Can I tell you that I had a terrible time with this card? Well I did. The Tarot Journey is a journey through the energy of the cards and this time around I must have had some grave dust in my ears because I wasn't getting the message. Fortunately, with the help of a friend I was able to understand the message. Death
Dying isn't always about loosing one's life. In the natural cycle death occurs every year in the seasons and every month in the turning of the moon. As a human being it is threaded into the death and rebirth cycle of of my life I live and die and am reborn in many ways.
Death is more than change. In fact I really can't stand that blanket generalization. As if we should neuter this state of transition, by safely calling it "change".
Death is inevitable, will happen to all things, and many times it is sudden. Death isn't just change. It isn't fluffy. It can be sacred, we can be part of a passage, we can help others through that final step on this side but rarely is it just a Hallmark "change". We change our underwear, our jobs, our home or outlook. These are changes, they are not necessarily death in the mystical sense of the word.
In the Tarot of the Spirit Companion book, Pamela writes:
Death comes beating drums screaming out the low wail of Fate and Doom Time has Come! too soon! too soon! I scream, be gone! knowing full well, all the while it is late night; has come the dark hour; no dawn- but corpses strewn about the strand rolling twixt sand and sea
stretches out her boney claw reaches brushing hand and boot and touches soul screaming all the while Come Brethren! Beat the Drum! Sister! Brother! Pound the Nail! Time! Time! Time! Time! has come! Come! Come! Come!
Hear not the horses scream but bleeding beating hooves with every crash upon the shore submerging to emerge again throwing off the old forms waves of inert stagnation fatal moves grasping for gestation, fetal moves, birth- another breath- re-spiration in carnation
The icy transformation of Death comes to release casting off the empty shell of dead and bootless grief.
When death comes in a metaphoric sense to the uninitiated we are looking at loss from a sense of fear. This job, relationship, lifestyle or mode of being has ended, and like many fear related reactions we have this guttural, primal brain reaction of hold on, struggle, anger, deny and grieve... but this is our nature striving to hold onto basic, survival needs (responses, expectations, fears and desires). This is not the deeper, self.
Death to the initiate, the seeker, the traveler with purpose, is beauty in the grace of sacrifice, the honor and gratitude in remembrance. It is the open-eyed largesse of spirit, embracing birth. More, yes, more, it is the seeking of the mind that is conscious of the death/rebirth.
Who was I / Who am I / How do I relate, act, become in this world in which I am a new being?
Attuning to the cards I call upon the energy, I invite it under the auspices of my intentions, what is Death then to me, entered into my life?
I said I struggled with this card, this attunement, and I'm not kidding.
Suddenly it is as if some part of my self, some layer was confining me. The word I used to my friend, and the healer that helped guide me through part of the process Nancy Stenn, was "Caul". Smartly, Nancy said:
"to the extent that the death card also encompasses rebirth, that part feels right... so, your word choice even lends itself to a birthing process -- like breaking out of the chrysalis."
I had to think.
One of our little finned friends died, Marriah pretty goldfish went into the statue of the Reiki Buddha in her tank and passed. Abruptly. The next morning she was floating lifeless around at the bottom. ACK! What a reflection. I was strangely removed from any feeling about her death. Brandon said some words of passage, I said mine silently and we let Marriah go.
There was an incredible resistance in me to this death/rebirth thing. I felt as if I was in a chrysalis, or caul, and that I could not break through. I snapped at people, anger issues were eclipsing my day-to-day, I had some pretty negative thoughts and all the while I felt removed from it. I felt that it was me, but not me. Two separate beings. One saying hello, one saying goodbye.
I have a dream.
I am asked to go with a friend to a "crystal shop" but I tell them that I don't want to go because I thought it was this 'Guru place' I had heard about and I really didn't agree with the ideology. Friend says, 'no it's changed. I think it is more what you are looking for.'
We walk into an old house-turned-crystal center and there are these gigantic crystal and stone pieces that have been unearthed, cleaned up and placed around the room. My friend points me to a tall brown agate-like piece, deftly polished, and she says, "Listen. It is a Grandfather inside." I speak to the stone.
At this point I see my friend/mother Maria in the corner and she is watching me as I walk around the perimeter of the room. She is not speaking but sitting, aware.
I turn and find a crevasse in the center. A huge dark maw of an opening in the floor, lined with sandstone, glitters of gold and other minerals riddling the walls that descend into utter darkness. This is where the stones have been unearthed, this is the source of these beautiful formations.
I crawl into the opening and begin to scale into the darkness, looking for more of these fantastic earthy treasures. The walls begin to fall away. As I grab and reach for a better hand hold, rethinking purchase on the walls the crumble and fall into darkness.
I hear no crash. It is as if the stones are falling into oblivion.
It is then that I try to climb out but I realize that my perch has become quite unstable. A rock falls away at the top to reveal a large spider. I think to myself, "spider? Really? this is a fear symbol?" In the dream I see the ridiculousness of the totem. I think, "I am the weaver" and I begin to grab onto something more stable, or want for something more secure as the walls continue to break away beneath my hands.
It seems I will fall into the blackness. Then...
Maria stops watching and walks over to the edge. She says, "I think you need a hand kid." and she pulls me up out of the pit by my shoulders. I am no longer in the crevasse, I am on stable ground again.
For me, this type of quest is a mystical experience of discovery. I do not expect, I embrace. I move forward as best I can, meditate, sketch and compare what I experience to what I know and relate what I can when I do not, yet I still feel (at this point) that I am not getting the message. What is this death?
Nancy points out, again.
"~ Maybe there are aspects that don't need to heal, and the 'death' is putting them to rest without deeper understanding? Maybe that's why the universal "?" card follows the Death card..."
And you know what... I see it. I get it.
Death is final in the sense that it has happened and the rest is holding on, grabbing for purchase that is not there, that crumbles away beneath me. Sitting in that (dreamed) crevasse and trying to find purchase is holding onto the form that has fallen away.
The psychological part of me that passed has passed and so there is no hand hold, no grasp that could be made to secure myself. It -that "once was me" that walked and talked and did in a certain way, has entered the earth and the mysteries.
With that in mind, I knew that I had to move forward. I then turned the card on my altar, the next step on the Tarot Journey, and I receive (what I call) the Universal Card, what Pamela Eakins has named, The Mystery Card.
The River of Life moves strangely. It is always moving. Yet it never goes anywhere. Where did it come from? Where did it go? It moves like an infinite snake across the infinite landscape of Time and Space. I fling out my net, and yet, I catch nothing. The River dissolves in a Sea where neither Time or Space exist. I see then, that, through all the shifting change, I remain at Heart, my Self, the Full Emptiness of the One life, where You, Dear One, and I, are Forever Entwined in Infinite Love.
This card, to me, embodies the creative tool. A pen. A brush. A sculpting hand. It asks, What will I create? What will I do? It says to me, What can be?
In the days that followed I backed away from the drama-of-death thing. I chided myself thinking that I of course would over-process something that I should have recognized as a time to let go.
When I let go. When I allowed my Universal Mind to bring me out of that dreamed gaping chasm into an earthy unknown, and focused on what could be, I found a deep curiosity in imagining the future as it could be.
This particular Tarot Journey is about many things but intently about taking what I know and do and making something of it. Stepping out with my creative and magickal self and forging a new way of being, bringing myself into the groove of doing with my authentic self, the journey is about becoming for the community in which I live.
The passage through this point of uncertainty is a release of something... what it is, does not matter because it is so old and outmoded, so lived to the fullest, the best that I can do is to honor its passage by letting it go. Holding on is an impossibility.
When I got that, when I realized this gift of insight, something broke free within me. My friend Joji, who I shared my dream with at the office said, "You know what you do when you get to that point in a dream, when you are afraid to let go and fall? You let go!".
Sometimes Death is just letting go.
Scott K Smith