I think one of the things that freaks people out most about the Tarot cards is the Death card. That scary looking dark thing sitting on a horse, on the way to take your body and soul.
Our western culture does not deal with passing over so well I think. We do not have enough externalization or rituals to help the transition phase.
Even in Ireland where I am from the ‘Wake’ is happening less and less. The ‘Wake’ is where the body of the deceased is kept in the house (after being embalmed) until the third day when the lid is put on the coffin and brought for burial. During the time in the house that the lid is off the coffin, people can see the body. People eat, drink, play music and tell stories around the body. They touch the body. They cry beside the body. They leave notes in the coffin. All ages, including children come to see the body. Men cry and its considered normal, especially if they are carrying their father, mother, wife or child’s coffin to the church. After the burial the mourners traditionally do not attend feasts, weddings or celebrations for a year. They do not send birthday cards or Christmas cards. They mourn. They often wear black the first few weeks/months.
However, more and more the culture around death is disappearing. It is no wonder the whole Gothic and Vampire scene is so big now – a way for the psyche to connect to the darker unknown realms and the subject of Death. When we do not have rituals around Death it has to pop up somewhere else.
You need to understand what YOU feel about this loaded Tarot card because sooner or later the topic will come up for you when you read the cards for yourself or others.
Is the Death card about death?
Yes and No.
Yes – the Death card WILL often come up when you are reading for someone and their death is imminent. I see this more in the case of people who are suicidal, suffering from terminal cancer or another illness. The person KNOWS they are going to die or they WANT to die, and thus the Death card will come up.
No – the Death card is not always about Death. This card can also pop up when people are going through changes. Usually big changes – moving house, leaving a relationship, changing job and all those things that can stress us out. Even having a baby is the death of the old you as you enter the world of motherhood.
Death means Change.
We all have big changes in our life at times so in-evidently this card will pop up from time to time. Most of the time in my experience the Death card does not mean the end of life.
How do you know when the Death card means Death?
Your intuition will tell you. It is that simple. If you doubt your intuition then start learning how to make it stronger. I know physical Death by the Tarot cards that come up and by the smell. I have a specific smell I recognize when someone is going to die. Kind of like a musty old book. Very distinctive. When you are strongly intuitive / psychic you will just KNOW when the death card means death.
Should you predict death?
I personally feel strongly about this question.
No way is my simple answer!
Who are you to tell someone about the end of their life? You might feel you are serving the person by ‘preparing them’. Actually I often see a big ego disguised behind a helping guidance from the cards. Is it really beneficial for someone to know they are going to die soon? Is it your right to tell them? I think it is not.
What if you are wrong? What if your words send the person into a state of anxiety and dread. I strongly advise my students not to predict someones life ending, even if you feel it and see it.
Should I even mention Death?
I do. I say something like this…’This card means something is going to end. Because the Death card is a Major Arcana card the energy around it is strong. This is not something light. It means a big change, a death of something. Can you relate to that in your life right now?’. Then you open the door for the person to decide what they are willing to tell you.
If a person says, ‘…well actually I am not surprised that card came up. I have terminal cancer and I need to know what to do in these final months’ OR ‘…my mother is very sick. It is only a matter of time before she dies. I can understand why this card came up’, then you can probably talk about their issues because the person needs to talk about it, which brings us to the next question.
What if someone wants to talk about their death?
I personally have no problem with that.
I can talk about the end of my life and the end of other peoples lives. Can you?
If you can, then you can really assist a person who needs to discuss it. If you cannot listen to someone talking about the end of their life, then it is your responsibility to tell them and change the topic or end the reading.
Whatever you decide to do around the Death card when it comes up, you must above all be sensitive about it. This card and the Devil card are usually the ones that give Tarot a bad name – so speak wisely and sensitively and strongly consider if you are justified in predicting death.
I have seen Death in the cards and in my immature early days I mentioned it to a woman once who was very open to talking about it. A few weeks later a family member of hers was killed. The word spread and I either had people come to me for readings or cross the street to get away from me. Since then I make sure the person brings up the subject first.
I will leave you with this question: Would you like if someone told you that you were going to die in the next six months?