Interpretation of any Tarot card or spread must take into account the reader, the querent and the context. That said, here’s my general interpretation of the Death card from the Rider Waite Tarot deck and its meaning.

Reading The Card – Meaning

Death is probably the most well known Tarot card – and also the most misunderstood.

The reasons for the card’s prominence are obvious. The name and the usual illustration of a skeleton provide very striking imagery. The Death card has thus been used – or abused – in many films.

Most Tarot novices would consider Death to be a bad card, especially given its connection with the number thirteen. In fact this card rarely indicates literal death.

A better name for this card might be “Change”. Card number 13 of the Major Arcana represents the death of the old – and the birth of the new. Far from being a card of despair it is a card of hope, of moving on. To use a cliche, “as one door closes, another opens”.

Without “death” there can be no change, only eventual stagnation. The “death” of the child allows for the “birth” of the adult.

This change is not always easy. The appearance of Death in a Tarot reading can indicate pain and short term loss, however it also represents hope for a new future.

Clear the decks – a new voyage is about to begin.