The Fool has reached a state of acceptance and has been released from his position as the Hanged Man. Here he has a new challenge to deal with: Death. All feelings and thoughts of acceptance flee as he looks upon the terrifying visage of the Grim Reaper.
When you encounter the Death card, do you feel prickles up the back of your neck? Do you mentally work your way through the list of your loved ones to make sure they are in a safe place? Do you fear what might be waiting around the corner for you? It’s time you were introduced to the specter of Death. It’s not quite as scary as you think.
Ancient Greek myth tells us there was no physical death until Pandora’s husband, Epimetheus, unwittingly opened her little box of horrors. As a result, he unleashed all manner of pestilence and difficulties, including death, upon the human race. Interestingly, Epimetheus means “afterthought” or “hindsight”, so he was unlikely to think through the consequences of his actions.
More recently, Death has appeared as a character in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books where over the series, he has undergone a character arc of his own and become almost human in thought and deed. Pratchett’s Death is a neutral entity, simply carrying out his work of escorting the recently deceased to their ultimate destination – of which, we are left to guess. The spirits of the dead, as well as Pratchett’s readers, find him kindly and oddly reassuring.
Most tarot readers will hastily assure their clients that, “Of course, Death doesn’t mean actual death.” In most cases, they are right – it doesn’t – but sometimes it will mean exactly that. Usually, if a death in the family is imminent, other “dark” cards will appear around in support. Usually, Death appears to inform you that something important is ending. It may happen in your work, relationships, or any other aspect of your life. This change may be welcome, or it may be scary; one thing is for sure – you can’t change it. Death is a slow moving energy – imagine a huge piece of machinery slowly bearing down on you. It just keeps coming, and there’s not much you can do about it.
On the bright side, where there are endings, there are usually new beginnings. It’s not possible for something to end or die and leave a void – some other energy has to take its place. So if you lose your job, another will come along. If a person dies, then the space they leave shrinks and closes up given time and a willingness to accept the inevitable. Often new life appears in the form of birth in the family. As the sun sets, a new day arises. Try to see the Death card as a necessary and positive representative of the life cycle; showing us that change and transformation are processes that all human beings must go through to experience deep spiritual cleansing.
In the Rider-Waite deck, Death is illustrated as an armored skeleton riding a white horse. The armor is to indicate that Death is invincible – as yet, no one can cheat it permanently. Death carries a black banner, superimposed by a white rose to represent death as purification. Around the horse’s feet lie the dead and dying. One of those is a bishop who raises his hand toward Death as if in supplication. Not even he, an intermediary of God, can avoid Death’s ruthless progress. In the background, the sun rises, reminding us that a new day is coming.
Interpretations in Various Areas of Life
Your job ends but, let’s face it, you probably hated it anyway. It’s time to move on to a better opportunity. Let it be a place you look forward to working. Take a little time, if you can, to think about what you want to do with your life.
Sometimes the appearance of Death in a career-related reading indicates major changes will be taking place; possibly a complete restructuring of the business. You may find yourself in a new job within the same company, working with new people. You may have to change your methods, your procedures, and even your attitude. Don’t worry though, it will be for the best.
Your relationship reaches the final stages of its demise. You have tried everything, and it is still not working. Time to call time on this particular partnership and move on. Alternatively, this could be the wake-up call you need to change everything about it. Only by undertaking a total reform of the basis of your relationship can it survive, improve and grow into a beautiful thing.
The Death card also appears when a friendship has come to a natural close. There’s no point trying to keep it going now although there is a chance in the future for a resurrection, but only if both parties undertake a radical change in perspective.
Income suffers, usually due to outside forces. You have to have a rethink of how you structure your finances. You might have to sell-up, downsize or even write off assets. Be assured that all this is necessary; you will eventually gain much more than you lose.
The sight of the Death card turning up in a health reading may be enough to push you into a total panic. But don’t; sit back, breathe and relax. You or a loved one may need to undergo a new treatment or change your regime completely to improve your health. Perhaps you have some habits that you must discard? Maybe seeing the Death card will jolt you into a new way of living that will improve your health and your family’s well-being.
It’s time to delve deeper into your beliefs. You are going to experience a complete transformation of your viewpoints. At the moment, they are not serving you well and will lead to negativity, either within yourself or projected outward to other people. You will undergo a spiritual rebirth, and your life will improve day by day. Think of it as shedding unwanted and unnecessary barriers – like a snake ready to discard its skin, your current beliefs and attitudes are restricting you. You can’t grow; you can’t change until these superficial and unhelpful ideas that have underpinned your life for years are released.