The Death Key is an image of change and letting go, but also an image of transformation and renewal and promise of rebirth. There is no death without some sort of rebirth. The Death card’s number is 13, thought by some as an unlucky number, but I prefer to think of it as a challenging number and a number of transformation. Astrologically speaking, the Death card’s aspect is Scorpio, which feels at very deep levels and is the ultimate symbol of rebirth reprented by the phoenix, the symbol of vision. (Other symbols assoicated with the astrological sign of Scorpio are the eagle symbolizing spirit, and the snake representing regeneration).
When some view this card they think immediately of a physical death. In the tarot, the Death card symbolizes the death of one’s ego, or the ending of a project, relationship, patterns or some emotional experience. Some part of you or something in your life is dying. Change is at hand and it is out of your control; it is impending. You feel it very deeply and the unknown shadow part can be very scary and painful. Resistance brings fear and dread. Most of us don’t want to feel pain and sadness. Strangely, the Death card is one’s ally; it reminds us of the ever-changing cycle of nature. Death and rebirth are constantly going on around us. Death brings completion, relief and renewal.
The Death card promises us that by releasing what we cling to so dearly, we will transform the darkness into the light of the bigger picture; we will see that it is not the end – it is the beginning again. Death of any sort is a fearful experience. Shamanic and initiation rituals take us into a trial death experience to trick the ego into thinking it has died a physical death, and then back through the portal of rebirth, back into the world. When each of us go through our own cycle of death and rebirth, whatever level it is, it brings us back with an even greater appreciation for what is important to us in our lives. It is always a sobering experience and never easy. Thus, that is why we fear it so much.
The Death card usually brings some of the greatest transformation and changes into one’s life. It brings us to our knees and burns away what is false and doesn’t work; it protects us from stagnation; it takes one through that dark portal of unknowing. But it also brings new opportunity, spiritual understanding and appreciation for what we truly hold dear. The Death card wants you to confront what you resist. You can be reluctant to releasing, which only creates more pain and no completion or healing, and no opportunity for rebirth, thus you become stuck. Death comes to release you from your demons. It wants you to trust in God and when times are difficult, your faith in the light and the love in your heart will pull you through the darkness. Let go of the pain and embrace the spirit of love that we all carry in our hearts and souls. Every moment is a new experience if we are open to it. Being strong, letting go of the outcome and coming from love will deliver you to the light and what the universe offers. If your heart does not resist, your spirit will be filled with the grace of love and beauty. And you will come back from the darkness renewed like the first breath of spring.
The Death card represents one of the most challenging changes in one’s life. Your remembrance of the Death card experience never leaves. But the waves of healing, love and time slowly sooth that void into a life that embraces all – the light and the dark – and in your soul you know you are richer for it.
Symbolism in Death Image
In Egyptian mythology, The Goddess Nuit/Nut swallows the sun every evening only to rebirth it the next day at dawn. Nuit is the star goddess, lady of infinite space. She holds up the blanket of stars at night. The golden stars above her body represent the symbol of unlimited possibilities. She is the great mother who guards life and then takes it back. Three suns in her belly represent life, death and rebirth. The first sun is the setting sun, which she takes into the darkness of her belly (death); the second sun is the seed of new life, which is then birthed into a new day (rebirth) - the third sun. Nuit creates a starry portal with the phoenix. The golden phoenix represents rebirth out of its own ashes of death. As legend has it, the phoenix burns itself (one’s old ways) only to resurrect again, bringing back a golden egg, as promise to the continual cycle of the death and rebirth process.
The figure of Death stands at the front of the portal. Death itself has no face. There is a silent, dark, quiet, empty void when something dies in us. It is a place one has to accept and enter. Death wears the gray robe of wisdom that is clasped with a white rose pendant with a spiral in the center. The white rose symbolizes clarity of purpose and purity of desire, which the soul brings into the cycle of life and truth. The spiral represents the continual cycle of life, death and rebirth. Death holds the golden egg of rebirth from the phoenix in its skeleton hand, representing new life awaiting. The butterfly flies off into the dark empty space to transform the dark void into light. The Hebrew letter is Nun, meaning fish, or to sprout or grow. The astrological aspect is Scorpio.
Death as a Lifetime Personality Symbol
As a Lifetime Personality Symbol, Death represents one who is always committed to the process of change and transformation, letting go and moving forward. You may find yourself helping others through personal loss and encouraging them to initiate new experiences. You have a gift of experiencing life and relationships deeply, and you also know when it’s time to move on or let go of situations that have lost the luster of life and are in need of renewal. You are probably more accepting of change than most people. You know how renewal can regenerate a person’s ideas, attitudes and life. Change is part of your life. It will happen to you more often than to others.
Death as a Yearly Growth Symbol
During a Death year, you may experience a death of an old identity, relationship, belief, projects or types of work. You may want to redefine who you are, where you are going or start a new relationship, project or career. It’s a year of endings and of beginnings – a year when a lot can happen, but you seem to accept and embrace change easier than you have in the past. The promise of new energy entering your life brings excitement and promise.