Tarot readers spend a lot of energy explaining that “Death doesn’t actually mean physical death, mostly; it usually means transformation.” And of course, I agree with that. And yet, I don’t completely agree with it.

It strikes me as ironic that we are so afraid to predict death when, in truth, it is the only prediction we can make with absolute certainty that it will come true…for we all die.

Handling the news of death, if one sees that in the cards, is a very delicate subject…one that takes much deeper consideration and experience than can be conveyed in a short blog article.

Metaphorically-speaking, however, we can talk of Death as change and transformation. But also, it is a card of endings. Before the transformation occurs, something has to end. We tend to skate over this fact and focus more on the “positive” outcome. This can be dangerous and misleading. Because any sort of loss requires healthy mourning before the loss can be accepted and we can move on. Also, by pointing out the butterfly coming out of the cocoon, we diminish and downplay the real pain involved in metamorphosing from an earth-bound creature to an air-bourn one. People who come to a reading a probably looking for validation and empathy for the real pain they are feeling.

This is one reason I love the Death card from the Legacy of the Divine. It acknowledges the decomposition that occurs before the transformation. In fact, the rich, lush images are one reason so many people love this deck. What are your favorite Death cards and why?

I also like the Death card from my forthcoming Steampunk Tarot. I wanted to honor the sadness that accompanies loss.

Written by Barbara Moore
The tarot has been a part of Barbara Moore’s personal and professional lives for over a decade. In college, the tarot intrigued her with its marvelous blending of mythology, psychology, art, and history. Later, she served as the tarot specialist for Llewellyn Publications. Over the years, she has ...