Death Tarot Card Meaning - Upright, Reversed & More

Death upright

Death At A Glance

Keywords: Letting go, moving on, ending relationships, ending negative habits, making space for the new, mourning, change, resistance to change, inability to let go
Season: Autumn
Zodiac/Planet: Scorpio

Death Tarot Card Description

Death is the fourteenth card within the major arcana and is usually numbered as 13. Within the original tarot which most modern day tarot decks are based on the Death card’s art shows an armored skeleton often recognized as the grim reaper riding a white horse.

Death carries his own banner of a white rose on black fabric. The white rose represents purity and immortality. The number of petals is also significant.Within sacred numerology the number 5 stands for change.

Together these symbols within the banner show that the Death card isn’t about only physical death but also how it can represent new beginnings and a need for change. The armor, horse and banner show that Death is important: kings and common people bow before the skeletal figure signifying that death is the great leveler that no one can avoid. He eventually claims the rich and poor alike.

Death Upright Meaning

When Death is turned over in a card reading and the art work is right side up) it generally symbolizes that the reader will soon be asked to let go of something that at one time was very important to them. Occasionally it can be the literal inevitable passing of someone but this is very very rare. Much more often the thing the reader needs to let go of is a negative habit, self-limiting belief or other action that the reader has outgrown.

This card says we are doing something that doesn’t serve us and we must now stop this. There may be mourning here or a period of grief. For example the Death card could be suggesting it is time for someone to stop the habit of smoking.

The mourning period would be the uncomfortable feeling of needing nicotine and facing the early withdrawal symptoms. However the reader feels the need for the habit to stop and so they persevere and feel much better once they are through the other side.

“You are allowed to let go of all those that do not set you free anymore.” - Dhiman

Death Reversed Meaning

Death reversed

If the Death card appears reversed then new meaning. It’s still about letting go but unfortunately it’s darker side: resistance or an inability to let go of a situation, relationship or other action which is bad for us.

This desperation to cling on is causing us much more suffering than the letting go and mourning ever would. With letting go there is usually a period of pain but only temporarily. Shortly after there is healing and then they are happier on the other side.

When we hold on it causes so much mental friction and pain but we never heal from this, we are stuck in it every day. Reversed this card says we will need to let go eventually and resisting is only prolonging our pain. So let go now go and watch our lives change slowly a little each day for the better.

“Keep planting and sowing, living and knowing: beautiful things take time, and that is okay.” - Morgan Harper Nichols

Death: Yes or No

If we have asked a simple yes or no question and we turn over this bad boy then it is a very strong no. It says “leave it, don’t even bring that up anymore, let’s move past this.” For example if we have asked a yes or no question about our ex and we receive this card it doesn’t mean the cards are predicting the death of our ex but it is saying we must leave that person in our past.

Focus our energy on truly moving on don’t dredge it all up again. If we ask yes or no and this card comes to us reversed then it is still a no and just as clean cut as the upright no.

Let’s Break Down Death In Our Lives

What the Death card says in more detail about specific areas of our lives.

Death In Love

If the reader has asked a question about love either romantic or platonic and the Death card appears then it can suggest a mutual ending that both people agree on and that it is not to be be fought because in the end it’s for the greater good. It could also signify that it is right relationship but wrong timing. Either way the ending should not be prolonged.

Reversed the Death in love can mean one person in the relationship has moved on and the other is unable to. This card says we must be kind to ourselves whilst we let go and slowly heal from the heartbreak. It says not to do this alone but instead to lean on our support network for help.

Death With Money

If the Death card appears when a question about money has been asked it is suggesting it’s time for a big and drastic change starting with completely letting go of what we have done so far. We really must put that idea away absolutely and start again with something totally new.

It also warns that we cannot take riches with us when we pass and so to overly focus on acquiring them is a waste of our life. It asks us to direct our energy and attention to who and what is truly important.

Reversed the Death card with money warns us not be tempted to throw more money into the sinking ship we have before us. The only way out is to cut the cord and move on to new adventures. It reminds us to mourn the money lost, yes but not for too long and not to be harsh on ourselves. This was an essential lesson which served us well. Sometimes a step backwards is the most vital step on our journey.

Death At Work

When asking a question about a situation at work or about our careers the Death card can mean the end of a current role/project because a new one is on the horizon. We may have a lot of fear because the new adventure is unknown to us but this card provides us with comfort and says to trust in ourselves because we are very capable of performing the new role and we will love it.

Reversed the Death card at work suggests we are resisting change even though the change would be very helpful to our career. It asks us to assess our feelings about the change, is fear the only thing stopping us?

If there are no valid reasons why we shouldn’t procure our dreams/career then we shouldn’t allow fear to stop us. It says break down the goal if the big picture is scary or stressful to view in its entirety. Break it down into small but consistent steps and we will get there.

Death With Others

If we are asking about our external world, either our immediate world of people we know or the world at large and we get the Death card as an answer it means we must sever a relationship or connection which has been causing us pain for some time. This could be a toxic or negative relationship or it could be one that we have steadily outgrown. Either way this card reminds us to protect ourselves and our energy first and end the relationship.

Reversed the Death card with others can signify a toxic or negative person trying to come back in to our lives. Often they were narcissists who took so much from us without giving in return.

The reason they want to come back is very simple: their lives were so much easier when we did a lot of it for them. However we must stay strong and protect ourselves in this moment and turn only to those who have our best interests at heart.

Death With Self

The Death card relates to our internal world and when it appears it is asking us what would we sever from our lives if we could choose. Then it allows us space to realize we actually can choose to sever this. It may not be quick or easy but we should work at this a little bit everyday and soon we will be free of what we have outgrown.

Reversed the Death card with self can symbolize us burying our head in the sand and refusing to look at the problem head on. We know the situation needs change however we refuse to acknowledge it, often out of fear.

This card reversed says we must confront our fear and the situation directly. It will take time but we must begin to take the steps needed to let go and move on as soon as possible.

Death As Feelings

This card feels like moving on. The moment when we realize we have stopped suffering from grief or negative feelings. We can’t see the exact moment when we stopped feeling this way but ew just suddenly realize how far we have come.

And the feeling of gratitude for feeling more positive that happens shortly after this realization.