I first blogged about this card on November 1, 2018. This is a fuller interpretation of the XIII–Death Card.
This card may, at first glance, look frightening. However, it’s not about the death of a physical being, but about endings that make way for new beginnings. The scythe wielded by the reaping skeleton cuts off the old that is withered and dry so no longer useful, as well as harvests that which is ripe and prime for consumption—if not removed from the vine it will only spoil. Either way, there are things in life that reach a point where the scythe is necessary.
In the Morgan-Greer Tarot deck, the golden square at the throat of the reaper is a significant symbol. A square is the opposite of the feminine circle and represents things physical—the four points of the compass, the four seasons, the four elements (water, fire, earth, and air), as well as the sun, moon, stars, and planets. Its straight and equal lines bring it structure and balance causing it to be associated with trust, honesty, order, and rationality. Gold is the color of success, achievement, and triumph. This golden square covers the throat chakra (energetic communication center) of the reaper, indicating that an important part of endings is graceful yet straight-forward, honest, and rational truth telling—to yourself and/or others.
The river and setting sun in this image are also symbolic of death: the river can be seen as the River Styx—for the ancient Greeks it was the boundary that needed to be traversed between physical life and the underworld; the setting sun is about the end of day.
The white rose is in full bloom, with the next state being decay–it is time to be cut. This rose stands for the coming-to-end stage in the natural cycle of life—in the upright position this card represents innocent endings.
In reverse, this card may represent a resistance to an ending or personal transformation, or cruel or self-centered endings.
If the Death card comes up in a reading, breathe away any resistance or initial fear of this card, and consider it as a message around the death of the old to make way for the new.
A Fuller Interpretation of the XIII–Death Card