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Death (XIII): Major Arcana Tarot Cards Meaning

Find out the meaning of the thirteenth Major Arcana card: Death.

A candle and some flowers
Death (XIII): Major Arcana Tarot Cards Meaning | iSTOCK


This is the only Major Arcana card that has no name. It is probably due to the fear of speaking it into existence by pronouncing the name of Death.

Although “The Card with No Name”, Death (or “Le Mort”, in French) marks an ending, it is actually another part of a never-ending cycle. The idea encourages you to follow a path if you accept that life is truly eternal. Physical death is only leading up to what is to come. However, despite this promise, it is difficult to accept that, at some point, everything has to get to an end.

The meaning of this tarot card is filled with fear, because, in the collective unconscious, there is an eternal dread of the unknown. By contrast, this tarot card opens the door to the necessary changes. Do you want to know what does it mean in a tarot spread of love, money or health? Read on what “The Card with No Name” can reveal to you.

Main characteristics

How can “The Card with No Name” be described? It depicts a skeleton wielding a scythe over a blue field, where there can be seen hands and feet that form a nightmarish sight. You can also see crowned heads in the sea of faces, which suggests that even the powerful ones give in to this Major Arcana card, Death.  However, the heads still keep their flesh and do not show a frightened look. They understand that the transition is necessary. Thus, the skeleton stands before a field that, although bleak, still represents a harvest that will always bear fruit.

The very dark soil is humus,  which is the essential mass from which we were created. According to alchemical writings, life comes from the decomposition of matter.  Black is the symbol of primordial matter,  the most creative of colours, because it contains all the others. It is not just a gloomy colour. In fact, there are black statues of virgins and Christ that are venerated with devotion.

The scythe’s handle is yellow, which means that it is moved by Nature’s intelligence, and the blade, crimson, which represents an active principle that closes and at the same time opens the space to new ways of life.

Major Arcana tarot card meaning

Death brings unexpected changes and renewal, which does not necessarily mean physical death. You cut ties with important people, but it does not necessarily become a terrible event in your life. Despite the transformations, this Major Arcana card talks about fidelity and honesty; also about committing to causes, even if they cost you your life.

Death reversed represents disappointment with life,  a fatalistic way of thinking that expects the worst to happen at any moment. It symbolises everything that is considered ugly, cold or dull.  It can even suggest mental problems.  It predicts  stagnation and paralysis.  Changes are slow or not completely fulfilled, which keeps you in a drowsy inertia. Another meaning of this tarot card is a serious accident that is narrowly avoided and has the power to change your view of life.


Tarot card interpretation

In a tarot spread, it represents the people who do not like each other at all. At a time when you feel depressed or too pessimistic, this Major Arcana card can be used to talk about yourself. It also represents the ancestors, widowed, farmers, health professionals who treat diseases of the bones and also those people who deal with the mysteries of life and death (mediums, fortune-tellers, etc.). Similarly, this tarot card represents those people who study the mysteries of the mind (psychologists, psychiatrists, etc.) or the changes of matter (chemists).

Everything happens very quickly or almost immediately when this tarot card appears in a reading in which you ask when a certain event is going to happen. Do not forget that this is the Major Arcana card of radical changes.


In the upright position, even though at first it may be shocking, this tarot card predicts the end of illusions. If a person tries to cheat on you, you discover it, which puts an end to the suffering you endured by not knowing it. It may not be a good sign for immediate happiness, but it is for long-term happiness. You definitely move on. It also means the end of celibacy or, if you have a partner, you break with your current situation to start another stage of experimentation. 

Death reversed predicts the end of a relationship, a failed relationship which may have involved violence (if it appears together with Strength). It also suggests lack of communication between partners or the boredom that leads to lack of emotions.

Money and work

At work, you turn over a new leaf, or you directly change your job. Your colleagues may find you cold and too perfectionist, but this also makes them respect you. Your work capacity is very great.

In the reversed position, your projects stop or fail.  Your partners abandon you and so, you feel gloomy and discouraged. In case you are unemployed, nothing changes for some time, because the path you have chosen may be a dead end.

When it comes to finances,  money is earned with your own fair hands,  and this is what makes you appreciate what you have. You do not spend more than you need.  There is some concern for leaving your goods to future generations. You do not have too much money, but you use it wisely.

In the reversed position, you face serious problems concerning your personal economy. These worries about your economic difficulties may lead to depression.


This tarot card is much feared when it comes to health questions. Although it often indicates serious problems, it also suggests a disease that needs to be treated immediately. It is commonly thought that this Major Arcana card predicts death, but that is an unjustified misinterpretation.

It refers to diseases related to bones and the skeleton in general, such as osteoporosis, calcifications or decalcifications, etc. It is also related to the intestines, anus, faecal matter and genetic diseases.

Tarot card meanings and spreads 

This tarot card brings radical and sudden changes. As the events are often shocking, its connotation is usually rather negative.

In a tarot spread, it becomes particularly important if it appears in questions related to radical changes. In this case, the Death card carries almost all the weight of the interpretation.

You must examine yourself and ask the following questions: What should be actively studied? Whom do I resent? What am I hiding? What should I definitively dismiss from my life?  Tarot is not only an instrument of divination,  it is also an opportunity for self-discovery.


There has been a significant change in the past  and now you can see the consequences. There is nothing wrong with admitting that you have changed, for this is the foundation of life. Are you completely accepting that change, or are you still reluctant to believe that you have changed?


The change is just around the corner and it will arrive, whether you want it or not. In the process, you will lose something that you care about, but it is necessary to give in order to receive, without exception. What should get to an end in your present?


In order to move forward, you have to change the way you see the world. Leave the past behind you, do not cling to it, because now you have control over your decisions. For there to be life there has to be death (losses, breakups, etc.). You must not associate these events with something negative. Instead, you should focus on opportunities and on not letting them pass you by. 

Fun facts

  • The scythe belongs to Cronus,  the god of time, and it cuts off the days of men.
  • Number 13 represents a step to another stage. There are 13 moons in a year and 13 people  at the Last Supper.
  • Death is linked to the zodiac sign Scorpio, the musical note “G”, the bluish-green colour, the Hebrew letter “Nun” and the 24th path of the Tree of Life.