Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life…Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
~ Steve Jobs
As I gaze upon our lush North Carolina woods, filled with the splendor of Springtime, this week’s card seems like a surprise. This week, Death comes calling.
Yes, there is a New Moon this week, and with it, a solar eclipse. Yes, we are in the middle of a three-eclipse window, augmented by also being in the midst of the third, potentially explosive Uranus-Pluto square, coming up May 20-21.
So maybe, on second thought, the arrival of the Death card might not really be such a shock.
In the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, we have probably the most recognized image in all of Tarot. The skeleton is carrying the flag of the Black Death (also interpreted as the White Rose of the Golden Dawn, or as the symbol of the Rosicrucians).
The king is struck down. The priest faces death, praying for mercy; the young maiden is partially turned away; and the child, completely innocent, faces the grim rider, offering a simple bouquet of flowers.
Death comes to us all; how we face it says everything about who we are, what our life has been about.
As the years of my practice go on, I find myself less inclined to quickly call Death “change” or “rebirth” as I once, unfailingly, would.
No, I don’t want to frighten anyone, or create a self-fulfilling prophecy. And yes, I still reassure my clients that that it doesn’t necessarily mean physical dying, especially if I am using a deck that calls the thirteenth Major Arcana by some other name, like “Transformation.”
Also, the interpretation of this card in a full reading, of course, would be different, because the other cards around it will give much more context and clarity than our weekly single-card draw.
But it is my observation that quite often, Death means some kind of death. Death is, after all, the ultimate fact of life. And, as a Witch and a Pagan, I don’t sugar coat its meaning; nor distort the fact that it is a natural, vital part of Mother Earth’s wisdom.
Something is going, and going for good.
Yet, it is hard to think about Death in this time when everywhere, life is bursting at the seams.
With skies filled with birdsong and young graduates lining up in auditoriums and stadiums across the country, permanent, irrevocable change is not what we want to think about.
Yet change is certainly needed, and it surely happens, whether we like it or not. With this card, there is big change waiting in the wings.
Death is our truth-teller and adviser; it is the shadow that makes clear our perspective. Whether it applies to us on a personal, private basis, or whether we are considering our global systems of governments, economies, and the environment, Death is the messenger that urges us to get real.
In this “eclipse window,” which we are in the midst of, I would suggest that we are seeing another important ending in this bigger, ongoing ending of the era.
With this week’s New Moon, we will plant the magical seeds of our desires. But first, we must clear the space for them.
What needs to be pruned off, wiped clean, emptied, released, to make room for new growth? What brilliant edges are revealed by the eclipse’s shadow?
The fruits of Spring do not last. Let us savor and bless the sweetness that still is, and let go when it is time. There is no reason not to follow our hearts.