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Death Tarot Card Meaning

Death Keywords

UPRIGHT: transition | change | endings | transformation

REVERSED: refusal to let go | fear of change | personal transformation

Death Description

The Death Tarot card features a skeleton in black armor riding a white horse, symbolizing the inevitability and enduring nature of death, and the purity and power of the horse. The skeleton carries a flag with a white rose, signifying beauty, purification, and the cyclical nature of change and transformation inherent in the concept of death. This imagery underlines that death is not solely an end but a passage to new beginnings, embodying the cycles of life, transformation, and rebirth.

The scene includes a royal figure lying dead, with a woman, child, and bishop appealing to the skeletal messenger, highlighting the universality of death's reach. A boat in the background suggests the journey to the afterlife, echoing mythological narratives of transition. The setting sun between two towers on the card illustrates the daily cycle of death and rebirth, reinforcing the theme of perpetual change and the natural rhythm of life and death.

NOTE: The tarot card meaning description is based on the Rider-Waite deck and Decoding The Cards

Wishing For A Deeper Tarot Connection?

Decoding The Cards goes further than keywords and traditional interprations by providing exercises for each card in the tarot.

The exercises this book are designed to challenge you to delve deeper into the meanings of each card, as well as consider your own personal experiences in relation to the traditional meanings.

Death Upright

The Death card symbolizes transformation, not literal death as has been perpetuated by Hollywood. Rather, something of great significance is ending to make way for a new chapter. When Death is present in a reading, it encourages one to free themselves from the past and look toward the future optimistically. It is important to accept the cyclical nature of existence and understand that life is constantly in a state of flux, so anticipate and make the most out of any shift. 


Death signifies a time for renewal, rebirth, and opportunity — it encourages us to take stock of our lives and reset our goals. It can be challenging to let go of something that has been a large part of our lives; therefore, it is important to remember that change can bring about new, positive opportunities and experiences. The Death card urges us to accept its presence and welcome it with open arms, as this could be the start of something beautiful and new. 

Death Reversed

Death reversed indicates a reluctance to accept the inevitable. Instead of being willing to let go of what is no longer beneficial, one is clinging to the familiarity of the current state of affairs out of fear and apprehension for the unknown. This stubbornness and trepidation in regard to embracing change can act as an impediment, preventing any progress from being made. 


At the same time, Death reversed can also allude to interior changes that one may have either recently undergone or are currently in the process of making. This could refer to a complete overhaul of one’s beliefs and values and any habits and behaviors that no longer serve them. While one may be fully aware that these changes are necessary to grow, one may not yet have the confidence to share them with others in their life. 

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