Samhain is just around the corner ya’ll! I’ll be publishing my Samhain article and podcast episode soon, but first I wanted to put out my Samhain “Death Card” tarot spread. (Don’t worry, it’s not as scary as it sounds!)
Samhain is one of my favorite celebrations on the Wheel of the Year. There is just something absolutely magickal about this time of year – the veil is thin, as they say, and we can feel the otherworldly energies alongside us. One of the most prominent themes of Samhain has to do with death. It is a time to connect with ancestors, to explore our shadow side, and to get in touch with the waning energies of the Earth around us. Death is a part of life; in fact, many things must die in order to be reborn – especially in the natural world.
The tarot spread I’m sharing with you today focuses on this theme of death – that is to say, letting go or letting something die. Tarot is a great way to practice self-reflection and notice aspects of our lives that we might not be consciously aware of otherwise, so with this spread, we’ll be looking at what aspects of your life need to ‘die’ or be ‘let go’ so that another aspect of yourself can be reborn and live. It’s a deep subject, but Samhain is a deep, shadowy holiday, so this spread reinforces these energies.
Below I’ll walk you through a sample reading of my Samhain Death Card reading, much like I did with Mabon’s tarot spread. If you’d like to print out the spread for your Book ‘O Shadows/Tarot notebook, click the picture for a free PDF printable.
How to Read the Spread
To read this spread, you’ll want to shuffle your cards or cut your deck. Then, you’ll lay out the cards face down in the positions you see above. I personally like to ask each question as I’m choosing the card for that position. Once all the cards are laid out, take a deep breath, ask for clarity and insight, and then turn over the cards in the order you laid them down.
Next thing I like to do is take a second to notice any overarching themes/images/suits. Are your cards all wands? Do you have several major arcana cards? Are the figures all looking directly at you? Do you have repeating numbers or colors? Just take notice of all of these things and and see how they play in later.
Now you’ll move on to the individual cards.
#1: This card will tell you what area of your you need to ‘let go/release/die’.
#2: This card will speak to why you are having trouble letting go – what fears are keeping you from allowing this aspect to die.
#3: This card will help you think about how to go about releasing this aspect of your life.
#4: This card will tell you how releasing this aspect will change your life/what effect it will have overall.
#5: This card will give you insight into what may be reborn or given life after this old aspect has passed.
I like to write notes as I go, then revisit my initial overview. I also like to either speak or write my insights into a cohesive ‘story’ because as I do this, more connections arise. It gives the reading a deeper meaning and helps it resonate with me. I often think about the cards for days after a reading when I take the time to write up a summary (or video/voice memo). Below I’ll go through a short sample reading.
Sample Samhain Tarot Reading
This sample reading is much shorter than what I’d do for myself or a client, but it can give you an idea of how to read the spread.
Notes: Many figures are looking at ‘something else’ – not directly at me, they seem focused on others or a task at hand. There is alot of mist/fog, and alot of the figures are alone-they don’t seem upset about that overall, just something I noticed.
#1 Four of Pentacles- The aspect of the querent’s life they may need to let go in is the need to stay in control at all times. It seems to me that this figure is worried/preoccupied with rearranging their home (and symbolically with the pentacles, their possessions), while the visitor stands sadly outside. They are looking at the visitor, but seem to be more concerned with controlling the situation inside than letting others in, or flow. It speaks to me about needing to control situations and people and emotions, etc – so this may be the aspect to let go a little.
#2 The Six of Athames – Where to begin? The biggest thing I notice is that this is usually a card of exploration or beneficial voyage/escape – this image shows the figure tethered. I think this shows that the real fear here is that if they were to ‘let go’ of control (the tether), they’d be adrift at sea, at the mercy of the elements, having no clue where they’d land. They’d feel out of control and scared they’d get lost. (all metaphorical of course)
#3 Four of Athames – This card indicates forcing yourself to take a time out. Unlike the first card, this figure is doing absolutely nothing. They are outside, relaxing under a tree, enjoying the day. This person has no plans, is in no hurry, and if someone else came up, you get the feeling he’d welcome the company. This card doesn’t say how, but it definitely shows that the querent needs to embrace this attitude to begin to move away from the fear aspect.
#4 The High Priestess – Embracing a less fearful, controlling attitude will result in the querent being able to be more creative, in touch with their intuitive side, and actually able to gain MORE control in their life. When we aren’t afraid of someone/something being ruined or not going as we planned, we actually feel more in control because as we go with the flow, things come more naturally and we can appreciate things as they come. How many times have we planned and been disappointed, but not planned and been delighted? The High Priestess shows that tapping into this more open, communicative energy helps us feel more in control than when we tried to control with force.
#5 Eight of Wands – When this querent moves into this new mindset and lets the old one die, they will experience many opportunities or ‘new lives’. The wands laid out before this figure represent ambitions, inspiration, paths, and actions, and as you can see, they are all laid out before her, pointing out different ways to go. Instead of being busy deciding how it MUST be, she is able to CHOOSE a path which is offered. This is a card which often speaks to career choices, or swift, good news – so it shows fast forward movement and change!
Summary: Overall this reading makes a lot of sense. The querent has struggled with shutting others (other opportunities, paths, relationships, etc) out because they didn’t fit with the picture in their head. This was keeping them stuck and although comfortable, not exactly happy. They are afraid because they equate being out of control with being lost/chaotic/adrift, instead of what card #3 says, which is that lack of control can also equal freedom, rest, openness, and enjoyment of the present moment. By letting this aspect ‘die’, the querent will understand that by letting things flow and accepting them as they come, they will actually feel more in control overall, and finally, that this will give them even more wonderful opportunities than they imagined! See, not scary at all!
That’s my short sample reading. I hope it helped you in how to approach your own reading. Good luck!
If you love this tarot spread, but don’t love reading for yourself, I’m offering $15 Samhain Tarot Readings for the month of October! Just click below and choose one of these three Samhain inspired readings.