Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
Only a month after its last appearance, and visiting as it did for last month’s Full Moon, the Death card comes to call. And the march of the Majors continues.
The image of Death from the Rider-Waite-Smith deck is probably the most recognized card in all of Tarot.
The armored 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.
In the background, a boat sails upon a river, perhaps reminding us of the River Styx, upon which it ferries the dead to the Underworld.
There is either a sunrise or sunset (depending on your point of view about death), occurring between two guardian towers that are nearly identical to the ones that appear in The Moon.
This week, we will hear the farewell address from President Barack Obama, whose time as the leader of America is now concluding. Many of us are extremely uneasy about what the next chapter will be like for the United States, and the world. What is ending? What waits in the wings?
This week also sees the annual dance between the Capricorn Sun and the Full Cancer Moon. The sign of Cancer rules the Moon, so this full lunation is always a powerful one. As Annie Heese at Cafe Astrology notes,
The Cancer-Capricorn polarity deals with the balance between the private life, domesticity, the need for a home base, and nurturance (represented by Cancer) versus the public life, career, reputation, and accountability (represented by Capricorn)…
This Full Moon is about balancing our commitment to our career and families. Something has been building inside of us, and now is the time when the energy of the cosmos fairly demands that we let it out. Over the next two weeks, we will discover what this means for us. For now, we can’t sit on our feelings. We need to express them.
The Moon turns an ongoing T-square involving Jupiter, Pluto, and Uranus into a Grand Square, and Mars supports the lunation. Something is exposed or illuminated, prompting us to get in touch with those things in our personal lives that we may have been neglecting or putting off. With so much attention to our relationships, careers, and personal plans, a push for considering our emotional needs occurs now.
Whether this is about losses large or small, it’s time to attend to things we’ve possibly been procrastinating about.
I must also note with sorrow that my current spiritual community has announced it must immediately find a new location. We are having to dismantle our current sacred space, which we’ve been renting for nearly 20 years, by Jan. 30. (Please note, this decision has nothing to do with our spirituality or practice, it is because the land is in the right of way for what will be a new light rail express that was approved in the November election).
Truly, for hundreds of our members, this is a Death in many forms, and what will be reborn from it remains to be seen.
But all things must pass, and irrevocable loss comes to us all, from small to profound. Such events teach us much about who we are, and the ultimate meaning of things.
To Be or Not To Be
Coping with the great, vast unknown that lies before each and every one of us is the ultimate challenge, isn’t it?
This is where the buck stops, if we have not drawn that line anywhere else in our lives (I wish our “leaders” were paying better attention).
It is here that our masks and pretenses are stripped away, for good or for ill. We are who we have made ourselves, year after year, thought by thought, deed by deed. And in the face of our mortality, what have we got?
I see Death in the Tarot as a directive that it’s time for us to clear the dead wood and pull the weeds. In that act, we must choose what we wish to see flourish and what we consider to be life-draining. Death demands impeccable honesty. And if we shun this responsibility, we sow the seeds of The Tower.
Yes, Death promises new growth, but only if we do the hard pruning, letting go permanently of what has passed its prime or no longer thrives. Without this, all life would be stunted and suffer.
Death is, after all, the ultimate, unalterable fact of life.
For us to survive, death comes to plants and animals (for non-vegetarians) every single day so we can eat. Death is interwoven in the cycles of life and the seasons.
Rather being a terrifying, twisted taboo, as it has become in our culture, Death can be our faithful teacher, or our ‘advisor,’ as the sorcerer Don Juan advised Carlos Castaneda. Throughout our lives, it is the unflinching truth-teller, and the Dark Mother who cradles us at our ending.
Clearing and Liberating
This week, we are told again to pause to consider what it is time to release forever. What chapter is closing?
Whether this 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 tough-love messenger that tells us time’s up — get real.
Being reminded that every moment is precious can do wonders to help us focus our attention and priorities.
How might the reality of our own eventual death, or those we love, or the endings of matters that seem so important to us, help us to make wise choices about today?
What preparations do you need to make? Many families have suffered and even imploded because a loved one failed to make clear their wishes in the case of their death.
If you could visit your descendants in the future (whether you actually have children or not), what would you say to them about the life you’re living now? What legacy will you leave to your beloveds and those who come after you? What stories do you want remembered?
What, in our lives, is coming to an end? In what ways is Death our liberator or teacher? With eyes and hearts wide open, what is it time to release forever, so that, unencumbered, we may move forward into a new era?
This week, say goodbye. What once was, is now gone.
Although ice and cold may have rendered our gardens and woods silent and bare, time surely will turn, and rebirth shall come.
So what will you do with your one wild and precious life?