A black armored figure sits astride a white horse caught in midstep. The visor is lifted, revealing a skull where the wearer’s face should be. The figure has no gauntlets, and skeletal hands are seen gripping the reins and the pole of a standard. The reins of the horse are decorated with alternating skulls and crossbones. The standard is a stylized white rose on a black field. Underneath the horse, already trampled, is a king lying face up. His crown is off his head, mired upside down in the dirt. Next to be struck by the horse’s lifted hoof is a small kneeling child that faces the horse innocently. Holding the child’s hand is a young woman, crowned with flowers. She is in the process of fainting. Standing beside her is a bishop in full regalia, his hands clasped before him. It is unclear if he is accepting of Death’s approach or attempting to rebuke the mounted figure. In the near distance is dimly seen a river with a ship in full sail moving along it. Beyond the horse’s head, in the far background, can be seen the towers of the Moon card. The sun is between the towers on the horizon and through its shine can be seen something like mountains or a distant city.
“Death doesn’t always mean death! It’s about transformation and rebirth.” Well, um… No. It’s about death. Attempts to soften the message of this card to make it more palatable to the mainstream public have cut away the most important parts of it. Before anything can be reborn, it has to die. That is unavoidable. How much of the thing dies depends on what that thing is and what part of its life cycle it is on. Readers that point to the butterfly as proof the card is not about that death, fail to also point out that to the caterpillar, it is that death.
A relationship dies. Clothes are sorted, plates are accidentally shattered. There is destruction and deconstruction as a union becomes two parts again. There is emotional pain and physical pain as the individuals have to get used to sleeping alone again. But as that relationship completes its dying, the individuals find themselves stronger than before, wiser than before, and in a position to choose for themselves if to have a relationship again later in life. Something died, but something else came from it.
The seed dies to become the plant. The flower dies to give way to the seed. Everything living has partaken of the dead in some form or another to continue living.
Sometimes Death does mean the death of a person. But those indications do not come up at random. The answer in the cards is dependent on the context of the query. If the question is if to start the garden now, the card would refer to the proper preparation of the previous season’s bed. If about relationships, the card speaks of former breakups and if the Querent has moved on properly. If about employment, the card asks if all ties has been cut away from the previous employer.
I reserve the right to not answer questions relating to health, because I am not a medical practitioner and those questions are better answered by those trained in that profession.