Symbolism of The Death in Tarot

Symbolism of Death in Tarot

What is the meaning of symbols in Death Tarot Card?

In the Waite Tarot deck, which is considered to be classic, the 13th Arcana Death is depicted as a skeleton rider. Under the hooves of his horse is the corpse of a man, next to a child with his mother. A man who resembles a priest in front of the rider begs for mercy, but at the same time expresses humility to fate.
The atmosphere of the picture is very gloomy. It makes it clear the main idea – before death, everyone is equal, no matter who you are, rich or poor, old or young. The time will come for everyone.
However, in the background we see the sun at dawn – a sign of a new day and a symbol of a new beginning. Rebirth after death is the main symbolism of the 13th Arcana of the Tarot.

Archetype: death.

Symbolism of the Death

Serves as a reminder of the perishability of the human shell, which at the same time is its foundation. Sometimes the skeleton seems to mow down human body parts that have sprouted from the ground after sowing. Not all cards show this pattern.

The Rider Moves, Not Stands
Means the inevitability of change, transformation.

It is the final stage of decomposition of the body. The power of Nature transforms all living things to the foundation of the structure of every creature. A skeleton on a horse is often perceived as one of the horsemen of the Apocalypse.
It also symbolizes the need to abandon identification with your physical body.
It is a symbol not so much of death as of transformation. It serves as a reminder that everything that has become obsolete and fulfilled its destiny must be wiped off the face of the Earth.

They hint at the rigidity, inflexibility and ruthlessness of the rider. Death has neither feelings nor emotions.

Red Feather on the Horseman’s Helmet
Alchemical symbol of the Philosopher’s Stone. It is lowered down, this means a breakdown.

Flower on the Banner
This is the Mystical Rose, a symbol of purity of thoughts, eternal life and love.

Black and white
Traditional colors of death.

White Horse
Mediator between the worlds. Shows that death or change should not be feared. It also symbolizes the essence of physical desires that were presented to us either in the form of a white dog (Fool), or a red lion (Strength), but by this moment it had undergone complete purification. It is this state that makes “rebirth” or transformation possible. It is a symbol of physical desires that have undergone purification in the furnace of the Spirit. The achieved state opens up the opportunity for complete inner transformation.
The horse’s hooves trample on everything in front of it – kings, priests, children and young maidens – evoking the idea that change affects everyone, regardless of wealth and poverty.

Shining Sun
A symbol of rebirth, new life coming and immortality in general. Means that Death is not the end. This is the destruction of the old, a turning point and transition to the next stage of being, as well as a symbol of the Divine presence and immortality.

The River
Visible to us, symbolizes the changes in the future life, impermanence and unpredictability. The river is the border between our world and the world of shadows.

People of different ages and classes (king, priest, woman, child) show that everyone is equal for Death. Poor and rich alike, kings and commoners alike will end up with the same fate.

Bishop quietly praying in front of Death
The only one who meets Death while standing. This is a symbol of firmness in faith. His golden robes hint at a connection with God. His gaze is directed to the left, which means that a person can only see the end.

The young Maiden calling the Gods
Contemptuously turning his face away, shows the incompatibility of death and youth.

King’s dress
Spread beside, they remind that even power and wealth have no power over death.

He alone perceives it naturally, without fear or entreaty, realizing that it is the result of everything.

River behind the Horseman Figure
The border that separates the world of the living and the world of the dead (River Styx). This is a symbol of the metamorphosis to come for all of us.

Ship on water
A mythical boat on which souls are transported to the realm of the dead.

Number: 13.
12 is the end of the cycle. If there is no transition to one, a new cycle does not start, the end comes. That is why the number 13 is considered unlucky. On the other hand, Jesus + 12 Apostles = 13. Prior to the introduction of the solar year, 13 was a lucky number. There are 13 months in a lunar year.
If the interpretation of simple numbers from one to nine in many esoteric teachings more or less converges with each other, then the meaning of the number 13 among representatives of different cultures is sometimes interpreted in the opposite direction. So, for example, according to Kabbalah, this is a dark number associated with death and the devil, and adherents of the Christian religion call it a symbol of the mother of Christ, and Jesus also had 13 apostles. It is very difficult to identify the meaning as it is treated differently within different cultures.
From the point of view of numerology, there is nothing so terrible in the meaning of the number 13. Yes, the “damn dozen” refers to karmic numbers, which means it speaks of a certain karmic debt that a person from the past incarnation drags along with him. But you should not be afraid of this number.

The thirteenth Arcana speaks not only of real death, but also of the beginning of a new life.
The allegory of this card is the end of the person you were before.
In fact, this is what you deserve and for which you made sacrifices, passing through the twelfth Arcana.
Perhaps a new life will begin now, different from your past existence.
Death reminds us that we were created from dust, and we will turn into it. Both the noble and the rich and the poor could not free themselves from the dance of death. Having gone all the way from the First card to the Thirteenth, all the masks fly off and the husk, having cleansed the precious core, dies off by itself. The cleared core acquires incredible, true beauty.

Flower ornament

Discover symbolism of other Major Arcana:

2 thoughts on “Symbolism of Death in Tarot”

  1. The rising sun on the horizon signifies hope and renewal, emphasizing that death is not an end but a necessary part of the cycle of life.

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