Saturday, May 18, 2013

Carpe Diem #199, The Death (XIII) Tarot

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Today I have drawn The Death (XIII) from the RW-Tarot-deck. I first thought 'shall I avoid this card?', but than ... I got a 'revelation' ... death belongs to life, so I cannot avoid this card. This card is crucial in the Tarot and for sure after The Hanged Man (XII). What started in The Hanged Man, the death of Ego, will be followed in The Death. I know that there are people who are scared of death, and I can understand that very well. In my work as an oncology-nurse I know what it is to be confronted with death. In my life I was already several times confronted with death. At least one confrontation with death was sad and a heavy burden. That occured 18 yrs ago in 1995. In that year my older brother died of lungcancer. It was than that I realized myself. 'Death is not the end', because life went on. At the moment that my brother died, a woman gave birth to a son. I than thought 'maybe in that little boy my brother will live, resurrected, reincarnated'.

cherry blossoms fall
giving room for the leaves
and cherries

life goes on
cherry blossom petals falling -
cherries in autumn

Let us take a look at this card The Death (XIII).

The Death card depicts a skeleton riding a horse. Surrounding it are dead and dying people from all classes, including kings, bishops and commoners. The skeleton carries a black standard emblazoned with a white flower. Some decks depict the Crashing Towers from The Moon with The Sun rising behind them in the background.
In the background, where the sun is rising, we see the shadow of New Jerusalem, God’s Heavenly Town or in some translations, God’s House with many rooms.
This card doesn’t  represents a physical death,  it implies an end and therefore implies an increased sense of self-awareness. This can also mean ... finally found Enlightenment and self-consciousness.

part of my being is dying
finally found myself

The Death (XIII) follows The Hanged Man (XII), not on purpose, but chosen to be there, because (as we saw in The Hanged Man) death is a new beginning. We lose our Ego to become a whole new person. In many religions and spiritual philosophies it’s said that there is a new life after death, I personally think we will reincarnate after our death. Reincarnation isn’t an accepted idea in Christianity, however we say “we will be resurrected on the day when Jesus will return to Earth”.
The Death (XIII) is a doorway to deeper insight and self-development. After death we all will be better people. Not the physical death, but the death of Ego will transform us into better souls and better people.

Source: Tree of Life

What is said about The Death (XIII) if we look at the ancient and mystical wisdom of the Kabbalah? Let us look closer to the Tree of Life (the Kabbalistic glyph).
It wasn’t easy to find the correct words for this connection with the Kabbalah, but on the Tree of Life, The Death (XIII) is the Path between Tifereth (the 6th sephira, Beauty, the Place of Christ Consciousness) and  Netzach (the 7th sephira, Eternity) and that says: ‘in death there is beauty, death leads to eternal life’. There is nothing beautiful on death, but as we embrace death as a part of our life, than we will see and understand that death is beautiful, because it will bring us eternal life. That’s of course right for physical death, but it also is right for the death of Ego, as we saw in The Hanged Man (XII). With The Hanged Man we started to walk on the path between beauty and eternity and we will arrive there were The Death is awaiting us.

And Christianity? What is said about this Tarot card The Death (XIII) in Christianity? Let us look at that right now and here and take a Christian look at this Tarot-card.

There is no death.  There is only resurrection.  Live your  life of fulfillment, taking advantage of every opportunity of every moment of every day.  When the miracle of resurrection has passed on, then you are at peace to recognize that things have simply returned to their natural state. 
That is why this card is in the Tarot deck.  It is meant to be embraced.  It is meant to be a gateway to a new birth.  If we can embrace death, then our lives are transformed.  That is the physical realm.  This is also a card of immense spiritual power.  The crucifixion of ego, that we saw in the Hanged Man, can and will become reality.  As that ego dies, we then live in a glorious resurrection.  As we continue to look at the card, we see several important elements.
Death is a secret, death is a darkness which we do not wish to look at nor embrace.  So if we are not going to supplicate death and we're not going to ignore death, what response do we have?  The response of the little child.  Unless we have faith like a little child, we will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven and recognize all truth.  The little child does not seek to turn death into a friend.  The little child does not seek to ask death to go away.  The little child does not turn her eyes and pretend that death is not there.  The little child opens her eyes, sees death in the face, recognizes death as what it is, and has a simple straight forward natural acceptance of this reality. Here we can see what is said in the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 19 verse 14:

Source: Matthew 19:14

Jesus said: "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these".

Back to the card The Death (XIII) Notice that in the background there is a ship sailing on the river.  Life goes on.  For every death, there is a rebirth. This is the eternal cycle of God's plan.
As the final element, look at the right hand side of the card, just above the head of the Pope.  Notice, that we have two towers (some sources say that these are a prophecy, hidden in the Tarot-card The Death, of 9/11), and we have the Sun beginning to rise.  Death is a stripping away of the veils--physical, emotional, mental and spiritual veils.  And as we strip away veils, we can see more clearly into the heart of truth.  That heart of truth is the light.  God is the light.  That is the Sun, and that sun will become our destiny in the next cards.
That halo of light which surrounds the head of the Hanged Man is nothing less than the presence of infinite God himself, and we must now, as we follow with these cards, take a journey, a long journey up and over the hills, until finally we will come to these two towers again.  We will come to the Sun again.  Death is the beginning of the pathway to resurrection, not instantaneous, not immediate, not overnight.  Death is rather just the beginning. As we follow this path we finally will enter the New Jerusalem as is forseen in:

Revelations Chapter 21: 1-4

1 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Source: New Jerusalem as fortold in Revelations 21: 1-4

leaving this world
seeking sanctuary in God's House -
the New Jerusalem

The disciples were engaged upon the start of the spiritual pathway when they began to understand the resurrection of Jesus.  You must start there to understand the death and resurrection of Jesus.  But as we have said before, Jesus’ death and resurrection are only the beginning, because they are an instruction booklet for you and your personal death and resurrection.  That is the power that enables you to embrace death, look it squarely in the face with the faith of a little child, and rise beyond the human limitations to a glorious and infinite resurrection.

And so this episode on The Death (XIII) ends in rejoicing and maybe embracing death as part of our life. I hope you enjoyed the read and I hope that you don't think of it as a sermon, because that wasn't my intention.
This prompt will stay on 'til May 20th 11.59 AM (CET) and I will draw our new card, Temperance (XIV), later on today around 10.00 PM (CET).



  1. Of course you have to include the death.. it's such an important part of life.

  2. Death for mortals is never something we look forward to though the promise of a New World is a comfort. Nature doesn't worry so then we should forge ahead. I'm sure as an oncology nurse you have seen so much and I as a fellow nurse appreciate the love and care you give to patients and families
    I bet poetry helps you sort the days out

  3. Incredible background Kristjaan. The cherry blossom haiku were most fitting as well.

  4. i really liked your haiku and the positive view of death. i know how it feels, i could empathize, in the pediatric icu i was also surrounded by so much death, sometimes three in my shift, and kids too :( all didn't stand a chance from the state that they were in when admitted. you try to get used to it but it's always different when it happens to our loved ones. 'Death is not the end' i like that thought as well :)

    1. Yes, I worked as a theatre porter in the operations theatre a while, and as a medic in army. I think your words were fitting kz. Nice new background Kristjaan by the way!

  5. Good post. Having another go at linking here. If you remember I was never able to achieve it:)

  6. Death is not the end. Love your post.

  7. Lovely haiku Kristjaan, your spirituality shines through my friend :)

  8. This was very ideas, new thoughts.
    Thank you

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