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Death

A description and interpretation of the role of Death in the Tarot

In a nutshell...

  • UPRIGHT

  • transformation
    change
    uprooting
    mourning
    end of cycle

  • resistance
    blockage
    rupture
    repression
    passivity

  • REVERSED

General overview

Among all the major arcana of the Tarot there is perhaps no other card that causes as much fear and worry as Death. Behind the name of Death this card hides a paradox: it has an extremely positive message for those who draw it.

Death represents a person with no flesh on them at all, in effect a skeleton, which is obviously a symbol of time passing and death. In his hands the character has a long scythe which has just swept through the human remains and heads that lie on the ground. One of them bears a crown, signifying that no one escapes change, whatever their position in society. The obvious violence of the scene is reinforced by the predominance of the color black, rarely seen in the Tarot. Although it first evokes the absence of light, black also refers to everything that is created in the invisible or spiritual world. After all, the animals who hibernate in the dark come out rejuvenated once the spring arrives!

The colored vegetation growing out of the ground also refers to the idea of rebirth. Death’s objective, in fact, is not to cut down life but to prune it, so that it can come back to enjoy another day. It’s no coincidence either that Death’s spinal column looks like an ear of wheat since everyone knows that is a source of life!

Closing circles, shutting doors, finishing chapters, it doesn't matter what we call it; what matters is to leave in the past those moments in life that are over.

Characteristics

  • from an emotional viewpoint

    Death is a powerful symbol of transformation, rebirth and passage. In the emotional sphere the card is usually associated with the need for a breath of fresh air in your relationship, which will give it new life and help it to last longer. For singletons, the card announces the healing of past wounds. The possibilities of creating a new relationship are, therefore, excellent.

  • from a career viewpoint

    The same idea of transformation applies in the professional domain. You need to welcome change with your arms wide open so you can make the most of the opportunities that will soon be offered to you. This could, for example, refer to a professional transfer, a job change or even a change of career. Death signifies that the end of a cycle is near, so you need to get yourself ready for the next one!

  • from a life path viewpoint

    The main teaching of Death is about the cyclical nature of all things. Although it is natural to appreciate the comfort of a well-established routine, accepting change is very positive for your development. To advance and exploit your potential to the full it is essential to know how to draw a line under the past and open yourself up to new opportunities.

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    Pair Death with a card of your choice

    • Death

      transformation
      change
      uprooting
      mourning
      end of cycle

    • WITH

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    Its influence

    • short-term

      In the short-term, Death teaches you that change is not necessarily dangerous. In fact, it is sometimes necessary to separate yourself from your past or make a big change to your way of living so you can develop as a person. Having new ways of seeing things also gives you the chance to enjoy new opportunities, meet new people and question yourself, so you can make better progress.

    • long-term

      In the long-term, Death reminds you of the cyclical nature of life. It is necessary to put some distance between yourself and things, so you aren’t powerless in the face of the uncertainties of destiny. Life is a game of chance whose rules you have to accept. Once you adopt this position you’ll learn to take advantage of the obstacles you find before you and you won’t be subject to their disadvantages. Congratulations, you are now detached, and master of yourself!

    Full interpretation

    Interpretation of Death upright

    Despite the appearances and the visual symbolism of the card, it is important to keep in mind the positive connotation of Death. In fact, it’s not about seeing Death in its literal sense, but of considering it as a symbol of the end of a part of the seeker’s life. Thanks to this card, the seeker can draw a line under past injuries and detach themselves from values that are not appropriate to them anymore. As we learned from Wheel of Fortune the universe is cyclical in nature. After the rain comes the sunshine, as a well-known saying has it. When the end of a period is signaled, you are not faced with a vacuum but with the start of a new cycle. So, Death should be considered as a strong vector for change and development, a character that allows you to start off again on a more solid foundation, a kind of tool that frees you from past suffering. Of course, it’s normal that moving from known to unknown will be worrying. Abandoning things you are attached to and questioning your projects is not easy to do. However, there is nothing better if you want to advance along your life path and rebuild on more solid foundations. The long-term benefits could be immense!

    Interpretation of Death reversed

    It is when it is drawn reversed that Death can be considered a negative card, although its message must always be read in conjunction with the other cards in the draw. In this position it witnesses to the difficulty the seeker is having in accepting changes, even though they are essential to the seeker's development. Thus, each new situation has a tendency to be experienced as painful, the seeker’s everyday life is marked by worry and pessimism. Although it is perfectly natural to be attached to your past, it is also important to accept the virtues of change. New situations are great tools for those who enjoy progress and development. Therefore, you need to accept it is necessary to question some past experiences and be calmer when faced with upheavals. They may be extremely positive in the end. Don’t be afraid, open your arms wide, and you’ll soon be rewarded.