THE DANGER OF A LITTLE BIT (OR NO!) KNOWLEDGE!
Updated: Dec 2, 2020
We've all bought tarot and/or oracle decks at some point and because we don't know the meanings, looked them up in the accompanying book - no problem. Jumping to conclusions about what the cards mean, however, is a different matter, especially if we then go on and convey that to a third party.
Recently, I was asked to proof-read an article for a well-known pagan magazine (I'm one of their regular volunteer proof-readers). This article was a review of a tarot deck by somebody who knew nothing about the tarot and as I've said above, that in itself isn't a problem.
The problem was that the author was writing about having predicted somebody's death correctly because the Death card had come up. When I read this, I was horrified and flagged up my concerns immediately (in this case, I'd been asked to give my views on the article as a professional Tarologist). As it happened, there were other issues with the article of an ethical nature, so ultimately it wasn't published (which was most definitely the right decision!).
However, I thought it was a good time to talk about the Death card from the Major Arcana. The divinatory meaning, as given in the original book supplied with the Mythic tarot cards that I use for my professional readings says:
"On a divinatory level, the card of Death implies that something must come to an end. Whether or not this experience is painful depends upon the person's capacity to accept and recognise the necessity of endings. The card of Death can augur an opportunity for a new life, if one can let go of the old one. Thus the Fool (the Major Arcana describes the journey of the Fool from innocence to experience) enters the underworld, leaving behind him his previous life, to prepare for an unknown future."
The reasons why things change and come to an end are myriad. For example, your life will never be the same again if you have a child, if you get married, if you move to New Zealand, if you move to Scotland and start a small holding etc - you get the idea!
The whole point of the Death card is to help you understand that life is full of endings and when these happen, it's our attitude to them that determines how well we cope. Yes, the Death card can mean that somebody might die, but without seeing the card in the context of the other cards around it in a spread, you can't be certain of this and more importantly, you would NEVER tell somebody that either they or somebody close to them was going to die, even if you could see that yourself as this would be unethical.
Bottom line, a little bit of knowledge is inevitably a dangerous thing. The tarot cards aren't play things, they're a channel into universal wisdom, but ultimately they're about learning about ourselves and our own journey from innocence to experience.
Do let me know what your experiences about things like this has been.