This is the most misunderstood card of the Tarot. Preconceptions fill the mind, and the face of fear creeps across a querents face. This is not a physical death.
This card holds a simple concept that applies to all the other cards; it is one of accepting change.
Death simply means a transformation from one state to another. Yesterday we may have thought the world was flat and today it is round — that’s a transformation of knowledge, for example.
The psyche has the potential to change into something amazing. If it was easy then it would be a different planet we live on. Change is scary and something we try to avoid it at all costs when we have some creature comforts at our feet.
Since this is a major card this isn’t a small change, and it’s more of a state of accepting the current life situation that blocks us from moving forward in our life. A little bit of Buddhism would help give a grasp of the nature of this path — the more we accept our current situation for what it is, the more we are able to transcend it. This doesn’t mean that a miracle happens the moment we do that, but it does mean that we can move on from it, or walk away from attachment issues. We let go, we become fluid.
The bonds of the past restrict our possible actions in the moment. Once the bonds are identified and cut away, the psyche can get back to living in the moment.
The Hebrew letter for this card is ‘Nun’, meaning ‘fish’. The fish is agile in water. Humans are normally not agile in their emotional waters, and this path seeks to return us to that childlike state of being able to take some knocks and move on. We have to learn to move and stop obsessing over details in our emotional world.