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Death Meaning - Major Arcana Tarot Card Meanings

By Tina Gong


Death Keywords

Upright Keywords Reversed Keywords
transformation, endings, change, transition, letting go, release fear of change, repeating negative patterns, resisting change, stagnancy, decay
Skip to Upright Meaning Skip to Reversed Meaning
Death Meaning - Original Rider Waite Tarot Depiction

Death Tarot Card Description

Here, we see Death riding a beautiful white horse while holding up a black flag with a white pattern. It is portrayed as a living skeleton, the bones being the only part of the human body existing after death. He wears armor, which gives him his invincibility - signaling that no one can destroy Death. The white horse that he rides stands for purity, as Death purifies everyone. Beneath him, all classes of humans lie in the dirt - a king, and a pauper, meant to remind us that death does not differentiate between class, race, gender. 

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Upright Death Meaning

Death is one of the most feared cards in a Tarot Deck, and it is very misunderstood. Many people avoid mentioning this card because it has that much power. Most times, people take the name of the card literally. However, the real meaning within the Death card is one of the most positive in the whole deck.

The Death card signals that one major phase in your life is ending, and a new one is going to start. You just need to close one door, so the new one will open. The past needs to be placed behind you, so you can focus your energy on what is ahead of you.

The Death card signals that one major phase in your life is ending, and a new one is going to start.

Another meaning is that you are going to go through a major change, transition, or transformation. The old version of you needs to ‘die’ to allow the new you to be created. This can be a scary time for you because you may be unsure of what will happen in the future. Even if you are scared, you should welcome the change because you are opening the door to new life events.

Death can also mean that you need to let go of any unhealthy attachments that you have in your life. This is an important part of life, so learning to keep moving forward is one of the lessons Death teaches us.

Upright Love Meaning Upright Career Meaning Upright Finances Meaning
changes in relationship, changes in romantic life, ending relationship job transition, career transition, leaving unfulfilling career financial loss, adapting to financial loss, changing views of money

Death Tarot Card Love Meaning (Upright)

When it comes to love and relationships, the Death tarot card love meaning can indicate being stuck in emotional dynamics that are no longer working. If you are already in a relationship, for the relationship to continue, you must learn to embrace change. Sometimes, this card can also indicate that you may want to end the relationship, especially if it hasn't been going well. It is important to remember that all doors that close with the Death tarot card open another. While Death may be difficult to accept in a love tarot reading, transformations for one partner or another may be what is needed to help both individuals grow. It is also important to remember that the cards are suggestions, and that you have the choice to either accept and welcome your relationship's transformation, or let it go.

While initially scary, the transformations that the Death tarot card can bring to love can also be positive. In less stressful terms, it can be the coming of a new era, such as an engagement.

If you are not in a relationship, the Death tarot card love meaning can instead point to beliefs, attitudes or behaviors that you are currently shedding that can help you develop healthier, stronger relationships.

Career Meaning - Upright Death

If you’ve been considering a career change, the upright Death card can be a signal that you should take the plunge and act now. You may have been through a period of apathy, disinterest and frustration at your current job, and should you not take decisive action, events in life may force you to make a change. You may be clinging to your current path because it offers stability, certainty and safety, but if you are otherwise unhappy or feeling unchallenged, there is much more to lose than your comfort. Often when one door closes, another one opens; embrace the shifts occurring right now and dive in. 

Finances Meaning - Upright Death

Loss is signaled by the Death tarot card, meaning that you may unfortunately be dealing with a loss in your financial resources. This period can also be the initiator to a transformation in how you handle your relationship to your money and what you value. The lessons you learn from this time can lead to practical changes when it comes to managing your resources, as well as to spiritual changes in knowing what is truly important to you.

Reversed Death Meaning

The Death reversal meaning is still about change, but that you have been resisting it. You could be worried about letting go of the past, or you could not be sure of the changes that you need to make to go forward. Resisting the change and holding onto the past can limit your future, which can cause you to feel like you are in limbo. You should take some time to assess the ways that you have been approaching changes in your life. You may find you have been halting the changes that you need due to fears of the unknown. While you can still be afraid, you should trust that you are taking the right steps and move forward. Life moves on, so fighting passing time is only going to leave you with regrets. Death does not have to be a card of regret, especially if you heed its warning.

Reversed Love Meaning Reversed Career Meaning Reversed Finances Meaning
resisting change in relationship, failure to change negative emotional patterns repeating negative patterns at work, remaining at unfulfilling job, lack of growth failure to adapt to financial loss, continuing unhealthy financial habits

Death Tarot Card Love Meaning (Reversed)

The Death tarot card love meaning in reverse can signal strong resistance to change when it comes to your approach and attitude to relationships and romance. This can come in the form of hanging onto a relationship that is stagnant and no longer helping either of you grow as individuals. There may also be dependence on the relationship, or you may only remain together because you feel comfortable, obligated or scared of being alone.

On the other hand, old relationships can also be revived. If you are single, Death reversed in a love tarot reading can suggest that you must avoid negative  patterns and dynamics to be able to truly engage in a loving relationship. You may have self-esteem issues, savior complexes, or wounds that you need to heal in order to find a partner that will love and respect you, and one you can love and respect in return.

Career Meaning - Reversed Death

As with this card’s upright version, you are being pushed to a change when it comes to your job or your career path. But in reverse, you may be doing all you can to resist this transition. You may stick around despite the unhealthy environment, the reduced pay, or the monotonous projects. Change is inevitable; this applies to our career as well as other aspects of our lives. We must learn to welcome it instead of pushing it away. When we cling to a cycle that is no longer meant to remain in our lives, we watch it slowly decay and drain us. At times, this card can also represent negative patterns repeating once again in your workplace. Do you self-sabotage? Does your defensiveness when making mistakes create trouble? Does your impostor syndrome affect how you interact with your colleagues? Consider what must be let go for you to release these unhealthy patterns. 

Finances Meaning - Reversed Death

A loss of financial resources may be unavoidable, but this may be hard for you to accept and adapt to. You may have to make some shifts when it comes to your expenses in order to make it through this temporary period, but you may find it hard to give up some things that you consider needs. Instead of allowing this time to change how you relate to your resources and what your values are, you may not be learning your lessons. Learn to stop resisting these changes, and you may have a much easier time coping.

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Death Meaning Tarot Cheat Sheet

Death Meaning - Tarot Card Meanings Cheat Sheet

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