The Reluctant Oracle- Towers, Devils and Death

When people ask me how I read tarot I am always of two minds. The spiritual side of me wants to tell them that the whole world is alive and trying to guide them to the right path that the cards just help focus the voice of the world around them. The other side of me the more practical side would say it is a combination of the meaning of each individual card and the laws of probability.
A standard Tarot deck has 78 cards and each one represents things that take place in the course of ones life. Moments of happiness, pain, abundance, regret, passion, solitude, and so forth. Each meaning subtlely changes depending on if the card is rightside up or upside down and where it is located in the layout of a reading. As you can imagine becoming a proficient reader takes a great deal of time and memory skills. Because of this most people look at the pictures or the names of the cards and assign a meaning to them that may or may not be accurate
Over the years I have seen this and the stress and fear people experience when a card comes up in their reading that they see as “Bad ” or “Evil’ so I thought I might take some time and share the real meaning of these scary cards so that if you ever have a reading done you won’t have the same negative preconceptions.
Knowledge is power right? Right. So we will focus on the big three: Death, The Devil, and The Tower.


First, Death. I cannot tell you how many times a person has sat down to have a reading and said ” Just don’t let the death card come up, ok?” Firstly as far as I know I have never done a reading where Death has come up and the person I read for has died. The death card represents change, and yes I do sometimes joke and say that death would be a big change for anyone, but the reason the death card means change is because people fear change. We like to hold on to the familiar. All change is like a little death, the end of something we are comfortable with. But without death there would be no birth, no new experiences. Change is hard but stagnation can be worse so if it comes up in your reading, all I can say is don’t fear the reaper. Welcome changes and new beginnings even if they seem scary and difficult.


Now we face The Devil. A lot of people naturaly don’t like this card for obvious reasons, but The Devil card does not imply the presence of the actual devil in ones future. The devil card warns us about the presence of lies in our lives . The devil is called the father of lies; that is why he is on the card to make you pay attention. I have always told my kids I would rather have a thief in my house than a liar Because you can lock up your jewelry but you can’t lock up your mind. You can easily replace a stolen television but once you have lost trust it is close to impossible to get it back. So when you see big red and ugly come up don’t get scared, get alert. check out what people are telling you. Make sure no one is pulling the wool over your eyes.
Last on our list is The Tower this one is tricky because it usually doesn’t bother people and it should. Well, a little anyway. I think the reason that this card doesn’t worry people as much as the others we have talked about is they don’t relate to the symbolisim. the card depicts a tower struck by lightning and falling to the ground- not something we readily identify with. If I were to recreate this card I would show a person sitting in their flooded living room looking at a pile of past due bills while we see a tornado approaching through the window. The tower means chaos. Tearing down the foundations of our life. When this card show up it’s time to brace yourself for something completely different and possibly uncomfortable. As I said people fear change and unlike the Death card which denotes more natural change, the end of the old to make way for the new, The Tower warns us of sudden upheaval. When this card appears it might be a good idea to make sure all your ducks are in a row. A little money in the emergency fund and a brand new spare tire in the trunk of your car.
As always it should be noted that you are the master of your destiny and anything fortold in a tarot reading can be changed. I like to think of readings as a spiritual heads up, like a fellow motorist flashing their brights at you so you know a cop is just up the road looking to hand out some tickets. That little flash can change your whole journey.
All text (C) 2011 by Holly Leach- images from the Tarot de Marseille, 1789

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *