You can read an introduction to the light & shadow series and find links to its other installments >> here! If you aren’t yet familiar with my interpretation of the card you might want to read up on its meanings before you continue with this article.
The Scythe for me is one of the more ambivalent cards in the Lenormand deck – its main meanings especially (sudden end, cut-off, harvest) are not clear-cut positive or negative but could be either, depending on the context. Maybe a bit surprising from a more traditional reader’s perspective, in the majority of readings I personally have found the positive/productive interpretations made more sense.
First, let’s look at when and how the Scythe’s main meanings can represent unproductive, negative, issues and goings-on. If the sudden end the Scythe represents happens in a situation in which we feel it is too early, or altogether unwanted, then the end will not just be unexpected but also painful to us. We’ll perceive it as something profoundly negative. If what we are cut off from is something of which it is not natural to be cut off from, or if the reason for the cut-off is not comprehensible – e.g. a family cuts a family member off only because they are homosexual or don’t follow the family’s religious believes – this is very damaging, causes wounds that might never heal properly.
If you draw the Scythe for a situation in which you know you’ve acted unreasonably, procrastinated, or treated people badly, the Scythe’s meaning “harvesting what you deserve” very likely hints at nothing pleasant.
And finally, if we interpret the Scythe as a warning of something or someone dangerous, this can be viewed as something negative, too – being told that something might go seriously wrong causes no pleasant feelings.
On the other hand, the Scythe can also represent productive, positive, issues and goings-on. If the sudden end the Scythe represents happens in a situation in which you’ve actually been yearning for something to be over, or to at least change radically, then the Scythe’s sudden end can come as a big relief. If the cut-off the Scythe represents is a cut-off from an abusive person or an unhealthy situation, there’s nothing better that could happen – even if it is also a bit frightening at first.
If you draw the Scythe for a situation in which you know that you’ve acted reasonably, tackled things in a timely fashion, or treated people well, the Scythe’s meaning “harvesting what you deserve” very likely hints at something pleasant.
And in general, the Scythe’s meanings “a reckoning” and “cleaning up”, are definitely productive, too, almost irrespective of context. While the end result of a reckoning might be something we are not happy with, at least it confronts us with the truth. And while cleaning something up (be it literally or metaphorically) can be a lot of work, it leads to free, clean space – which is definitely positive.
Finally, I mentioned above that if we interpret the Scythe as a warning of something or someone dangerous, this can be viewed as something negative, because no-one likes being told that something might go seriously wrong. On the other hand: If the Scythe alerts us to a danger we hadn’t been aware of, and if we thus manage to avert the danger, that’s a very productive thing!