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Death Tarot Card Meanings

Free yourself from a past that no longer serves you well and proceed toward the future.

The Hanged Man Tarot card in Universal Waite Tarot deck
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The Hanged Man
Death Tarot card in Universal Waite Tarot deck Universal Waite deck © U.S. Games Systems, Inc. Temperance Tarot card in Universal Waite Tarot deck
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What does the Death Tarot card mean?

Learn the meaning of the Death Tarot card in under a minute!

Death Upright Meaning

The Death card is not about the literal death of any person. It may represent the death of something else, like a project, plan, or relationship. This card also points to a time of harvest, symbolized in classical decks by the reaping skeleton. Unless the fruits of summer are harvested, they are lost to winter's harshness, and the people do not eat. As the scythe cuts the cords that link us to the past, it liberates us to go forward without fear, because we have nothing left to lose. Everything being pruned away is recycled for the fertility of the future, so that nothing is really ever lost, despite seasonal cycles of gain and loss.

In more modern Tarot decks, we see Death mounted on a horse and wearing black armor. The emphasis in these decks is on the punishment of sin, as in the way the medieval Plagu (which the Death image was based on) was used to explain the wrath of God. Luckily, in modern times, we are not so encumbered with such a guilt-ridden philosophy.

Death Reversed Meaning

The Death card reversed suggests that you might long for the cord to be cut, but unfortunately you have to persist and endure without the relief of an ending. It is not time for termination and closure yet.

Be patient with the current circumstances without resigning yourself to a negative outcome. Coming changes may alter the way you feel about the status quo. Remember that harvest isn't started until the fruit is ripe. Work at becoming wiser and more mellow, sweeter and more nourishing, and your time of release may happen sooner.

Death Advice Position

The Death card advises you to detach from the old order. You may want to close accounts, complete unfinished tasks, and gather your harvest. It is time to move on. If you cut the cords that have bound you to old ways and outdated conventions, you could free yourself to join the sweep of incoming light. This is not an excuse to reject others or hurt them in any way. It is simply a time to move toward your ultimate interests.

Do not allow nostalgia and outworn loyalties to hold you back. Be willing to go through whatever it takes to get to where you really want to be.

Death Love Position

The Death card symbolizes release and rebirth, the transformation that results from detachment. It may be time to cut cords with the ways and patterns of the past. Bring in the harvest, clear away the remains of the last cycle. The Death card is calling you to shed old identities in order to be able to express new ones, much like a snake shedding its skin. Go through this process of transformation willingly and voluntarily.

By cleaning up after the past and clearing away its residual relationship effects, you may make room for a higher manifestation to emerge. Think of this as a form of recycling in which you let go of attachments that would otherwise bind you to outworn thoughts and behaviors. You are turning a page in your romantic and relationship life. Cast off the detritus of the past and look forward to the future and potential relationships with optimism.

Death Career Position

When the Death card is in this position, a force of nature or a change in authority may be cutting off access to the old order and the established way of doing things. The most appropriate response to this change would be to adapt as quickly as you can. While developing events on the job may be beyond any one's control, you can certainly upgrade your responses to changes as they occur. Encourage everyone around you at work to convert to the future rather than trying to forestall it with old thinking or habits. As with the changing seasons, this period of transition leaves no one at fault.

You could be passing through a time of transformation, a time that needs to be faced with courage and the willingness to let go. Your work situation is moving you into new territories and there is no going back.

Death in a Yes or No Card Reading

Death is a card of total transformation. If you're looking for simple Yes or No guidance and receive Death, the answer is YES. Open yourself to new experiences and allow them to change you.