Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
~ from Ring Out, Wild Bells, by Lord Alfred Tennyson
This week brings the turning of the year and the impact of the first of two January Super Moons, this first one Wednesday, in Capricorn. In the wake of last week’s Empress, we are given a card of massive import and power, Death.
The image of Death from the Rider-Waite-Smith deck is probably the most recognized card 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 the year 2013, as it comes to us all. How we face it says everything about who we are, and the ultimate meaning of things.
As the years of my practice go on, I find myself less inclined to quickly call Death “change” or “transformation” as I once, unfailingly, would.
Naturally, the interpretation of this card in a reading will be affected by the other cards around it, giving it more context and clarity, unlike our weekly single-card draw.
But it is my observation that Death always points to a pivotal ending, sometimes physical, sometimes figurative.
Astrologer Paul Saunders explains the coming week’s astrological influences:
A new Moon in Capricorn is normally one where you you will set your stall out to start making slow steady progress, you lay the foundations brick by brick, slowly but surely, patiently, ambitiously, taking your time.
But this time around, this new Moon is conjoined to Pluto, the planet of transformation and change. Yes change – this is a powerhouse conjunction fueled by a desire for sweeping away the deadwood and rejuvenating what is left.
So, what is being changed here? The sign Capricorn gives the key to all this, the structure in our lives. The New Moon is the catalyst for this change, Capricorn shows where it will happen, Mercury sends out the message that change is coming and Pluto brings in wrecking crew to enforce and direct it.
Wherever you find the sign Capricorn in your chart, this is where all this will start to take place.
Now Pluto may be the conductor of the orchestra, but there are some other serious musicians accompanying the lord of darkness in this melody.
By this I mean the other planets dotted around the heavens, including three connected to the new Moon, Pluto and Mercury through the rest of the cardinal t-square that is formed on this day.
Clearing the deadwood indeed.
I see Death in the Tarot as a command to pull the weeds. In that act, we must choose what we wish to flourish and what we consider to be life-draining. Death demands impeccable honesty.
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.
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 tells us to get real.
Knowing that each life is sacred, and every moment is precious can do wonders to help us focus our attention and priorities.
What, in our lives, is dying now? 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 ring in the new?
This week, say goodbye. The year that was, is dying in the night.
Ring out wild bells, to the wild sky.
Let us welcome the New Year.