The Real Meaning of the Death CardApril 23, 2013
One of the most common questions in the entire study of the Tarot is, "Does the Death card mean real, physical death?"
Yes, Death can mean a person's "death." More to the point, the Death card talks about endings and the end of life is only one form of ending.
The most valuable thing to remember about that the Death card is that it does not always convey the end of a human life. Actually, chances are better that it refers to some sort of passing, perhaps of a goldfish or cherished houseplant.
The "Death" of Anything
The Death card can refer to the "end" of anything: the closing of your favorite eating-place, the end of an era, the conclusion of an unusually difficult workweek. It can be one of millions of potential interpretations. It would be foolish to live in fear that, occasionally, the Death card will tell you of a sick, elderly relative that may not be around much longer.
The most powerful lesson of the Death card in a reading: it is less about physical death and more about how the seeker copes with endings.
We might be relieved that a solution is approaching. As a hated job ends, the path opens to a new career. Perhaps we will be saddened, as in the loss of that doomed goldfish. In any case, we need time to adjust to the fact that something comfortable will no longer be a part of our lives.
The star sign of the Death card is Scorpio, a sign more about transformation than an actual loss. Scorpio appears in three distinct forms: a scorpion, snake and eagle. The Death card can refer to the progress from lower to higher, then highest.
Scorpio also speaks of sexuality. When the universe takes from us, it provides something in return. As the saying goes, "When a door closes, a window opens."
The thing entering our lives may not be the same as what has left, but it tries to fill the space, giving us inspiration to carry on.
Ruminations on the Death Card
Death and sex relate closely in Scorpio, as it is the star sign that stands for both. This connection hints at the real meaning of the Death card. Western cultures view "Death" with fear, often because they see Death as an end—or THE end—and they simply hate the end of anything.
Other cultures view Death as a natural and necessary part of life. Death is a part of the enduring cycle of existence. In the karmic traditions, karma dictates that you must die to be reborn.
Winter leads to spring and to appreciate the new, we have to face loss. These things are the essence of the Death car. It reminds us of the inevitability of change.
Before the change occurs, even as change is happening, the seeker needs a chance to grieve, mourn and weep. Death is the consummate equalizer and humbles us all. It is all a part of life.
The grieving process is necessary, because it gives us the inner space for something new, different and fresh to enter our lives. Something that could revitalize, restore or transform us.
The Death card tells the seeker there will be a time for grief and grieving, but it is not forever. Nothing is. The darkness of despair will always result in a sunrise, a newborn reality rising from the ashes of the past.