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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Death and Grief Reading

I recently experienced the death of a dear friend and colleague of many years. Her funeral is today.

In her honor, I am sharing a spread I adapted from one that was posted by Barbaras Ahajusts on Aeclectic Tarot Forum back in 2006. I hope this provides an example of how Tarot readings can help us cope with death and grief in our lives.

I am using Tarot of the Spirit by Pamela and Joyce Eakins (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.)

Death and Grief Spread
(my version)


1. The deceased:

EARTH MOTHER (Queen of Pentacles)

How true this is! My friend and colleague was a mother-figure to so many people, including and especially (of course) her own children. She mentored younger colleagues (and me, even though we were close to the same age), and her compassion, creativity, and joy in life were noticed by everyone who encountered her.

2. I (the bereaved):  


An interesting draw, considering that this is the card associated with my Sun sign, Sagittarius. I really like what Pamela Eakins writes about this card: "The trials and temptations you currently experience will lead you toward integration, the 'middle way,' the path of moderation." That is a very accurate portrayal of how I have become the person I am. This card also suggests spiritual (inner) growth and "a period of profound realization."

3. What united us?  

WATER BROTHER (Knight of Cups)

Indeed, I believe we were linked through subconscious influences that brought us into a heart-to-heart relationship. The connection was deep and powerful.

4. Under which sign did our union stand? 


I don't know for certain what the creator of this spread meant by "sign" but I am interpreting it as "zodiac sign." In the system I currently use, The Hierophant is linked with the sign Taurus (my Moon sign). Taurus is an Earth sign, which suggests an union in the physical, material world. We were brought together initially by our jobs in an institution ("the establishment" sometimes represented by The Hierophant). Taurus is ruled by Venus, the planet that rules relationships, love, and appreciation. Venus also rules Libra, my friend's sun sign. The Hierophant is sometimes associated with the astrological 9th House, the house of philosophy and religion (and the house linked with my sun sign, Sagittarius). All of this makes sense to me.

5. What is now gone?


How would someone's death mean that "Death" is now gone? I am reminded of the Biblical verse that reads, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" The spectre of death that had hung over my friend since her diagnosis of cancer in April is gone. That threat, that uncertainty about the upcoming transformation is no longer of any concern for her. Her death is over.

6. What remains for me as the gift of our union? 


Here I also find myself turning to the words written by Pamela Eakins about this card: "At your darkest hour, you will find that you hold your own light. . . Shedding light on your fears will propel you toward self-understanding, strength and self-confidence. Through this process you will heal and move forward into happiness."

7. Which force is protecting and accompanying me during this period? 


The force that protects and accompanies me during this period is the power of retreat, withdrawal, and contemplation. I am called to enter a meditative state in which I will experience the silence I need to see and hear deeper truths.

8. Which force accompanies the deceased? 


Titled "Many Tongues" in this deck, this card represents the importance of letting go of old systems or things in which you once believed. As the winds of change sweep over and through my friend, her spirit will learn to express itself in a new language and in new ways.

Edited to add: How interesting that the following lines were sung at my friend's funeral:

"Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above..."
(from the hymn Come Thou Font of Every Blessing by Robert Robinson)

Not only that, my friend loved animals, especially reptiles. During the funeral service, her husband shared more than one anecdote about her involving snakes.

9. Which force helps me to let go and to keep going, gives me new courage, and benefits me? 


A powerful force indeed, The Sun illuminates my path as I enter a new stage of life, one that my friend does not share. Unlike some Sun cards, this one has two people on it, holding hands. I feel this refers to a connection between my friend and me at a high level, under the Sun's brilliant light.

I am awed by the power and significance of these cards. I feel that the large number of Major Arcana cards (6 of the 9 cards) reinforces my belief that my friend and I had a soul mate or past life connection. The reading is a comfort to me. It helped me express thoughts and feelings, enabling me to come to terms with my loss.


  1. Hi Zanna

    I've just carried out this spread and was wondering if you could help me with some insight as they read

    1. Page of cups
    2. Nine of pentacles
    3. Ace of swords
    4. Ten of wands
    5. Two of pentacles
    6. Eight of pentacles
    7. Ten of pentacles
    8. Nine of wands
    9. Three of wands

    I'm confused why so many pentacles? Would love to hear from you.


    1. Hello Lorry,

      I prefer not to interpret other people's readings. What do you think these cards mean in relation to the positions they occupy in the spread?

  2. Thank you. My dad just past today, it was nice to find a spread I could go too...

    1. I'm so sorry for your loss, but pleased that you are finding the spread useful.

  3. Thank you so much for this. I am doing a reading for a dear friend whose loved one just passed, and this is a lovely spread to do for her.

    1. You are most welcome. I am pleased that you found it useful.


Thank you for leaving a comment. I love hearing from my readers!
~ Zanna