Death is the card of transformation, change, and rebirth. Although it has a bad reputation (made worse by B-horror movies), Death is actually one of the most positive cards in the Tarot! Death sits upright on his horse, ushering in a new era. Without winter, there is no spring. Death is the other side of life, making rebirth possible.
Death reminds us to let go of what is not serving us. When we let go of what is no longer healthy, we open ourselves to positivity and possibility. When one door closes, another opens. Similarly, Death signals that a major phase in your life is ending, but another is starting. When we lean into its energy, we can let go of the past and focus on our present and our future.
If Death appears in a Tarot spread as a person, that means that this person is mysterious and, just like the Death card itself, often misunderstood. It is astrologically associated with intense Scorpio, one of the most feared signs in the zodiac. Because Scorpio is a feminine sign, this card carries an active, assertive energy. We all have a little bit of both energies expressed in a balanced way, regardless of which gender we identify as. Because this is a Major Arcana card, some of these defining traits make up a major part of their identity. So, for example, being an intense personality will play a major role in who they are, or how they view themselves. Note that they may not reveal this side to you at the beginning stages of your relationship, to others, or ever.
For physical characteristics, Death as a person represents someone who somehow gives off an aura of “darkness” or mystery. The Death card is about death, birth, and rebirth – all of which involve moving through states of darkness to lightness, cycles of awareness to unawareness. A cliché manifestation of this energy would be dressing in goth style, but this person may also dress in an eclectic witchy style. However, because the Death card is also about cycles, this person could either be really into fashion trends, or they do not follow fashion at all. So, their style would be to have no style. This is someone who goes through phases.They’re always reinventing and rediscovering various facets of themselves.
For emotional characteristics, Death as a person represents someone who is intense, intimidating, and constantly evolving. If you knew this person since childhood, don’t expect them to be the same person twenty years later. They will have changed, and they will have changed in the most unpredictable manner. Because the Death card is astrologically associated with masculine Mars which rules feminine Scorpio, this person may express feminine energies through masculine manifestations, or vice versa. This card typically represents somebody who can be very sensual and alluring, but they also have an aura of danger about them. They could be literally fascinated with death and the afterlife, as well as the esoteric. Because Scorpio rules shared finances, they could have a complex relationship with money and wealth. They may shun money, love it, or have a love-hate relationship with it.
For careers, Death can represent someone who works as somebody who helps people at a transformative part of their life. They may literally work near death (and birth or rebirth) or they work with people at a transitional and transformative period in their lives. This could be anyone who works as a doula, a carer at a nursing home, crime scene investigator, a forensic scientist, a doctor or technician who works at a fertility clinic, or even a “death midwife”. This person may literally work around death, so for example they could work in a funeral home, manage a cemetery. Alternatively, because Scorpio is astrologically associated with shared finances, this person may also work with investments, insurance, and government assistance.
Death as a person represents someone who makes you feel reborn and transformed. No matter how you know this person, you will feel like you were a different person before you met them and after you met them. You may have become more open-minded, you may have learned something new, you may have begun to embrace yourself. In some cases, this could be somebody who you will always remember for the rest of your life, because you experienced a traumatic event together. Healing together with this person may bond you closer and solidify their position in your life. They usually develop a dark sense of humor due to their past experiences.
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If Death reversed appears in a Tarot spread as a person, that means that this person is stuck in some aspect of their lives. This is a type of person who fails to evolve or mature. For example, this could be the classmate who bullied you in middle school, and when you meet them at the reunion twenty years later, they’re still hurling the same insults at you. The Death card is astrologically associated with Scorpio, which is the symbol of the Phoenix Rising when drawn upright. However, when drawn in the reverse position, this will usually indicate somebody who never quite gets over the negative experiences they’ve had in life. They end up stuck in a pity party where their favorite party trick is to play the blame game. Because this is a Major Arcana card, some of these traits will be inherent aspects of their identity. Good or bad, nobody is perfect and people can change, if they choose to.
For physical characteristics, Death reversed as a person represents someone who doesn’t know when to stop or leave. They will show up at a party uninvited, they overstay their welcome, and they just end up getting into arguments where they beat a dead horse. This person may also lack the ability to stop habits that are bad for them. For example, they could have a life threatening illness, and it still wouldn’t stop them from overindulging in food and drink. They could develop a lung illness, and it still wouldn’t stop them from smoking. Because Scorpio is associated with the taboo and sexuality, this person may have addictions that could be considered taboo in certain cultures. They may even have a sex addiction. They tend to have very little regard for danger.
For emotional characteristics, Death reversed as a person represents someone who doesn’t know how to let go or move on with their lives. They hold grudges like no other. This person likes to ruminate on the past. They often weaponize others’ pasts against them. This person doesn’t believe that people can change for the better, because they themselves have no intention of doing their own shadow work. This person embodies all the shadow sides of Scorpio. While Death upright has a dark sense of humor, their reversed counterpart is mostly humorless. They can have an air of being perpetually indignant or outraged.
For careers, Death reversed can represent someone who works in the same field as Death in the upright, but they are not very good at it. So for example, if they work at a funeral home, they wouldn’t have the sensitivity to work with individuals going through loss. They wouldn’t treat the deceased family with the kindness and gentleness that they deserve. If they work in healthcare, they have a terrible bedside manner. This person lacks empathy. Additionally, if they work in any field that involves shared finances, they can be irresponsible and untrustworthy. If you lend this person money, don’t expect to get it back.
Death reversed as a person represents someone who makes you feel stuck in a cycle with this person. They just seem to “linger” along in the background. This could be due to karmic circumstances, or their own clingy personality. For example, this could be that ex who never seems to go away, always begging you to take them back when you know they haven’t changed. This could be a friend from middle school who’s almost like a sister to you but they’re so unbearably toxic. This person could latch onto you for financial reasons, for example they only use you because they know you will drive them anywhere they ask you to. The Death in reverse is always looking to take advantage of others financially. It can be difficult to get out of their clutches.
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For love readings, Death reveals the power of transformative change. For the end of every cycle comes the beginning of another. In order to grow, we must shed beliefs and behaviors that are no longer serving us. Death can mean the literal end of a relationship. Equally, it can mean the end of one phase in your relationship and beginning of another. There is no life without Death. Embrace the transformative energy of this card to feel radically empowered.
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