“They say all good things come to an end, but we seem to forget that all bad things do too.” - Unknown
The Death card in tarot has gotten a pretty scary rep. However, all the Death card represents is transformation. It is the equivalent of a caterpillar changing into a butterfly. As we know, once that butterfly comes to be, the caterpillar is no longer. The Death cards speak to something old leaving so something new can come in. This card is connected to Hades, the Greek God of the Underworld, which could be another reason people are intimidated by this energy. The Death card coming after the Hanged Man shows that a decision was finally made. No longer are you sitting on the sidelines trying to gather information so that you can make the best decision. You have decided on a direction to go, which means you have decided to leave something behind or let something go. You have literally put a certain scenario to death by choosing another one. Rarely does this card actually foreshadow death; again, this is when you pull clarifying cards and apply context.
“The ultimate message of the Death card is the promise that new life follows disintegration
(Alexander and Shannon 98).”
In some decks, a sun is shown in the backdrop to represent resurrection or the light after all the darkness. This is reassuring you that whatever is coming in will be more fitting than what had to leave.
Past: The Death card in this position could represent a monumental moment in your life that has directly landed you where you are today. This is the feeling of waking up one day and thinking back to who you were five years ago. Do you see the changes? Can you find some similarities between who you were and who you are? Are you happy with who you are now? If you are not, then maybe you need to spend more time in the Hanged Man energy and become more intentional with your growth.
When the Death card comes out, to me, it means you have a little bit more control as to what is ending moreso than the Tower card. The Tower card is just inevitable changes that the Divine powers felt were necessary to catapult you to where you needed to be. The Death card comes when you have decided where you need to be.
Present: You are in the process of having to say goodbye to someone or something that you once decided you needed or wanted in your life. This is not easy and should not be rushed. Allow yourself the time to grieve what you are leaving behind. This is important because when something new comes in to fill its place, you don’t want to be so stuck on that old thing that you miss the blessing. Try to remember that nothing that you need will be taken away from you in vain. Trust that whatever you have to leave behind, you outgrew. It’s like you are going on a quest and you find a friend along the way who has promised to get you over a mountain but no further. Once you two have completed that task, they tell you they have to go because two people can’t go where you are trying to go. Yes, mourn that friend and appreciate what they have done for you, but do not stay there. You still have a quest to complete and they have more people to help get over that mountain. Allow people and situations to occupy certain seasons in your life and try to be understanding when that season is over.
Future: With the Death card in this position, you can expect an ending or parting of the ways with something or someone. At this point in the reading, you probably already know what that something is. I almost consider this a warning from your guides: You can either be on the front lines of this shift or sit and wait for it to come. This Death energy can easily change into a Tower moment, which again, is something you have less control of.
This is a good sign to prepare yourself for some shifts in your life and remind yourself that you will not know all the answers as you go along this journey. Try your best not to allow this card to scare you but rather wake you up a little bit. Again, this powerful, transformative card comes after the Hanged Man,who is usually depicted as sleeping and gathering himself mentally.
*Disclaimer: Reading tarot cards in reverse is totally up to the reader. There are many who choose not to. There is no right way to do it; go with your intuition. For some readers a reversed means that the energy of that card cannot manifest into reality due to a block. So if you are someone who chooses to not read reversed cards, you may skip this part, however if you are that reader, keep reading!
Remember to always be authentic with your spiritual practices.*
The Death card reversed can show fear and hesitation. You could be hesitating to make a decision and choose a direction because you are fearful of losing what you have. The Only Tarot Book You’ll Ever Need said it best: “ You’re stuck in old habit patterns that you know need to be changed, but you don’t want to put forth the effort to alter them even though you are unhappy with the current situation (Alexander and Shannon 99).”
For example, you have a friend who continuously complains about their partner, and despite all the advice you give, they stay with this person. At some point you get annoyed and you what? Tell that friend to no longer come to you until they take the necessary effort to get themselves out of the situation. The Death card reminds you that you cannot always wait for outside powers to save you from something you can totally save yourself from. Be intentional and consistent with change and you won’t live an unhappy life.
You are being advised to be patient with yourself during this time. You are going through a spiritual metamorphosis and should cut yourself some slack. By approaching this period with grace, patience, and understanding, you will see the results faster and be more in tune with your new self. If you have been thinking about cutting off something in your life, trust your gut and just do it. Cut the cords and move towards a new direction. Regarding whatever you are stressing over and cannot make a decision about, write out where you want to be to your guides and surrender to whatever happens.
Alexander, Skye, and Mary Shannon. The Only Tarot Book You'll Ever Need. 1st ed., vol. 1, Avon, Adams Media, 2019. 1 vols.
Symone Smith, @aquaa_CUNT