Understanding the Death Card in Tarot

Few cards in the tarot stir a sense of primal fear like the Death card.  Many people refuse to touch a deck out of terror they might draw it.

But for the experienced reader, this deceptively morbid card signifies the relief that a less literal ending is near—–and almost certainly, for the better.

Let’s take an in depth look at why the Death Card may very well be the most welcome draw in the deck.

explain death card tarot

First, we need to define clearly what the death card is not. 

Drawing the death card indicates absolutely nothing about your state of health or the health of those around you.  You need not live anxiously in fear of the grim reaper.

The death card in the tarot symbolizes not an actual physical death, but the death of a situation, relationship or state of being.

“Wait!  That still sounds scary,” you say.

Well, yes.  Change, by its very nature, unsettles us.  Human beings like consistency, predictability, and routine.

But paradoxically, monotony makes us miserable.  We get bored.  We lose ourselves in our ruts.

No matter how spontaneously or adventurously we like to think of ourselves, we all set into our ways on some level.

You need not run a 9-to-5 rat race to slip into habit.

For example, I work a variety of jobs as a yoga/belly dance instructor, an online retailer, a freelance photographer, a full time mom and a semi-professional blogger.   On the outside, my life seemingly defies order and routine.

Certainly, my sock drawer does.

Perhaps least predictably, I travel at least 2-3 times a month, sometimes on very short notice.

But I like my suitcase packed a certain way.  If given a choice, I always take the window seat on the plane.  I never fail to ask the hotel front desk for exactly 3 extra pillows.  I still write in a paper travel journal decades after most people switched to laptops.

In short, I have my ways, and I’m set in them just like everyone else.

But just as the numbness of routine, stability and monotony lulls us into a sense of perpetuity, the death card appears to remind us: life speeds by.

And while we grapple inevitably with endings and change, mourning the loss of a marriage, a job or set of circumstances we felt comfortable in, the freshness that follows an ending ironically ushers in a renewed sense of life.

When the Death card appears in a spread, a few introspective questions tend to tease out the meaning.  For example:

What, in my life, appears to be nearing its end?

Is there anything I am struggling to hold onto that might be best let go?  Relationship?   Job?  Sentimental attachments to material things?  Even the way my furniture is arranged?

When I slip into mindless activity, what am I doing?  What habits put me on “autopilot” and should any of them be eliminated?

When was the last time I felt freshly excited about life?  What do I need to change or “let die” in the metaphorical sense that will make room for something new?

Yes, endings and transition try our sense of security.  In the midst of change, we often mourn the loss of what we knew well, even if it lulled us into monotony, boredom or depression.

But in between endings and beginnings, the limbo offers lessons that literally change your life.

So when the Death card appears, take a step back, breathe a sigh of relief, and remember:

It’s not the letting go that hurts.  It’s the holding on.


Moody Moons is now offering custom tarot readings!

Thanks to some encouragement from my super awesome in-person clients, I’ve decided to take my tarot services viral.

Share this post on any social media, send me a link, and receive 20% off your first reading.

Here’s a little blurb from the website, or you can just follow this link for more information on pricing.

“What I find truly special about the spiritual discipline of Tarot (or any divination system) is that it you can cut right through to the heart of someone’s deepest personal struggles within a matter of minutes and  start to help that person clear the the things that stand in the way immediately.  It’s not a quick fix, but it’s a good way to knock down emotional barriers and start to move forward.

“I consider myself an ethical reader.     I’m not here to convince you of anything kooky.  I don’t claim to have special psychic ‘powers.’   I don’t tell people I can communicate with the dead or lift imaginary curses. Tarot is not a parlor game; it’s a journey into your own self-discovery.  You don’t want me to try and guess what your mother’s cat’s name is; I don’t know, and neither does anyone else unless you tell them.  What Tarot really has to offer you is far more inspirational and amazing than any trick of the mind or lucky guess.

“In fact, I think most people can get something out of the Tarot experience without believing there’s anything special about the cards at all; in many ways, it’s better if you don’t.

“No matter who your Tarot reader is, always remember that the answers are within you.   I believe in empowering the individual to discover his/her own path.  Tarot is not there to make your decisions for you; it’s there to show you what your options are, and open your eyes to some you hadn’t thought of.

You give birth to your own wisdom.  I’m just the midwife.  :)”

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