Technically, this is “the trump with no name”, but we all know what it actually is, and that title sounds too much like a catchy song.
(It felt good to be out of the rain~)
Death is not necessarily a physical death – you probably knew that, it’s one of the most commonly stated tarot “facts”, probably to keep people from freaking out when the card shows up in their readings. Now, it can be a physical death, so you’re not off the hook just yet. But what Death in tarot really represents is a metaphorical death, which is to say, something is going to end, and something new is going to begin. It’s a card of transformation, doors closing and new ones opening. But, in order for anything new to grow, the old has to be cleared away. Imagine, if you will, a great old oak falling over, but little saplings growing up around where it used to be. Or one of California’s destructive fires, which many of the local plants actually depend upon to clear out old brush so the new can grow. Death is a card that states life is going to go on, no matter what horrible things happen. There’s no good change or bad change. There’s only change.
At it’s most extreme, Death represents a complete destruction, either of the ego or of the self. But something new is going to spring up in place of that destruction. In the case of the ego, you’re going to become a different person, your soul is going to be rebirthed. Even if the case of actual, physical, “you’re going to die” death, you aren’t destroyed – your soul is going to move on, or if you’d rather go all Circle of Life on it, your body is going to wind up back in the earth and become something else. Death is feared because it is an unknown, and change is scary. But most of the pain that comes from change comes from the fear of it.
(I mean, assuming no one is going out of their way to make that transition painful for you.)
The important thing to remember is you can’t stop Death, you can only prevent it for a while. Let go and accept it, and you’ll spare yourself a good deal of pain.
Death probably has the most clear and accepted inverse definition in all of tarot: Stagnation. You don’t want to go through that new door, because that would require accepting you need to close the old one. You’re holding on to something that you really need to let go, and you need to accept that some things are better off ending. Maybe it’s a memory. Maybe it’s grief. Maybe it’s a relationship. Maybe it’s just an old version of “you” that you’ve outgrown, but are refusing to let go. Whatever the case, this is a state of spiritual limbo, and it’s only going to cause you more suffering. Your determination to stop Death has killed you in a different fashion, by removing your potential to change and grow. Until you let go you can’t move forward.