Friday, October 24, 2008

Does the Death Card in a Tarot Pack Really Show a Death?

By Richard. A. Field

When Death appears during a Tarot Reading, this frightening card from the Major Arcana does not necessarily indicate a real Physical Death(unless other cards within the spread confirm it) but a necessary change.

The Card has strong Elemental links with Water, and therefore indicates that there is a difficult change on an emotional level, and the Death card will certainly show up in a Reading if something in your life has ended/is ending/or is about to end.

When we lose someone that we love, or end a Relationship, or even leave a job-we feel it on an Emotional level. It is these difficult emotions that act as a catalyst to bring about the change promised by the Death card, and we begin to realise and understand one of the most poignant lessons in Life: Everything ends at some point, nothing is permanent.

The Death card symbolizes being able to live our life to the full, without the everpresent fear of Death or of a pattern of life ending. I have chosen to use the Death card from the Rider-Waite deck, illustrated by Pamela Coleman-Smith as the symbolic imagery is very rich and easy to interpret:

The figure of Death sits astride a horse which tower over four figures: The first, a King, is lying lifeless on the ground. He is wearing his royal regalia to symbolise a person in an advantaged and superior position. The king symbolises the final totality of death, and the Ego. He is the "How could this happen to me?", and even the "How could this be allowed to happen to me?" as we are all prone to thinking when something has ended painfully for us.

The second figure is the Bishop or Pope. He prays to his God that Death will overlook him, confident in his faith that He is a divine link to Supreme powers who will protect him because of his faith. The reality for the Bishop is that even Supreme powers must bow down to Natural Law.

A young Maiden, full of Beauty, Vitality and Youth kneels on the ground. Her head is turned away in a gesture of defiance. She assumes, because of her Beaty and Youth, that Death cannot touch her. By looking away from Death She believes will give her protection.

The last figure is a Child. He/She is completely unafraid, and looks at Death directly. The Child is pulling on the young Girl's arm as if to say "Look, there's nothing to fear!" The child symbolises Us and the way in which we should embrace certain change and difficult endings. I do not believe that the Death card symbolises a physical death for the Querant, but can show the emotional affects of death and unwelcome change upon the Querant's Life.

Richard Field is an Experienced and practising Tarot Consultant, specialising in email Readings and face-to-face Readings. Richard has studied tarot for over 10 Years and is keen to share his knowledge with anybody interested in learning the Art of Tarot. You can send your questions, feedback , and opinions to, or visit, the home of the best and cheapest Readings on the entire UK and US web!

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1 comment:

David Alan Richards said...

I don't believe the figures in the Rider-Waite death card express such particular emotions and points of view. I believe they're feelings aren't very plain to see and quite open to the intuitive interpretation of whatever reading one's doing Yours is is as good a take as any though.

Whenever I draw the death card, I know it generally stands for change and/or rebirth, but my heart skips a beat and I draw a lot of other cards just to make sure no one I know is going to die or something.

Old stereotypical meanings die hard for me!