The Death card is the most famous and most feared card in the Tarot deck. When it shows up in a reading, there’s often great fear, especially if we’re feeling nervous, or we’re not familiar with the Tarot and its ways.
However when dealing with the Death card, and other cards that have unfortunate associations, we need to have a basic understanding of probability theory.
There are seventy-eight cards in the Tarot deck, and if there are ten cards in our reading, then there is a greater than one in eight chance that Death will be in it.
This situation is intensified if we do lots of readings in a row. Obviously this is not a good thing to do – if we have got a question, we should consult the Tarot once. Yet some people find it difficult to stop, and if you give yourself a dozen readings, then it’s almost a certainty that you’ll have to deal with the Death card.
Which brings me to the question of how Death should be interpreted. The classic composition of this card is a skeleton, with a scythe. At the skeleton’s feet are a number of different people. For example kings and peasants. This emphasises the point that all of us have to die, regardless of our wealth and status.
At this stage we need to widen our conception of death. It is not just about people dying, but also about the death of situations, attitudes and states of mind.
To take an example, let’s say one is in a dreadful mood, and one asks the question ‘When will things ever get better?’ And then the Death card crops up, in a high profile position.
It would be easy to panic, and believe that something terrible was going to happen. But in this scenario Death would simply be telling us that something has to end.
Perhaps our view of the word has been too negative and a new approach is required. Or maybe there are people around us, who are doing us no good, and we must start breaking our ties with them.
In this light, we must never look at a card in isolation. The surrounding cards will provide the context. And by taking into account the cards next to Death, we can see what kind of things have to be changed.
So if The Lovers card follows or precedes Death, we should maybe focus on our love life and how it needs to be overhauled.
In essence the Death card is about transformation, and very often we can’t progress unless we’re able to transform ourselves.
Our present lifestyle may be far from perfect, but it’s comfortable and reassuring. This card can therefore represent a choice of paths, with only one right answer. Do we stay where we are and stagnate, or do we move forward with our lives and blossom?
Giving up one job and moving to the next. Accepting that a relationship is over. Moving out of an unhealthy and derelict house that we’ve lived in for years.
As you can see, the Death card has got many meanings and these meanings have nothing to do with physical death.
Copyright © 2010 Archie Dunlop
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