Tarot Movie #2: Does the Death Card Mean Death?

Maybe. Probably not. That’s the real answer.

*Spoiler Alert* I will be discussing plot points that will give away key information if you haven’t seen the movie. Be warned. If you want more background regarding the plot of the movie, please read Tarot Movie Blog #1. *Note: All discussion around tarot, meanings of the cards, etc is my personal opinion. Feel free to disagree. Take what resonates & leave the rest.

The theme of Death overwhelms the movie, Tarot - it’s horror & most of the characters die, so… yeah. The Death card is pulled three times for characters in the movie, but discussed beyond those readings. The Astrologer, who cursed the tarot deck, pulls the Death Card for her client predicting the death of his wife & unborn son, resulting in his killing her daughter for retribution. In modern days, the main character & tarot reader/astrologer, Haley pulls Death as her “overall theme” card for her horoscope. And Haley pulls the Death Card when doing the final horoscope for The Astrologer to end the cycle of the cursed deck by destroying the one who created it in the first place. Only in 2 of these 3 readings does the Death Card result in physical death or destruction of a soul.

One character says “Death can mean endings, or it can mean beginnings, but sometimes it just means death”. As a tarot reader I understand that sometimes the Death card means death - it happens. RARELY, but it happens. However, this is not the norm.

The Death card comes in the MIDDLE of the Fool’s Journey of the Major Arcana. Not the beginning or the end. It represents transformation and change; a shift from what you used to be to what you are becoming. And yes, often there are sacrifices that need to be made, but in my opinion the Death card is about internal transformation - not representative of external difficulties or challenges.

At the end of the movie Haley breaks the curse by conducting a horoscope for The Astrologer so that she is also doomed to the fate of the cursed deck. Of course, her final card is the Death card (same as Haley’s). The Astrologer finally dies & the curse is broken, the cards destroyed & Haley saved. But, if I were writing this script, I would probably have chosen the Judgement card instead for The Astrologer. In this moment, Haley tells her that she has to choose to let go. That holding on to the pain from the past won’t heal the hurt that was caused or change what happened. It won’t bring back her daughter who was unjustly taken from her way back when. And killing innocent strangers isn’t bringing any justice either.

Haley & The Astrologer both release their grief & pasts at the same time - Haley losing the hospital bracelet her mom wore until she died & The Astrologer’s cards finally being destroyed & reuniting with her lost daughter in spirit. Again - here is the true representation of the Death card. Things that need to be destroyed or sacrificed in order to evolve into a new version of you. The Death card might be appropriate for Haley with this in mind, but again for The Astrologer she is being confronted with choices she made that harmed others, her past, her grief, and also being shown the peace that can come with letting go (her soul finally being at rest). The Judgement card would be more representative of the fact that the time has come to face the destruction she has caused, while also being validated for the injustices done to her (the unjust killing of her daughter in retribution for a card reading that told hurtful truths). It also tells of the end coming for her. Just as the angel in the Judgement card is heralding the end of days, The Astrologer’s time has come to an end. It’s time to meet her maker & transition to the other side. To release her past, her grief, her rage & LET IT GO.

While movies, TV shows & media in general like to villainize the Death Card in tarot, it’s really one of the most empowering cards in the deck. Change is hard. Becoming someone new & improved is hard. Letting go of bad habits, trauma, situations, past experiences is hard. The Death Card is not an easy card. It’s heavy.

If I were to walk around with a microphone a la Billy Eichner and ask random strangers on the street “Are you afraid of the afterlife?” the response would most likely be “no”. And yet, if I walked around asking “Are you afraid of death?” I would probably get a lot more “yes”es. Death precedes the after life. If you aren’t afraid of one, then why are you afraid of the path that’s required to get there? Because it’s unknown & therefore scary. That’s the Death Card. The process required to get from “before” to “after” isn’t pleasant, but you are usually proud & appreciative of the outcome.

So can we all stop villainizing death, please? My poor friend with his hood, scythe & mission to take you to your next destination isn’t TRYING to scare you & make your life miserable. If not for the reality of our eventual end, what would be the point in savoring the time we are given? Knowing that this life doesn’t go on for eternity is what keeps it meaningful. It’s part of the process. Life & death are two sides of the same coin. You cannot have one without the other. So get used to it folks & appreciate BOTH sides of the coin.

More coming…. If you want to hear my opinion on the other “overall theme” cards that result in the deaths & almost deaths of the other characters in the movie, Tarot stay tuned for Blog #3. If you want to be the first to know when this next one is published sign up for my FREE newsletter here & you’ll get a direct link to Tarot Blog #3 when it’s posted.