Spooky Tarot Cards
A look at the most fear-inducing Tarot cards in the
The images on some Tarot cards can be a little scary, especially when they come up in your reading. It's mostly symbolism, though ... those skeletons, devils and natural disasters aren't to be taken literally. We took a look at the history and meaning of the three cards that leave most Tarot reader recipients shaking in their metaphysical boots -- the Tower, Devil and Death cards -- just in time for Halloween! We can't promise the Boogeyman won't be hiding under your bed this season, but we can promise that a Tarot reading won't be doing you in anytime soon.
In a Tarot spread, the Tower looks pretty grim. In practically all renditions of the card, disaster is striking or has just struck. The demons of madness and despair are released from ancient hiding places, and nature conspires with human failings to destabilize a society. The upheaval is collective and impersonal. Let us remember, though, that these images were originally created for the educated nobles and clergy -- reminding them that they had the most to lose if the hierarchy was toppled.
Lightning is a fitting karmic payback for the guilt of those whose fortunes come from the exploitation or abuse of others. A modern subtitle might be "Revolution," indicating that through drastic social change, oppressed people can find renewed hope of better times. The Tower experience comes like a flash of lightning to topple the hierarchy of the old order, after which everyone can have a fresh start on a more equal footing.
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In a reversed position, the Tower card suggests that the drama is over. All the leaning towers have fallen. Leave behind the issues and emotions that caused this to happen. Ask yourself what you can do now that the options of your past are closed. As you pick yourself up and begin again, you will find renewed energy for your next significant endeavor.
To look at the Tower simply, it means great change forced by those who have been made to feel powerless. On a personal level, it could mean confronting someone who is a negative influence in your life -- either causing them to change, or banishing them altogether so you can focus your energy on more positive people around you. On a collective level, it could indicate a social transformation -- like voters standing up for real change in a coming election. Not so scary when you look at it like that, right?
The good news is, when the Devil pops up during a Tarot reading, it doesn't mean the recipient is going to go to hell or be possessed by demons. What has traditionally been known as the Devil card expresses the realm of the Taboo, the culturally rejected wildness and undigested shadow side that each of us carries in our subconscious. This shadow is actually at the core of our being, which we cannot get rid of and will never succeed in taming. From its earliest versions, which portrayed a vampire-demon, this card evoked the church-fueled fear that a person could "lose their soul" to wild and passionate forces.
The image which emerged in the mid-1700s gives us a more sophisticated rendition -- that of the "scapegoated Goddess," whose esoteric name is Baphomet. Volcanic reserves of passion and primal desire empower her efforts to overcome the pressure of stereotyped roles and experience true freedom of soul. As a part of the message of Tarot, this fearsome passion and power must be reintegrated into the personality, to fuel the soul's passage from mortal to immortal.