Thursday, October 29, 2009

Journaling with the Death Card

With Halloween and The Witches' New Year, "Samhain" fast approaching, and the Sun transiting through Scorpio, now can be a perfect time to examine the Tarot Card "Death" and it's personal meanings. This card can be disturbing for those unfamiliar with it's depths - on the surface this card can be intimidating, not to mention the fact that it says "DEATH" right across it; not a word that usually brings to mind pink fluffy clouds and happy times. But much to the contrary of the popular Hollywood portrayal of this card, it rarely ever portends actual physical death, but instead represents a transition that can have quite a positive outcome.

Before your journaling assignment, here are some things to think about....

The astrological sign of Scorpio (The Scorpion) is ruled by the planet Pluto, which is astrologically known as the planet of death, regeneration, renewal, and reincarnation. Scorpio energy is generally known for feeling emotions very intensely, and being able to constantly revise and renew their own sense of self. If you have ever felt an emotion so intensely that it is like feeling a "little death", this is the energy of Scorpio and The Death card. Samhain falls during the yearly Scorpio transit, and historically was a celebration of the final harvest of the year. It was celebrated as an ending of the past year; in preparation for the darkness of winter, and a time to commune with and respect the dead. Many witches and Pagans believe that during this time, the veil between the worlds is thinner, allowing for communication with, or even visits from the ancestors and deceased, and this is where many of our present day Halloween traditions and legends probably originated from. In historic times, when life revolved around the Harvests and the seasons, people knew they had to embrace the seasons, and change with or adapt to the land in order to survive. In our hectic yet convenient daily lives, it is still important to remember that we must also change and adapt, take the good times with the bad, and let ourselves transform from time to time. That is what the Death card is about.

The Death card, as depicted in the Rider-Waite Smith deck above, may seem gloomy at first glance, but there are several clues in it's symbolic imagery which remind us that even the worst of times can have a positive outcome; eventually. The figure on the horse is the embodiment of death; a skeleton with black armor. At some point in life we must all face our mortality -the fact that death will come to us in many forms. The armor represents how this life force is strong, and something that is often unavoidable. Even if we are not facing physical death, sometimes there are circumstances in life which are unavoidable - things that we just have to face. This can often make these events seem harder to deal with, unfair even, and we feel defenseless about the life force that has carried our life in this direction. The armored skeleton has seemingly trampled the king, who lies on the ground beneath the white horse, his kingdom in disarray. There are times that everything we felt we believed in and trusted is suddenly pulled out from under us and we are left with a shocking and cold version of reality. The king's bereaved family is on their knees, overcome with grief and fear.... but there is a child. A child that represents this kingdom's future - a new statehood and new outlook. In whatever dark times you have experienced in your life, something new has been born within you; a new point of view, a new sense of hope and respect for life, sometimes a new passion. This renewal and rebirth is present throughout the card; The priest represents the renewed spirituality or faith (even if it is a change in faith, it is something newer and stronger), The white flower on the flag represents the possibility of new growth, the sun rising (or setting) in the distance represents the end of one cycle and the beginning of a new one. (The New Year, new Life, or New You.) So it is always good to remember that no matter how hard life seems, it is all part of the process of transformation and growth that we all must take part in. I doubt that a caterpillar's metamorphosis into a butterfly is a very comfortable or happy time for it, but the end result is always a miracle.

Whether you journal to understand and learn about this Tarot Card, to get in touch with the current astrological season and Samhain/Halloween, or to face and embrace a time of transformation in your life, I think this should have given you plenty to think about.
Here are some journaling options;

* You can journal about the story you see in the card pictured above and how it makes you feel, or you can journal about the symbolism and imagery from this card in a different deck.

* You can write about a time of transformation and hardship in your life and what kind of renewal or rebirth the outcome held (or if it is a current event - what kind of renewal or rebirth you think will be possible)

* Or, you can answer these suggested journaling questions from the book "Tarot For Yourself" by Mary K. Greer;
  • What do I need to let go of?
  • What is my basic support system (skeletal structure) through this transition?
  • What is being transformed?
  • What new growth is now possible?
  • What am I feeling so deeply and intensely about?

If you choose to post your journal on your blog or journal, please include a link to this post, and leave a comment below with the link to your journal. If you choose to keep your journal private, that is fine too, but your comments are appreciated!

Blessed Samhain & Happy Halloween!


  1. Do you by chance have a button? I'd love to add one to

    Sorry I was so...verbose...the other day, I'm not usually that open. I'm just glad that you're here:)


  2. I will make a button and let you know, thanks! I have NO proble with anyone being "verbose", Wordy, or open! That's what I'm here for & I hope it helped!

  3. Journaled on the Death card today! Very enlightening moment for me...