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The 5 Most Misunderstood Tarot Cards, Ranked 

Certain cards in the Tarot deck conjure a foreboding sense of doom or an uncomfortable air of confusion. When drawn, there’s a metaphorical clutching of the pearls, yet these cards are not as negative as they may seem. So, let’s dive into the five most misunderstood Tarot cards, analyzing the true meaning beyond the basic imagery and nomenclature.

5. The Hermit

At first glance, The Hermit may suggest isolation and loneliness. The word itself has come to connote those who choose to live solitary lifestyles. Not to mention, the character on the card often wears dark clothing— gray, black, or blue. Sometimes, he’s even surrounded by a deep blue night sky, which doesn’t exactly conjure bubbly feelings.

When it comes to Tarot, The Hermit often refers to introspection — taking the time to come to an important discovery on your own (without outside influences muddying your journey to clarity). When drawing The Hermit, don’t assume you’ll become a bird-watching basketweaver (not that there’s anything wrong with that). You may just need a moment of solo reflection. 

4. The Fool

It’s pretty obvious why people get offended when they draw this card. Everyone likes to think they’re wise and judicious. Yet, the fool isn’t as much about idiocy, as it is about innocence and folly. In many decks, the fool is depicted in classic jester clothing, hinting at the character’s loveable frivolity. 

The fool may also indicate the potential for a new experience — one in which you will be a novice — so caution may be necessary. Be sure to look before you leap, but don’t be afraid to get caught up in the spontaneity of life (at least for a little while). 

3. The Hanged Man

Seeing a man hanging upside down from his foot may be a little inauspicious, but Tarot is rarely literal. This card does not imply that you will find yourself trapped in a dire situation with no escape. Rather, it’s about changing your perspective. 

The fool may be hanging, but in most Tarot decks, he is depicted entirely at ease. He is not afraid or uncomfortable. He has simply been turned upside down to see his predicament from a unique viewpoint. The old ways of thinking aren’t working. Change your thought processes. On a more basic level, the hanged man can refer to waiting patiently for an outcome or test result. 

2. The Devil

Satan is coming to take you to the netherworld! Run for your life! Jokes aside, The Devil card is less about the notorious Beelzebub himself and more about feelings of entrapment.

Like being in hell, you may feel stuck in a terrible place. You may feel committed to a relationship, job, or financial agreement that you wish to get out of, but feel you can’t. It’s important to note that this card is about your perception of the situation. Meaning, you can escape this enslaving predicament if you take the steps necessary to do so.

1. Death

It goes without saying that the Death card is the most misunderstood of the 78 cards in a classic Tarot deck. The card can (but almost never) suggests literal death. Rather, it implies the ending of one phase of life and the beginning of another. 

The Death card welcomes a new start, yet you must bury past pain and present dilemmas to welcome the future. Though quite foreboding on the surface, the death card is arguably one of the most positive cards in the deck, as it implies the ending of a cycle that is no longer serving you well.