything, is up to you. You can take the lesson's learned from that moment and try to build a better foundation or you can walk away to build something/ somewhere else. I will say that I do agree with @Chariot with the sudden impact that the tower brings. I also don't like sudden surprises that rocks my entire life, but I like the reality check that the tower brings. It is better to face the truth and live in it as oppose to living a lie.


The devil for me, is always a warning too. regardless of what type of reading I am doing. I see it as a stern warning that what you don't truly know what you are dealing with or the temptation, what ever it may be, has way more consequences than you can image. The decisions that the querent makes now, will negatively impact his/her life.

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It's great you did this blog, Little Fang.  I feel much the same way.  I don't see the Devil card as the Devil or Death as literal death.


Perhaps some fear these cards because of what they may read on?  For example, I don't do readings for people like is my uncle going to die?  Or what will the outcome of my medical diagnosis be?  Then, yes, I can see SOME seeing the Death card as feeling ominous if that's their own point of reference.  


I think querents are likely to see those cards as scary unless a reader explains them.  I break it down like you did, that the cards need not be taken literally, but most querents, especially thanks to movies and lack of knowledge about actual readings, do until told differently.

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