The Death tarot card is one of the most misunderstood cards in the deck. This card shows a skeleton, in armor and holding a flag, on top of a horse. A religious man is appealing to him, and the dead and sick lay on the ground in front of him.
Despite the imagery, this card isn’t really about physical death. It’s about change and letting go of the past to move on to something better.
Keywords for the Death Card
- Transformative rebirth, like the Phoenix
- Final endings, involuntary change
- The end of one cycle & beginning of the next
- Letting go and moving on
Keywords for the Death Card Reversed
- Lethargy, sleep, inertia
- Refusal to accept change
- Hope destroyed
Reading reversed tarot cards is optional, but it does expand the experience. Here’s a bit more info about reading reversed (upside down) tarot cards, if you want to get started.
The Death Card Explained
The Death card scares people. It’s the card that elicits the most gasps and cringes when it comes up in a reading.
But it doesn’t mean what people think it means. This card rarely has anything to do with actual, physical death. Instead, it’s a card of rebirth.
Like the mythical Phoenix that rises from the ashes, one cycle is ending and another is beginning. There is a major transition happening where you must leave your old life, and start something new.
In The Fool’s hero’s journey, this card follows the sacrifice of The Hanged Man and represents the lesson of what happens after that sacrifice – you must let go of your hopes & expectations, and accept what happens next.
Patterns and Correspondences of the Death Card
- Major Arcana = the story of your life’s journey
- Number 13 = an “unlucky” number, as in Friday the 13th
- Zodiac sign = Scorpio
The Death Tarot Card Meanings for Love
If you’re looking for new love, the Death card is here to make sure you are absolutely, completely, and totally over the relationships you’ve had in the past. You must move on. Quit carrying the old baggage, and transform yourself to allow something new to enter your life.
It’s a card of final endings, so if you are worried about the state of your current relationship, it doesn’t bode well. You must give up the past – which includes your dreams, expectations, and ideals of what the ‘perfect’ relationship looks like – before you can find the love you’re searching for.
The Death Tarot Card Meanings for Work
The Death card suggests involuntary changes and major transformations. Be prepared for the worst, but expect the best.
This is actually a positive card, so even if things are dire (you get fired, or lose the promotion, or screw up somehow), it is for the best. Things will work out, although probably not the way you want or expect.
Let go of what isn’t serving you and your dreams, and allow for new growth in your life.
The Death Tarot Card Meanings for Health
Does the Death card sometimes indicate physical death? Yes, sometimes. Rarely. Almost never. It’s not worth even worrying about.
Because people die. It’s what we do. We don’t like to think about it, talk about it, or even acknowledge it. But it is one of the few guarantees in life.
What really matters, though, is how you live, and that’s the message of the Death card. You’re getting a second chance here – don’t burden yourself with the baggage of your past. Start fresh and use this time for regeneration and rebirth.
Let go of what doesn’t serve you (guilt, body shame, Oreos), and focus on transformation. Who do you want to become? You are the alchemist of your life – you can create anything you imagine. Make it happen.
The Death Tarot Card Meanings for Money and Finances
There is a big change coming. BIG. And you’re probably not prepared for it.
Instead of taking a big financial risk right now, make sure you have your foundation in order. Are you debt-free with enough savings to live off of for the next 6 months? Work towards that goal, not some pie-in-the-sky possibility. With that kind of financial security underneath you, you’ll be able to handle most everything that is thrown your way, including once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and investments.
The Death Tarot Card Meanings for Spiritual Guidance
The Death card anticipates the ending of one cycle, and the beginning of another. Spiritually, it guides you to giving up the past, and letting go of the ideas that are no longer serving you.
You must give up the past and your guilt, shame, and regrets before you can move on. Fully embrace yourself – all the good and all the bad – to allow room for new spiritual growth.
Journal Prompts for the Death Card
The Death card is a great card to journal about! I use my tarot journal to help me remember the subtle differences of each tarot card meaning. Here’s a few prompts I’ve used to help me remember this card:
- “What is the biggest problem in your life right now? What are 10 ways you could eliminate it? (Bonus: 100 ways!)”
- “You are the Phoenix. What burns with you during this cycle of renewal, and what gets reborn?”
- “What terrifies you most about death?”