Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tarot Wednesday - Death (13)

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So now we've worked out way back to one of the most intimidating cards in the deck, Death.
Rider Waite Tarot

The thirteenth card of the Major Arcana is an interesting place on the journey of the Fool, the point of no return.  To me this card signifies great and sudden change and a transition of some sort into a new phase of life.  For the most part variations of this card picture a skeleton wielding a scythe with the subtext being “he’s coming to get you”.  Personally the skeleton symbolizes seeing down to the bare bones of a situation, stripped of all other options and the scythe is a forced separation from one’s previous status.  In the Rider-Waite symbolism death is riding a pale horse (whom we shall call Mortis) and his conveyance and the look on the bishops face leads one to feel that this change, transition, separation is inescapable. 
Shadowscapes Tarot

I very much agree with this as, in order to move forward, change MUST happen.  I’m reminded of something a Muslim scholar once told me, “Death is very important to the concept of eternal life.”  I think the Phoenix really represents this well as death and decay are necessary to new growth. 

I’m not afraid of Death showing up in my readings, I’m just concerned that I’m never ready for the bone deep change he represents.

How do you see Death?


  1. I see the death card as the change that cannot be undone. Things will never be the same, no matter how much we might wish for the old days. Sometimes the change is better, sometimes worse, sometimes just different. I wish there was a better name for this card so people wouldn't fear it.

  2. Ditto... I think that's why I like the non-traditional iconography/symbolism.