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Three most misunderstood cards in tarot

self-care ritualsVanessa KundermanComment

The tarot is a divinity tool used since ancient times. It has been used to help us with personal questions, offer a peek into a potential future, and even provide us with inspiration. But the tarot can be very confusing to someone who doesn't know the ins and outs of the wide range of cards included in a deck. And with many varying decks out there, understanding the name on a card can be even more confusing. There are three cards in traditional decks that many find scary and intimidating, though their actual meanings are quite different than the initial impression they leave us with. The following are the three most misunderstood cards in tarot:

VICTIM ONE: DEATH CARD

The Death Card is easily the most misunderstood tarot card in the pack. Every movie that features a psychic/card reader somehow shows her flipping over the death card, implying that a probable death will ensue. Everyone panics and then sure enough someone dies. People can be so literal. Yeesh.

The Death Card does not mean an ensuing death for the person being read or someone close to them. It does mean the death, ending or dramatic change of a specific thing/event. Like the end of a relationship or job, or even a malicious mindset about yourself. In a sense a part of you might die - or feel like it has - and that is a beautiful catalyst for change; like cutting the dead bark from a tree. A new better version or yourself can emerge. This card represents transformation and can sometimes be unexpected transformation. This card really pushes you toward being the best version of yourself, releasing what doesn't work for you anymore. It represents the ending or death of something - not someone. You should feel jarred when it is flipped over in your reading, but for reasons other than worrying whether you're ailing mother will make it through the winter.

Another name for this card is the Change Card.


VICTIM TWO: DEVIL CARD

Hell, flames, and a red figure with horns. There is no hellish villain coming after you when this card comes up, nor are you being influenced by the Devil himself. You don't have to check under your bed before you go to sleep.

The way to understand this card is simple: you might feel trapped and like an "outer influence" is controlling you or that you have no way out, but chances are you have put yourself in this position. The Devil is really a trickster. This card can represent addictions, self-sabotaging behaviour - all the things we do that might hurt us without our realizing it. We might feel enslaved by a job or a relationship but this card reminds us to self-reflect that we always have the power of choice and can get ourselves out of these malevolent situations... if we want to. We aren't dabbling in the dark arts under this card's influence. No one is casting hexes or spells on us. But we might be doing something to ourselves that isn't in our best interest.

Another name for this card is the Bondage Card.


VICTIM THREE: HIEROPHANT CARD

People are often confused when they see the Hierophant Card, mostly because they either don't know what it means or they see a priest on the traditional card and assume something about religion. This card is also called the High Priest in some decks, causing even more confusion.

But this card is all about traditions. Orthodox mindsets. This card represents a lack of innovation and wanting to stick to tried and true methods - you know, that traditional approach. Never straying too far from the path. When this card comes up in a reading it can be a symbol not to shake things up. Of course, it does matter what the other cards are in the spread when the Hierophant shows himself, but the above is a good general feel for what this card is trying to convey. It represents rules. Cliques. Groups. Or the way we've always done things - like traditional marriage, for example - the courting, the dating, the proposal, the marriage, the lifelong union. Anything that can be tied to a traditional habit, mindset or value is associated with this card.

Another name for this card is the Tradition Card.


When using tarot cards, it's important to read the cards together, and be mindful of what position the card is in. The three most misunderstood cards above will provide more clarification when shown in a spread, but it's important to note they do NOT mean what many think, like dying, evil spirits or an angry priest knocking on our door. What tarot cards do you find confusing?