Death! A powerful energy indeed. Who can look at the dark, skeletal figure on Card 13 and not feel uneasy? Here we see the face of our deepest fear – our greatest unknown. We recoil from Death because we think of it as annihilation. In the tarot (and in life I would suggest) Death is not a permanent end, but a transition into a new state. Life is eternal in its essence, if not in its form. To grow, to move, to live – we must “die” to the old to give birth to the new.
It is a truism in tarot work that Card 13 rarely has anything to do with physical death. A responsible card reader never interprets Card 13 in this way because this view is too limiting. Death is not something that happens once to our bodies. It happens continually, at many levels and not just in the physical. Each moment we die to the present so the future can unfold.
In readings, Death often represents an important ending that will initiate great change. It signals the end of an era; a moment when a door is closing. At such times, there may be sadness and reluctance, but also relief and a sense of completion. Death also suggests getting down to basics. Dying has a way of making you concentrate on what’s important. This card reminds you to cut out the unnecessary. Death can also mean you will experience an inexorable force. Death is inevitable, and sometimes there are events that are inescapable as well. When these moments occur, the best approach is to ride your fate and see where it takes you.