What Does The Death Tarot Card Mean?

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What is The Meaning Of The Death Card In Tarot?
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The deck of Tarot is made up of 78 cards, which are split into Major and Minor Arcanas. These cards are used to help predict or offer advice in the areas of love, relationships, career, family and health.

The Death Tarot card is the 13th card in the Major Arcana, and often comes up in readings when there is a major life change that is or will be in process.

Death Tarot Card Meaning

Upright keyword meaning: Spiritual transformation, new beginnings, transitions, letting go, closure, unexpected change

Reverse keyword meaning: Inability to move forward, fear, resistance to change, continuing unhealthy patterns

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The Death Tarot card, while sounding slightly scary, only really means that one chapter is ending so another can begin. In life, we need to be able to appreciate these transitions because they allow us to grow into better versions of ourselves. To let go means we are also opening to receive.

While The Death Card does not relate to an actual physical death, it does often signify unexpected and swift changes in our lives. Many times, these situations can be so sudden, it creates a feeling of mourning that we have to process in order to see the positive on the other side.

Even though it is natural to have some hesitation when we encounter big life changes, resisting it means we are going against the natural flow of life, and that always creates more challenges and difficulties.

The Death Tarot card comes up to help us release what is no longer serving us and what we have outgrown, so we can welcome in what will.

The Death Tarot Card Description

While there are so many interesting and artistic Tarot decks available, traditionally, this card depicts a skeleton riding on a horse heading to the right.

Photo: shutterstock

It can look as if the horse is stepping over those that have died, but facing towards receiving a blessing from others. This signifies that whatever difficulty we have been through is over, and while the path may have been difficult, the situation is now about to become easier.

In animal symbolism, the horse represents victory and intelligence, signifying that the transition currently in progress is one that will bring greater success.

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Upright Death Meaning

Drawing the Death card upright is a positive and beneficial sign. It means that whatever challenges or struggles you are experiencing will end well for all those involved. It also likely means that if you have been in a difficult or confusing situation for some time, the end of that is in sight.

The most common meaning of the Death Tarot Card is that of spiritual transformation. This means that one phase of our life is ending so another can begin.

We can pull this card as we are going through transitions in our romantic relationships, education, schooling, or even beginning to heal some of our emotional wounds from childhood.

When we see this card come up while in a big life transition, it can mean that we need to release the past and all that came with it. This does not mean to completely forget it, including the valuable lessons we learned; instead, it is to make the choice to no longer carry it with us.

While the Death Card can be unexpected and shocking ultimately, it is about the beginning of a brand new chapter in our lives.

Reversed Death Meaning

To receive the reversed Death Tarot card in a reading carries with it a completely different meaning — one that is far more difficult.

The reverse of any Tarot card will essentially be the harder path because we are refusing to go with the natural order of the current energy. For the Death card, specifically, it means we are resisting letting go of things or people from our pasts that are starting to negatively affect our present, and soon our future as well.

To receive the reverse of this card means we are hanging on when we should be letting go. But it is also a reminder that nothing new can begin until we allow an ending.

The one thing to remember is that Death only signifies that we are taking the harder road by resisting what is naturally trying to be, not that we are able to change the situation.

Whatever the Death Tarot card is touching in your life — whether it is relationship-, career- or self-based — will ultimately happen, no matter how long we try to resist.

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Death Tarot Card's Ruling Zodiac Sign

Not surprisingly, it is the deep-water sign of Scorpio that rules the Death Tarot card because they are both the alchemists.

Alchemy is the transformation through a seemingly magical process. And even though both Scorpio and Death tend to carry darker energies, there is still an air of mysticism about them.

While their symbols are different, the meaning behind both of these signs is transformation through truth.

Even though the life endings and beginnings these two symbolize can be unexpected and challenging, they both are ultimately for our benefit, so we cannot only align to our truth but live it.

The Death Tarot Card's Meaning in Love and Relationships

Usually, when we are doing a reading and this card comes up, many of us jump to the worst-case scenario, thinking a breakup is imminent. But that is not always the case.

We have to remember that this card is all about transformation.

Love and Relationships: Upright Death Meaning

If we have been single for a significant period of time and pull this card, it could mean that we will soon meet someone.

If we have been dating casually for a while and get this card, it could signify that we will be moving in together or becoming more serious.

If we get this card after being together for a longer time, it could indicate marriage or starting a family.

The Death card is all about letting go of one phase of our lives so another can begin. Yes, it can be scary to draw this card in a reading specifically about love and relationships, but really, it is exciting because it ultimately means great things are on the horizon.

Love and Relationships: Reversed Death Meaning

While this card often signifies a transition of sorts, it can also help bring awareness to that relationship that has been trying to end for some time, but we have not let it. This will be more apt to come up if the card is reversed, but to that degree, if we do get it, we have to take a closer look at the truth of our relationship.

Asking ourselves uncomfortable questions — Are we truly happy? Does this relationship actually fulfill my needs? Is it healthy? Am I pretending that this relationship is more than it really is? — can allow us to get a better sense of our truth, which will prevent us from resisting this card’s energy and receive it in the move from being in reverse to upright.

Overall, the Death Tarot card signifies that things are going to change whether we want them to or not. Hopefully, it allows us to accept what is so we do not waste valuable energy trying to resist the inevitable.

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Kate Rose is an artist, writer, passionate yogi, spiritual astrologist, relationship and life coach, and motivational speaker. As a spiritual intuitive, she practices the religion of astrology and love. For more of her work, visit her website.