The short answer is no, there are no “bad” cards. Even in the tarot, the Death card, which is feared by most, is really a card about a chapter of your life ending and a new one beginning. It’s almost always about transformation and change, not about actually dying.
In the Midnight Oracle deck, there are cards I see as more challenging than others, but any card by itself has both positive and negative aspects.
I especially see challenging aspects of a card if it’s the second card drawn in a pairing. The second card always clarifies the first card, so if I see a card that I generally read as more of an obstacle in most cases, it lends a shadow aspect to the reading itself.
For instance, if I got the Heart card, which generally means love, and the second card was Snake, I would probably read it as some kind of deception in love. Snake, however, can also suggest sexuality, so it could also be a hot love affair. If I didn’t see the connection clearly, I would pull a couple more cards to clarify the reading. So, if I got the Fruit card along with Heart and Snake, it would make me lean more toward seeing it as a message that a juicy love affair was coming. If I got Tower along with the first two cards, I’d know things weren’t going well in that relationship.
There are 7 cards I see as more challenging than others in the deck. Again, they aren’t “bad” cards inherently, and they also have positive meanings, but I definitely check my feelings about these cards when they appear.
Sword – This blade can cut both ways. While it can be a card of breakthrough and cutting away what no longer serves you, it can also be a card of confrontation. In relationships, it can cut ties or put you at odds with loved ones. In finances, it can cut profits. However, if you are seeking mental clarity, Sword cuts through the confusion and becomes an ally.
Lock – Usually, this card tells you that your options are limited right now, and you don’t have easy access to what you want. However, if you are looking to be committed to someone, Lock can signify a lasting bond.
Snake – As discussed, Snake often means deception. If someone is a “snake in the grass,” they are up to no good. But Snake can also have sexual connotations. And I’ve seen it paired with Path to show that the road ahead is winding, not a straight shot to a goal.
Shadow – This card automatically casts a dark shadow by its very nature. But often the darkness simply cloaks what we cannot see. It may be that something is just hidden. The Shadow asks you to confront your own darkness within. How are you blocking your own light?
Stone – This card goes both ways, especially depending on how its paired with other cards. Sometimes Stone blocks your path. Sometimes Stone is a firm foundation on which to build your life. You get to decide if it’s an obstacle or a blessing.
Tower – Classically in the tarot, the Tower is about disaster. Your life is crumbling, and you have to rebuild. But sometimes when things are falling apart, they are really falling into place.
Mask – Another card of possible deception and hidden intent, the Mask could be hiding a monster. Or it could simply be how you are hiding your true nature. What are you not wanting to show the world? And how do people really see you?
Other cards that can be challenging, depending on context:
Turtle – If you are in a hurry, forget rushing if you get Turtle. The good news is that you will make slow but steady progress. Just don’t expect anything to happen right now.
Crow – This card has so many meanings, but Crow is often seen as a harbinger of bad omens by some people. It can be associated with death or endings. I most often see Crow as a messenger who brings gifts and pearls of wisdom.
Arrow – This is a card I associate with directness and action. You’ll move quickly if you get arrow. However, it can also be used to kill, so if you feel like someone is shooting arrows at you, it could be a card of warning.
Moth – Moth is another card that can be associated with darkness and death, due to how it flies at night. I see it as a card of transformation like butterfly, especially when working with your shadow self. It’s also a great card for creativity, and it means that you are always striving for the light.
Time – This card can be on your side…or not. If paired with a card like shadow, the timing is probably not good for your undertaking. If paired with the Sun or Arrow, you can likely expect smooth sailing. Most often, it reminds you that all will happen in good time, so be patient.
Remember that these interpretations are just suggestions, based on my personal experience. You will see different meanings in the cards that are perfect for your situation! As always, trust your intuition to show you what you need to know.