Death (XIII) Tarot Card Meaning: Upright & Reversed

Death in tarot is one of those cards that gets everyone scares, however, it’s a card rich with transformation and change. Like The Hanged Man, which symbolizes pause and a shift in perspective, Death signals an important transition or an end leading to a new beginning. It’s not about literal death, but about the metaphorical endings and transformations in our lives.

If drawn, it suggests that you’re on the cusp of a significant change, urging you to let go of the old to make way for the new. It’s about the cyclical nature of life, where endings are just precursors to new beginnings. With that being said, here’s everything there is to know about Death!

Key Takeaways

Death Upright:

  • Symbolizes transformation, endings, and new beginnings, not physical death.
  • Represents closure and major personal evolution in life.
  • Urges letting go of what no longer serves you for growth and renewal.
  • Emphasizes purification, cleansing, and embracing life’s cyclical nature.
  • In love, means transformative phases and readiness for new relationship stages.
  • Career-wise, indicates major changes like career shifts or financial status changes.
  • Spiritually, signifies profound inner transformation and shedding old beliefs.
  • In yes/no questions, generally a ‘yes’, signaling necessary change and new beginnings.

Death Reversed:

  • Stands for resistance to change, stagnation, and incomplete transitions.
  • You may be clinging to the familiar, fear of the unknown, and comfort zone attachment.
  • In love, reveals reluctance to embrace changes, affecting singles and couples.
  • Professionally, shows stagnation due to fear of change and holding onto outdated practices.
  • Spiritually, points to a block in spiritual growth and clinging to old beliefs.
  • In yes/no questions, often a ‘no’, implying resistance to change is hindering progress.
NumerologyRepresents the number 13, creating needed change
Zodiac SignScorpio, associated with regeneration, intensity, and profound change.
Ruling PlanetPluto, reflecting rebirth, renewal, and deep transformation.
ElementWater, symbolizing emotional release, intuition, and inner reflection.
Yes or NoOften considered a “Yes,” suggesting significant change or transformation are on their way!
CrystalsObsidian and Bloodstone are often associated with the process of transformation and grounding during times of change.

Symbolism Of Death

  1. The Skeleton: It’s clear the Skeleton is the main figure of the death card. The part of the human body that survives long after death. Representing the enduring nature of the soul and the essential, unchangeable aspects of everyone’s existence.
  2. The Black Flag With A White Rose: The black color symbolizes the unknown, while the white rose represents purity and rebirth. It helps show us, that although we don’t know where we’re going, there is purity and rebirth,
  3. The Rising Sun: In the background, the rising sun signifies that with every ending comes a new beginning. The sunrise brings light to the darkness, giving us hope and renewal.
  4. Fallen Figures: There are people that are either dead or dying at Deaths feet, including a bishop and a King. This shows us that death is a universal experience, regardless of your position in life.
  5. The River: The river and waterfall in the background show the cascade of emotion surrounding death as well as it flowing away into the distance. It also symbolizes the flow of life and the inevitability of change, as well as emotional release
  6. The Boat: The boat floating down the river can often be a nod to the ferryman from Greek Mythology, who transports souls across the river Styx to the afterlife. This symbolizes transition and the journey from one state of being to another.
  7. The Number 13: Death is the 13th card of the Major Arcana, a number often associated with bad luck in Western culture. However, in tarot, it reinforces the idea of transformation and change, as 13 is a number of upheaval, signaling a need for adaptation.
  8. The Armor: Death is dressed in armor, showing his invincibility and that Death is unstoppable. It emphasizes that death and transformation are inevitable parts of life. The black of the armor also shows the card is about loss.
Death Symbolism

Death Upright Meaning

Death is by far, one of the best cards to pull upright, but it’s also one o f the most misunderstood cards in the deck. Despite its ominous name, Death symbolizes transformation, endings, and beginnings, rather than physical death. It’s a powerful card signifying significant change, renewal, and the inevitable transition that comes with life’s cycles.

In its upright position, it shows that one phase of your life is ending, and a new one is about to begin. It’s a card of closure and transformation, you are on the brink of a major personal evolution! This change can be in any area of your life, be it relationships, career, beliefs, or even just personal habits. Embrace this transition, as it’s necessary for growth.

It can also symbolize the process of letting go. In order to move forward, you must release something that no longer serves you. Right now letting go is a crucial step in moving towards a more fulfilling phase of life. While the card won’t say specifically what it is you need to let go of, in your heart you’ll already know.

Death Upright Meaning

Furthermore, the upright Death card represents a period of purification and cleansing. Just as in nature, where decay makes way for new growth, your life needs to go through a similar process. It’s a time to clear out the old to make room for the new, to shed outdated beliefs and habits, and to start anew with a fresh perspective.

And when we ponder upon death it reminds us of the impermanence and the constant state of flux in the universe. It teaches the lesson that everything must come to an end at some point, which is a natural and necessary part of life’s cycle. Acceptance of this truth, and being focused on the importance of living in the present and appreciating what you have while you have it is something you need to keep in the back of your mind.

In terms of personal transformation, Death is a sign that you’re undergoing a significant internal change. Don’t forget to put aside some time for self-reflection and discovery, which will lead to your profound personal growth. Shed the old personal narratives that no longer serve you and the birth a new, more authentic self.

In short Death Upright is a symbol of transformation, renewal, and the inevitability of change. It encourages letting go of the old to make way for the new, embracing life’s transitions, and understanding the cyclical nature of existence. This card is a reminder that with every ending comes the opportunity for a new beginning. It’s a symbol resilience and renewal. It assures you that, no matter how difficult the endings or transitions might be, there is always the promise of a fresh start and new opportunities. It’s a card of hope and reassurance that after every ending comes a new beginning, full of potential and possibilities.

Love and Relationships

If you’re asking about love, Death upright symbolizes significant transformations. It might indicate that one stage of your relationship is coming to an end, making room for something new. Or if you’re single it could be the case that you’re moving away from a phase of life that isn’t serving you, and to get ready for renewal and a new more hopeful phase! It encourages you to embrace these changes, understanding that they are essential for growth and renewal in your relationships.

Careers and Finance

If you’re asking about careers and finances, Death signifies major changes, such as career transitions, company restructures, or a shift in financial status. You need to let go of outdated professional practices or financial habits, welcoming the new opportunities these changes bring.


Spiritually, Death is a real sign of profound inner transformation. You need to go through a phase of shedding old beliefs and embracing a new, more authentic spiritual path. Accept the natural cycles of life and growth, understanding that spiritual evolution often requires letting go of the past.

Yes or No

For yes or no questions, the upright Death card is a ‘yes’, indicating that change is necessary or that a transformation is underway. It’s a sign of endings leading to new beginnings, signaling that the path forward involves embracing these changes.

Death Reversed Meaning

The reversed Death card shows there there is resistance to change, stagnation, and that your transition from one phase to another is incomplete. It’s a significant card within the tarot, reflecting on the complexities of letting go and moving forward.

I most often see the Death card as a resistance to change. You might be clinging to the familiar, even if it’s no longer beneficial or necessary. This resistance can manifest as fear of the unknown, reluctance to leave your comfort zone, or an inability to let go of outdated habits and relationships. You need to examine what you are holding onto and to consider whether it’s preventing you from growing.

Death Reversed Meaning

Additionally, it can also suggest that a necessary ending or transformation is being delayed or avoided. Although change is needed, there’s a hesitation or refusal to allow this change to occur. It’s a reminder that avoiding change can lead to stagnation and missed opportunities for personal development. Really ask yourself, what are you holding onto that you know you need to let go of?

Similar to The Hanged Man you may also feel like you’re in a period of limbo, where things feel stagnant or stuck. Unlike the natural flow of endings and beginnings that Death should be about, the reversed position shows that things are not progressing as they should. This stagnation can create a sense of restlessness and frustration, as if you’re waiting for something to happen but it never does.

In some cases, the Death card reversed doesn’t necessarily mean transformation isn’t happening, but rather the process is incomplete or happening very slowly. Right now you may be in the midst of a transition but struggling to fully embrace the new phase of life that awaits. It’s a nudge to keep moving forward and to complete the process of change, even if it’s challenging.

It can also be a time to see if you have a fear of the unknown or a fear of loss. It’s natural to fear what we can’t predict or control, but this card suggests that this fear is holding you back. You need to face your fears, to understand that letting go is a natural part of life, and that embracing change can lead to growth and renewal.

So, Death Reversed in a tarot reading is a complex symbol of resistance to change, fear of the unknown, and incomplete transformations. It calls for introspection and courage to let go of the past and to embrace the changes necessary for growth. It’s a reminder that while change can be difficult, it’s often essential for personal development and renewal.

A sign of an internal transformation that’s needed but not yet acknowledged. You may need to let go of negative self-talk, harmful beliefs about yourself, or past experiences that no longer serve your present. This card is a reminder that sometimes, the most important transformations happen within.

Love and Relationships

In love and relationships, Death reversed shows a clear reluctance to embrace change, affecting both singles and those in relationships. For singles, it might suggest holding onto past relationships or fears, hindering the possibility of new connections. When you’re in a relationship it signifies resistance to necessary transformations, possibly due to fear or comfort in the status quo. it encourages letting go of past attachments and being open to the evolution of your romantic life.

Careers and Finance

When reversed, Death shows stagnation or a reluctance to adapt to necessary changes in your career or when it comes to money. You might be holding onto an outdated job or financial habits out of fear of the unknown. Remember change is inevitable so embrace it, and recognize that letting go of the old can open doors to new opportunities and progress.


Spiritually, you may be in a period of spiritual stagnation and clinging to outdated beliefs. There is an internal resistance to the transformative processes needed for spiritual growth, which you need to address before you can move forward on your path. Take time for introspection and have the courage to let go of old spiritual paradigms to embrace a more fulfilling spiritual journey.

Yes or No

For yes or no questions, Death Reversed is generally a ‘no’, suggesting that resistance to change or an unwillingness to let go may be hindering progress. It advises revaluating your approach and considering whether embracing change could lead to a more positive outcome.

Combinations For Death

Major Arcana CardMeaning with The Death Card
The FoolEmbracing a brand new start after a major ending, learning to adapt to significant changes.
The MagicianUsing your skills and talents to navigate through big life changes and transformations.
The High PriestessTrusting your intuition to guide you through endings and new beginnings, uncovering hidden truths during times of change.
The EmpressFinding nurturing and care in the midst of transformation, being gentle with yourself and others as you adapt to change.
The EmperorExercising leadership and control during times of significant change, guiding yourself and others through transformations.
The HierophantAdapting traditional beliefs and structures to major life changes, finding stability in transition.
The LoversMaking important relationship decisions that could lead to endings or new phases, embracing the transformative nature of relationships.
The ChariotMoving forward decisively during times of change, using your willpower to navigate through transformations.
StrengthFinding inner strength and courage during times of ending and new beginnings, showing resilience in the face of change.
The HermitSeeking inner wisdom and solitude to understand and cope with major life changes, reflecting deeply on transformation.
Wheel of FortuneEmbracing the cyclical nature of life, understanding that endings lead to new beginnings and changes are constant.
JusticeSeeking fairness and balance during times of significant change, making sure transformations are just and equitable.
The Hanged ManPausing to reflect and gain a new perspective during times of transformation, learning to let go and embrace change.
TemperanceFinding balance and moderation during times of change, blending the old with the new in a harmonious way.
The DevilBreaking free from negative patterns or dependencies, using transformation as a chance to liberate yourself.
The TowerExperiencing sudden and disruptive changes, but understanding these upheavals as necessary for growth and renewal.
The StarMaintaining hope and optimism through periods of ending and new beginnings, staying positive amidst change.
The MoonNavigating through confusion and uncertainty during transformative times, seeking clarity amid upheaval.
The SunFinding joy and success even in the face of endings, celebrating new beginnings with positivity.
JudgmentReevaluating your life during times of change, making significant decisions that lead to renewal and transformation.
The WorldCompleting a major phase of your life and moving on to something new, embracing the completion as a necessary part of growth.

Journaling Prompts For Death

  1. What fears come to mind when you think of the Death card? How can confronting these fears lead to growth?
  2. Think of a significant change you went through in life. How did you feel before, during, and after the change?
  3. Think about a time when there was an ending in your life, now think about the unexpected new beginnings that came from this.
  4. Think about a personal transformation you went through. What caused this and more importantly how did it help you to evolve?
  5. What is changing in your life right now? How are you coping with this transition?
  6. Is there something in your life that needs to end to make room for something new? What might that new beginning look like?
  7. Think about an area in your life you wish to change. What steps can you take to initiate this change?

Final Message Of Death

Let go of what no longer serves you. Release the clinging vines of the past, the limiting beliefs that hold you captive. This is not an ending, but a shedding, a making way for something new to bloom. Trust the inevitable cycle of decay and rebirth, for within the darkness lies the fertile ground for your next chapter.

Embrace the unknown. Step into the liminal space, where the familiar fades and the potential for something extraordinary shimmers on the horizon. Fear not the mystery, for within it lies the seed of your greatest becoming. This is not a passive surrender, but an active leap of faith, a courageous embrace of the untrodden path.

Remember, death is not an enemy, but a teacher. It strips away the superfluous, reminding you of what truly matters. It whispers of transience, urging you to cherish each precious moment, to live with purpose and passion. Let this transformation be your crucible, forging you into a stronger, wiser version of yourself.


In summary, Death is a symbol of transformation, beginnings and endings. It represents significant change and the necessity of letting go to allow for new growth.

Reversed, Death signifies resistance to change, and stagnation. You may be reluctant to leave your comfort zone. Being stuck in limbo, with incomplete or slow transformation processes. Now is the time for introspection and the courage to let go of the past, embracing change for growth and renewal.

Overall, whether upright or reversed, Death is a powerful card about the inevitability of change and transformation in life. It encourages acceptance of endings as a precursor to new beginnings and the importance of embracing life’s transitions for personal growth and renewal.

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About the author

Hey! I'm Antonio, Owner & Editor of the Fools Journey!

I've been reading Tarot Cards/Getting my tarot read for over 10 years now! For me, what started out as a bit of fun and scepticism, has since grown into such a passion for me.

Tarot Cards are not just a great source of inspiration, but also comfort, and I love using them to help get in touch with the higher powers that are here to guide me through life!

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