I’ve been thinking about death a lot lately. No, not THAT death - tarot death. Old number 13 himself - cue dramatic music - the Death Card! I had a little crisis when I happened to put my Hanson Roberts tarot deck into order and found (oh horror of horrors) a missing card. Missing a card in a tarot deck can feel like a fate worse than death to a true tarotista. A 77-card tarot deck is not a tarot deck, it’s an oracle. It goes on “The Island of Misfit Toys” with the Charlie-In-The-Box and the cowboy who rides an ostrich.
Anyway, I eventually began to pine for having a whole version, so I turned to the “Lost and Found Singles Bar” thread (http://www.tarotforum.net/showthread.php?t=51861) in the Aeclectic tarot forum and lo and behold, one of my online friends not only had a spare death, she was willing to ship it to me!
So the spare death arrived last week and I happily shuffled it into the deck. The cards are all of the same vintage; you can’t tell from the back - all is good! But I started to think about why that card was missing from my deck. Why death, the card of transformation? Haven’t I been surfing the Big Wave of Super Change for several years now? Didn’t I get dumped out on my tookus and haven’t I picked myself up and re-invented myself? Haven’t I been making lemonade out of the pile of lemons I found on my front doorstep?
Well, yes and no.
A tarot reading from the amazing Christiana Gaudet (who happens to read with the Hanson Roberts - what a coinky-dink!) showed me a few things about my approach to life that would indicate that I’m still a little rattled and perhaps not quite as ready to face change with a capitol “C” as I thought. An eight of swords outcome reveals that I’m still a bit paralyzed by my own fears and not ready to act, operating out of fear that all of the choices will be hard ones. The rest of the reading showed that I do have some work to do and though I must ‘keep on keepin’ on’ as the cool folk say, the Magician in my spread tells me I’ve got everything I need to work with.
So here’s my real question - do I have the power to transform myself? I pull out the H-R death and look at it to see if there is an answer there. Hmmm - pretty standard fare in the Rider-Waite-Smith tradition on the top of the card. Theres’s the Dark Knight himself with his banner of hope and rebirth held aloft. What gets my attention are the forms of three people lying on the bottom of the card, a king, a child, and a woman who all appear to be asleep or dead. I flash on a parable from Deepak Chopra’s book, “Life After Death. To illustrate the human perception of death he tells the tale of a woman, Savitri, and the enemy she must defeat - Yama, the lord of death. Yama shows up in her front yard one day, waiting to take away her husband the moment he returns from his work as a woodcutter. Savtri and Lord Yama spend a long day together as the immortal patiently teaches her about the true nature of death; how it is really just a transition from one stage of existence to another. In one point of the story they are in the woods and they encounter a series of young children starting first with a young baby who toddles past, then a very young girl, and so on, until they finally see a girl that Savtri recognizes as herself.
Lord Yama tells her that these are ghosts of her past selves. As every second ticks by, we produce a new ghost of a self that no longer exists. So why be afraid? Well, one message in death is that things end. Yes, there may be a marvelous transformation, but there are also things that will never be the same. In The Tarot Directory by Annie Lionnet she tells us that one meaning for the death card is that “Psychological patterns that no longer serve us need to be relinquished.”
Me, I have a hard time time letting go. People, places, things...as a tarot reader myself, I may see the logic in letting go of the old in order to accept the new but have a tough time accepting it on a emotional level. Except when I see it laid it in a tarot spread. So what is the solution to my eight-of-swords dilemma? That card indicates that much of my anxiety is of my own making. I thought my way into this dilemma; I can think my way out!
Oh, and one more interesting thing. This morning as I was going through my deck to review Christiana’s spread, I ran across the death card. As I kept thumbing through the deck, again I ran across the death card. Now I have two death cards in my Hanson Roberts deck! What a powerful message - perhaps, just maybe, if I were not only to accept change, but also to embrace it...
What can I say? Shift happens!