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Death Tarot Card Meanings

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

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The Hanged Man Tarot card in Winged Spirit Tarot Tarot deck
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Death Tarot card in Winged Spirit Tarot Tarot deckWinged Spirit Tarot deck © U.S. Games Systems, Inc.Temperance Tarot card in Winged Spirit Tarot 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 If you cut the cords that have bound you to old ways and outdated conventions, you could free yourself to join the sweep of incoming light.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.