From the peace and inner contemplation of The Hanged Man, we come to the result of his self-discovery and the sacrifices inherent in it: the death of what went before. In divinatory readings, the Death card most often means fear of change, to the point of resisting it, even when we know in our hearts that this change is a good thing. Although it does not represent physical death, the card can point to an anxious awareness of our own mortality, which is beginning to color our other thoughts and behaviors.
Death frequently suggests a clearing away of the old - whether that’s old habits and self-limiting thoughts that have been present in our lives for too long, or the letting go of connections and routines that no longer serve us well.
Death reversed suggests that the fear of change is so overwhelming that we have become paralyzed and unable to move forward with what we know needs to be done. The card also often appears if we are feeling bored, lethargic, or depressed with our lives. These things, too, are linked to knowing that a change needs to happen but choosing instead to remain static and dissatisfied rather than facing the risk of the unknown.
When the Death card appears, either right way up or reversed, in a reading, it is not to advise us that a change is coming and to offer us ways to successfully process it. Instead, Death tells us that the change has already happened and, perhaps, occurred a long time ago. We just did not take it into our hearts and grab hold of the opportunity it offered us. This card reminds us that this change, ultimately, cannot be resisted and that we need to conquer our fear and welcome it, as the child in the picture does.