So, You Drew the Death Tarot Card. Don’t Freak Out—It’s Not Actually Bad

So, the Death tarot card is kinda terrifying, right? Actually, no! I’m here to tell you there’s no such thing as a bad tarot card, but I know you won’t believe me, because:

  • Some cards just look scary. Death is literally a skeleton!
  • TV shows and stories tend to focus on catastrophic outcomes for certain cards. (Hello, scary tarot lady in the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.)
  • We’re ALL kinda freaked out by the idea that something bad is going to happen in the future. Especially these days.

    Would it help to acknowledge that something bad is going to happen, eventually? Life is full of both good and bad stuff—no one’s life is 100% perfect, 100% of the time. The tarot knows this. True, some tarot cards can point to challenging events ahead, but there’s value in where a challenge leads you and how you react. And even when a card might indicate a hardship ahead, the same card also shows you how to tackle it. You’re accessing centuries of wisdom here, people!!!

    When I created my first tarot deck, The Good Karma Tarot, I wanted to make sure the cards showed positivity, silver linings, life lessons, and practical advice on how to handle any situation. So many of my clients are visibly afraid or anxious about what they might hear in a tarot reading, but I’m here to tell you that it’s okay! When we face our issues and take action, we find inner strength, courage, and determination. Think of tarot as a coach, helping you prep for the challenges and celebrate the wins.

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    Let’s take another look at these so-called “scary” cards:

    The Tower

    the tarot card the tower, showing a tower being struck by lightning with people falling off of it

    Raydene Salinas Hansen/Rider-Waite deck

    This is probably the most-feared card in the tarot, no question. It represents sudden, dramatic, and often negative events or revelations. It’s basically a cosmic wrecking ball, sweeping something we thought was true out of our lives and leaving us with the rubble.

    Know this: Whatever’s left behind is better than the false structure that was standing there before. This card indicates the Universe is ripping the Band-Aid off. Deep down, you may’ve known (or dreaded) that this event was coming. Whatever is gone, needed to go.

    The area of your life affected by this card will be something that you know, deep down, isn’t right and isn’t isn’t working. And now that’s all fallen apart, you can rebuild something better in its place. The Tower is actually a relief. You’re free to start over.


    the tarot card death, showing a skeleton in armor riding a white horse, carrying a black flag showing a white flower a man in clergy robes and two children stand in front of the skeleton

    Rider-Waite deck/Raydene Salinas Hansen

    Visually, this card is scary! It’s pretty much always a skeleton. And skeletons mean death. Right away, you think, “No thank you, not today!”—but actually, Death is not about literal death. It does NOT mean you, someone you love, or even someone you know is going to die, okay?

    In the tarot, Death means transformation. Everything has a life cycle, and when Death shows up, it means you’re nearing the end of one cycle (the other cards may help explain what kind), and preparing to begin a new one. And like I said, this doesn’t mean literally dying. It might mean starting a new job, or moving to a new city–basically, starting a new phase of your life!

    Death does have some hardcore energy because it asks you not to suppress, avoid, or delay facing the truth. When this card pops up, it’s telling you to embrace change and go with the flow!

    You’re obsessed with all things tarot. Same. Get all the deets on ~the cosmos~ with Cosmo Unlocked.

    Ten of Swords

    the tarot card the ten of swords, showing a person lying on the ground with ten swords in their back

    Rider-Waite deck/Raydene Salinas Hansen

    I think it’s the visual on this card that freaks people TF out. It literally shows a person with ten swords stuck in their back! It’s gruesome!!! Actually, this card is not about murder, knives, or even backstabbing. Instead, it’s about being told it’s time to leave—the party is over, and you’ve outstayed your welcome. The good news is that the party also SUCKED. You were ready to go hours ago, so why didn’t you? We humans don’t like change, even when the current situation isn’t great. The Ten of Swords shows you the extent (check OUT those ten knives in his back, I mean, srsly) of the damage you’ve sustained by resisting action. This card is forcing you to acknowledge you need to get out, right NOW.

    Literally all the Fives

    five of cups tarot

    Raydene Salinas Hansen/Rider-Waite deck

    You probably hadn’t even thought about these, but in tarot, all the Five cards (the Five of Coins, Five of Cups, Five of Wands, and Five of Swords) are all a little tricky. The Five is a midpoint card, so it signals a time of conflict, questioning, and hardship. The journey isn’t at its optimistic beginning or its fulfilling ending, but instead, it’s somewhere in the middle. Fives are where the main character meets their challenge.

    The Five of Coins is associated with dwelling on a loss and feeling sorry for yourself. The Five of Cups is about grieving, regretting, and dwelling on the past, feeling unable to move on. The Five of Wands is about incompatibility and feeling bad about a situation. The Five of Swords is about full-on fights and conflict with others.

    However, what they ALL have in common is the message that this IS only the second act—you’re being challenged, but challenge leads to change. These cards indicate you’re facing a ~growing pain~ that will help you to identify what isn’t right for you anymore, so you can move past it. Be grateful to the Fives—they’re the cosmic kick in the butt you need!

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