When the Death Card is Triggering

Let’s chat a bit about the Death card – not only in Cat Aura Tarot (CAT) but also the Tarot in general.

Some folks find the Death card in CAT to be sad, because the image depicts a kitty who has passed away. Please excuse the pixelation of the image.

The Death card from Cat Aura Tarot
Close up of the cat’s spirit walking into a place of pure love

Of all people, I understand intimately and with great emphasis, what it feels like to lose a beloved cat. I am still not over the loss of my Eli, who died suddenly and tragically two years ago. He’s the one who is in the World card in CAT, and he’s also the one I dedicated this deck to. He’s my soulmate.

Eli passed in 2022. He is depicted in the World card of Cat Aura Tarot deck.
An example of the Death card in a standard RWS deck. Deck depicted here: Radiant Wise Spirit by Lo Scarabeo.

The Death card in standard Rider-Waite-Smith decks depicts a dead person with a skeletal figure on a horse (Death personified), two distraught young people (who have clearly lost someone of significance to them), and a member of the clergy engaging directly with the skeletal Death rider.

When the concept of death is triggering

Death is triggering for many of us; whether we’ve been impacted by the loss of loved ones many times (like yours truly) or not yet, but fear it nonetheless.

Why is death so distressing? The uncertainty, fear, the realities of how much can change. These are all factors of transformation, transition and endings. We often say we want things to change, that we want to be transformed, but change and transformation don’t happen without the discomfort that comes along for the ride. It’s natural to experience fear in the face of endings, even when the endings are desired and needed.

Some endings just feel awful. While I have mourned the loss of every animal I’ve had the honour of loving over the decades, my connection with Eli was unparalleled. His tragic ending was so very unwanted and deeply traumatizing. Sometimes, there is no positive side to endings. And yet, endings exist in many facets of our lives, and every ending creates a new beginning in some way.

Eli’s ending brought a new beginning of life without his presence, a new wound that I don’t know will ever truly heal. But it was a beautiful new beginning for him.

Feeling what arises

Personally, I don’t believe any of us actually dies when our physical bodies do; I believe we simply transition to post-physical life. That’s why I’ve designed the Death card in Cat Aura Tarot to show the cat going on to live in a beautiful place that is filled with loving energy unlike anything we’ve experienced in this physical world.

So, it’s okay to feel sad when you come across the Death card. Even though the card rarely actually speaks to physical death, endings and change are hard. If the card (or any card, for that matter) brings up strong emotions or reactions within you, I encourage you to sit with what’s arising for you. Do some journaling or freewriting. Pull other cards to give you insights into why the Death card is so triggering. Seek professional supports if you need.

Tarot can be a mirror

Tarot is as deeply reflective as it can be beautiful and fun. At its heart, Tarot is a mirror, and if we feel confronted by a Tarot card, it’s time to go within and allow ourselves to explore that with curiosity.

Although times of grief or loss affect us all throughout life, may you always experience inexplicable gentleness, support and love in your own times of change.

Blessings, empowerment and peace to you.

You can read more Tarot-related blog posts over here. If you love Tarot, check out these two indie Tarot decks I created.

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