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Tarot Death Card Meaning

By Edited Mar 12, 2014 1 6

What the Tarot death card means

The appearance of the Death card during Tarot readings

If you are doing a psychic reading using the standard spread such as the Celtic cross and the first card you see is the card of ‘Death’ what do you then tell the querent? There is some debate about this matter even among psychics themselves. The bald statement that the ‘Death’ card or Trump card will never indicate physical death to the querent is somewhat misleading. The querent is the term used to represent the person requesting the tarot reading from the psychic. Querent is from Latin origin and the literal translation is ‘one who seeks’ and the term is frequently used in astrology as well as fortune-telling.

If the querent asks specifically about their health, or the health of a close relative of theirs, what is to be done? When the Tarot card of death is placed or laid out it seems to mean a literal death but words of caution are needed because the card is not a ‘stand alone’ card and the cards with it will have influence too. The orientation of the card too is important so great care is required before telling someone of catastrophic news concerning their demise or that of some near relative.

Tarot card meanings and death

A psychic may need to protect a person from this potentially distressing news and will often temper the findings with other information in order to build a profile of the querent whilst assessing how they might take the news. Telling someone that they may soon pass away is the real crux especially if the psychic is in no doubt whatsoever as to the possible outcome. So it seems that the Death card does on occasion refer to real and actual death, but this is rare. Until you have a good basic understanding of Tarot you should not divulge anything regarding this card other than a suggestion of new beginnings. Indeed the card frequently means change and it is strongly influenced by surrounding cards.

Classic Tarot Card deck called Rider Waite
Tarot card decks

If you are going to attempt reading Tarot seriously then you should be provided with a good quality Tarot deck that includes detailed instructions of how to interpret the cards.

The Original Rider Waite Tarot Pack

, available from Amazon, is the best deck on the market and it comes with a comprehensively detailed book giving details of Tarot card spreads, layouts and most importantly the Tarot card list of card meanings. Much is explained in the book but the cards are just classical, I love them. There are, of course, many other fortune-telling card versions available (I have several sets) but this is the most popular deck (See Tarot card images) and best choice in my opinion. 

Care of fortune-telling cards

When you receive a new deck of tarot cards you must keep them in a wooden box or wrapped in black silk as per the old tradition because they become very personalized to you and on no account should they be toughed or played with by others if you are serious about this business. It is a type of ritual to acclimatize the cards to their own psychic. No other person should ever use your cards for a reading.

Tarot card reading fears


Turn away from Tarot Card Reading
The question of whether on not to tell the truth as you see it or fudge the issue (muddy the water) so to speak  is the real dilemma for the psychic when reading Tarot cards. On the one hand, the querent has paid for the truth (or your truth) and not a watered down version whilst the fact remains that you may have misread the (cards) signs of unavoidable tragedy. People will turn away from tarot if they receive bad news but many others don’t take the reading of Tarot cards very seriously at all and just see it as a bit of fun. Tarot skeptics often reject all other psychic phenomena such as remote viewing, dream travel and astral travel and it is unlikely that they will believe anything the psychic has to say at a session. 

Tarot card layouts

Tarot card spreads card numbers There are many configurations and the names of them may differ from country to country but these are the basic ones.

  • The three card spread = 3 cards
  • The cross spread = 5 cards
  • The Celtic cross spread = 6 cards
  • The horseshoe spread = 7 cards
  • The clock spread = 12 cards
  • The calendar spread = 12 cards
  • The horoscope spread = 12 cards
  • The fan spread = 22 cards

The cross and Celtic cross can be the same thing, 5 or 6 cards are used. Likewise the clock, horoscope and calendar spreads have great similarity or can be identical except for their naming by psychics. The fan spread with 7 sets of 3 cards and a single card representing the querent is the most comprehensive reading. Each group of 3 cards has different attributes such as love, life, past and future and so on.

Powerful card of death

The truth is that we are still in doubt about death, things of a psychic nature and psychic power itself. Whatever Tarot card layouts you use (there are many different ones) you will be faced with decisions to make when the death card appears, This is based on our own past experiences with this card as there is no one theory that is quite right. Is it enough to know that there are things we can depend upon despite not knowing why or how they work? The powerful death card can mean many things other than one’s demise and frequently suggests a new start. 

Tarot death card confusion when inverted

The card of death can be a new beginning or the end of a previous regime. The new start might be an offer of employment or a new love interest or often the arrival of a new baby into the family. Just to confuse matters further the inverted ‘death’ card can mean the opposite and might spell the end of a career, the beginning of a new involvement or even early retirement. So much depends upon the cards drawn with this card and the significance of these sister cards as well as their respective orientation, Miss-readings do happen (seldom) due to the psychic’s own relationship with the tarot deck they use but this just adds confusion to the whole issue. And so the debate on this fascinating tarot death card continues on unabated.

Best Tarot Deck

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Jun 13, 2011 1:53pm
Very interesting. I've never had a Tarot card reading.
Jun 14, 2011 3:38am
Thank you for your comments. Tarot readings are not for everyone and if you intend to get a Tarot reading done then try to find a professional reader. A psychic's reputation will grow by word of mouth so if a friend recommends someone it might be worth a visit. It is not everyone's cup of tea however.
Jul 16, 2012 1:01pm
Very good analysis of the problems which arise for the reader when the Death card comes up. I read with the Rider-Waite out of a store sometimes. Usually the first question I ask is if the querent ever had a tarot reading before. Often they have not, so I go through the "it's really old symbolism, and many cards look worse than they are" talk. Judgement is another one. I try to tell them Death can mean they will get fired from the job they hate, that it's change they cannot control. So far if I've been reading for friends or people I know well, and they or a close one is dying, I get The Star in reverse, meaning no hope in this life. Thankfully it doesn't come up much. I read with other decks for myself and family or close friends, but I stay with RiderWaite professionally. Do you read with other decks for clients?
Jul 27, 2012 9:51am
Thank you, Jean, for your visit and comments. I agree that you need to reassure the person about symbolism and the different interpretations that are possible. Some folks are quite nervous and I often thought that I needed to be very diplomatic in what I say. People really only hear what they want to hear. I am completely against readings done by text because so much is lost in translation, so to speak. It is a thin line that we thread. I like using the Rider Waite deck and rarely, if ever, resort to other decks. I tend to stick to family and friends where reading are concerned.
Jul 29, 2012 7:30pm
I like to read for people out of the store, or sometimes at parties. Being a Cancer, I'm a tad shy, and giving readings for people is an "icebreaker." I feel that it keeps me on my toes as a reader, and I think my readings are sometimes better when I don't know the people.
Jul 30, 2012 10:10am
Thank you, Jean, for re visiting and adding more comments. I'm a Cancer too, as it happens. Writing is a great escape for us shy folks.
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