Friday, February 21, 2014

D is for the Death Card - a Pagan Blog Project Post

Waite-Rider Tarot Deck

I have been working with the Tarot since I was very young and it is something that I am quite fond of. The artwork and imagery of the cards drew me in and never let me out. Occasionally a friend will ask me about all of the decks I have in my studio and at least half of them will ask if I have ever predicted someone's death. Morbid but true - seriously where do people come up with this stuff!

The death card does not necessarily indicate that someone is going to die. This card is all about endings and transformation. As you will see in the pictures below. Some decks, including one of the decks I have, do not call the card Death, the one I have calls the card Transformation.

With that said, the Death card can, on rare occasions, indicate that someone will pass on from this life. I have never had that happen in the entire 30 plus years that I have been working with the Tarot but sometimes the thing that is ending is a life, which could be the individual, a relative, a friend or even a pet.  

When the Death card shows up in a reading there a so many different possibilities. Of course it depends on the placement and whether the card is upright or reversed (as an FYI, some people do not read reversed cards, they read all of them upright - I am not one of those people). When Death shows up is could mean the end of a task, a bad day, a relationship, a job or even the end of the situation an individual is currently in. It could indicate that the bonds holding someone back will end and they will be able to move forward to something new. It can be negative or positive and sometimes it could be both. If a job is ending it could cause hardship for the individual but it could also bring new opportunity, something that the individual would have never done if they still had that job. 

When you see the images on the many Death cards you will see that some depict actual death, including the one below which is from the Fairy Tale Tarot. This card depicts the ending of the Beast's life from the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale however it also shows the image of the couple above the death scene and as you can see Beast is a man, his transformation is revealed. This card is not called Death but Transformation and in this deck the card refers to the importance of rising above defeat and transforming yourself.

Fairy Tale Tarot

The Death card from the Steam Punk deck also depicts the end of a life. The image shows a man standing by the grave, presumably of someone he loved while Death stands in the foreground holding a scythe. 

Steam Punk Tarot

Most of the Tarot decks that I own have images of skeletons on the Death card. Here are a few of the decks I own and use.

Deviant Moon

Joie De Vivre 

The Witches Tarot

The Lord of the Rings Tarot's Death card depicts a battle and the death of Gandalf but it also talks about his rebirth on the card. This deck is interesting, I haven't used it too much yet but found the cards fun.

Lord of the  Rings Tarot

The next time you have the Death card show up in a reading - don't panic - just take the time to think about your life and the changes or transformation that could be coming. I am one of those annoying "Glass is Half-Full" people, I believe that everything happens for a reason and also that we have some say in how things play, out so when change happens, I try not to resist it too much (though I have been known to throw a fit now and then) and focus on the positive impact it could have on my life.

As always, these are my own thoughts on this topic. I am basing them on my own experiences and the work I have done with the Tarot over the past 30 plus years. Thank you for visiting!


  1. I really enjoyed the Deviant Moon Tarot. It was an expressive deck and in some ways made some radical departures from the standard expression of the RWS Tarot. The Death card, in particular, I thought was striking. In my eyes, I thought it was really similar to the Death card from the Egyptian Tarot. Quite frightening!

  2. When I saw the Deviant Moon deck I HAD to have it. I love the images I totally agree, that Death card is quite frightening