The Death card represents change, and more importantly, fear of change. It represents the forces of decay, degeneration, disintegration and transformation to which everything on this planet is subjected, but it is also a reminder that new life is not possible without death. In order to accept new energies, new people, new jobs, new situations, we must let go and clear away the old. Even while most of us are conscious of this basic fact, it does very little to assuage our primordial fear of change and loss.
We easily allow ourselves to become identified with what are often only transitory circumstances of our lives, including our occupations, partners, habits, interests and locations, because we are so desperate to have a clear, defined, palpable sense of ego. We continue to identify with these aspects of our lives even when they no longer serve or satisfy us, because we are filled with apprehension and terror at the thought of giving them up for something unknown. We make change far more difficult than it has be, simply through our resistance to it.
Fear of Death is really the same: we are so “identified” with being alive, that we are terrified at the prospect of losing our earthly form and separate, individual consciousness even though, as represented by the White Rose on Death’s flag, life is eternal and ever-renewing. All that happens when Death arrives is a transformation of the form or outward shape of that Universal energy. Although it may seem counter-intuitive at first, the Death card actually symbolizes that which is eternal— that is, change. Everything on this planet is involved in a constant, eternal cycle of transformation, and it is only a manufactured illusion that anything is dependable, static or permanent. Your identity is constantly evolving, and how much you are able to evolve or individuate is in part contingent upon how willing you are to let go of behaviors which no longer serve you, even if that prospect is terrifying, disorienting or bewildering to you.
The Death card can signify a literal passing away of life, but more often in a reading it is indicating something about the querent’s inward, emotional response to (literal or figurative) death or change. If he is so fearful of change and insistent upon retaining an illusory sense of permanence that he refuses to face the necessary changes, he will likely pay in blood when change forces itself upon him anyway. If he accepts the mutability of this world and lets go of what is decaying or past its time, he can more easily navigate the period of transition and move forward. Change need not be painful; it is only our resistance to change that creates problems.
The Death card is ruled by the zodiac sign Scorpio. Scorpio is ruled by Pluto.
Card meanings upright:
The Death card represents transformation, endings, and new beginnings in your life. You may be feeling like there are parts of yourself or your life that you have outgrown, and now is a great time to embrace the new and transform yourself. New circumstances will bring growth and change to your life in the form of new people, work, or belief systems. You can feel safe letting go of the old and welcoming the new during this time.
Card meanings reversed:
When the Death card is reversed, it indicates that something in your life that should have come to an end is still persisting in an undesirable manner. If you have been grieving, you may feel that there is a lack of support, care, or sympathy for your loss. The Death card can also represent cheating your own death.