out with the old

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Intro Image: Death - out with the old

Tarot Alley uses the Rider Waite type of deck for our meanings, symbols, interpretations, etc.

Death represents life changes that we’re powerless to control. Death is ultimately a positive card that represents a transition into something new and better. It’s not going to be easy and it’s important that time is taken to appreciate what we’re letting go or losing.

Death is a powerful card that requires surrendering to the transition. You cannot avoid this change and resistance will only make it difficult and painful.

The Death card rarely (almost never) represents physical death. Don’t be scared when Death appears, it does not mean you (or someone else) is actually going to die.

Take a look at the Rider-Waite Fool displayed to the left (or above).

What is your first impression?

Who are the figures on this card? What are they doing? Where are they? What does the imagery say to you?

There’s no right or wrong answer here, just your interpretation.

Astrology: Scorpio
Element: Water
Numerology: 13 = 1+3=4 (equality, stability, persistence)

Common Symbols

  • The Grim Reaper to represent the inevitability of the situation
  • Skeletons to represent the end of something
  • Sunrise to represent a new beginning

Keywords & Concepts

  • Change
  • Inevitability
  • Transition
  • Unavoidable
  • Metamorphosis
  • New Beginnings
  • Action
  • Discovery
  • Go with it
  • Endings

Death for Personal Growth

Grasping the short, fleeting nature of life is one of life’s hardest and most sobering lessons. Acknowledging your own impermanence can help you live your life more fully.

Ask Yourself:

  • What needs to end?
  • How might an ending actually be a blessing in this situation?
  • What’s next?
  • In your situation, how might ending one thing give rise to another?
  • Which aspects of your situation have persisted over time? Which are temporary?
  • How do you feel about death? How might your feeling about death be a metaphor for how you feel right now?
  • Is your own situation just beginning, or is it coming to an end? How can you be sure?
  • How might the need for disruption figure into your situation?

Interpreting Death

Death appears to represent an unavoidable change in your life. This could be a job, life change, travels, health, relationship, or anything else.

The often occurs in two segments. First, discovery and acknowledgement of the change. What transformation will be happening? Next comes acceptance and action towards the change.

Reversed Death

How you read reversals is a personal choice. You can ignore reversals and read them as if the card is upright (this is what I often choose to do) or you can interpret reversals as variations of what they would mean upright. There are 3 common ways to read reversals: as a negative interpretation, as an opposite interpretation, or as a block on the upright interpretation. Check out How to Read Reversals for more information.

Negative: A negative reversed Death suggests a resistance to transformation that will result in a negative change in your life. If you overcome the resistance and embrace the transformation, you can move forward in a positive manner.

Opposite: An opposite reversed Death means a staleness in your life that you’re not recognizing. What areas of your life are bringing you down in small ways? Catch them now and make changes before they become a real negative force in your life.

Blocked: A blocked reversed Death indicates a resistance to change that will prolong your pain and suffering. Find the root of your resistance so you can embrace the transformation.

Examples of Death

Specific Interpretations

Specific situations are the general interpretation (from above) used for a specific situation (love, career, etc). There is no need to memorize these (or even look them up) if you understand the general interpretation. However, here are some basic interpretations for some specific situations:

Love & Relationships

When it comes to love and relationships, Death means things are about to change, whether you think you want them to or not.

If you’re in a relationship, Death represents a big change. This might mean the end of your relationship, but that is not the only option. If your relationship has some toxic traits it might be time to work on those and begin a new, more positive, phase of the relationship. Death can also be positive, perhaps a new addition to the family or an engagement are about to happen.

If you’re single, Death suggests a personal transformation that will bring you a new outlook on relationships (and perhaps even a new relationship).


Negative: A negative reversed Death suggests fear and negativity in your love life.

Opposite: An opposite reversed Death means stability. You should be a bit wary of changes to your relationship (or singleness). Examine any changes carefully.

Blocked: A blocked reversed Death indicates a resistance to a necessary change.

Professional Life

What type of changes are necessary in this area of your life?

If you’re unsatisfied with your career, now is the time to start looking for a new job, start your own business, or return to school.

If you’re lucky, the Death card will bring your positive change in income. How would your life change with more money?

Unfortunately for most, starting a new business, looking for a job, or going back to school results in a period of financial hardship. Remember, this is temporary and necessary to give yourself a more satisfying professional life.


Negative: A negative reversed Death suggests that you are the problem in your career or education. You have likely been engaging in behaviour that is detrimental to a satisfying professional life.

Opposite: An opposite reversed Death means stability exists in your professional life. Be wary of rocking the boat & examine changes carefully.

Blocked: A blocked reversed Death indicates a resistance to a professional transition that will ultimately benefit you.

Health & Wellness

Remember, the Death card rarely indicates physical death. However, a change to your health & wellness is happening.

This does not have to be negative, although it can be. If your health has been poor, expect to see an improvement. If your health has been fine you may experience a troubling health issue but it’s just as likely that you’ll change something for better results. Dislike your doctor? Now is the time to find a new one. Been putting off going to the gym/dentist/doctor/whatever, do it now!


Negative: A negative reversed Death suggests a bad health or wellness outcome is coming. Be prepared and stay positive. Don’t wallow in it, be proactive about treatment.

Opposite: An opposite reversed Death means a stability in your health and wellness. Be careful of changes that might make things worse instead of better.

Blocked: A blocked reversed Death indicates a resistance to making any changes. Be proactive!

Death Tarot Card Meaning

Pin This: 13 death - out with the old

Death means out with the old because it’s time to make room for the new. What things would your life be better off without? Now’s the time to get rid of them.

Once you feel comfortable with Death tarot card meaning, check out the next card in the tarot deck: XIV – Temperance Tarot Card Meaning.


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