Death Tarot Card Meaning


death tarot card meaning

XIII Death:

Keywords: Transition, passage, a new beginning, ending of old things, letting go, change

As no doubt you’ve read elsewhere, the Death card doesn’t mean literal death. The Death card deals with endings and beginnings of all sorts. It is the transition into a new phase in your life, the phoenix rising from the ashes of it’s former self. Like the Hanged Man, a letting go of the old is often necessary, but unlike the Hanged Man which can bring stagnation and postponement, the Death card brings sweeping changes. The Death card depicts several figures being confronted from several classes or walks of life… This implies that none of us are immune to the energy that Death brings, nor can the forces be resisted. It is a time that one must simply surrender to what is and go with the flow.

Death Card #13 – Rider Waite tarot

Astrological Sign: Scorpio

Upright Meaning

Endings, Clearing the Way for a Brand New Start, Changing Status, Endings….Beginnings….Life Cycle, Renewal, A Life Altering Transition, Rebirth – Death Followed by Rebirth, Birth of New ideas…. New Opportunities, Elimination, Change, Cutting Out the Unnecessary in Your Life, Transformation, Shedding Old Attitudes, Out with the Old and In with the New, Having a Parting of the Ways, Putting the Past Behind You, Concluding Unfinished Business, Look at this as a New Opportunity Rather than a Loss.

Note: Look at the other cards in the spread, to see what this change can be.

Reversed Meaning

Not Seeing the Opportunity’s For Change, Standstill, Hanging On – Not Letting Go…Not Excepting Change, Fear of Change, Hope Destroyed, Things Remaining the Same, Need to Set New Goals, The Old Ones Aren’t Working, Loss of Opportunity, Stagnation ….Limbo, A Very Slow Change, Need to Change Attitude and Way of Thinking and Doing, Not Willing to Risk Change…Resisting Change when Change is Essential, Mental, Physical or Emotional Exhaustion, Something May Be Taken Away From You By Force, No Changes, Feeling of Depression.

What are your views on the death card?

Marissa:  I think of Death as ENDINGS and shirk at the idea that it is often glossed over as “new beginnings” — yes, beginnings result from endings, but lots of cards are about beginnings. We culturally (generally and in “new agey” circles) are indoctrinated into the wonder of new beginnings, but rarely recognize the value and necessity of endings. So whenever this card comes up, I emphasize the importance of something ending…

Jordan: For me, this means slight changes. Timing wise, this tells me getting a phone call within a week usually for work related events.

Does it really mean to die?


Marissa: Even though the meaning of the card doesnt mean physical death..  I think however that it’s important not to gloss over the pain and fear many feel in the face of change, there is a reason people are afraid of this card even when they know it doesn’t mean literal physical death. Endings are scary, it’s ok to fear death but hopefully you learn to move through it anyway.

Jordan: Only in very few instances does the death card actually indicate physical death. I think overall it is a refreshing card. It means a much -needed ending that will ultimately lead to something new and to some type of rebirth….Begin some purging projects when this card comes up. Change is needed when things or people fall into a rut!

Lidia:  there is even the death of changing one’s view and gaining a fresh perspective on something. I think death is needed to go forward in life and definitely needed for new growth.

When have you seen it appear in a spread?

 Marissa: I have seen the death card appear and reappear when the seeker won’t let go of a partner the relationship isn’t working but they refuse to face the truth that it’s dead in the water they are indeed flogging a dead horse . Personaly i have never red it as death itself. only an ending to something or a new beginning.

Jordan: death usually depicts the seeker is bringing or approaching some kind of ending closure or completion often the ending feels like it’s been thrust upon them or they have been dragged along to face something is no longer serving them …a relationship maybe or even a job.

What does it mean to draw the death card and the 6 of cups in a love question?

Marissa:  end of the relationship but thoughts of those sweet ol days and being nostalgic.

Jordan: When you finally let go and release what is no longer working for you, your heart opens and you become able to give generously in your relationship. This could indicate the end of one relationship and the start of a new or the rebirth of a relationship.

Lidia: A need to clean up emotionally, they may be stuck in the past, reminiscing .6 of cups is a rare card that speaks of the past, but from a perspective grounded somewhere else in time, like a photograph or a memory. If it represents a relationship it’s speaking of the memory you carry about it but not the actual relationship. In reality it is never the whole story: Facts are left out, things are forgotten, etc. It’s a “moment in time” that has already passed, this is symbolized on the card by each cup being used for planted flowers. Cups are water & emotion but The fixed element of earth blocks the flow of water, it holds it in place. The 6 of cups can be built on, but it won’t help moving forward. Every time you encounter it you only get what you’ve got before.

Abby: End of a relationship, circumstance but happy memories and no hard feelings….or maybe going back to something you once had.

What does the card represent in terms of a love relationship?

Marissa: If Death came up for someone considering a potential marriage partner, then they would be saying goodbye to something else in the process. Yes, Death often heralds a transformation and new beginning, but often after an ending of some kind. Something has finished and it’s how you deal with that finality that moves the next phase onwards (or not if it’s resisted). This may simply be looking at the single status a person is moving on from. It may be more though – what might they be giving up? I would look at those things.

Jordan: To me death is “endings” – this is how I have it “setup with my deck” – so when that card comes in my readings – I tell my sitter that marriage is just not in the cards at this time and it appears that something major is going on and needs to be addressed by both of them. It feels like one of them is going down a different path and they may not have the same goals to make a long-term commitment at this time. I would also look at the surrounding cards to get further details as to what is going on.

Lidia: I agree with Jordan. I’d interpret as dangers ahead in this relationship and may not be wise to go ahead. I see this card positively based on the cards surrounding it. Its the end of a long period or a long struggle etc

Abby:  Death means change and transition. Usually of a sort that is necessary, and that resisting causes pain, stagnation and depression. What context is Death shown (I.e. other cars, spread, what suits are coming up, etc)? Marriage and commitment are changes, but so are separation, and life circumstances outside the relationship also change, as does a relationship itself over time. Context aside, honesty is required to determine if the relationship is healthy and productive for both parties. Are their life and relationship goals compatible, their beliefs and their finances? Do they argue well, do they argue often? Where are they both in terms of career and family?

Go to :  The Hanged man or Temperance

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Brianna Stoker

Element: Earth Suit: Coins

Death is a bad card. You may think that this is so obvious that it hardly needs saying. But many Tarot readers like to think of the card as representing transition. The end of something, though not necessarily physical death. This is probably a good point to say a little bit about bad cards in general. Suppose you are doing a reading for a querent and the spread comes out bad. I mean really bad. Awful, dreadful cards, one after the other. So what do you say to the querent? – Sorry, but I have to tell you that the bottom is about to fall out of your life -?. Isn’t that a bit like being introduced to an ugly or disfigured person and blurting out – My God! You’re ugly!! Returning to the meaning, as with all cards, the true meaning of the Death card should be clarified by the question, and the surrounding cards in the spread. There are actually several death cards in the Tarot. These are the four of Swords, possibly indicating a premature death. The ten of Swords, one interpretation of which is sudden or violent death. And the three of Cups reversed, which may indicate a funeral. If any of these three turn up in a spread, in close association with the Death card, then you may have to consider an actual physical death, especially if the question concerns health/illness, or is to do with a physically threatening, or dangerous situation. In terms of the ending interpretation, the ending is likely to be a bad one, or at the very least somewhat unfavorable. It may indicate the loss of something, someone, or some situation that can never be redeemed. The death card has a sense of permanent end. If the surrounding cards are good, then it may just be a permanent, complete ending. As far as the transition aspect is concerned, it could well be a difficult transition from one cycle to another. In association with, say, the nine of Swords, it may indicate trying to come to terms with grief, sorrow, and regret. In some circumstances Death can actually be a good card. Supposing it appears in a spread just after a really bad set of cards, in spread slots indicating the past, and just before a set of good cards in the future slots. We can take this to mean that Death is the final end to the bad cycle, and represents the transition from a bad situation into a good one. Death-Reversed

The reversed card is generally good, though as always, this depends on the question at hand and the spread. It may represent coming back for the dead in a figurative sense. Just when all seems lost, a major change in circumstances occurs. Snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. The Phoenix rising from the ashes. Making a come-back. In a wandey context it may indicate recovery from an illness. In a coiney context it could mean recovery for a dying business. Falling stocks start to rise again perhaps. In a swordish context, the revisiting of an old theory. Perhaps a newspaper reviving an old story. In a cuppey context, perhaps a couple getting back together again after a separation, divorce. Alternatively, it may represent something that is lingering on. Not coming to an end in a permanent and complete way. In a supernatural sense, it may indicate a ghost, spirit, which is unable to pass to the other side. Note the similarity with Judgement, one of whose meanings is rebirth, rejuvenation. The reversed card may also indicate making a fresh start. Putting the past behind you. Moving on, perhaps from a bad situation.

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