The Death card represents change, and more importantly, fear of change. It represents the forces of decay, degeneration, disintegration and transformation to which everything on this planet is subjected, but it is also a reminder that new life is not possible without death. In order to accept new energies, new people, new jobs, new situations, we must let go and clear away the old. Even while most of us are conscious of this basic fact, it does very little to assuage our primordial fear of change and loss.

We easily allow ourselves to become identified with what are often only transitory circumstances of our lives, including our occupations, partners, habits, interests and locations, because we are so desperate to have a clear, defined, palpable sense of ego. We continue to identify with these aspects of our lives even when they no longer serve or satisfy us, because we are filled with apprehension and terror at the thought of giving them up for something unknown. We make change far more difficult than it has be, simply through our resistance to it.

Fear of Death is really the same: we are so “identified” with being alive, that we are terrified at the prospect of losing our earthly form and separate, individual consciousness even though, as represented by the White Rose on Death’s flag, life is eternal and ever-renewing. All that happens when Death arrives is a transformation of the form or outward shape of that Universal energy. Although it may seem counter-intuitive at first, the Death card actually symbolizes that which is eternal— that is, change. Everything on this planet is involved in a constant, eternal cycle of transformation, and it is only a manufactured illusion that anything is dependable, static or permanent. Your identity is constantly evolving, and how much you are able to evolve or individuate is in part contingent upon how willing you are to let go of behaviors which no longer serve you, even if that prospect is terrifying, disorienting or bewildering to you.

The Death card can signify a literal passing away of life, but more often in a reading it is indicating something about the querent’s inward, emotional response to (literal or figurative) death or change. If he is so fearful of change and insistent upon retaining an illusory sense of permanence that he refuses to face the necessary changes, he will likely pay in blood when change forces itself upon him anyway. If he accepts the mutability of this world and lets go of what is decaying or past its time, he can more easily navigate the period of transition and move forward. Change need not be painful; it is only our resistance to change that creates problems.

Astrological Association:

The Death card is ruled by the zodiac sign Scorpio. Scorpio is ruled by Pluto.

Card meanings upright:

The Death card represents transformation, endings, and new beginnings in your life. You may be feeling like there are parts of yourself or your life that you have outgrown, and now is a great time to embrace the new and transform yourself. New circumstances will bring growth and change to your life in the form of new people, work, or belief systems. You can feel safe letting go of the old and welcoming the new during this time.

Card meanings reversed:

When the Death card is reversed, it indicates that something in your life that should have come to an end is still persisting in an undesirable manner. If you have been grieving, you may feel that there is a lack of support, care, or sympathy for your loss. The Death card can also represent cheating your own death.


Regarding work, the Death card can represent a season of change and new beginnings at work. If you are feeling extremely dissatisfied with your job or undervalued at work, then now is a good time to consider new options and keep an open mind to new beginnings in your career. It will require a bold leap of faith to make career changes, but you can trust your confidence as you seek a new, more fulfilling job.


The Death card can also represent a time of letting go and new beginnings in your romantic life. If you have been clinging to a relationship that makes you deeply unhappy, but have been afraid to let it go because it feels safe and familiar then now is a good time to examine your relationship. Be honest and open in your communication, and express things that need to change. If your needs can’t or won’t be met, then be brave enough to consider leaving the security of a relationship for something new and more fulfilling.


The Death card can signify a period of sacrifices and challenges in your financial life. While you may need to make some sacrifices to make ends meet, you do not have to suffer in solitude. Don’t hesitate to ask others for help if you need it, and keep a strong grip on reality in the face of any sudden financial losses. You will likely have to face a tough financial situation in order to profit greatly in the future.


The Death card presents a time of spiritual cultivation in your life. If your soul has been covered by darkness, now is the time to stop fighting change and allow yourself to feel fully. Make sure not to wallow in pain or sorrow, and accept the genuine, caring help others offer you when you are feeling alone in the world.


Customized to your exact birth date and name, this personalized numerology report will shed light on your core numbers and life.

The Gilded Tarot Deck by Ciro Marchetti © 2004 Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. 2143 Wooddale Drive, Woodbury, MN 55125.  All rights reserved, used by permission.