Death Tarot Card Meanings

Death’s Upright & Reversed Meanings

Death tarot card image
Death (Reversed, Lacking)

Ideas: Bad habits, old things, unpleasant experiences

Traits: Appreciative, hesitant, indecisive, indulgent, patient, slow

Emotions: Contentment, enjoyment, frustration, pleasure, satisfaction

  • Actions:
    • Appreciating the old things while you can
    • Enjoying what you have currently
    • Holding off temporarily
    • Learning from unpleasant experiences
    • Moving on with your life
    • Sticking with what you have started
Death (Upright, Balanced)

Ideas: Conclusion, departure, ending, passage, transition

Traits: Decisive, firm, punctual, rational, realistic, serious

Emotions: Gladness, nervousness, relief, sadness, uneasiness

  • Actions:
    • Becoming a new person
    • Bringing an unpleasant phase of life to an end
    • Leaving one person, place, or thing for another
    • Letting go
    • Putting bad habits to rest
    • Recognizing and celebrating the conclusion of something
Death (Upright, Excessive)

Ideas: Half-baked effort, premature conclusion, random departure

Traits: Abrupt, fickle, hurried, impatient, irrational, superstitious

Emotions: Disappointment, fear, grief, neglect, regret

  • Actions:
    • Being affected greatly by the loss
    • Concluding things ahead of time
    • Failing to take good care of yourself
    • Giving up halfway
    • Leaving a situation randomly
    • Obsessing on death and dying

Death’s Advice

Personal Growth

Grasping the short, fleeting nature of life is one of life’s hardest and most sobering lessons. Acknowledging your own impermanence can help you live your life more fully.

Relationship

Identify what’s not working and put it behind you. Take stock, too, of the relationship itself. Dying flames can be rekindled with mutual effort, but embrace an ending if, in fact, an ending is what’s best for you. Poets used to call orgasm the “little death,” so, at times, this card can also point to a consummated relationship!

Career

Close out lingering projects and tie up loose ends. Now is a good time to consider all your options, including the possibility of moving on. Alternatively, you could put an end to feelings of unrest by deciding, once and for all, to stay put. Do what’s best for you.

Spirituality

Spiritual scribes write of “dying to the world”—realizing that the physical world and its concerns are illusory at best. For you, the Death card is a reminder to focus on what really matters. Alternatively, the card can suggest a need to contact or honor your ancestors.

Death’s Symbols & Insights

The Rose Flag

Oddly, in The Pictorial Key to the Tarot, Waite writes, “[The] black banner emblazoned with the Mystic Rose … signifies life.” In your situation, how might ending one thing give rise to another?

The Skeleton

Bones persist long after the decay of the body; so, they are symbols of the enduring and eternal. Which aspects of your situation have persisted over time? Which aspects are temporary?

The Pale Horse

“And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death” (Revelation 6:8). How do you feel about death? How might your feeling about death be a metaphor for how you feel now?

Sunrise/Sunset

In many illustrations, it’s difficult to tell whether the sun is rising or setting. Is your own situation just beginning, or is it coming to an end? How can you be sure?

Doomed Figures

The sprawled bodies and scattered body parts seen on many cards reflect death’s disruptive force. How might the need for disruption figure into your situation?

More About Death Tarot Card

Prediction
A relationship or illness ends suddenly.
Limit travel and risk-taking.
General gloom and doom.
Timing
Between October 23 and November 21
Archetype
Death
Hebrew Alphabet
Nun/Fish/50
Numerology Number
13 = 1 + 3 = 4
(the status quo: stability, equality, persistence)
Classical Element
Water
Astrological Sign
Scorpio
Myth/Spirit
Christ in the tomb
Hades
Hypnos
Thanatos
Stories of journeys into the underworld
Story Character
At the midpoint of the story, the main character believes all is lost. Alternatively, a helper or valued ally dies or is believed dead.
Questions to Ask
What needs to end?
How might an ending actually be a blessing in this situation?
What’s next?
Other Tarot Card Meanings