The Death Tarot Card, a favorable or unfavorable card?


The denomination “Death Card" is without the shadow of a doubt the most dreaded among the Tarot of Marseille cards. But what message does this arcanum really want to transmit to us? Is it as negative as it seems to be?

How is the Unnamed card symbolized in the Tarot of Marseille?

There is nospace in Arcanum #13 where a name can be written. It is therefore also called “The Unnamed".
Contrary to the Fool – card on which the space reserved for the "number" is voluntarily left blank –  there is no frame where a name could be inscribed in Arcanum #13. Some might see a veiled reference to God, "the one who has no name”, which is an eventuality. In any case, an objective study of this tarot card demonstrates that it is more than Death.

It pictures a skeleton scything head, hands, feet. What skeleton? Doesn’t this character look more fleshy than skeletal? Would this character put on a costume, a mask to unmask us? Observe his hands carefully: they tend to tip the scales in favor of this assumption.
The death head? Don’t you think it looks like a costume of the commedia dell'arte.

Let’s take a closer look at this Tarot card. The scythe is red, the symbol of life and vitality. One could be tempted to say that it is the blood of the victims. But put yourself in the shoes of this peculiar character. It is hard to use a scythe in this position, isn’t it? All you can do in such a position is sweep. And that’s precisely what the character is doing. Nothing proves that the human limbs that lie on the ground are real, or that they lie there as a result of the action of the main character.

Why does this Tarot of Marseille card bring about fear?

What does this tarot arcanum have that scares people? A superficial answer would only focus on the fear of death. But this card represents most of all a brutal, decisive and incisive change that requires all our willpower. What is more anchored in men than the fear of change, change that would lead them to do some soul-searching, that forces them to reflect on the very nature of their identity?
Arcanum #13 of the Tarot of Marseille can unveil, for instance:

  • a weakness,
  • the fear of having to get rid of everything that’s artificial in our lives,
  • a sort of emotional “locking” (take a look at the main character’s "costume". It seems to be tight around the plexus)
  • or someone else’s manipulation meant to better hide their feelings.

If the secret meaning of the tarot of Marseille arcana is of interest to you, I invite you to consult this page that unveils tarot cards’ hidden meaning.