Death. Rider Waite Tarot Deck

Death Tarot Card Meaning – 13th Arcana

What is the meaning of the Death in Tarot Cards?

Major Arcana Death in the Tarot with the symbolic number 13 is perhaps the most “terrible” Arcana of the deck for beginners. Many people that are unfamiliar with tarology are generally afraid of this card as of fire. But is its meaning really so terrible? Let’s consider in detail the meaning of the card.
In the most general sense, Death of the Tarot is a card of change. It hints that it is time to reconsider your life, to part with what is holding you back and move on. Changes are coming, but you should not be afraid of them. They will lead you to new horizons and new happiness.
Thirteenth Arcana of Tarot cards Death speaks not only of death, but also of the beginning of a new life. The allegory of this card is the end of the person that you were before. In fact, this is what you deserve and for what you made sacrifices. Perhaps a new life will begin now, different from your past existence.

Names in Other Languages: La Morte, La Mort, Der Tod.

The occult meaning of the Arcana: woman

The physical meaning of the Arcana: changing direction of energy

The Kabbalistic meaning of the Arcana: love and destruction

Spirit Orb: parting with previous ideas about yourself and the world

Goal: leaving, making room for the new

Element: Water

Planet: Saturn, Pluto

Astrological sign: Scorpio

Places: new place of residence; new country or city; your own home in which revolutionary changes are taking place.

Death Tarot Card Meaning


The card depicts a horseman with a banner in his hand. In the center is the Mystical Rose of Life, the “platform of the universe”. The Sun of Immortality is also present. The thirteenth card among the Major Arcana depicts a skeleton in armor.
(For a detailed depiction, analysis of the Symbols and all Elements of the Death Tarot Card, click here)

Meaning of the Card

Another stage of life is close to completion. In the very near future, a completely new personality will ripen in you. Thoughts, ideas will become different. Other friends will appear. Only that spark of life, which is often called the soul, will remain unchanged. In fact, it is only a creative force capable of creating something new. It passes from incarnation to incarnation.
It often falls out to people who have reached a certain age limit – 14, 21, 24 years old, 36 years old, 42, 48, 60-63 years old, etc. when there is a transformation of personality, a transition to a new quality. As a piece of advice, it means: no need to be afraid of the upcoming changes, no need to delay them. They are needed for your further growth.
A big change is about to happen in your life. Good or bad, but it cannot be avoided. Note that the Death of the Tarot, although it symbolizes a positive transformation in spiritual improvement, is unfavorable in divination. A person is facing a sharp change in his former life, and almost nothing can stop it. Carefully interpret the other cards in the spread to determine what the change is. In material life, it can be anything from divorce or job loss to real death. If the change concerns material status or personal life, prepare to save at least something, or at least survive.
Death of the Tarot means a complete break with the past. It’s the end of your life as it is now. The card can be interpreted as a rejection of old ideals, of previous actions. Another interpretation is a complete change in life, a transition from one way of being to another. It also symbolizes the end of old ties, either because of your move, or because of the move of others.
The Scythe of Death symbolizes the harvest. You have sown your seed, it has sprouted, and it is time to reap the fruits. You get what you have learned and move on to the next, higher (if you studied properly) level of existence.
In any case, there is not only real death here, but also the beginning of a new life. The Allegory of Death Tarot is the end of the person you were. But that shouldn’t be scary. This is what you deserve. In fact it’s what you labored for. The end of who and what you were is due to the sacrifice you made and everything that you have learned. Now you will start a completely different, new life that you could not even imagine before.
The number 13 itself is neither happy nor unhappy. It symbolizes transformation (in the material sense, usually a change for the better) and rebirth. It’s the connection between what is and what will be.

Positive Aspects of the Card
Change and rebirth. Liberation that gave rise to a new stage in life. Destruction followed by transformation and renewal. The end of one period, one feeling, etc. The need to abandon old habits.

Negative Aspects of the Card
Fear of humiliation and the desire to hold on to the past. Loss of a loved one. Inaction and stagnation. Decline of vitality. Catastrophe. Panic.

The Main Meanings of the Card In an Upright Position

Key Words and Phrases

The need for drastic changes. Liberation. The heyday of a new era. The past is over. Completion of one life cycle and the beginning of a new one. Laying a new way of life. Death of an old personality. Finding strength. Revival. Sudden and irreversible changes. Transition. Purification. Redemption. Finding new vitality. Liberation from useless deeds. Liberation through the atonement. Chagrin that it is impossible to return to the way of life that you led before. The inevitable end. Change of position. Marriage. Divorce. New job or dismissal. Leaving home. Changing of the living place. Loss of virginity. Spiritual revival. Rejection of outdated views. Reincarnation.

The main meanings of the card in an upright position

Personality update;
Parting with the past;
End of current activities;
Completion of the next stage of development;
Parting with a former partner;
Change of place of work;
A chance for a new start in life;
End of the current state of affairs;
Loss of something;
New perspectives;
The instability of the situation;
Breaking up a hopeless relationship;
Natural ending.

Situation and Advice

Death is the trump thirteen. It’s a number associated with death from the very moment the lunar calendar appeared, where the thirteenth month is the month of death and rebirth. Significant changes are about to take place in your life. Change is inevitable.

Death. Witchcraft Tarot by Ellen Dugan
Witchcraft Tarot by Ellen Dugan

Death card appears in the spread when you are on the verge of significant changes: wedding, divorce, leaving home, change of residence, change in career, birth of a child. Inevitable changes will take place in your way of life. The protracted situation is coming to an end, and the dawn of a new era awaits you ahead. Now is the time to get rid of unnecessary relationships, events and turn on the path leading to a new stage in your life. Perhaps a loss awaits you. It is necessary to get rid of everything unnecessary or obsolete. This is the time of completion and beginning of the new, as the New Testament says: “Until the grain falls into the ground and dies, it will not sprout”. You must turn off the barren old path. Sometimes this card literally means the death of a person you know. Emotionally, this is the most excellent card of the Great Arcana, heralding a complete rebirth of feelings, emotional recovery.

Persons designated by Upright Death Tarot Сard

Those in whose life significant changes are taking place. People who change themselves. People providing funeral services. Those who break off their previous relationship (this may be related to both work and a loved one).

The Main Meanings of the Card In a Reversed Position

Key Words and Phrases

Inertia. Stubbornness. Inaction. Glamor. Stagnation. Immobility. Fear of change. Fear of giving up old habits or relationships. Clinging to the obsolete past. Extreme relationship. Refusal to change. Decline. Rejection of the future. Depression. Uncertainty. If you do not want to let go of something voluntarily, you will be forced to do it. Loss of a friend. Birth.

The main meanings of the card in a reversed position

Temporary stagnation;
The need for motivation;
Death of a prominent person;
Impending disaster;
Lack of progress;
Collapse of hope;
Stagnation in business;
Loss of a job or position;
Termination of friendly relations;
The changes / transformations have already taken place.

Situation and Advice

When Death appears in an Reversed position, this indicates that you are clinging to outdated views or relationships that are long overdue to abandon. Your fear of change binds you to the past and interferes with your growth.

Death. Mirage Valley Tarot by Barbara Moore
Mirage Valley Tarot by Barbara Moore

What are you afraid of? Your resistance to inevitable changes makes them more painful. It is better to take the bull by the horns now than to wait for changes to be forced upon you.

Persons designated by the Reversed Death Tarot Сard

Someone who clings to the past because of fear of future changes.

In the Spreads

The natural resolution of the situation is the main meaning of this card. Death is a sunset, after which comes the all-healing flowering of a new life. Interpretations of Death have always been viewed in a positive way. It’s the light at the end of the tunnel, movement from bad to good, getting rid of the unnecessary, freedom, transformation.
Death of Tarot promises inevitable changes. Everything goes on as usual, nothing lasts forever, and sooner or later will end. The living will become inanimate and turn to dust. Change and transformation are frightening of instability. Life is reaching a new level and it is completely unclear when it will take on its final unchanged form again. The end of what is happening, the cycles are completed, the allotted time has expired, the previously created is destroyed. Death serves as the foundation for renewed efforts and new longevity, sweeping away and dissolving everything in the path.
At the same time, where there is an end, there is always a beginning of the unknown. Death is like a gateway to a new life, the passage of which is inevitable. The destruction of the past promises a change for the better to few people at first. The inevitability of the process seems like an exceptional end without a future, yet it is not at all the case. Other cards are able to open an interpretation of what will happen in the future.
It is extremely rare for this card to really mean mourning, grief, death. In special cases, especially if the situation is really connected with the possibility of such an outcome, Death reports humility and preparation for the inevitable.
If you are not afraid of quick and radical changes, Death of the Tarot takes on a positive meaning in your case. It is often difficult and challenging to let go of what is dear, loved, familiar, valuable, but, nevertheless, humility is required of you in understanding the inevitability of this transformation process.
Any change in life promises anxiety with its unknown. Nothing can facilitate Death’s trials. There is also reason to associate the meaning of the Arcana with the complete rejection of one’s own “I”, the victory of a person over himself in the form of rebirth into something else.
Often, the questioner is able to experience the lightness that something that has outlived itself will finally sink into oblivion and become a part of the past. Death is the complete absence of life. There are cases when the questioner, on the contrary, torments himself with the bitterness of loss, but in any case, the time has come to cross the limit. It is useless to cling to the past, Death shows everyone the powerlessness before the inevitability.
Death Tarot card makes it possible to independently abandon the current, familiar, but has lost its meaning, exclaiming “It’s finally over!”, and allowing something new to enter the free space. Deep and inevitable are the changes that Death promises.
Either way, it is never wrong. If the card appeared in the spread, it’s time for transformation, letting go of the past, and so be it. Serious changes of this kind are rarely negative, they are like a breath of fresh air, they cannot but rejoice.

In an Upright Position

This card symbolizes change, transition, rebirth and revival. Pulling out this card means that you are entering a period of change and that you need to part with your past. You are encouraged to face the future with renewed hope, confidence, and the knowledge that the changes you face will be for the better for you.
The withering away of the old, obsolete and exhausted itself occurs. You have serious changes ahead that can radically change your whole life. One stage is replaced by another. Such major changes are seldom negative in themselves. They are like a fresh breath of air, and one cannot but rejoice at them. Death is parting, goodbye, end. Thus, it turns out to be a harbinger of the new, the future. This end is natural, we have been waiting for it for a long time, because it is liberation, albeit accompanied by grief and pain. This card symbolizes the natural ending, indicating that it is time to part with someone or something. So, it is completely in vain that it is associated with grief alone. Or, on the contrary, they consider it only the beginning of something new, not understanding the meaning of the symbolism of Death, as the beginning and end at the same time, as the bitterness of parting and the joy of waiting.
In its usual position, Death Tarot card marks the end of one stage of fate for the sake of another. It can be some circumstances or events, an emotional state, feelings, etc. One way or another, the end of what is now and the beginning of something new are near. But one should not be afraid, it is not necessarily a loss, it may well be a transformation, reorganization or other qualitative serious changes. The exact answer you got depends on the question.

In a Reversed Position:

In an Reversed position, Death symbolizes the fear of change, stagnation, slow changes in life and the problems and troubles associated with it. A person resists changes and cannot let something new into his life. He lives by inertia.
You are entering a period of temporary stagnation or inertia. You feel depressed and need new ideas and motivation. This card can also indicate the death of a prominent person or impending disaster.
Reversed Death means in general the same as straight. Everything will be destroyed or changed in the same way. The only difference is that the Reversed Arcana shows either a person’s resistance to these changes, or that a person, on the contrary, is trying to complete something ahead of time.

In a Personal Spread

In a personal spread, it indicates a creative, active personality, which is characterized by an unconventional view of the world. You, unlike many, have been given the ability to actively transform your life. With unfavorable Minor Arcana, or an Reversed card, this indicates imbalance, anxiety and inability to bring the subject to the end.

In the Spreads for Different situation

In an Upright Position:
The meaning of Death of the Tarot card when asking questions about a situation is the fruitful end of a period or event and getting a result. Now is the time to calculate the harvest and make room for new projects or directions. Do not try to leave everything as it is now. The Universe points to the need to follow new paths.
Changes associated with unfortunate accidents. This is not necessarily a fatal outcome. You can expect all sorts of quarrels, illnesses, tragic surprises, partings, crisis.

In a Reversed Position:
Violent change. When there is no independent development, moving forward, and fate pulls you, as if on a lead, reluctant.

Death. Legacy of the Divine Tarot by Ciro Marchetti
Legacy of the Divine Tarot by Ciro Marchetti

You are mired in your illusions. The real state of affairs is very different from them. Get rid of false hopes, don’t live in the past. Now you need to be patient and agree with the imminent changes. Let the Universe itself lead you on the right path and remove from your life that which bothers you.

In the Spreads for Relationship

In an Upright Position :
Farewell to a partner or to memories of him. It’s time to start looking to the future with optimism again.
In love affairs, the 13th Arcana Tarot has a double meaning. The central meaning is that everything will change. But you need to judge in which direction by what is now.
If you have a harmonious relationship with your loved one, then Death of the Tarot can mean the formation of an official family or the birth of a child. In the event that you have toxic, non-reciprocal love or you are pulled back by past relationships – Arcana may indicate a break in painful ties, release. If your relationship is on the verge, frequent quarrels and conflicts, then most likely the 13th Tarot card will predict the imminent end of such a relationship, and only in some cases a positive transformation.
In case of doubt in understanding the Tarot card’s answer, you should lay out another 1-2 cards on top for clarification or consider other Arcana that are in the alignment.

In a Reversed Position:
Reversed 13 Arcana Tarot Death in a relationship has the same meaning as direct – big changes. But the person on whom Arcana fell does not want to see or accept quick changes. He resists with all his might, which only prolongs the transition period and makes it more painful. This is typical for such cases as, for example, relationships that have outlived their usefulness, non-reciprocal love, stuck in the past, etc.
If, on the contrary, you independently strive to break off certain ties or transform relationships in any direction you need, the Reversed Death will advise you not to do this. Perhaps you need these connections by fate or the time has not come yet.
They have already outlived their usefulness, but people stubbornly hold on to each other, not noticing the futility of this, since sooner or later, and they will have to part.

In the Spreads for Dates

In an Upright Position:
You are growing rapidly, and you need a partner who is as mature as you and tuned in to your wave.
In a Reversed Position:
The relationship falls apart, or you lose interest in the person you thought you liked. Regardless of how you feel right now, in the long run, this loss is for the better.

In the Spreads for Family

In an Upright Position:
You have more family responsibilities. This happened because you demonstrated your maturity and responsibility to family members.
In a Reversed Position:
A recent setback, disappointed hope, or bereavement will upset anyone. Be merciful to yourself and to others – this is a time of trial for your family.

In the Spreads for Friendship

In an Upright Position:
You are overwhelmed with new ideas, your energy and enthusiasm only benefit your friends. You are making positive changes.
In a Reversed Position:
You support an old friendship that was meaningful and viable a few years ago, but has now become obsolete. The time has come to make new acquaintances and to move forward.

In the Spreads for Money

In an Upright Position:
You acknowledge that you cannot yet earn as much as you want, but you are doing everything that the situation allows for this.
As well as for work, for finances Death of the Tarot can mean large cash receipts and a sharp rise in wages, or ruin, the loss of large sums. The card itself symbolizes a leap in the financial line, and other Arcana of the spread will help you understand in which direction.
In a Reversed Position:
Your opinion about potential earnings does not correspond to reality. You overestimate yourself. Death Card is one of those scary ones, but in reality it is not at all as creepy as it looks.
On money issues, the Reversed Arcana Death of the Tarot in a general sense means the same as the direct one – jumps in the financial situation. It can also reveal a person’s unwillingness to change something in the current situation. For example, there is barely enough for food, but the person does not hurry to change the job.

In the Spreads for Education

In an Upright Position:
You don’t wait for the teacher to spoon-feed you with knowledge. You have taken responsibility for your studies. Great move.
In a Reversed Position:
You shy away from those things that would force you to brainstorm and lead to new ideas. The easy way is never the best. You will repent of having chosen this.

In the Spreads for Career

In an Upright Position:
For work issues, the 13 Major Arcana Tarot means global changes. Moreover, they can be both bad and good. This may include firing or reorganizing the company, but also promoting or changing a position to a more promising one. It is often possible to change the area of ​​work itself to another one that is completely unrelated to the current one.
Completion of current affairs and start of new ones. Do not hesitate, now is the time to put an end to old ideas and set new horizons for yourself.

Death. Tarot by Alphonse Mucha
Tarot by Alphonse Mucha

Here the thirteenth Arcana most often means the end of the present activity. The card recommends to finally say goodbye to the job or position to which you are so accustomed, to internally free yourself from them in order to prepare for the new that lies ahead. However, you should not rush things. You need to give yourself time of rest in order to summarize the results and ask yourself if you have accomplished everything that you had to.

In a Reversed Position:
In this position, Death announces that no changes should be expected – everything will go on as before. You shouldn’t change your job now, even if it doesn’t suit you.
When asked about a career, an Reversed Arcana 13 means a refusal to accept the necessary changes. A person can sit at an unloved job for a penny, he can refuse lucrative offers just because he is afraid or is used to it. And in the end, life will still make him move on, but with great losses.
Sometimes this card can have a different meaning as well. If you have a good job right now, the work environment is not bad, but you want to cut things off and go in a different direction. You may need to think again if you are trying to finish this early.
Unbearable tasks, performing them through force, which can significantly undermine health. Only tackle what you can handle without a doubt, and, of course, do not forget about the note of optimism. Death card also can mean stagnation in the plans, lack of proper attention to what is happening.

In the Spreads for Health

In an Upright Position:
When a card falls on health issues, it does not mean death in its physical manifestation. This is the case only in very rare moments, if there are other cards indicating this in the spread. And the most common meaning is medical interventions, surgical operations, removal of neoplasms, etc. It can also mean a turning point in the disease, after which either improvement or deterioration occurs.
When asking questions about interference in the energy field of a person, Death in the Tarot may indicate an external magical effect.
The card speaks of an unstable condition, a possible progressive disease. If a person is seriously ill, then the appearance of this Arcana in fortune-telling may mean that a crisis will soon come. Physical death as such can only portend in the presence of other negative cards.
Depression, lack of desire to live. Take care of your genitals.
In a Reversed Position:
Reversed Death on health means deliberate prolongation of the disease. For example, refusal to undergo surgery or fear of going to the doctor. Sometimes it can mean ineffective treatment or the need for surgery.
The crisis is over, recovery is ahead. In some cases, it can report depression and loss of energy.

In the Perspectives

The card tells you that something has died. The situation in its present form has come to an end and has made room for a new one.

Answer to Yes / No Tarot Spreads

In an Upright Position:
In a Reversed Position:
Absolutely not.

Combinations with other cards

The Tower: Swift Impact, Powerful Forces
Five of Cups: loss, parting
Eight of Cups: continuation of movement, closeness of the final
Eight of Wands: completion, end
The Fool: the beginning
Five of Swords: update
Seven of Pentacles: an unexpected finding
The Empress: birth

Arcana’s warning

Death. Romantic Tarot
Romantic Tarot

Too much resistance to change and refusal to accept change will only lead to stress and even greater losses. You yourself are giving up the opportunity to be happy in the future.

Self-Development Lesson

To develop spiritually, we must give up our material self and be reborn in the light. Death is not the end of everything – it is a transitional state.

Key Ideas

Sometimes uninvited change can be a blessing that has put on a mask of trouble because it clears the way for what’s better than what’s lost. This is the time for new beginnings or a total rework of the old.

Psychological (Personality) Meaning of the Arcana

Type of person in an upright position:
A person after difficult experiences; a person in whom huge changes have occurred; an old man.
Describing the personality, the card speaks of a person who easily leaves the past, is on the verge of change.
The card shows an extraordinary personality. The person is strong, deep, with non-standard outlook on life. Curiosity is an indispensable companion of his nature. He is capable of truly revolutionary discoveries. The flip side of his character is a tendency to sadness and melancholy, carefully hidden from prying eyes.

Type of person in an reversed position:
A seriously ill or deceased relative, close person.
It means a person that it is difficult to part with the past, lives by past merits, not noticing that the new times have come. Resists any innovations, tries to defend the right to write with a quill pen in the era of the Internet. Nostalgic, including for the times in which he did not live, romanticizing them in his own way.

Psychological significance of the Arcana:

Another stage of your life is nearing completion, a completely new personality is maturing in you. The way of thinking, beliefs, feelings and reactions is changing. You can become a different person, but at the same time remain yourself in a completely transformed state. You will have new hobbies, a new value system, new friends and acquaintances. Only that part of you that is called the soul will not undergo change. In essence, only it is the creative force that can really create something new and discard the old, since only it has enough strength to carry out transformation and force us to develop spiritually. This is the only and immortal thing in us that passes from one incarnation to another.
A person does not leave the feeling of the inevitability of the end of life. A feeling of loss of stability, due to a change of job, separation from a partner, moving from home, emptying the wallet. The inevitable result of the usual way of life. The very trait that is the absolute boundary between the past and the future.

Final Advice of Arcana

13 Major Arcana Death Tarot advises to let go of the already obsolete, not to hold on to the past. Do not be afraid, afterwards there will definitely be a rebirth and a new life. Accept the changes with understanding and resilience, do not try to resist them.

In an Upright Position:
It’s time to make changes in your life, and you will do it voluntarily. Or you will wait until everything happens by itself, and without taking into account your interests. It’s up to you.
In a Reversed Position:
Realize what prevents you from fully enjoying life, and let go without regret. Only then the curtain will fall from your eyes and you will see the way forward. This is the meaning of Death Tarot card in the arrangement for receiving advice.


Death is the parting, a goodbye, the end. Thus, it turns out to be the herald of the new, the future. Although at first glance this cannot be said by the card itself. Nevertheless, the card is rather good, because this end is natural.

Death. Tarot Illuminati
Tarot Illuminati

We have been waiting for it for a long time, because this is liberation, albeit accompanied by grief and pain. In contrast to the Ten of Swords, which means a violent end that is premature, this card symbolizes the natural end. It is indicating that the time has come to part with someone or something. So it is completely in vain that it is associated with grief alone. Or, on the contrary, they consider it only the beginning of something new, without understanding the meaning of the symbolism of Death as the beginning and end at the same time, as the bitterness of parting and the joy of waiting. Krishnamurti wrote “We separated life from death, and filled the gap between them with fear. However, there is no life without death”.

This is an excellent card. Death brings complete destruction of the past for the birth of the future. Life and death are two sides of the same coin. The value of life can be perceived exclusively through the prism of death. It is death that makes life so unique, so priceless. We enter Life through the gates of Death.
It revives a true personality, changing it to a natural, present state. Anyone who felt the breath of Death on his back, was able to truly feel its destructive cold, can appreciate all the multifaceted beauty of life. Only Death destroys everything that is artificial. It is the Great Energy of transformation of everything that is outdated, depleted into something reborn for new achievements. Death in the Tarot deck resurrects without killing.
Death is the middle of the path in the chain of the Major Arcana of the Tarot. Means the strength of the reborn again. Do not be afraid of the changes predicted by the card. Disillusionment is often for the best. In fact, for the sake of this, the forces of spiritual development are applied.
But this card cannot be personified with only bitter events and suffering. It talks about unusual spiritual growth, movement in the right direction. The experienced change will give everything a positive meaning, bring the stream of being to a completely new level.
Life and death exist thanks to each other, prolonging the eternal cycle of death and rebirth. Where there is life, there will always be death, and where death has come, life will also come. Death in many religions is interpreted as a kind of transition and is a fleeting moment, while life is eternal after the transformation of being.
There are things for which we can never prepare our minds. We feel their inexorable approach and at times try to resist these events, not realizing that changes are inevitable.


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