Have you Pulled the Death Card of all cards in a Tarot deck?
The Death Card: Deadliest or not?
“The Death card”, the name itself, echoes anxiety and stress among querents. But does it even resonate with the Latin phrase “memento mori” or does it have something different in its meaning? Is its purpose to bring fear and discomfort? Or, is there something more meaningful going on within this card? If you have pulled the Death card during a session then there’s nothing to be scared of, it is not as ominous as you think. When observed we see that there is a certain grace in death, and it is an inherent and intrinsic part of life. It gives us a sense of dying each night and being reborn every morning.
Sacred Symbolism of The Death Card
The Death Card is the thirteenth card out of the twenty-two cards of Major Arcana. Traditionally, it holds the image of the Grim Reaper or the Messenger of Death – a morbid structure of a skeleton dressed in black armour, riding a white horse. The Grim Reaper, a personified figure of death, is surrounded by many dead and dying people belonging to various classes, including kings, bishops, and commoners.
A royal member appears to be dead, lying on the ground, while a young woman, a child, and a bishop are seen pleading with the Grim Reaper to spare them. But, as we all know, death is an inevitable symbol of life and no one is spared ever.
The skeletal figure represents the part of the body that survives long after the soul has left the body; the dark armour that clings to the structure symbolizes the invincibility of death and confirms that death will come no matter what. The black colour also suggests mourning that follows death while the horse, sometimes pale and traditionally white symbolizes purity. It acts as a symbol of strength and power. Grim Reaper carries a black flag with him decorated with a white-hued five-petalled rose that reflects beauty, purification, and immortality and the ‘five petals’ suggest a transformation. Here we also see a boat floating down the river in the backdrop. This indicates the mythological belief that there is a boat for escorting the dead to the afterlife. There is also the sun on the horizon between the two towers. However, it is hard to say whether it is the setting sun or the rising sun.
What happens when you pull the Death Card?
On either side of the Death card, we have The Hanged Man and Temperance. They together symbolize the “death journey,”. However, this death is not a physical death rather it is more of a philosophical and metaphorical death that symbolizes the death of old beliefs and thinking and the emergence of new understandings and prospects. When one pulls the death card in an upright manner it asks them to surrender themselves and release all fear of judgment and then go through the process of rebirth by perspiring all the pain of the past.
When pulled in an upright manner this card symbolizes a major change in thinking from old ways into a new way. The horse that the personified Death is riding is seen as stepping over a prone royal, which symbolizes that not even royalty can stop this alteration. This ‘Death’ or change is invincible. This card can be seen as a symbol of the ending and the beginning of new things. It calls out to embrace new possibilities. This is why the scene represented here occurs probably not at night but during the sunrise – to remind that after the darkness there comes light and after death comes rebirth.
Together, all these symbols hint that death is not just about the ending of life but it is about culmination and beginnings, birth and rebirth, change and transformation. Furthermore, when this card is pulled out in a reverse manner then it reverberates that the person is on the verge of a meaningful transformation but they are resisting it. This can make their lives and relationships stagnant. It closes all the possibilities that might approach them.
So, when next time the Death card appears there’s no need to feel unnerved, the card holds a lot of insight about the transformation one needs to savor new things. Therefore, the Death Card is not a death sentence but a card of transformation and by reading the symbols one can uncover a beautiful narrative of endings and new beginnings.