It's safe to say that outside (and even sometimes within) the Tarot community, the Death card and the archetypes it represents (change, new beginnings, finite endings) get a pretty bad rap. With its macabre art and dancing skeletons, images of decay and deterioration, and in some cases corpses and mourning loved ones, it's easy to see why this ominous card is not one a querent usually likes to see (you know you're going to be put to the test when it shows up in a querent's Future; get ready to do some explaining!).
I, however, love to see Death appear in a reading. Death, both literal and figurative, is such a prevalent theme in our lives and it's not one that is easy to ignore. We may not always know it's present, but it's there day in and day out whether we're aware of it or not.
Literal death is obviously the most prevelant instance in which this archetype is present. None of us are immune to it's great power, and life is basically a day-to-day journey toward that great end. While this can be, quite frankly, terrifying, there's something comforting in knowing that it allows us to be included in the Universe's great cycle. No one can know for sure what happens when we pass from this life into the next, and I feel like that helps connect us; we're all in this great mystery together, and no matter age, race, sex, creed, or status, we will all eventually cross that mysterious and inevitable threshold. It helps to humanize us and make each culture and society relatable to one another.
Death also makes it's self present, especially in terms of the Tarot, in more subtle ways everyday. Any Tarot for Beginners book, blog, or video will tell a reader that Death signifies great, needed change, finite endings, inevitable transition, and so forth; it's more about accepting those things which we cannot change and how they can positively influence our lives rather than the actual, physical happenings of death.
So how does that manifest into our daily life? It can happen on grand yet subtle scales; think about the changing of the seasons or even the rising and setting of the sun. Each is representational of an inevitable change that can have profound effect on both our physical surroundings as well as out psyche.
These changes can also occur on a more personal, intimate level. Think about relationships you've been in that started out full of passion and fire only to deteriorate and turn to dust; bad habits such as smoking or drug addiction can sneak up on us and require a swift and cathartic end; being unhappy at a job or a particular stage in your life requires moving on and leaving comforts behind even if you're not fully prepared to. Even our sleep cycle is representation of death; each time we fall asleep we close a little chapter of our lives only to open a new one each time we awake. Each day has it's own little life cycle, and it's up to us to make sure we take advantage of it the best we can.
All of these instances, and an infinite amount more, are representational of a little death being present in our lives everyday. As we head into the winter months and many delve deep into their shadow-selves, it's important to recognize that Death is not to be feared.It should be welcomed as a chance to throw off the old and bring forth the new with open arms. Accepting it in its various forms may be difficult, but once we're able to shed light onto Death's healing properties, it will become a welcome aspect to any Tarot reading.