Know Before You Go: The Real Meaning of the Death Card

Of all the cards in the tarot deck, the Death card has the worst reputation. Thanks to bad media representations it’s associated with actual death and destruction, giving querants a sense of fear and dread when it pops up in their spreads. That definition of the Death card couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s a multi-faceted card and in spite of it’s bad rap isn’t actually a bad card to get. It’s a card associated with the Goddess herself, with the astrological sign Scorpio and new beginnings. Here you’ll find the true meaning of the Death card clarified, the deceptive cloud of fear lifted so you can better interpret your tarot spreads in the future.

The Death Card Upright

"Death indicates a time of significant transformation, change and transition"

“Death indicates a time of significant transformation, change and transition”


Death is symbolic of the end of a major event in your life that heralds the beginning of something new. If you’re stuck in a job you hate and find the Death card in your spread, rejoice! This means your suffering will end soon either as a revitalization of what you loved about your work or as an opportunity to leave for something new entirely. Before we can move on to anything new, however, the old thing must end. It’s not easy letting go of our old lives, even if we hate everything about them. That hate is familiar at least, it’s comfortable and far less frightening than facing the unknown. The Death card tells you that it’s time to let go of that and face your fears because the old way is ending. It’s time to herald the new path that your life is bringing you and let the ashes of the past fall where they may.

This change can be sudden and unexpected, adding to the jolt. It could indicate that you have unhealthy attachments or bad habits that need to fall by the side of the road before you can advance. When Death appears in your spread upright, know that it means that a positive change is in your near future.

The Death Card Reversed

"Death reversed typically reflects that you are on the verge of major change"

“Death reversed typically reflects that you are on the verge of major change”


Never fear, the Death card reversed doesn’t indicate an actual death either. What it does indicate is that there’s a change you need to make in your life that you’re resisting. Your inability to let go of a bad habit or the past is holding you back, preventing you from achieving a major goal. It’s easy to feel like the things we want are out of our grasp, and sometimes those things are out of reach because of situations out of our control. If the Death card shows up reversed in your tarot spread, know that the only thing holding you back is you. You’re carrying around baggage that you should’ve dropped forever ago and that baggage is weighing you down. Your life has stagnated because the death needed to end your current cycle of suffering is being blocked.

If you see the Death card reversed in your spread, take a look at the way you’re approaching change. Try to work out ways to embrace it instead of ignoring it.

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