Within the Tarot Community, there are a lot of different opinions on what the Death card REALLY means. Readers will tell you everything from actual Death to Death of a lifestyle, etc. What I would like to write about today is what the Death card means to me, and the symbolism that you see on the card.
I use a Rider-Waite deck, a fairly common deck that has been around for literally decades. This deck has the best connection to me in my readings and has become the easiest for me to interpret, most likely because I have used it for so long. To start off, I am going to assume that most of you do NOT know how a Tarot deck is made up, so let me explain.
Each Tarot deck, regardless of the maker or illustrator, has the same basic cards. It is made up of 56 cards of four suits and 22 emblematic cards called Trumps. Each suit has 10 numbered cards and 4 face cards, the Page, Knight, Queen and King. The 22 Trump cards consist of 21 numbered cards and the Fool, usually numbered 0. In my deck, the suits are Rods, Wands, Coins (also called Pentacles) and Cups. Cards can be read for meaning either right side up (normal) or upside down (reversed). Tarot was first referenced in historical documents around 1425 and has been used both as a card game and as a divination tool.
Death is the 13th Trump in the Tarot deck, an ominous number on its own. While most people think that when Death comes up it is truly meaning Death, my interpretation is different. Death means Change, a movement from one state to another. It may mean that your romance will go from just a romance to a marriage, or that your romance will end depending on the other cards around it, or that you will be gaining or losing a job. Change comes in all forms, and this card just warns of that change coming into your life.
For example, I have had clients ask me to read a Tarot spread on their romance. Let’s do one now. Sarah, who is my client, has been dating Ron for 6 years. She wants to know where her relationship is going. I ask the cards and shuffle and lay out a three-card spread.
The first card is Death, followed by the 10 of Cups, and then by the 2 of Cups. So, I would give her this reading:
“Sarah, there is going to be a huge change in your romance with Ron. I would expect at this time that you and Ron will end up marriage very soon; he is looking at changing your relationship to have more of a commitment and a relationship that you have not had before. I would expect a ring soon, and the marriage shortly afterward.”
Now, lets do another reading. Jim asks me how Sally feels about him. Again, I do a three-card reading, and this time the cards are as follows: 5 of Rods, Death, and 8 of cups. My reading would be as follows:
“Jim, I am sorry to say that Sally is NOT feeling love for you right now, it seems like there are a lot of fights or arguments going on, and she is wanting to change the relationship from what it is now to remove herself from the relationship. I do not see love, I am sorry, but that she is going to leave you behind and go on with her life.”
So, as you can see, Death means different things in readings based on where the card is and what cards surround it. It can be good or bad, depending on the question you are asking and whether it is reversed (no change) or normal (change). Don’t be afraid of this card, it’s meaning is as important as any other card in the deck and can have clear answers for you. Death means change, a different place for you based on the question, and as we know from my last article, change is something that we ALL face every day.
Now, as I said readers can interpret cards differently, depending on their background and what they see in the cards. This is how I read the cards in the above spreads, and how I would respond to clients asking these questions who had received the cards as they are shown. Other readers interpret them differently.
About the Author:
PsychicPat is an Empath, Tarot Reader, Psychic and Medium and has been using these talents for over 40 years. She is a member of the American Tarot Association and loves to help others with her abilities. When not working, she hangs with her husband, family and three dogs.