Upright/Well Dignified: The Death card is, bluntly put, about something ending. Whether it is about a love relationship, moving house or even a literal death, something is changing and it won’t be changing back.  While there are abundant tarot readers out there that will try to put an positive spin on this card, this simply doesn’t do the card justice. I have heard the Death Card explained as an initiation of sorts, which in many circumstances, I wholeheartedly agree with. Initiation implies no going back, a permanence that is one of the defining features of the Death card. A true initiation leaves a mark on a person that they can’t ignore, erase, or undo. For an example of this, think of losing your virginity, or for that matter, birth. Neither are exactly something that you can just reverse, are they?

There are times when this card can point a reader toward the grieving process of a querent. There are times when a querent needs somebody to point out  that something is well and truly over and that it’s okay to let go. Often when this card appears in a reading about people that have experienced hardship, especially the death of someone close, this can be a sign that it’s time to stop being strong for other people and acknowledge their own feelings of loss.

Another meaning that the Death card has taken on is that of transformation. This can be anything from anything as mundane as a new job to an experience of transition from one stage of life to another. I used the example of birth earlier and I’ll bring it up again, as it is an excellent example of this transition. When a child is born, a lot of things are irreversibly changed for both mother and child. The moment that the umbilical cord is cut, everything is irrevocably changed. The child is no longer simply waiting to become part of the world outside the mother. The enormity of the birth isn’t exactly the sole realm of the child either. The mother’s entire world is shifted, physically, mentally and emotionally and spiritually.

This card CAN mean a literal death, but this is VERY uncommon to say the least. A literal translation is usually the last one that should be considered.

Ill Dignified/Reversed: This is often a sign of stagnation. The need to move on isn’t being met due to any number of things but the effect is usually one of two things. One possibility is that eventually things build up and if not allowed to be released, they’ll explode and make damned certain that things change. The other probability is that if things aren,’t allowed to change, they’ll fester and rot, causing all kinds of mental anguish. Another possibility is that folks are trying too hard to keep things familiar when things need to change rather majorly.  Oddly enough, the reversed Death card can also be a sign of the opposite. The changes that are being forced aren’t necessary and even detrimental to those that are being affected. Somebody is trying to create something lasting, but are instead causing more harm than good.

Somebody might be using change to avoid recognition of loss. This person needs to be reminded that it’s okay to let go and move on. The longer that they hang on to a past that they can’t return to will eventually exhaust this person. Until they allow themselves to move on, the situation will continue to drain them.

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