Debunking the Myths Surrounding the Death Tarot Card

the death tarot card

What does the Death Tarot card represent? A lot of people are afraid when they get this card. But only because they do not have a clear understanding of what the Death Tarot card actually means. It’s not actually about physical death, but the kind of death needed in order to make an amazing transformation. As we know, transformation cannot happen without giving up something. That in itself is a kind of death. It is associated with the Hebrew letter nun. The literal translation of nun is fish, which is a noun. But as a verb, it means to sprout, to grow. Therefore, one can easily call this card life, just as well as death.

In this article you will not only learn the meaning of the Death Tarot card, you will also have answers to the following questions:

  • What is the death tarot card meaning in love, life and career?
  • Could the death card reversed spell trouble in your relationships?
  • How reliable is the death card tarot guide?
  • What can you expect from the death card in tarot?
  • What changes do the death card tarot upright has in store for you?

The Death Tarot Card: An Overview

If there’s one thing that the Death Tarot card tells you, it’s that the skeleton is your most precious, enduring, and secret treasure. As a matter of fact, Shamans in training all over the world have to experience death as a symbolic part of their initiation. There are times when they need to see their own skeleton by scraping their flesh down to the bone. Why? Because this enduring part is hidden from us. Without it, a person would be nothing but a massive lump of tissue.

What Does the Death Tarot Card Mean?

So, what does the Death Tarot card mean? When you see the Death Tarot card in your reading remember that it is not pertaining to death. It’s all about change and transformation. The person’s movement from one state of being to another.  There is disintegration, progress, and growth. And when it has arrived at its zenith, it will begin to decline, and the cycle begins again. This type of cycle has been around since time immemorial.

Various Forms of Death

On its lower polarity, it can actually mean death. But more often than not it pertains to involuntary change. This type of change is not something that you have invoked, like a difficult or living death. It could mean boredom, even lethargy. Know that the fear of death is what poisons a person. It’s something much worse than death itself. Stunting of life happens to those who fear death that they are so scared to live. Therefore, to make friends with death is allowing yourself to live fully.

Will the Tarot Talk About Death?

scorpio ruled card

If you’re wondering if the tarot will ever talk about death, of course, it will- occasionally. But it will not simply give you the Death Tarot card alone. It’s more of the opposite. For instance, in a Scorpio ruled card, take note that it is a water sign. So, if there are fire cards on either side of it, it’s definitely going to bring out the worst in it. Perhaps even a mental death such as schizophrenia.

However, if it’s going to be physical death, two or three cards will be brought on to also talk about death. The tarot knows exactly how to do this all in the same reading. They would all be lined up. And some of these cards may even surprise you.

You can assume it is death. But then there’s also the Ace of swords reversed combined with death. The Ten of swords combined with death. Even the sun reversed. Since the sun is so alive on its upper polarity, its lower polarity also goes extremely low. In short, the greater the light, expect the same amount for the shadow. Take comfort in the fact, however, that 99.9% of the time, it’s really just about change.

The Death Card Upright

The death card upright is a representation of the moment you let go of an old identity, old mask, old behaviors. It’s allowing your brand new identity to emerge, for your transformation to begin. This may be the clearing away of unhealthy habits to let new and better behaviors come through.

It could also mean the elimination of things or people from your life, even long-established ones. Perhaps it’s the end of close relationships, associations, or morphing into a new form. Leaving your past behind and completely letting go. It’s cutting through and cutting deeply to see the truth. It can mean someone that can no longer tolerate the situation. Or someone who finds it hard to leave a situation even if they know this old way is dead.

The Death Card Reversed

the death card reversed - depression

This could mean sluggishness, stagnation, or being stuck. It’s one’s unwillingness or inability to let go of the past. An old way of doing things even if these things are unhealthy or definitely holding you back. Dealing with old patterns, and habits.

Remaining in situations or relationships that are no longer serving you at the moment. It could also represent boredom, inertia, depression, or even unfounded fears of truth or change. You can be bone-weary while being aware of your need for change. However, you are not sure how you can do that. It could also mean grieving over a loss and staying in that emotional space.

So how can you deal with it? First of all, if you need to grieve, this is the best time to do it. Look at what you have lost and acknowledge it before you move on. This is a crucial step, finalizing what just happened. Seeing it, feeling it. Change is apparent but there may be a need for you to wait.

Think about what you normally do but do not do it. Then observe what happens. Try sitting with the past a bit longer and say goodbye to what has occurred. There may be something that is at a standstill. Keep an active mind but try standing still with it. Hold and wait. Look at the things that are no longer working in your life. Then edit it in your mind. Again, give yourself time to mourn what you have lost. Then let go. Only then can you turn your horse around and run towards the sunrise.

Analyzing the Death Tarot Card

What does the Death Tarot card mean? It is the 13th card in the major arcana. It is a well-known tarot but isn’t really what you expect it to be. Tons of movies in the horror suspense genre portray this card as a bad omen of something terrible that’s about to happen. They love to prey on the fears of the unknown. Using the tarot as a symbol to communicate death.

The tarot will never tell you when you are going to die since it is not designed to do that. As mentioned earlier, the Death card is the 13th card found in the major arcana. Remember that the major arcana has 22 tarot cards. You may have also heard that this major arcana is also known as the ‘fool’s journey’.

The ‘fool’s journey’ is just a metaphor for our journey throughout life. Every one of the major arcana cards represents steps along this journey. Basically, they are just an experience an individual needs to incorporate for them to experience wholeness.

In short, if this death card meant death, the major arcana would have just ended up with 13 cards and not 22, right? Which means death is just a stage in this journey. Something that everyone experiences at different points in their life. Necessary for one to grow, and subsequently to move along your path.

This pertains to a death of a cycle, and a birth of a new cycle. Everything in this world is temporary, and from death springs life. Letting go, transitions and closures are all keywords associated with this card.

Interpreting the Imagery

the death card in tarot

The white horse is a symbol of vitality, strength, and subconscious drives. Its color stands for new beginning and completion. Contrasting the white horse is the black armor of the rider. This is a reminder of the great extremes in life. Then there’s the flag with the great flower. In it consists of five grains, its pentagram pointing downwards signaling harvest time.

The presence of the reaper isn’t there to destroy, but it’s there to bring in an abundant harvest. Then there’s the ship of souls evident in the back which is an image from Egyptian mythology. This boat carries all the souls from death into reincarnation. Thus, representing the various phases in life.

Found in the back right are the heavenly gates. Someone is definitely “knocking on heaven’s door”. Death isn’t really the end. As a matter of fact, one can be dead long before one dies. And consequently, live on long after they have died.

The gray sky may be coming up or going down. It really depends on how you read it. But in here it warrants indifference to death as part of life. It is an inspiration to a calm spirit.

The rider on the horse is wearing armor that can’t be penetrated. This means that there’s absolutely no way you can escape change. Then again, there’s that glorious sun visible in the background, signaling for a bright future ahead.

This tarot card is not symbolizing physical death, but a time for transformation and change. It is your wake-up call to be moving, to take a different route. The change the death card is pertaining to may not be easy. But it is telling you that there is definitely an aspect of your life you just have to let go of. As the saying goes, “out with the old, in with the new”.

In order to make space for great new things that are going to be present in your life, it is important to let go of all the things that no longer serve you. This card is telling you to break free from something that’s stopping you from attaining your goals in life. A door may have shut on you, unwillingly so. But then a new direction will open up, along with a new path to take.

Be brave because there’s a reason for this. The more you accept this change and do not try to control it, the easier this transformational phase will be for you. Get rid of any self-limiting insecurities or beliefs as you face this brand new life after death this card is pointing you towards.

See the dead king on the ground with the crown beside him? Losing this crown is symbolic of the death of your ego. This may feel like losing control since this is the purpose of the ego. But setting this aside shows your respect for the universe and all the things it has in store for you.

Your greater purpose in life lies ahead. This is the time to let go. When contemplating this card, ask yourself these questions:

  • How do you handle change?
  • How can you prepare yourself for these changes?
  • What are the things in your life due for change?
  • How good are you at dealing with endings?
  • Do you recognize that these endings have beginnings after?
  • Are you honest with yourself in exposing parts of your life needing this transition?

Sit with these questions and try journaling them. Your thoughts, feelings, and experiences with them. If you’re comfortable enough, sit with the death card in the area you’re reading in. Then try this affirmation: I honor endings and welcome fresh starts in my life. If the death card is triggering for you, find other decks that have better imagery for you. When you resonate with the imagery, the more helpful it becomes for you.

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