The author dedicates this blog post to his bosom friend, the Rose of the Desert; who let him to walk with her through her darkest night, for she knows what the womb and the tomb is to the extent that might be revealed to those in between. Distance does not matter when you are one and same in Love, as the Love remains; and without Love we are nothing.
Death is the fourteenth Major Arcanum; and both its number (thirteen), name and imagery seem to be inauspicious. It can indeed be inauspicious; if one is persevering the end of a cycle and beginning of a new one. As the Ancient Egyptian expression goes, death has no other meaning than ankh; in other words, life. Perhaps for this reason, the Death has been placed in the midst of the Major Arcana.
Before starting it must be noted that the thirteenth and middle letter of Hebrew Alphabet is Mem (מ). Mem also is the middle letter of the word truth in Hebrew, emet (אמת); which starts with the first letter of the Hebrew Alphabet and ends with the last one. Interestingly; when the first letter -aleph (א)- is removed the emet (אמת) becomes met (מת), meaning dead. In Jewish Mysticism, mem (מ) symbolizes water; the vital element for life. Moreover, it also represents the womb and the tomb; as in both, one is in “a state of the world yet unborn” (1), after which he would be born, or reborn.
The card shows Death as an armored skeleton on a white horse, carrying a black flag with a white five-petaled Rosicrucian Rose on it. Under the feet of the horse, a king is lying, seeming to be dead with his crown fallen beside his body. In front of the Death; there are several figures. First of these is a pontiff, having thrown his crook to the ground; he is paying homage to the Death. Next to him, we see a white wearing maiden on her knees; she seems to be fading away. In front of these two; there is a child who is on his knees as well, but rather unaffected by the approaching Death, he seems to be well alive. He, like the Hanged Man; is wearing a blue tunic and red legging, offering the Death a bouquet of white flowers.
In the background; there is a river with a boat on it; and well behind, far ahead; the sun is rising between two towers. These two towers also have a path between them, and they resemble in many aspects the towers in The Moon Card.
The black armor of the Death indicates that the endings are unavoidable, yet it is balanced by the white horse he rides: Each ending is a new beginning. This contrariness is repeated with the White Rose on the black flag he carries; white rose represents the rebirth after the death. The King’s death connotes that the ending brings about the change in which no power can resist. Accordingly, the maiden and the Pontiff suggest that neither hope nor faith can protect one against the impending end and the fresh start. Only the Hanged Man (the kid); acknowledging that the Nothingness the part of Universe which hosts the manifestation of Existence, can maintain peace with the cycles of life.
Only through the endings the freedom of soul and the unity with the tapestry of Universe achieved; as what ends is just a weak echo of the Infinite Oneness. If it had not been for endings, our souls; which are sparks of the Infinite Oneness, would not have been able to free themselves from attachment from delusions.
The Death card henceforth puts forth a stage of the Fool’s Journey where he is, either willingly or not, acquired the freedom of his soul from delusional attachments. He is now ready to go through the last phase of his journey, to become one with the Infinite Wholeness. The remainder of his journey is visible in the background.
End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it.
—J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King
Accordingly, the Death card symbolizes an ending or completion of a circle and phase; and the beginning of a new one. This card is seldom an indicator of physical death, but it might imply that one should allow for transformation and renewal and let go of any resistance. Although it might be painful on all levels, this is inescapable and sweeping. In a reading; this card simply implies a radical and rooted change. A person represented by this card would not be afraid of endings, as he would know that the ends facilitate new beginnings. In a relationship context, this card would indicate either the blossoming of a lively relationship or fading away of one which has fulfilled its purpose. Career-wise, the Death signifies major restructuring in the workplace, significant organizational changes; perhaps a new direction or end of a well-invested project. In short, in readings; the Death can be said to reflect the necessary and impending transformation and change throughout.