Death is a very misunderstood card in Tarot, but not for the reasons you'd think. Societally, many people think that this life is the only shot at existence they get. Afterwards, there is nothing. Nonexistence. Oblivion. This makes death a very touchy subject for a lot of people, so much so it forms a social taboo and an unhealthy relationship with death. People start seeing death as something they need to fight back and hold away by removing what makes themselves human, just to hold off what they believe is their obliteration.
Tarot does not see death in this way. Death, the skeleton knight wearing armor, does not see color, race or creed, thus he is depicted as a skeleton. He is riding towards a child and another younger person. The sun is rising in the distance, but even it cannot stop Death. Nor can royalty, as shown by the king under him, dead.
Death, however, does not actually refer to the act of a physical body physically dying. Death is a change that cannot be reverted. The consequences of this change can and will affect what comes next, however.
Consider the very deep sea, so far down even light can't penetrate that deep. There's an ecosystem of life down there, but it is so starved for resources and light that evolution has skimped out on things like skin pigmentation. Sometimes a mighty whale will die and its body will fall to the sea floor down there. The creatures will feast for a month or more. The whale died, yet its change fosters an entire ecosystem. This card signifies much of the same. Death signifies the idea of a change from the old, where the whale was alive, to the new, where the whale's body feeds an entire community.
Death is a signifier that change is coming or needed, and it won't care if you're ready for it or not. So, embrace it with open arms. Don't fight what is inevitable. All good things must come to an end for them to be good to begin with.
Death is a part of life like any other; this is why it is in the Fool's Journey, or Major Arcana of the Tarot. To eschew death is, in essence, to throw out life itself. Living in fear of death turns life from a glorious dance of cocreation with the universe into a fearful existence of scraping by on the margins. It makes life an anxious scampering from measly scrap of food to measly scrap of food without any time to focus on the higher order of things. It makes you accept fear, depression, anxiety and regret instead of just being able to live here, in the moment, and make the best of what you have right now. If only because right now you still have it.
This article was posted on M08 19 2018. Facts and circumstances may have changed since publication. Please contact me before jumping to conclusions if something seems wrong or unclear.
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The art for Mara was drawn by Selicre.