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The Death Tarot Card: What Does the Skeleton on Horseback Means?

Dec 8, 2007
Most people would inherently shudder at the sight of the Death tarot card, but they have likely entirely misinterpreted its meaning!

In divination, Death rarely means a physical death of the flesh, but instead it simply means a change. Remember the Hanged Man? Death is his next step, wherein he must truly shed all his past beliefs, relationships, hobbies, etc.

Only the most amateur tarot card readers would immediately jump to the conclusion that Death implies that a person's time is running out on Earth (though it could indeed be a warning of that). It is more of a possibility that a transformation is in the cards for somebody!

1) The Skeleton on Horseback

Pictured on the Death tarot card is always a skeleton riding a horse, carrying a black flag with a white flower on it. Sometimes, there is a rising sun and/or sad people (including a child) in the background.

Death is indeed one of the more melancholy cards of the deck, as it resembles an end. But the rising sun offers hope for a new tomorrow, a new beginning.

2) The Story

The story behind Death is pretty simple and it follows that of the Hanged Man. After the Hanged Man leaves the tree, he stumbles through a desolate, cold field and sees a skeleton on horseback against the backdrop of a rising sun.

The image is startling to him, as it makes him feel empty and sad inside. The man asks Am I dead? The skeleton's reply is: In a way. Your old self, your old way of life, is over.

While this makes the man very distraught, the skeleton elaborates, promising that he now has a new chance at living a different life. The man and the skeleton resemble each other; both are bare-bonded in a sense. But this state of depravity is only temporary!

3) The Scorpion

The sign of the card, Scorpio, boasts three forms: a scorpion, a serpent, and an eagle. This implies transformation! It also stands for sex and death. What does this say about the card?

4) Why Death is not so scary!

The Death tarot card typically has a surprising meaning: rebirth. Without death, you cannot have life. So do not think about Death in such a narrow and limiting away.

It may very well mean that you have been reborn as a person. Did you just quit a job, get a divorce, abandon a religion, or have your children moved out of the house?

These are all examples of why you may be presented with the Death tarot card and these are all opportunities to take on new adventures in life.

What is the dream job you never pursued? What did you always hope retirement would hold for you? A new chapter of your book has begun; it's time to embrace it.

Is the Death tarot card always so metaphorical? Not necessarily. Depending on the situation, Death can mean physical death. Perhaps a loved one closed to you is battling cancer or you have taken life for granted and need to be reminded that time is fleeting.

5) Dealing with Loss

Whatever the case, loss is sad, even if it signals a brighter, better future on the horizon. But even physical death is hardly the end of the world! In fact, it is just a part of the never-ending cycle that makes the world go round.

Members of American society often have trouble confronting the aging process and inevitable death, but the Death tarot card teaches us not to be afraid of this fact of life. If we can't escape death, then we should learn not to fear it. The tarot cards teach us this.

Chances are, you should not start writing out your will if you get the Death tarot card though. The likelihood is you have completed one part of your life and are moving onto another one.

Did you just buy a new house, get married, or pick up a new hobby? The tarot cards are special tools because they can describe and predict many things; don't ever interpret them literally but instead consider the entire context of them.

6) Upside Down Death

When the Death card is turned upside down, the meaning does not change, but it does become weaker. Maybe the need of a transformation is not as great.

The reversed Death tarot card often connotes a more painful change, whether physical or mental. Menopause, sickness, divorce, dropping out of college, etc, these are some ideas of what an upside down Death tarot card could refer to.
About the Author
Tenzin offers amazingly accurate FREE Tarot Readings at this site! You can also check your sign compatibility with another person whether it is your Lover or your Friends! Use our FREE divination tools to discover the AMAZING human traits, personality and behavioral patterns of ANYONE you like to find out!
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