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They’ve Been Reading Death Wrong This Whole Time

Death! Crazy stuff, right? But it may be more complex than you think. We’ve all seen movies, TV shows, video games, featuring the character tragically being shown the Death card from the Tarot deck by a spooky reader. In fact, we just saw this in my personal fave, “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”, but I won’t give away any spoilers!

Yet, what’s really funny is that Death… doesn’t mean death in Tarot. Not by a long shot. Actually, if you ever decide to get your own reading done and receive the Death card, don’t think that you’re going to end up in some snuff film. In fact, you should feel pretty great about it.

Go to any source that actually deals with Tarot and you’ll find something quite fun. Death can mean “an end of a cycle, beginnings, change, metamorphosis” and more.

Just because something is ending, or dying, doesn’t mean that something good can’t come out of it. Death means that something new and exciting is coming your way and that you should be looking out for opportunities to grow and experience life!

Now, you must be wondering, “If Death is so good, is there a real card in Tarot that means death?” Short answer? Kind of. Less of a physical death, as Tarot is rarely so blatant. The Hanged Man, though, can symbolize the things that are typically associated with death: “sacrifice, release, martyrdom.”

Tarot is all about cycles, and the connection between Death and The Hanged Man is no exception. Mini-lesson time! The Major Arcana is a group of twenty-two cards in the Tarot, and are what we typically see being used in popular entertainment. They’re numbered I-XXII and all have fancy names (ex. Death, The Hanged Man, The Hermit). The Hanged Man is XII, and Death is XIII. Out of sacrifice, out of martyrdom, comes new beginnings and a new world to experience.



Annie Spencer is a senior studying Medieval English and History at UMKC. Annie is also involved in UMKC Honors College, Medieval Studies Society, Alpha Lambda Delta, Sigma Tau Delta, Honors College Student Association, and Lucerna Undergraduate Research Journal. In their free-time they enjoys being Bisexual™, hanging out with friends so they can pet cats, and most likely...on Twitter.
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