Card Meanings

The Tarot Death Card in Love

Death - Lover's Path Tarot

Death from the Lover’s Path Tarot

Simpsons Tarot Death Card

Even those of you not overly familiar with the Tarot are guaranteed to have seen the Death card on the big screen or TV at one point or another, as it’s a popular ‘spooky’ choice among film makers of all genres – It even makes an appearance in an episode of the Simpsons. The fact that it’s the 13th Arcana and is almost always turned over by either a half crazed crone or mysterious gypsy with daggers for eyes helps too, of course.


It has to be said that seeing the grim reaper make an appearance in a love and relationship reading rarely leads to joyous outbursts by the seeker. Still, not all Death cards focus on the actual death/ending aspect but more on the process of transformation (such as the butterfly leaving its chrysalis), which is what the Death card is all about.

The card I chose to illustrate Death at the top of the post is from the Lover’s Path Tarot and full of additional meaning as it contains the whole Pluto/Persephone mythos. I wrote a poem which ties in with this theme a few years ago: (feel free to scroll past this tangent!)

In his eyes I died twice,

first to self and then to life.

They are portals to the highest sphere

where all is love and light;

they are doorways to Gaia’s roots

where death begets life both day and night.
His eyes sprout life and death

in equal measure:

I die and am reborn;

I am born and die again:

His gaze is my deepest pain,

my truest pleasure.

The deck creator, Kris Waldherr, chose to rename her Death card Transformation which I is apt since the Lover’s Path Tarot was created specifically for love and relationship readings.

Astrologically, the Death card corresponds to Scorpio and the Element of Fixed Water. Physically, Scorpio relates to the genitals so there is no denying the sexual nature of this card.

In psychological terms, Death/Scorpio is were eros (the sex drive) and thanatos (the death drive) meet. Nature is clever that way – She makes sure we reproduce before we pop our clogs :)

Scorpio has a long memory and neither forgives nor lets go easily. However, it’s exactly letting go that is the big lesson when this card shows up. The time for change has come and resistance is futile.

It very often means the end of a relationship but sometimes it means that you have both undergone a massive transformation and are now ready to take the relationship to the next level. In the latter case, it will often be some form of cataclysmic event such as the loss of a child or the death of a close friend that has brought about the change of perception which makes a total relationship make-over possible.

It could also be something along the lines of one of you falling ill or losing your job and both of you having to adapt to your new circumstances, helping or accepting assistance from your beloved. Surrounding cards will give more information on this.

However, if the Death card is the final card in a reading it almost always means that the relationship is over. This is also true if it shows up together with the 3 or 10 of Swords inside the reading. Another indication for Death together with the 3 of Swords is jealousy, especially with the Knight of Cups in the mix. Almost nothing kills love quicker than jealousy!

To a single person, the Death card can be an indication that the past needs to be buried before it is time to move on and start dating. It is a definite ‘No’ if the original question was ‘Is now a good time to start dating?’ Emotional healing is still needed. The good news is that the next time you start dating, you won’t be repeating the same old mistakes!

If Death shows up as a suggestion for sexual play it’s time to daringly try something entirely new. The Scorpio energies of this card are extremely passionate and seductive. Learn to use your eyes to seduce and even direct your partner. Sexual power play – Dominance/submission – can be playfully explored if you are both up for it.

It also almost goes without saying that the Death card is connected with the kind of surrender to the moment necessary to achieve La Petite Mort (the little death) or orgasm.


18 replies »

  1. A synchronicity once again… too personal to post publicly, i’ll just say that at this point i am amazed how some of my own stuff coincides with themes on which you expand in your essays. ;)

  2. when you ask about the personality of a person and have the death card and the king of swords, what is the meaning? who is this person?

  3. Hi Lisa, I did the future soul mate lover spread, and the first line was: Knight of Cups, Nine of Swords, Five of Swords; middle line: Ace of Wands, Ace of Cups, The Hierophant; bottom line: The Chariot, Ten of Cups, Death; while the top “mini theme” of the reading – was The Emperor, Temperance, and King of Wands. Moreover, my question is – do you think this foretells that my future soul mate lover will leave at the end of the story?

    I was inclined to think that Death foretold the transformation of the Knight of Cups through his journey following the Ten of Cups experience, but with the King of Wands at the top of the mini thematic reading, it inclines me to believe that he will remain a king on his own without a Queen. Do you think King of Wands often foretells a man still being stag? Thank you for your help! :)

    • It is very difficult for me to read on a reading at the best of times and impossible without any visual clues. This spread is a story unfolding… You have to actually SEE the story… It is your reading – you need to learn to trust your intuition. Most lovers leave at the end – unless you actually die holding hands. What time frame have you set? No, I don’t see the King of Wands as stag but he is highly independent and king of the opposite of the Knight of Cups in that sense.

  4. Hi Lisa,
    Thank you for the response!
    I did not set a time frame as I thought I had read that the time frame for that spread was one year? Am I mistaken?
    Also, I suppose I saw the knight of cups / king of wands as representative of Scorpio water sign ruled by Pluto/Mars, and thus Death card further reiterated this Scorpio energy and represented the change from knight to king… But there are just so many different ways to interpret cards ! thanks again <3

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, feedback and questions. Please note that, while I'm happy to answer questions about individual cards, I don't interpret spreads. I get several requests every day about interpreting DIY readings based on my spreads. Even if I had the time, I don’t think it would be a wise investment of my time to ‘read on readings’ – A reading is done in synergy between the cards, the question and the reader… in the MOMENT.

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