The Tarot is a deck of cards originating in the mid-15th century in European countries. Initially, the deck was used for playing purposes, but in the late 18th century, people started using Tarot cards for occult practices. Tarot card reading has been extremely popular since then. Even in the 21st century, people refer to Tarot readers to not only learn more about their future and fate but also gain insight into how to deal with major crossroads in life.
Every single card in the Tarot deck has a unique meaning. Besides, the implications of Tarot cards are also dependent on whether they end up being in an upright or reversed orientation after spreading the cards. Tarot readers also consider the meanings of adjacent cards to derive accurate and reliable readings.
Similarly to any type of divinatory technique, Tarot card readings can also predict some good and bad aspects of an individual’s life. While some of the Tarot cards are associated with positive feelings and pleasing life events, there are numerous Tarot card combinations that you may not want to see during Tarot card reading.
The following sections will provide further information about some of the darkest tarot cards and the possible meanings thay can be carrying.
Tarot cards that may predict loss, sorrow, endings, or betrayal include Ten of Swords, Nine of Swords, Eight of Swords, Four of Swords, Three of Swords, Eight of Cups, Five of Cups, Five of Wands, Five of Pentacles, The Tower, The Lovers, The Hermit, The High Priestess, and Death.
The Ten of Swords depicts a man lying face down with ten swords in his back. In an upright orientation, the Ten of Swords predicts painful endings, loss, and betrayal. On the contrary, the reversed orientation of the card denotes recovery and withstanding unavoidable endings.
The Nine of Swords represents a woman (sometimes a man) sitting in a bed while holding her head in her hands. Nine swords are hanging on the wall behind her. The meaning of the card in an upright position is anxiety, depression, fear, and possible trauma. The reversed meaning of the card is almost the same as in the case of the upright version. It means that you might be facing stress, anxiety, or nightmares.
The Eight of Swords depicts a blindfolded woman trapped in a place. Upright meaning of the card is linked with negative thoughts and emotions, imprisonment, restriction, anxiety, and psychological issues. In reversed orientation, the Eight of Swords predicts escape, relief, survivor, healing, and empowerment.
In the Four of Swords, there is a knight laying face up on a tomb with one sword lying beneath and three swords hanging above him. Upright position denotes stress, fear, anxiety, rest, and meditation while reversed card depicts mental strength, self-protection, slow recovery, and healing.
In the Three of Swords, three swords penetrate a heart. While the upright orientation of the card refers to heartbreak, sorrow, separation, and emotional pain, the reversed card may reflect optimism and revealing pain.
The Eight of Cups shows a man walking away from the eight cups. Upright Tarot card meaning is an escape, disappointment, and reaching limits. On the other hand, reversed Eight of Cups indicates irresolution, monotony, fake happiness, and low self-esteem.
In the Five of Cups, a man in a long mantle looks at three cups that lay on the grounds. These knocked cups represent failures and regrets. Behind the man, there are two standing cups, denoting new opportunities that the man misses. The upright orientation of the card is associated with disappointments, grief, loss, guilt, and anger, while the reversed card means self-forgiveness, acceptance, and healing.
The Five of Wands depicts the hands of 5 individuals fighting with wands but do not injure each other. The upright card carries negative meanings, such as conflicts, tension, struggle, and chaos. On the contrary, reversed card leads to solutions, compromise, peace, and conflict prevention.
In the Five of Pentacles, two poor men are walking through the icy wind. Behind the men, there is a church with candlelight coming out of the window. The man cannot see the light and help available right behind them and continue walking through the snowy road. The meaning of the upright card is poverty, isolation, struggle, divorce, and separation. On the other hand, reversed card predicts improvement of financial situation, recovery, employment, and positive changes.
The Tower illustrates a tall tower built on shaky foundations. There are lightning strikes above the tower and two people are leaping from the windows. The card in the upright orientation is linked with sudden changes, chaos, destruction, trauma, unexpected loss, and divorce. Reversed card means avoiding tragedy and preventing disaster.
In the Lovers, a naked man and woman are standing beneath the angel, blessing them for their love and harmony with the divine. While the meaning of the card in the upright position is love, peace, perfect union, desire, and shared values, its reversed orientation predicts disharmony, conflicts, and imbalance.
The Hermit visualizes a recluse standing on the top of a mountain. In the upright position, the card forecasts self-reflection, inner guidance, and spiritual enlightenment. On the contrary, the reversed orientation of the card depicts isolation, loneliness, and paranoia.
In the High Priestess, a priestess sits in front of the veil of the Temple ornamented with palm leaves and pomegranates. Upright meanings are desirability, spirituality, power, fertility, intuition, and divine knowledge. In contrast, reversed card predicts secrets, dishonesty, fertility issues, and lack of self-confidence.
The Death Tarot card depicts a skeleton dressed in armor riding a horse. The skeleton is a symbol of the Messenger of Death. In the upright orientation, the card predicts endings, sudden changes, and transition. The reversed Death card means personal transformation and resisting changes.
Tarot cards that may indicate mental health issues or various illnesses include Seven of Swords, Five of Swords, Three of Swords, Ten of Cups, Nine of Cups, Eight of Cups, Five of Wands, Four of Pentacles, The Devil, and The Moon.
In the Seven of Swords, a man is sneaking away with five swords in his arms, while there are another two swords that he has left behind. Lots of Tarot readers claim that this card is their least favorite in the entire Tarot deck. The card has negative meanings in both orientations. Upright Seven of Swords predicts betrayal, lies, cheating, spying, and getting away with something. On the other hand, reversed Seven of Swords represents confession, pathological liar, maliciousness, keeping secrets, and getting caught.
The Five of Swords shows a man picking three of the swords from the ground. The fact that there are another two swords on the ground tells us that a battle might have been fought and lost. The upright card is associated with conflict, defeat, surrender, crime, violence, rape, and murder. The Five of Swords in reversed orientation predicts peaceful ending, relentless, revenge, regret, and understanding of why one lost.
As discussed in the previous section, the Three of Swords showing a heart penetrated with three swords represents emotional pain. As a matter of fact, it can also be linked with mental health issues caused by heartbreak, loss, anxiety, or betrayal.
In the Ten of Cups, a couple is standing together with their children (typically two) playing around. While the upright position of the card represents love and harmony in a relationship, reversed card predicts separation, struggling relationships, divorce, miscarriages, and abuse that lead to mental health problems.
The Nine of Cups shows a pleased man sitting on a bench. The man is a symbol of contentment and satisfaction, and this is what the upright card tells the reader. On the other hand, reversed card forecasts materialism, devastation, addictions, and arrogance.
In the Eight of Cups, a man is walking to the mountains, leaving eight cups behind him. The card in the upright orientation is a symbol of moving on and depicts emotional depletion while escaping a place that does not need one’s emotional support anymore. Meanwhile, the reversed card is linked with being in situations that might not be pleasing.
In the Five of Wands, five men are standing with a wand in each’s hand. The card might seem to represent a fight, but if we look closely at the image, the men are not hurting each other. The upright orientation can be linked with brainstorming, competition, tension, and conflicts, while the reversed card predicts the avoidance of disputes and stepping back.
The Four of Pentacles shows a man sitting on a bench holding a coin tightly with his hands. Another coin is right on his head and the last two coins are secured underneath his feet. The upright orientation of the card means security, holding on to people, stinginess, and financial stability. Contrarily, the reversed card predicts generosity, letting people go, economic instability, gambling, and sharing.
The Devil represents a half-man, half-goat creature known as Baphomet (AKA the Horned Goat of Mendes). The card in upright means temptation, ambition, materialism, obsession, and impulsiveness. In the reversed orientation, the Devil is linked with breaking free, leaving behind one’s addictions, and perceiving problems more humorously.
In the Moon card, there is a full moon in the night sky right between two large towers. The card in upright represents illusion, fear, intuition, nightmares, and strange emotions. The Moon in reversed orientation is associated with overwhelming, being stuck, denial, and inner confusion.
Tarot cards that may prophesy criminal involvement or different financial problems in an individual’s life include Seven of Pentacles, Five of Pentacles, and The Magician.
The Seven of Pentacles shows a man with a hoe in his hand. The man is resting after a long and productive day. The card in upright highlights what one has created. It is also used for describing long-term ideas. In the reversed orientation, the Seven of Pentacles predicts dissatisfaction with the results or undesirable outcome.
As discussed earlier, the Five of Pentacles can be a sign of betrayal or loss. In addition, the card in an upright orientation can represent financial hardship. On the contrary, the Five of Pentacles forecasts the improvement of the financial situation but can be a sign of spiritual poverty.
In the Magician, a man stands with one of his hands pointing towards the Universe and the other one directed to the ground. The card in upright orientation is a symbol of resourcefulness, meaning that one has everything he/she needs to make visions and plans a reality. In contrast, the Magician in reversed position denotes poor planning, confusion, unclear purposes, and weakness.
Summing up, several Tarot cards that are considered as the darkest ones in the entire deck were discussed throughout the article. While these cards might be associated with negative characteristics and aspects of life, it all depends on how one interprets them.
In some cases, the meanings of both upright and reversed cards were negative. But still, there are cards in which upright orientation predicts positive occurrences and reversed one is used for describing negative influences, or vice versa.
You should just be aware that the combinations of the Tarot cards discussed in the article might not always carry mysterious and dark meaning. Rather, they might even have some positive and desirable implications for certain individuals.