Card 13: Death

Meaning of The Death Tarot Card

Perhaps the most well-known and infamous card in the tarot deck, this card will often have some sort of symbolism reminding us of our limited time in this incarnation—skulls, the Grim Reaper, plague doctors. But it might also have symbols of transformation like butterflies.

Death Tarot Card Upright Meaning

Relax! Despite what you’ve seen in TV and movies, the Death card rarely is an indication of literal death. But it does mean something has come to an end—the end of a stage of life, place of residence, a job. But every end gives birth to a new beginning. It may be a little frightening as we might not be clear as to what this new beginning is going to look like. But the change is coming no matter what, so we will need to adapt to it. The “coming-of-age” film genre (Clueless, Stand By Me, The Breakfast Club, My Girl) where a youngster experiences a bit of life that helps them take their first steps in an adult new world is a prime example of this card’s energy.

Death Tarot Card Upright Keywords: Definitive change, unavoidable change, transformation, something new but unknown, no going back

Death Tarot Card Reversed Meaning

With Death reversed, change is still coming, but there’s something blocking or slowing it down. This isn’t typically a good thing, as the changes suggested by this card often have a feeling of inevitability to them. Slowing down the change or denying it can be much more painful in the long run, both to you and others around you. Miss Havisham in Dickens' Great Expectations, still wearing her wedding dress years after being left at the altar, sitting in a decaying house, unable to get over her heart-ache to the point that she raises an emotionally cold and manipulative daughter to carry out her idea of revenge on men is a good example of this card’s energy.

Death Tarot Card Reversed Keywords: stuck, living in the past, unable to move on, time to rip the band-aid off, making things worse by denying the truth