Today’s card is Death, number thirteen of the Major Arcana, also known as the Child of the Great Transformers or Lord of the Gates of Death. Each of the Major Arcana cards represents a principle in occult worship or enlightenment, with this card being the 22nd and final card of the Majors, which are numbered 0 – 21. When studying these principles, one would start with the number 0, The Fool, representing innocence, the beginning of a journey, and the initiate, and ending with number 21, The Universe. Having traveled through the theoretical concepts of Magick, therefore, one would need only to apply these principles in real life to move forward on the path of enlightenment.
Death has important significance in the Tarot but many fail to study its deeper meanings because they are afraid that this card symbolizes physical death. While it can have that meaning in very specific readings with very specific individuals, this is not the occult principle that the card represents. As with all things in the Universe, we are constantly being transformed from one state to another; just as the sea is evaporated into the atmosphere, producing rain that merges with the rivers and streams to lead once again to the sea, so do our lives unfold as a series of small lives, deaths, and rebirths. The greatest of these is in our adolescence when we shed our childhood and become adults, although we may also experience these significant moments throughout our lifetime when we marry, become parents, complete a field of study, or recognize major spiritual truths within ourselves and/or the Inner Truth from which we have all been created.
Death, therefore, is a sign of transformation and transcendence from one state of being into another. As we become more spiritually enlightened and aware, we must cast off old belief systems. This is often not an easy task to accomplish and can involve some emotional pain because we must face the incorrect nature of our former convictions and change to fit our new awareness and truth. This card can also signify change that is not wanted or expected but can, nonetheless, produce a new beginning that is needed in the end. This can be unsettling at best for one who feels that things are going along according to plan…until they aren’t! If you insist on holding on to the ‘old ways’ of thinking or doing during this time, be prepared for a lot of growing pains. Remember in these moments to see the bigger picture of the new opportunities change may bring and try to ride the emotional waves with ‘Dude’-like excellence.
With all this in mind, I will share a parable that illustrates the point of the Death card most succinctly. A mighty king once gathered his advisors and asked them to come up with a motto that would bolster him in hard times and keep him humble in times of victory. He felt pride at his cleverness in having placed before them an impossible task and yet they returned not long after with a response. When asked what wisdom they had to share with him, their words rang true:
“This, too, shall pass!”
All things is life must naturally pass to make room for what lies ahead. Today, may you be excited for what comes next and not caught in the past of what has gone before.