Upright: Endings, beginnings, change, transformation, transition
Reversed: Resistance to change, unable to move on

The Death card shows Death himself riding on a white horse, holding a black and white flag. Death is portrayed as a skeleton as the skeletal bones are the part of the body that survives death. The armour he is wearing indicates that he is invincible and unconquerable. Indeed, no-one has yet triumphed over death. The horse that Death rides is white, the colour of purity. Death is therefore the ultimate purifier. All things are reborn fresh, new and pure. Notice even the bishop paying homage to him. All sectors of the human race are represented here – men, women and children – showing that Death does not discern between age, race or gender.
The banner that Death carries has a black background, indicating an absence of light. The white rose, on the other hand, indicates beauty, purification and immortality. In the background of the card, there is a rising sun, a sign of immortality. The sun appears to ‘die’ each night but is reborn fresh and new every morning. The two pillars are guarding the gateway to the sun, symbolising the knowledge needed to gain immortality. The boat on the water in the background is the ferry that transports the souls across the River Styx. The background is a neutral grey, again showing Death’s impartiality.
Death is ruled by Scorpio (the sign of ‘sex, death and taxes’) and the number is 13, sacred to the Goddess as there are thirteen moons in a year.

The Death card is probably the most feared and misunderstood of all the cards in the Tarot deck. Just the mention of the card’s name has people shaking in their boots! In general, people tend to take the meaning of this card far too literally and fear that the indication is for the death of either themselves or others. Relax! The card of Death can be one of the most fruitful and positive cards in the deck.
Death is symbolic of the ending of a major phase or aspect of your life that may bring about the beginning of something far more valuable and important. You must close one door in order to open another. You need to put the past behind you and part ways, ready to embrace new opportunities and possibilities. It may be difficult to let go of the past at times but you will soon see how important it is so that you can bring renewal and transformation into your life. If you resist these necessary endings, you may experience pain, both emotionally and physically but if you exercise your creative imagination and visualise a new possibility, you allow more constructive patterns to emerge.
Similarly, Death indicates a time of significant transformation, change and transition. You need to profoundly transform yourself and clear away any of the old in order to bring in the new. Any change at this time should be welcomed as a positive, cleansing, transformative force in your life. The death and clearing away of limiting factors can open the door to a wider, more satisfying experience of life.
The Death card contains elements of a sudden and unexpected change. You may feel as though you are caught in the path of sweeping change and cannot escape its effects. Though the immediate thought is toward the negative, an end need not mean failure. The loss could be a series of unexpected surprises that bring an end to a period of turmoil or problems. You feel you can no longer go along with the status quo and want things to change radically. Many changes are going to take place to enable a new direction to emerge.
Finally, Death is an indication that you need to learn to let go of unhealthy attachments in your life to pave the way to a fuller, more fulfilled life of deeper meaning and significance. Death teaches you to let go of outworn and outgrown ways of life and move forward. This is a perfect card to use to break a bad habit or pattern of behaviour. This is a time of eliminating excess and cutting out what is not necessary in your life. This may be a good time to purge old belongings, memories and ‘baggage’ that is getting in your way.

Death is a card of transformation and new life, and typically shows a need to start completely over by letting go of the past. Death reversed typically reflects that you are on the verge of major change but for some reason, you are resisting making that change. You may be reluctant to let go of the past or you may not know how to make the change you need. You are still carrying harmful aspects from the past that may interfere with the opportunity you have for a new beginning. You are refusing to accept change and you are resisting any element of change that may arise in your life. As a result, life has stagnated and you are feeling ‘stuck’ in limbo.
Assess the way in which you are approaching change. You may find that you are in fact halting the very change that will be to your benefit. You may fear the new but rest assured the time is right to accept the new. What is important, too, is that you address and resolve whatever issues are blocking your acceptance of change as soon as you can so that you are then free to start your new journey. Pursuing your new journey now, without having resolved the past, may actually lead to unintended outcomes, so best you deal with what is preventing you from changing first.



Death Tarot Card Key Meanings:
Spiritual transformation, new beginnings, letting go, endings, change, transition, sudden or unexpected upheaval

General meaning and interpretation
Although it is the Tarot card that many people fear, Death generally does not mean physical death. As a rule you should never predict deaths (or the outcomes of illnesses or pregnancies for that matter) as a Tarot reader. It is unethical and irresponsible. Aside from the ethics, The Death Tarot Card usually signifies spiritual transformation and a time of change and new beginnings, not actual death! The transformation or change that Death can bring can be difficult, unexpected, sudden or even traumatic but it will bring with it a new lease of life. Its best to try not to resist the change the Death Tarot card brings as resisting it will only make the transition difficult and painful. Instead try to embrace the change as a fresh start. This Major Arcana card can also signify the need to let go of old issues or beliefs when it appears in a Tarot spread. It may be telling you that you need to draw a line under the past in order to move forward in a positive direction. A Death card transformation can be a bit of a shock to the system but ultimately it’s a positive one.

Don’t panic if you see the Death card in health reading, again the Death card only indicates physical death in extremely rare cases and only in certain combinations! If you have been feeling like your health is never going to improve, Death can signify that a change is coming. However, how you handle this change will go a long way to determining the outcome. If your health has been bad and illness has left you feeling pessimistic, try to embrace the coming changes by changing your attitude. Try to find something positive in each day even if you feel ill. You may also try a new approach that you haven’t tried before like a different diet, holistic therapy or energy healing. Know that your current state is temporary, it will change.

Love & Relationships
If you are in a relationship, Death in a love tarot context can signify that you or your partner may be holding onto a relationship that’s not working or you may be clinging to old patterns that are stopping your relationship from moving forward. Death signifies that things are going to change whether you want them to or not. You can either resist the change or embrace it. If your relationship is not going well, the Death Tarot card can indicate that it may be time to walk away, it can indicate divorce or it can indicate that you and your partner need to make big changes and let go of old patterns or issues to make it work. The old issues the Death card seeks to change can be deep seated and painful. If that’s the case, you may want to consider relationship counselling. The outcome really depends on whether or not you and your partner are both willing to embrace the transformation and really want the relationship to survive because you love each other rather than because you fear not being in the relationship. The changes the Death Tarot card can bring to a relationship can be positive too, it can indicate an unexpected change like a surprise engagement or a pregnancy, you may find these changes overwhelming initially. If you are single, the Death card can indicate that you will soon be casting off the old beliefs, issues or behaviours that are no longer useful to you. Embrace this transformation as it will bring new love into your life.

Money & Career
Death in a career context is a warning not to get too dependent on anything that is not working for you. The only thing in life that is guaranteed is that things change. If you are unhappy in your current job, start looking for a new one or the universe may force you to find a new job. If you are starting your own business but have been reluctant to quit your old job because of the security it offers, Death may be indicating that’s it’s time to consider jumping in with both feet. Money can be tightening when the Death card appears in a financial context, you may have a sudden drop in income or loss of money. If that happens don’t let it get you down, this change will lead you somewhere positive and you will learn from it. If you experience financial hardship, don’t stick your head in the sand, make practical adjustments and keep moving forward in a positive way. If you are tight on money, consider getting back to basics, swap big nights out for cosy nights in with close friends. And remember, any financial issues will be fine in the long run if you make the changes necessary.


Physical death is a form of transformation when our spirits leave the physical body behind and transform back to the spiritual beings we all are intrinsically. The Death card represents spiritual transformation. In a spiritual Tarot reading, it indicates a time where you can deeply connect to your higher self and discover a depth of spirituality that you may not have even known you possessed. This spiritual transformation may be brought about by grief or loss or heartbreak that you have experienced. It can represent a difficult transition from an old situation to a new beginning. Try to embrace the change even if it is difficult, it’s leading you to your higher path.

Death Reversed Tarot Card Key Meanings:
Inability to move forward, Fear of beginnings, repeating negative patterns, resisting change, dependency

General meaning and interpretation

In a general context, Death reversed indicates that you are resisting a change that is necessary for you to move forward. Nothing new can begin while you are holding on to this old negative energy. Death indicates that while you are finding it difficult to let go, once you do, new energy will come into your life to give you a new brighter beginning. The change the Death Tarot card reversed brings is not something you can resist forever, if you keep holding onto the things you should be letting go of, the universe will find a way to push you on to your life path in its own way. The universe’s way of getting you to where you’re supposed to be, if you resist it, can be shocking and distressing. It’s much better to make you way to your correct path rather than getting a jolt that forces you onto it. At least if you make a decision to let go of old situations, old issues or relationships you will feel empowered that you made a decision to end what wasn’t working for you. When you think of the change you are resisting, ask yourself realistically is it going to make you feel worse than staying in your current situation indefinitely or could it possibly lead you to something amazing?

In a health context, Death reversed can be an indicator that you are resisting tackling your health issues or being proactive in your treatments. Maybe your health woes are physical symptoms of a deeper issue and you are resisting resolving that. Maybe you have old fears surrounding a particular type of illness and you’ve been avoiding check-ups as a result. Go and get it out of the way, it will give you renewed energy.

Love & Relationships

If you are in a relationship, the Death Tarot card reversed in a love tarot reading, is a strong indicator that you are resistant to a change in your relationship. You may be holding on to a relationship that has long since run its course because you feel dependent on your partner or are terrified of loneliness. Or you may be staying with a partner who you no longer love out of a sense of obligation. It can also indicate that a relationship that you thought was finished long ago could resurface and rekindle. If you are single, Death reversed is a strong indicator that you need to let go of negative behaviour patterns in order to bring something positive into your love life. For example, if you have a tendency to pick bad partners due to low self-esteem you will need to build your self-confidence and let go of your self-sabotaging behaviours in order to allow a partner in to your life who will treat you with love and respect.

Money & Career
Like the upright meaning, The Death Tarot card reversed is an indicator that now might be time for a career change or new direction. You may be resistant to this change because you are afraid to let go of the security you have. You may like the stability and routine your career brings even if you find it unfulfilling. You may have been engaging in behaviour patterns that have stopped you from getting to where you want to be. Take time to figure out what needs to change in order to get you to the place on the career ladder you want to be and make it happen. Financially, much like the upright meaning, when this Major Arcana card appears reversed in a Tarot spread, it tell you that a financial deterioration of some sort may be inevitable and you will need to rethink how you manage your finances to get through it. Have a rethink of your spending habits, are there ways you have been wasting money that could improve your ability to manage your finances that you are resisting? Maybe you could be eliminating debt but you overspend out of habit? Let go of bad financial practices and be responsible with your money. Any hardship will only be temporary if you manage your money carefully.

When Death reversed appears in a spiritual context, like the upright meaning, it signifies spiritual transformation brought about by a difficult time, grief or loss in your life. However, the reversed card in a Tarot reading indicates that you are extremely resistant to this change. Maybe you are so upset with the upheavals you’ve experienced that you’re digging your heels in refusing to go forward. You may have lost faith in the universe and think that there is nothing positive in your future. Or you may be angry and feel like nothing the universe could bring you now could make up for what you’ve been through. It is ok to feel like this, allow yourself to feel how you feel but remember digging your heels in and being determined to stay in a state of unhappiness is only going to hurt you. Try to have some faith that the spirit world is there for you and loving and guiding you even if you’re too upset to know it right now. Just start putting one foot in front of the other and you’ll end up somewhere better.