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This post was written by Barbara Moore
on April 12, 2011 | Comments (10)

The Death card is one of the tricky cards of tarot. When it shows up in a reading, readers are very quick to point out that it does not mean actual death. Instead, it means transformation.

I agree that there is a transformative element to the Death card. However, I think we do a disservice when we gloss over the hard aspects of the card. By doing so, we either neglect our jobs on at least two counts. First, we provide information about what is to come so that they can be prepared for it. If we ignore the messy parts of Death, we do not allow or help them to face it with all the necessary information. If they are going through it and tell the to simply focus on the “new beginning” promised, then we disrespect their painful experience.

In the middle of our celebration of spring, we look at the Death card. Sometimes the focus of Death is transformation and sometimes it is time to focus on the bright new beginning.

So, I’m laying the Death card on top of winter. This year, it has been a long, slow death indeed. Winter is dead. Long live Spring.

The Death card from the Mystic Faerie Tarot by Linda Ravenscroft.

Reader Comments

Written By Thelemic Waves
on April 12th, 2011 @ 8:46 am

Nice post. I agree with you absolutely! I find too many students and readers of the tarot want to focus on the caterpillar story when Death rears its sometimes ugly head and I feel I have to remind them Judgement is a better expression of what the caterpillar goes through. Death means “end with mourning” and I’m very hard about that myself. Absolutely, we do a disservice if we don’t provide that information to our seekers.

BTW – love all your posts! 🙂

Written By Katlaya
on April 12th, 2011 @ 10:21 am

I recently got the death card as part of my reading just a few days ago and found your article. I have been through some pretty painful things in my life and have gone through so many personal transitions as part of those things, that I feel as though I am “evolving” constantly. Just recently, all my travails have seemed worth it to bring me to the place that I am today, so I felt the death card was very much accurate and I have “seen” that I am on the verge of something very special in my life. Thank you for your article.

Peace and wonder,

Written By Judy Croome
on April 12th, 2011 @ 12:44 pm

Ever since I read that Chiero said of the karmic debt number 13/4 “anyone who understands the 13/4 holds the keys to heaven” I’ve found the Death card positive and powerful. I still love the symbolism in the RWS pack, although Osho’s Transformation card probably gives a more accessible (And less frightening to some) image. The image here is quite unexpected, almost too soft for my taste (!!) But the Death card and its meaning is perfect for spring (Although we’re going into winter)
Judy (South Africa)

Written By Blackbird "BB"
on April 12th, 2011 @ 4:31 pm

I really liked this piece, Tarot books, IMHO are to often inclinded to soft pitch the card, and then it follows we as readers go on to soft pitch the card.

Ironically a co-worker of mine died Mon Morning; just slumped over while tying his shoes getting ready for work. He was a great guy, had this lilt in his voice that always sounded like he was about to chuckle.

My Card for the Day, Pg of Pents Rx, another reminder that beginnings and endings are intimately entwinned.

Brightest Blessings Barb, BB.

Written By Troy
on April 12th, 2011 @ 6:46 pm

I agree that some things shouldn’t be glossed over, & an actual death or a symbolic transformation both require the giving up, leaving behind of something & moving on. If you don’t address that loss, literally or figuratively.. it will haunt you. The bright future will be tainted if you can’tlet go and release in a positive way….and alas Winter is only just begun to creep in here.

Written By Ty
on April 13th, 2011 @ 7:31 am

I think you summarized this one nicely- it is transformation, but that dosen’t mean it won’t be pain- free.

It is so tempting to sugar-coat this to defuse the ‘it dosen’t mean you are going to die” reaction that we forget tht there is such as growing pains, as my 4 year old reminds me of!

Written By Wendy
on April 13th, 2011 @ 9:37 pm

I hate when the DEATH card shows up in a reading.

I always try to read the cards in the most positive light however, sometimes the Death card does mean an ending or a loss. I do love when the Death card appears to mean a transformation. 🙂

“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, he turned into a butterfly”


Written By Rachel
on April 16th, 2011 @ 1:07 am

I appreciate your input on the meanings of the cards! I enjoy getting as much information of them I can. I recently read that the cards should only be read in the upright postion and not reversed. what do you think? I have always read them with reversed. Would like your input and take on it. thank you and enjoy your writings!

Written By Corey Esselborne
on April 28th, 2011 @ 9:31 am

I have always disagreed with the ‘gloom and doom’ aspect Rider-Waite notion of Death that Barbara Moore seems to wish to cling to so adamantly. What it does is create an element of Fear, Panic, Hopelessness and impending doom that ROBS the querent of the fundamental truth that Death is a NATURAL part of Life as a clearig out of old, unneeded issues to make way for something new in your life: And as Death as a benevolent part of Nature which results in the promise of re-birth fulfilled. Aleister Crowley painted a FAR more beautiful (and true to Nature’s harmonious circle of life) view of the so-called “Death” Card. I do feel that Ms. Moore, being a 21st century psychic, needs to broaden her view a bit more. Not everyone in the world is a Christian who agrees with Rider’s Christian-Damnation-Death imagery and interpretation. It is time to evolve. Death is about evolving, too btw.


  1. Death Revisited  on May 3rd, 2011 @ 10:19 am

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