Death: an ending or conclusion to something, or a change, transformation
Key Words: Change, Exposure, Transition, Termination, Inevitability
Transformation, closure, regeneration are the processes associated with this card. Death is an ending before an utter transformation. It has been likened to the very peak of Spring, when the flowers can no longer hold their breath and they must pop open to bloom. It is like a caterpillar in a cocoon, who is verging on the beginnings of breaking out to become a butterfly!
Many of us equate death as an ending, like loosing the game of life. Thankfully, that is not what this card is about.
The Death card speaks of a major conclusion in an area of our lives. Often when this card shows up in a reading it means the querent has had, or will have a change that is monumental. The key point to remember here is that where there is an ending, there is also a beginning. The Death card also exposes us to the inevitability in our lives. Change. We can always count on change. No matter Life is in constant motion and this is the irony of the Death card. Death is never the end – it is simply a motion in a different direction.
Skull: Long seen as a symbol of humanity’s mortality – the skull is a symbol that all things change and transition. Some cultures see the skull as the seat of the mind – the home of our thoughts. In this case, we can translate the skull to mean the death of unwanted thoughts.
Sun: More irony with this card! The sun is a symbol of life and growth. The sun in this case serves as a symbolic reminder that where there is an ending, there is always a new beginning. The sun will rise again, and tomorrow is another day.
Rose: A long-standing symbol of purity, promise, and beauty. In the case of the Death card, this rose represents the promise of new beginnings. We must also take the thorns into consideration – with the promise of new hope, we may have to endure a few stinging thorns (painful ordeals) along the way. Such is the way of life. More on Tarot rose symbolism here.
Flag: When we consider the cards on which the flag is featured (Death, Sun & Judgment) we get a good concept of its symbol meanings. The flag is an announcement to change – something has shifted and a flag makes the world aware of this shift. It is a bright, bold obvious sign that a new day is dawning. This is not about subtle shifts – the flag is about “in-your-face” transformation; an event to announce to all who will hear.
Black Tourmaline: The keyword for this crystal is Alignment. As a grounding stone, black tourmaline can be used whenever energy feels scattered and disconnected. It therefore, bring awareness back to a grounded state of mind. Tourmaline does not absorb negative energy. It repels it. It is the best crystal to use against the ill effects of low frequency and high frequency electromagnetic waves (EMF) and protects against smog, radiation, psychic attacks and repels all kinds of negative energy. It grounds energy as it is connected to the Root/Base Chakra. Electric fields can be produced by the local build-up of electric charges in the atmosphere associated with thunder and lightning.
When contemplating the Death Tarot card meanings, ask yourself the following questions:
How do you handle change?
What can you do to prepare yourself for change?
Is there something in your life that is due for a change?
Should you wait a bit to make that decision you’ve been worried about?
How do you feel about endings? Do you recognize they are followed by beginnings?
Are you being honest with yourself in exposing areas of your life that need transition?
Chakra: Root Chakra, Crown Chakra
I Ching: Huan
Runes: Kenaz, Eihwaz
Number 13 (see number 4)
Colors: Yellow, Black, White
Crystal: Black Tourmaline, Bloodstone, Amber
Characteristics: Passionate, secretive, intense, mysterious, sexual, brooding, paranoid. Unexpected loss or change, new beginning, illness, death, bad luck. The Death card is often misunderstood. The number of the card itself, bad luck number 13 is accompanied by images on the card of gloom and doom, yet it’s real meaning suggests not physical death, but rather a change, an ending or the beginning of something new! The skeletal harvester in the imagery is gathering sustenance and clearing the ground for new growth. As death is an essential part of life, this card truly symbolizes reincarnation, regrowth and renewal. The skeleton represents the part of us that is rarely seen, so therefore, it is sometimes necessary to reveal apart of our inner self in order to examine who we are more closely.
Dreaming of death is often an indication of great change in your life. In some traditions it means that someone in the family would soon be wed and the wedding would be beautiful. In some circles it means a birth, the opposite of death. To be unable to identify the dead person means a windfall of money for you, To talk to a dead relative is a sign of great good luck.
Throughout history, people from various religions speak of Azrael “Archangel of Death” who comforts them when they are dying and escorts their souls into the afterlife. Many people from all walks of life who have had near death experiences have reported that they encountered angels who have helped them. Even people who have seen their loved ones dying have also reported encountering angels who gave their dying loved ones peace. When people die, angels may accompany their souls into another dimension, where they’ll live on. It may be just be one angel who escorts a particular soul or it may be a large group of angels who make the journey alongside a person’s soul.
The Angel of Death has been personified as an evil creature wearing a black hood and carrying a scythe. This originated from the Jewish Talmud’s description of an evil Angel of Death who represents the demons associated with the fall of mankind However, the Midrash (a Hebrew term for ways of interpreting biblical stories) explains that God does not allow the Angel of Death to bring evil to righteous people. Jewish tradition says that there are many different angels such as Gabriel, Samael, Sariel, and Jeremiel who may help dying people make the transition from life on Earth to the afterlife.
The Muslim Quran mentions an Angel of Death who is charged with taking your souls, “and then you will be returned to your Lord.” (As-Sajdah 32:11). Muslim tradition says that the angel Azrael separates the soul from the body at the moment of death, and Azrael and other angels who help him accompany it to the afterlife.
The Christian Bible doesn’t name one specific angel as the Angel of Death. But it does say that angels are “ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation” (Hebrews 1:14) and makes it clear that death is a holy event for Christians (“Precious is the sight of the Lord in the death of his saints,” Psalm 116:15), so according to the Christians, it is reasonable to expect that one or more angels will be present with people when they die. The Catholic Church teaches that the Archangel Michael escorts souls who have died to the afterlife. Michael may communicate with dying people near the end of their lives on Earth, helping them find redemption before they pass on.
The Buddhist Tibetan Book of the Dead describes how people who are not yet ready to enter God’s presence when they die may find themselves in the presences of Bodhisattva (an angelic being) after death. Such bodhisattvas may help and guide the deceased souls in their new state of existence.
Deceased (dreaming about)
Dreams of being haunted by the dead or guided by the dead is more common than most being may think. Many women have dreams of being cursed or criticized or by someone who’s passed away often from their deceased spouse. Men, on the other hand have more dreams that their deceased mother is scolded them for giving away their belongings, not marrying the right person or they are not good enough. Sometimes you may receive a significant message from your deceased loved one or an angel, who has a meaningful impact on your life.
The Sugar Skull or Calavera