Living My Death Year

By Allan Ritchie

Scan 5

In Mary Greer’s incomparable “Tarot for Yourself” I was introduced to the idea of the Birth Card and the Year Card. She presents a chart to discover how the Major Trumps appear every year of your life. A great exercise to track your Birth Card cycle with significant life events. One thing that I noticed in my chart was the first appearance of the Death card. This year. 

I do not buy into a lot of the fear that the Death card inspires in many people, still I respect the card. There are some cards that you can take lightly but this is not one of them. When the Death card does show up I think it is wise to take a moment to consider how my story will end. Do I think that because this is a Death year then it means that this is the year I die? Nope, still it doesn't hurt me to consider my own mortality. Is my life insurance up to date? Should I get a checkup with the doctor? Drawing up a will, end of life medical concerns and preplanning for a funeral are all good ideas for any adult. 

Having reasonably considered my mortality, I look at the card and the energy that it represents. If this year is going to be an expression of the Death card then I must understand what that means and how I can leverage Death’s energy? If I am in a Death cycle then it is easier to accept rather than fight the reality that I have some work to do. The Death card is characterized endings and transformation. Death is a card of change. Change that is the natural end followed by putrefaction then a renewal and transformation. 

What in my life has gone on too long and now just stinks? I entered the new year with a need to put to end my living situation. Renting had always been a great option for me. I carried no deep responsibility and was carefree. But there was a stagnant feeling to the whole thing. It was time to understand that I was ready to handle a home and mortgage. This meant death of an old life. Looking for a house, dealing with a loan broker and closing on the deal were each steps into deep transition. Then packing and moving always includes a purge of belongings. I started the year debt-free and I now have a thirty-year mortgage. Scary change to be sure. I felt all the emotions you would expect with the Death card: fear, anxiety, uncertainty, nausea and anticipation of the inevitable. 

If dealing with Death energy, you must also learn to be prudent. When I make decisions they have lasting ramifications. I have rarely seen a time where my choices are so final. In both my work and personal life this year when I make decisions they stay decided. There is no going back and thinking it over or changing my mind. Once decided my choices are settled for good. 

There are other things I have learned in a Death year. When something breaks down, such as an appliance or piece of equipment, it is totally done. No chance to call the repair guy and fix it, rather it is time to get a new one. The natural order is for things into fall to chaos. It is clear that I am learning that there is a season for everything and to understand that not all things come to an end. 

Scan 7 (1)

The Grim Reaper carries a scythe for a reason. In a literal sense I have learned to be extra careful with knives and sharp objects. I have had more cuts this year than I can ever remember. It took me way to long to recognize what was happening and now I am extra, extra careful. 

Here is another inescapable truth about living through a Death year. There is rebirth blooming in my life. Making “no looking back” decisions produces a freedom and revival. I take specific actions to cut away the personal chains that are holding me back and I see fresh opportunities. Six months still to go in my Death year and I am looking for what else needs to clear out. Bad habits, lingering routines that don’t serve me well, what books I am reading, and my Tarot craft are all under scrutiny. Nothing is off limits and the more I cut way the better I feel. 

Now to the point of why this Death year is so important. Remember that“Tarot for Yourself” teaches us to track the occurrences of our Birth Card. Each time it appears, that year has a fundamental shift or revolution in my life. You can only have so many Birth Card years in your lifetime and projecting out my life span I know that next year is my last Birth Card year. This Death year is fundamental to my preparation for my next phase of life. I have great expectations for the revolution next year but I have to be ready. It seems a lot like a farmer that has to clear all the old crops to make sure the field is ready for the new harvest. This year I see the natural end and cutting away of much of my life but I know the promise of the Death energy. Transformation! I am certain that the more I can clear out now the better I will be able to embrace what is to come. 

Death card first image is from the Rider-Waite-Smith Centennial Edition and the second image is from Tarot Lovers Tarot by Karyn Easton

All submissions remain the property of their respective authors. All images are used with permission. Firework Banner from Tarot Refletions is published by the American Tarot Association - 2015  Questions? Comments? Contact us at