Meet the Tarot bad boys: Death, the Devil, the Tower, the Ten of Swords and the Three of Swords. These may just be the scariest cards of the Tarot deck!
But you know what? Even these bad boys have a good side.
In this podcast episode, I show you how these scary Tarot cards can shine the light of consciousness on your life and how to respond constructively when seeing them in a Tarot reading.
- That Death is rarely ever about real death
- How the Devil may just be the extra ‘spice' you need for your relationship
- Why the Tower can be a blessing in disguise
- When you may actually want to see the Ten of Swords in a reading
- Why the Three of Swords really isn't as bad as it seems
Let's get into it…
- >>>Download the Free PDF: The Bad Boys of Tarot
- Biddy Tarot Card Meanings
- Online training: Master the Tarot Card Meanings
Brigit: You’re listening to the Biddy Tarot Podcast, and this is Episode 19: The Bad Boys of Tarot
Welcome to the Biddy Tarot podcast, where you will learn how to connect more deeply with your intuition and live an empowered and enlightened life with the Tarot cards as your guide.
Listen as Brigit and her guests share their very best tips and strategies to help you read Tarot with confidence.
And now, here is your host Brigit Esselmont.
Brigit: Hello and welcome back to the Biddy Tarot Podcast!
The Death card, I tell you what, it is one of the most feared Tarot cards in the deck! But it can also be one of the most inspirational.
Today, I'm talking about the bad boys of Tarot – you know those cards that most people find the scariest and most people seem to fear the most. But I'm also going to show you that there is a silver lining to these cloudy cards, and I’m also going to show you how they might turn up in your readings as a positive sign.
Let's dive in…
Brigit: So who are these bad boys of Tarot?
Well there are quite a few sort of dark energy kinds of cards in the deck, or at least that appear to be dark energy. Of course, we know that all Tarot cards have got their light and shade. But for today’s podcast I’ve chosen out five of perhaps the most feared Tarot cards. We’ve got the Death card, the Devil,the Tower, the Ten of Swords and the Three of Swords. While there probably are a few more Tarot cards that give you the heebie jeebies, these five cards seem to be the most feared.
Let’s have a look at each one of these cards. What I want to show you is whilst yes, they do have a little bit of a dark side; there is also a light side. There are ways that you can work really constructively with these Tarot cards in your Tarot readings, and also in your general life. While they might appear to be a bit doom and gloom or a little bit scary, there are actually some really uplifting and inspiring messages within these cards.
Now before I get into it, I want to let you know that I have created a special free PDF download. It’s a quick reference guide for each of these five cards to show you both their dark and their light side. Now if you want to grab this free PDF download, go to BiddyTarot.com/19. That’s the number 19. You can download it there. It’s kind of like your cheat sheet. While you’re doing readings, you’ve got that next to you, so it’s nice and easy. If you see, let’s say the Devil card, and you’re like, ‘Oh, what does that mean?” Opportunities, great. I’ve got my sheet right there. Make sure you download that at biddytarot.com/19.
Let’s get into it. I’m going to start us off with the Death card. Goodness me, you only need to say the name of the card and it sort of sends a bit of a shiver up your spine. Then even look at the imagery and at the moment I’ve got the Radiant Rider-Waite card in front of me here. The imagery is quite intense.
We see the figure of death in his black armor riding upon a white horse. His horse seems huge compared to the people in front of the horse. We see that a king has been struck down. I’m presuming he’s dead. He’s lying prone on the ground. His crown has fallen off. To me, this is a sign that death stops at no one. Death reaches everybody even if you are royalty, the king. Even if you’ve got loads and loads of money or you’re completely poor, it doesn’t really matter because we all know that death will come.
We see also a priest almost praying, begging for mercy, with two children nearby. Again, it’s a sign that death comes. Death is here. It’s something that we need to accept and embrace.
While there are some very, very rare cases where the Death card does indicate actual death, the positive side of the Death card is that death is often more about the metaphorical death. It might be the death of a particular job, a relationship. It might be the death of a part of yourself that’s no longer serving you. You name it. It’s that metaphorical death.
Tapping into that essence of metaphorical death, this card is really about change and transformation. When we think about change, we are in a constant state of change. Our skin, for example, constantly the dead cells are falling away and so the skin is then regenerating. This is happening daily. Change in itself is inevitable. We cannot escape it. We are in constant change. Just as we cannot escape death.
When I see this card coming up, yes, it may have sort of that darker side of a quite intense ending to something, but I’m always looking for what’s happening out of that death. From death is rebirth and regeneration, so what kind of changes and transformations are occurring right now in this person’s life. By putting to bed part of your life so that you can then embrace a new life, what new opportunities does that create for you?
If you pull this card in a Tarot reading, ask yourself what changes am I experiencing right now? What do I need to let go of and release in order for this new aspect to come through, in order for me to be reborn or be regenerated?
That’s the Death card. I hope you’re feeling a little bit more at peace now when you see The Death card coming up in your Tarot readings.
The next card I want to explore is The Devil. Again, the name of the card isn’t sort of unicorns and rainbows. It can illicit some of those feelings of the dark side. When we have people saying that the Tower is evil and so on, I wonder if it has something to do with this card. They misinterpret it perhaps.
With the Devil we see this black background. Sitting here is this horned beast. He sits on top of a podium. He’s got big horns. He’s got wings. He looks pretty angry and not somebody you would want to find in a dark cave. But at his feet are a man and a woman. They’re both naked. They’re chained. There are chains around their necks. They are chained to this podium. It appears as if the devil has got a hold over this man and woman. But these aren’t ordinary people; they have horns coming out of their head as well.
We can sort of see that this devil has this quiet, negative influence on these two people. It’s actually already starting to create a change within them that maybe they are on a lower vibrational level even at their sort of inner core because of their nakedness is kind of like that inner core of themselves.
On the darker side, the Devil can be about feeling bonded to something, feeling chained to something, being a victim of addiction, being possessed or being possessive. Are you being the victim here or are you causing and inflicting the harm on somebody else?
It can often come up when we’ve got very negative behavioral patterns and we know that those behavioral patterns are not serving us well, yet we're in a bit of a negative cycle around that. For example, maybe you enjoy having a drink every day, but as a result of having a drink every day; you start to feel worse and worse about yourself. As you feel worse about yourself, you have more to drink. It ends up being quite a downward spiral. You know that it’s not healthy for you and yet you can’t get yourself out of that situation.
That’s really the essence of the Devil card. But what I notice with the chains around the neck of the man and woman is they’re actually quite loose. If they thought about their situation quite consciously, they would realize that they could take those chains off, run away and live a much better life.
Coming back to the drinking example, you might think that you’re in a negative spiral, but what if you were to try not drinking for a week? Maybe things would change. Is that a possibility for you? Maybe you can release that chain from around your neck.
I think there is that possible side with the Devil that even though you’re experiencing something that’s not healthy for you right now, there is a way out. You can get out of this.
Let’s take it up a notch and look at what are some of those positive aspects of bondage and being chained to something, possessed or possessive on one side. If you’re into a few kinky things, then maybe this is the card for you. Maybe you’ve just started a new relationship and you get the Devil, you realize you’re into a few fun things together.
Similarly, this card can have a lot of sexual energy and a lot of lust. That might be what is fueling the relationship. Now as long as you’re going into that consciously and you’re making a conscious decision that that’s right for you at this time, then this may be a very positive card. Of course, if you’re wanting more of a long term, loving relationship, then this may not be the card for you. You might be wanting something more like the Lovers.
If you compare the Devil and the Lovers together, you’ll see some distinct similarities, yet strong differences. You can see that difference between lust and love between these cards.
But anyway, I digress. Another very positive aspect of the Devil is in an intense sense of loyalty, where it might be in a company, you feel intensely loyal to that company. You might feel intensely loyal to a friend, a family member or what have you. I guess the question is, is that intense loyalty serving you at your highest good, or is it taking away some of your personal power. That’s important to understand.
Next time you see the Devil in your Tarot readings, yes it may indicate sort of a bondage, or an addiction or a possession of some sorts, but also consider whether there’s a healthy aspect to this and whether you’re making some more conscious decisions about being loyal to somebody or in quite an intense connection with someone.
Let’s now move on to The Tower. Ah, the Tower. You need only look at the imagery and you can feel a sense of dread, that’s for sure. Here we have a tower on top of a tall mountain. The lightning has struck the top of the tower. The crown of the tower has burst off and now we’re seeing flames leaping out of the top of the tower and the windows.
Worse, we’re seeing two people, a man and a woman; they have leapt from the tower. Obviously, because they don’t want to be staying in that tower while it’s on fire. They have a sense of dread on their face. We don’t know where they’re going to land. They’re just falling, falling, falling out of this tower. Just this imagery alone can leave you feeling a little bit worried about what this card might mean.
On its darker side, the Tower represents really abrupt change, a shocking event of some sorts, major destruction. Maybe this man and woman were sitting down to a nice dinner together when suddenly the lightning bolt hits and everything has changed. It’s now in flames. They have to leap out of the window. They don’t know where they’re going next.
We experience these kinds of abrupt events in our own lives. I think of even an accident. You’re walking along and suddenly you hurt your foot and you end up in hospital. Then you realize that you won’t be able to walk for three months. Then you have to go through six months of rehab or something like that. It’s this one moment in time that changes everything from there on. What you thought was all going well and in place and just fine, actually gets shaken at the core.
I see this in the tower. We’ve got this really strong tower, but suddenly, its foundations are completely shaken up. What we thought was a safe place to live is now crumbling before our very eyes. Think of it in terms of that abrupt, shocking change or event that really changes everything from there on.
But, of course, there is a lighter side to the Tower. That is often these major changes or shocking events that happen turn out to be a blessing in disguise. I remember a friend who told me about a relationship that she was in. She said, “This relationship was amazing. I thought he was going to be the one. We had so much to connect with. We were talking about our future together. The foundations were right there.”
But then she started getting the Tower in her Tarot readings. She was like, “What is this? What is going on here?” Lo and behold within a couple of months, their relationship had abruptly come to an end. She was devastated. She thought, “Why is this happening to me when I thought that this relationship was going to be the one relationship?”
She went through quite a few months of grieving and dealing with the loss of that relationship only to find that within that period she started to experience quite a significant spiritual transformation within her. She discovered a very new and different part of herself that wasn’t around when she was in this relationship. She realized that had she been in this relationship still, her spiritual transformation probably wouldn’t have happened the way that it needed to.
In hindsight, she started to see that the end of that relationship was in fact a trigger point for her to become a more spiritually evolved person. Then from there she was starting to attract people who were on a similar path to her. She really saw that positive side of the Tower in that card.
I think of people who have been affected by major tragedies, you know 9/11 or domestic violence cases, perhaps where their children have been harmed or killed. It’s an awful event, but what goes on afterwards is that they’re inspired to really make a huge change in the broader society.
I’ve seen wonderful examples of where these people have gone onto create really powerful charities and create changes in other people’s lives that have had a big positive impact for them. Again, it’s a blessing in disguise with the Tower.
Finally, the thing that really stands out for me with the Tower is that through destruction comes creation. Sometimes we need to destruct or destroy the foundations that we have around us so that we can create new foundations and a new way of thinking.
Think of where the Tower comes in the series of the Major Arcana cards, it’s sort of near that end. What follows the Tower are cards like Sun, the Star, Judgment and the World. These are much more spiritually evolved cards.
If you think of the Fool’s Journey, we’ve travelled on our journey. We’ve created foundations that we thought were the right ones, but then we reach a point where we’re like, “Hang on. This isn’t quite it.” We always have to go through this whole destructive process so that we can create the new, more evolved versions of ourselves. I think in that sense it can be very powerful.
The Ten of Swords
Let’s now step into The Ten of Swords. The name, not so bad. Ten, Swords, okay, whatever, but have a look at the imagery. We see another very dark background. It looks like it’s probably sunset at a guess. We’ve got a sunset which kind of ties in with the tens being around ending and completion. Then in the foreground we see a man lying face down. He has ten swords stabbed in his back.
This can be a very sort of jolting card and an indication of a very abrupt ending. Deceit and betrayal. Being backstabbed for example. The feelings that come up around this card are very hurtful, painful and feeling like the victim here.
The Ten of Swords can often relate to an abrupt ending, perhaps a relationship that’s come to an end in a very hurtful way. Perhaps it’s finding out that your partner has been cheating on you or that your partner has done something to betray your trust in them. It might be a job, where suddenly you thought you were going really well and then they’re suddenly making all these redundancies and cuts and you get a redundancy out of that.
It might even be a version of yourself that is coming to an end. I often think of drugs and maybe an overdose of drugs here. You almost need to hit rock bottom in order to realize, “You know what? This isn’t for me. I need to change.”
That’s the Ten of Swords in terms of its more darker energy. What about its lighter energy? The good thing with the tens is that it’s the end of a cycle. I see this as a sign that this hurtful, painful cycle has now come to an end. Yes, it feels awful right now, but what will follow is the beginning of a new cycle.
You could also use your Tarot cards to understand what does the beginning of this new cycle look like. Often the phrase that’s used with this card is ‘the darkest hour before dawn.’ It’s that signal that this is the worst that it can get. It can only get better from here. If that offers hope, then certainly integrate that into your readings. It can only get better from here. The worst is over.
The Three of Swords
Finally, let’s step into the Three of Swords. This is similar to the Ten where the name of it is fine. You’re not stressing out, “Oh, Three of Swords, oh no!” It’s more about the imagery, this card. In this case we see a heart and it’s pierced with three swords. In the background there are clouds and they’re raining. It’s quite a sort of this heavy feeling in this card.
The darker side is that it does relate to heartbreak, sorrow, grief, a broken heart, but the flip side is this, this is a three card. It’s not a ten, so threes mean it’s kind of more of a temporary pain or hurt feeling because there’s still more of the cycle to play out.
I often see that in a relationship. Even with my husband, we were dating for six months and by the end of the six months we were like, “This isn’t for me. Don’t like it. Don’t want to be in this relationship.” So we took a break. I think he was quite heartbroken because I was like, “No, this is not for me.” We went through that period of like, “Oh, this is not good. I’m missing something important here.” Within a week or two we decided maybe we should be together. Maybe we are meant to be together, so obviously it carried on from there. Now we’re married and have children. So the story goes.
The Three of Swords can be a sign of more of a temporary heartbreak, rather than a definite ending to something. I think also with the Three of Swords it can be about taking things a little bit too seriously. The opportunity here is to either grow a thicker skin or just remind yourself of all the good things that are happening in your life and not letting other people’s words, because this is the Swords card, affect your emotions and get into your heart as they say in the picture.
Finally, a positive side with this card is that those clouds, they’re not here to stay. This is again, tapping into that temporary energy of this card. We know that it can’t rain forever. Those clouds can’t stay there forever. Eventually, they fade away. They get blown away. Go somewhere else. And the sun starts to shine through. Whilst you might be feeling this heartbreak right now, that feeling will start to ease over time.
Okay, there you have it. Those are the five bad boys of the Tarot. Now, let me just remind you, if you want to get a free PDF with a summary of what I’ve covered today, so each of the cards with the what’s the darker side and what’s the lighter side, then head on over to biddytarot.com/19. You can easily download that from the website. Plus, you can also join in the conversation on the webpage.
All right, we’ve covered the Tarot bad boys, next time I’m going to be talking about the Tarot good guys and how even the most positive Tarot cards can also have a dark side. I hope you join me in that episode because it’s bound to be good.
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You will never be stumped by a Tarot bad boy again!
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Wonderful. I hope to see you in my Tarot training program or over on the blog at biddytarot.
Until next time I’m wishing you very, very well and we shall speak soon.