drawing Death


This is going to be a tricky (and possibly ignorant) question, but anyway...
what would you do if a querent asked you to do a reading concerned with health or wellbeing and you drew a spread that seemed to indicate the subject of the query was going to die?
any thoughts?



Not at all an ignorant question... this is one of the toughest things about Tarot - handling bad news.

A lot of people are going to tell you that the Death card doesn't talk about physical death. And indeed, it doesn't always. However, there are times when it does. There's just no getting around that - people do die.

And of course if the spread is about health concerns, the death card will often have a more literal meaning. The first thing you need to do is make sure it's talking about the querant... when Death comes up in a health reading, I always pull clarification cards to make sure what I'm seeing.

You can't really ignore it when it comes up or explain it away.... the images on the card are pretty hard to miss... and most decks clearly mark the name of the card, so it's right there in front of the querent. So the best thing to do is address it without being scared of it yourself. Keep in mind that if they asked a health question, they most likely had something they are concerned with, so they might very well be expecting bad news.

Of course, sometimes you will do health readings for people who tend to be hypochondriacs, but the cards will usually show that. My mother was a hypochondriac and her readings always showed Death in combination with the Fool or the 2 of Pentacles or some other card that gave me the indication that this was more along the lines of drama than death.

When death comes up legitimately, I don't dance around it. However, I do remind people that the Tarot is simply a roadmap, that the outcome talks about what is likely to happen if they continue to follow the path they are currently on. Experience tells me that a lot of people with health concerns are really curious as to whether they are on the right treatment path, so the appearance of the Death card can often indicate that there may be other treatment options that they should be pursuing. That's the tact I usually take when it appears.

Of course, you have to be very clear about reminding them that you are not a doctor and cannot and will not give medical advice.


This is hard for me to answer, because I have made a sort of "deal" with my cards. Basically, when I get a new deck I ask it to never show me physical death in a reading. Some people may think that this is a bit soft, but I would rather not know, full stop.

As a tarot reader who does readings for others, you will most likely be touching upon deep and personal isssues of your querents. You have a responsibility to make sure that you give them the best possible advice. Many people seek out tarot readings and other forms of divination to be empowered by the (hopefully) profound insights. Being told that you're going to die is disempowering. If your querent walks away from a session feeling depressed and upset, you are being an irresponsible reader. In short, if I saw death as a likely outcome for a querent, I wouldn't tell them. I would however, advise them to be cautious and perhaps change their current course of action.

When reading the tarot, you have to be careful about how you interpret cards which suggest certain things for the future.
The future is not set in stone, the smallest action can change everything in the biggest way.
I am not a determinist, which means that when I read cards concerning the future, I don't see them as showing me exactly what WILL come to pass, but rather providing insight into possibilities for the future, and the likely outcome of a current path.

I'm not sure that I really answered your question, so you might have to wait and see what other people have to say.



This kinda brings up a situation that one of my friends got into. A lady came to him asking about a pregnancy. He gave her a reading that to him clearly pointed out that she was not going to carry the baby to full term. He was really hesitant to reveal this to her and kinda brushed around the issue. Indicating that she should take care of herself, keep up with her prenatal care etc. Well, sure enough a few weeks later she had a miscarriage and she came back to him livid that he didn't tell her the "truth". It just left me wondering if we should reveal what the cards say when we are asked. Agreed people might not want to know the truth, but if they come to us, dont we owe them that? On the other hand..I try to imagine what would have happened had he told her what he saw. Would she have come back and blamed him for some hocus pocus? And what if he had been wrong..what misery that woman would have went through anyway. Perhaps it would have become a self fufilling prophecy.
It can really get confusing at times.


Moonklad, if I were to get other bad news in a reading that I did for someone, I would feel somewhat obliged to at least go over it a little bit.
As you said, if they come to us, we do owe them a complete and accurate reading. But at the same same time, you have to be so careful when it comes to stuff like the reading your friend did. I suppose I don't really know what I would do until I'm in the situation.

I think in other cases, it's perhaps a bit easier to go over bad news. For instance, if you were giving someone a relationship reading and the general message was that the relationship was screwed up beyond repair and will probably be over in a few months. If this is the message that is coming through in someone's reading, then they're probably ready to hear about it and accept it.

With that said, I don't think that there are many people around who are ever really ready to hear that they're going to die shortly. If I went for a reading and was told that I was going to die, I would be really upset and worried, and I just wouldn't want to put someone through that. I suppose I would rather give an incomplete reading than be the cause of someone worrying and getting depressed.

It's such a complex issue.


This is a complex issue with no easy answers! Each occasion must be approached on its own merits.
As Moonklad's example illustrates, it is one of those "catch-22" situations; a damned-if-you-do-&-damned-if-you-don't. If her friend *had* told the truth, there is no telling what the woman's reaction would have been--people are not predictable when confronted with mortality issues; or other sensitive matters. When it strikes close to home, even the apparently intelligent & well-adjusted may go into a tailspin or behave unreasonably, totally ignoring that they came to one for information--& that is mainly what most are looking for--information!! They fault the messenger, instead of appreciating the message.
I tend to follow Mojo's approach, as at least the client cannot accuse one of not telling "the truth"--or what may appear as the situation at that moment. I have seen terminal illness or critical conditions within other cards. While the latter cards may not carry the stigma of "death", they have no less impact--to me. I make every effort to explain the concept of possibilities, the path one is on, even to point out the card(s). As Mojo expressed it so well, Death may refer to an alternative approach. Above all, I focus upon *the present*. The present is all one can reasonably expect to deal with. Where there is yet life, there is always hope.
I have known readings that appeared bright & cheery, only to find out something catastrophic occurred not too long thereafter. Whether there was a failure to see something in the cards or not--one can only go by the moment. With most of the circumstances, it could be attributed to the querent, as in a "driver's error" or carelessness; even a "chance" encounter. As has been said, nothing is concrete; also, there are too many variables that may influence the outcome from both the querent & outside influences.


Hello Friends,
I also have a unique experience on drawing the Death card. I had a Tarot reading about a month ago, after the reader threw the spread-she got this really odd look on her face. (I had told her before the reading that I wanted her to tell me everything, the good and the bad.) After looking at the cards for a moment - she then says " I know you just told me your mother in law is living, however, in the spread she appears as crossed over." I had not told her that my mother in law was in remission (breast cancer). I really did not comment a lot until the reading was finished... I then shared with her that my mother in law was ill and that I felt she would cross over within 6-8 months. She said that was exactly what the cards showed.
I am still not sure what to make of it, I thought perhaps because that issue was on my mind at the time of the reading, was why it appeared that way.
While having my feelings confirmed was not a good thing (in this case.) I am happy that the reader shared with me ,everything that she saw. I strongly feel that how much you reveal depends on the querent. Some people want to know everything , while others only want the positive.

Sorry this is so long, just my thoughts and opinions. Thank you all for listening, it felt good to share that particular reading.

Love and Light,


One other point to remember... particularly when you do a very intense reading... pay attention to the wording of the question!

Last summer, I was doing readings at a fundraiser that I volunteer for every year. My very first client of the evening was an older gentleman who asked "what is going on in my life?"

The spread showed illness and possibly death... I was absolutely mortified because at these fundraisers you want to keep the readings light and entertaining (and you usually only have 15-20 minutes per reading)... I struggled to tell him what I saw but trying my damndest to find something positive to add... it didn't help that the querent was absolutely stone cold silent thoughtout the entire reading, so I got no feedback at all along the way...

I told him that I saw a prolonged illness for a male relative... probably a brother in law or a father in law... I didn't talk about death because of the setting we were in (and he had a friend sitting in on the reading).... Fortunately, there was a small bright spot in that I saw his role in the family changing for the better... he was going to be seen in a better light by the family....

When I was done, he shook his head and he said, "I should have rephrased that question..."

Turns out, I had just described what had recently happened in his life, but he asked "what is going on?" His father in law had been ill for a long time and had recently passed away... but he did say that he felt that his wife's family was accepting him as they never had before because of the role he played throughout the ordeal...

I re-learned a very important lession: when the reading is challenging, go back to the question itself for insight...



Excellent point! I often find myself getting so involved in the meaning of the cards themselves that the reading as a whole begins to loose it's theme. The only thing to do is go back, rethink the question and try to put the reading back into the framework of the clarified question.