The Card of the Day: Death
“Accepting inevitable change.”
The Death card is the tarot's most notorious symbol for change and transformation. Many people are afraid to sit at a tarot reader's table because the "dreaded” Death Card might show up! We've all seen the movies where the dark and mysterious gypsy turns over the death card, to foretell someone's ghastly end. In actuality, the Death card is a wonderful card to get in a reading. It indicates that you are undergoing vitally important changes, for your own good. Although not always welcome, and sometimes shocking to experience, the changes before you are the next step in your personal evolution. Although Death outwardly appears frightening, he is ALWAYS accompanied by rebirth. Like the legendary Phoenix, you too will rise from the ashes to live a joyful new life again...revitalized and renewed.
Do you struggle with accepting change? Does fear of death, keep you from actually "living" your life? What old, unneeded, part of yourself are you resistant to letting go of, even though you know it would set you free?
Death appears astride his white horse, heralding an end to old ways. His steed marches over kings and commoners alike. No one is immune from his power. All must change. Everything that lives must die. Death's banner is a white rose on a black background. This is stark symbol of a truth that is "black and white." Light (the white flower) always emerges after darkness (the black background). Although his skeletal face looks scary, Death is not a monster. Nobody wants to see Death, even though he has the thankless job of kindly ending suffering. Death cannot be bargained with, and eventually visits us all. The King under the horse found that out. No amount of money could put off this day for him. The adolescent girl in the card looks away...unable to look Death in the face. The priest has been preparing for Death his whole life, and yet even he kneels uneasily.
Only the fearless little child in the foreground holds a flower up to death. Children don't get scared of change the way adults do... Children don't fear death, because they don't understand a fear of the realm beyond. It’s a land filled with infinite light, where they were just residing not too long ago. What’s so scary about a realm of infinite peace, release, joy and laughter?
Look closely at the background of the Death card...past the river...way up in the distance where the two towers form a gate. A realm of light lies beyond, represented as either a rising or setting sun. Whether the sun is rising or setting is unimportant...for as the sun is setting here, it is simultaneously rising there. Is that a "shining city" illuminated in the sun's radiance?
Overcoming your fear of change is the requirement of this card. I find it fascinating that the card that we associate with change in the tarot, is also the card that makes us react with a twinge of fear whenever we see it. I’ve been reading tarot for many years and even now this card gives me a start! This illustrates that change, no matter how positive the promised outcome, is still scary. And yet change is inevitable. In nature, that which cannot adapt becomes extinct.
The changes occurring for you are leading you to new life. Other cards that surround the Death card will indicate what part of your life is undergoing change at this time. Have courage and let go of all that you no longer need. The light of rebirth awaits you.
If this resonated with you…
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 Alexandra Collins Dickerman, Following Your Path: Using Myths, Symbols and Images to Explore Your Inner Life (Los Angelos: Jeremy P. Tarcher Inc., 1992), 167.
 Johannes Fiebig and Evelin Burger, The Ultimate Guide to the Rider Waite Tarot (Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2016), 48.