Tarot of the Shadows: How to Invite the Light In.


Written by Gabriela Herstik

Tarot always surprises you. Sometimes it’s a wonderful basket of daisies, and sometimes it’s just a lump of coal. Sometimes it’s just the tears of your enemies. Even though tarot is an intuitive practice, there are some cards that just hurt. They’re scary- and very often they’re the scariest because they speak of our deepest human emotions. They are mirrors to the darkest, most painful, most vulnerable parts of ourselves- ones we very often try to numb or hide or run away from. But instead of dropping the deck, so to speak, and leaving, how can we invite the scary in? It’s all about perspective, and instead of running away from the darkness, it’s about choosing to embrace it and read the cards as they are- no judgment or bias necessary.

The Tower

It is a completely normal, rational fear to be scared of all your hard work falling apart. We link destruction and chaos and loss with failure. That’s totally normal. Seeing the Tower in a reading can often signal a giant wreck, a falling infrastructure and complete devastation. But what The Tower speaks of is a shift- an energetic earthquake that leaves us with nothing but our foundation. What did you build that you’re so scared of destroying? Very often the things we fear are based out of ego- if you have nothing to show for your hard work, how the world will know you did it. Unless, however, it is your health or your safety or your true spiritual or physical well-being at stake, there’s probably nothing to be scared of. Sometimes it is scariest to take the first step, and what might seem like destruction is really leveling out the field and leaving a solid foundation for new work- work that we have been too scared, or caught up, to do.

What can you learn when chaos ensues? The Tower may very well just be telling you that destruction is a form of creation. We cannot always change our situation, but more often than not, we can change our perspective. Change your perspective.

Two of Swords

Is this a hard situation, or is it a hard situation because you haven’t made a decision? Living in the in-between can serve you if you take the stillness as a time to weigh your options and decide what will work in your highest favor. But if you live in the in-between for too long, the feeling of “stuck” can creep up and consume you. If you’re stuck just because you’re scared of what you’ll see when the blindfold comes off than maybe you need to reevaluate why you’re so okay with the dark.Any decision you make will have consequences regardless if they’re good or bad. But diving into these consequences can be extremely rewarding if you look at them as obstacles to learn and grow from. You can’t change the past- but if you let go of what you did, learn from your mistakes and move forward with this knowledge, you didn’t waste your time.

How can you surrender and allow making a decision to lead to a new adventure? Wear some rose colored glasses and let the universe work through you, don’t be so scared of her plan.

Ten of Swords

Stop. Take time to figure out what’s going on, and ask yourself why you’re so scared. Hitting the bottom is only as bad as you make it- this is an invitation to find your footing. Take what’s blinding you and cast a shadow on it, if you’re hurting because you’ve been ignoring your intuition look at this as a new adventure, and as a new way to listen. The Ten of Swords speaks of hitting a place you didn’t know you missed.  But it is also a reminder that there is always up- take one rung of the ladder at a time.  There has always been another sunrise so do what you can to see the light. If you draw the Ten of Swords in a reading it can be a warning- one that sings of allowing yourself to be consumed by the darkness, or a warning that if something doesn’t change than that will happen. But it is also an invitation, a doorway and a reminder that sometimes nightmares are what are causing us so much despair. Do what you can to wake up.There is always light, just look up.


It is human nature to be worried about the unknown. Death itself, isn’t truly scary- it’s not knowing what’s behind that veil that haunts us. And very often when see this card in a reading, it is easy to see an ending and a lot of hurt. But this card is the ultimate transformation. It is the ultimate step forward because it is asking for unconditional trust in a situation you may have no control over.Something is ending, or something has to end to serve your highest purpose. Choose to see death as an old friend,reminding you that there is a door on the right that you haven’t seen. If one door must close, it means that there is another entrance waiting for you.

Death signals the freshest, newest kind of start. Fire has cleared the field, no embers are left and instead you have something totally clear and new and fresh. What kind of seeds will you sow? Look at this card as an opportunity instead of a loss.

The Devil

Pleasure isn’t sinful. Pursuing what you enjoy is not an issue as long as you’re not hurting anyone, or yourself, in the process. Do you need to stop judging your pleasure as sin, or is there something that you’re doing too much of that’s hurting you? Balance is key so take a step back and see what you’re doing to pursue bliss. The Devil means that you either need to back off or tackle. It’s okay to be scared, of the good and bad alike, but sometimes it’s worth observing old habits and deciding if we need to put more effort into enjoyment, or if all we’re doing is feeding our egos. The Devil asks us for no judgment and to just burn whatever isn’t worthy.

The Devil also speaks of the darkest parts of us, the parts we have been trained to hide and be ashamed of. Are your monsters lurking at your back door, knocking at twilight to be let in? Invite them in for some tea. Talk to your demons, very often the only thing they ask of us is to listen.