Death – Tarot card meaning

Rider Waite Major Arcana - Death

Death is the 13th card of the Major Arcana. Death is a well known tarot card, but it’s meaning might not be what you expect.

Rather than referring to the end of life, the Death tarot card indicates change and transformation. As well as change, the Death tarot card can also represent the start of a new cycle. Everything is temporary, and from death comes life.

At first glance, Death can be a scary card to see in any tarot spread, but you know by now that you shouldn’t take it at face value. While it can represent actual death, more often than not it has a less morbid meaning.

The end of a process is not always something to lament, but often something to celebrate.

Card meanings


When referring to the past, the Death card can represent a past change. Maybe you were able to turnover a new leaf and start a new aspect of your life.

Death in the past can represent the end of a recent relationship, changing your place of work or education, or adapting a new mindset which lets you see the world through a different lens.

There may have been some sacrifice to get you to where you are now, and you aren’t completely settled into your new life yet.

Death can represent the changes through childhood; perhaps your personality changed greatly during your formative years. Looking back, you may not be able to recognise yourself. It may be worth taking inspiration from this; no matter how bad things are now, they can always change for the better.


Expect change in your life in the present and near future. Consider the theme of your reading for an idea on what is going to change. If you are unhappy with a certain aspect of your life, you can expect it to change.

Watch out, as a certain positive element of your life may also change, for the worst. Death is neither good or bad, and affects all of us in different ways.

If you are focused on your relationship for this reading, then anticipate a change in your relationship status soon. As we know through other card meanings, choice and change are an inevitable part of our life.

The Death card can also represent somebody who is coming into your life to change it. Be on the lookout for them, as this may not be a wholly positive experience.


Death in the future position usually represents a future event or person which will bring change to your life. Don’t expect this ‘event’ to be a positive one. You would do well to prepare to be shocked or feeling stressed.

Death is a strange one to place in the future; we are all going to die after all. As with the present reading,consider the theme of your reading and how a change in future could affect this. Use your intuition and try to prepare for all eventualities.

Death can represent a transforming, dynamic future. Things may change hard and fast in the near future. Brace yourself for a memorable period of your life.

Work, careers and education

Expect change in your work or education. This can be a good sign if you’re looking to move jobs, but if you feel you’re in a secure job, then it may time to think again; as you may not be leaving on the best of terms.

You may be finishing school for good soon and going onto something completely new. When we are in school or working, we often don’t stop to think about the things we’ll miss when we have moved on.

Even the worst job can have it’s good times. Try to think about those now and have as many good experiences as possible.

Love and Relationships

The Death card is not a good card to draw when relating to romance and love. Expect change for the worst, especially if you are in a relationship.

It may be that your relationship is coming to a natural end, whether you want it or not, it is probably the still the best choice out of what is possible.

If you are single, then now is not the time to look for a partner, and be wary if you do. While Death can suggest change if you are single, it likely won’t be change for the better. You are better off alone, for now.

You may find someone who seems perfect at the start, but listen to what they say and observe how they act, they may not be right for you.


Death can be a good card to draw relating to wealth, especially if you have been without money for some time. Usually, however, Death will signal a downward spiral in your finances.

Expect to be paying out more than you’re getting in. Money can be used for so much more than just buying nice things. Buy only what you need for now, not what you desire.

Understand why you want to purchase things. If it makes you feel better, there may be an underlying cause. Money doesn’t buy us happiness at all, only the illusion of happiness.

Health and well-being

Take extra care of yourself if you see Death appear relating to health. While it can mean the end of a period of pain and letting go from mental hangups, Death can also represent your final moves. It may be the last time you do something you enjoy.

Many health problems, both mental and physical, can be reversed and treated. Look into professional care if something serious is threatening you. Depression is a serious issue. Get second opinions where you can. Talk to others.

Finally, Death can represent actual death. We each respond to death differently in our lives, but we all have to face it, and we are all exposed to death at some point. Prepare yourself for the worst, even if nothing bad seems to be happening in life.

Other associations

Element: Water

Astrology: Scorpio

As a Yes or No question: No

Crystal: Malachite


Change, transformation, death, completion, conslusion, endings

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