Death- ATU/Key 13, is known as the Path of Nun on the Qabalistic Tree of Life. Nun, a Hebrew letter, means Fish (illustrated on the Thoth card) and is also the Hebrew simple letter for Movement, as represented as the running skeleton on the Thoth Card .
Astrological reference is to the sign of Scorpio which is ruled by Mars. The Hebrew letter Nun-meaning Fish, is a symbol of life traveling through the waters (Divine Feminine) as seen on the card. The motion, to swim or for any impulse, is supplied by the Fiery force of Mars. However, the Fish is also sacred to Mercury (Mars) because of its silvery shining self and it's cold bloodlessness. The Fish is also a symbol for the "first matter", the ancient god Dagon, Oannes and the Christ: the Greek work Ixthus-means-Fish and was used as a notariqon , the initials meaning "Jesus Christ Son of God, Savior."
The Alchemical process of putrefaction is explain in this card. To Alchemist, the putrefaction process is a series of chemical changes which develops the final form of life from the original latent seed in the Orphic egg.
The 24th Path of Nun runs from Netzach (Victory) to Tiphareth (Beauty) on the Tree of Life, and is one of the 3 aforementioned paths that leads from the Personality to the Higher Self. The initiate may experience the warm rush of the Higher Self on any one of these 3 Paths, Art (The Path of Samekh), The Devil (The Path of Ayin), and Death, the Path of Nun; but the subtle lessons of all 3 must be mastered. The figures of the Art card, the Devil card and the Death card are all different aspects of the same thing; The Higher Self, which is a collective of many "selves"/personalities and is called our Soul.
On the Path of Nun, one is literally launching the consciousness into the Dark Unconscious of Quantum-Universal Origins and/or the Universal Collective Unconscious,i.e., The Dark Sea of Binah. This takes courage and determination, for the consciousness appears to be extinguished in the Vast Dark Sea of the Universal Collective Unconscious. I liken the personal self-consciousness to an Artificial Intelligence, and the Unconscious as the Real Intelligence. This artifice aids me in trusting the dissolution of my consciousness, as a transition towards re-birthing, where it is purified of illusion and the deception of being a material being. In fact, the word meaning of the Path of Nun, Fish, reveals the whole arcane doctrine of the Qabalah, as it is the symbol for the "first matter" and/or "thought", that moves within the Infinite Ocean of the Universal Collective Unconscious. Interestingly, since Nun is a verb, it means to "sprout or grow", implying the Skeleton is a perpetual seed.
The perspicacious student will note that the Tree of Life has a Path for Death, that of Nun, but seems not to have a specific Path for Birth: However, The Devil, Path of Ayin, "enchains" our personality in matter as it leaves the Higher Self/Soul on its ever more condensed journey down the Tree of Life. Therefore, the Devil-ATU 15 is seen as a card of Birth. Plus, there is the fact that both Death and Birth are essentially the same transition. As one is born in visible light and/or "outer World", their "I" sight dies to the invisible or "inner world", just as the personality transitions from the outer world back into the inner world at physical death. Hence, the One Energy Transforms itself by the process of destruction and the reestablishing of energy phases. From one phase to another is evolution.
The Personality constructed consciousness and/or self-consciousness, is indeed seemingly extinguished and/or dissolved in the limitless Universal Collective Unconscious causing a period of "forgetful sleep" before the Personality exits the Soul again and produces another operative artifice known as self-consciousness that is designed to operate another material form. The exception to this recycling process, is when the consciousness accompanies the personality back to the Higher Self, without needing physical death to do so. A kind of lucid dream between bodies. This is done when the consciousness has become discriminatory and/or discerning, and knows the tricks of Matter, i.e. the illusions of senses, that the personality experiences on the physical plane (The Devil card). These illusions or delusions come from the perspective of separateness and survival thinking and the other boundaries of the physical form. Survival thinking is based on fear of death. Thus, the fear of Death, must be conquered by the self-consciousness "that won't experience the death sleep". That is to say, the mercurial consciousness that knowing transfers from body to body, by becoming a "Mercury", messenger of the physical world to the Soul and visa versa. In other words, the personality must become that of a Magus/Mercury whose purpose in life is not to avoid death, but to fulfill the Primal Will of Kether (Eheieh-"I will be".) by being both the "Above and the Below" as one Personal function . This is known as the Horus and/or Adam Khadmon manifestation; both being the image of the "Heavenly Human".
The Great Work, is Life itself, "As above so below"; as a Wholeness where the avatar of our soul, the” alive" persona, are no-longer perceiving themselves as a divisionism of separates all trying to prove themselves to a Creator that by the very process of creation, had already Approve them into being!
Those who are seeking approval, a survival mechanism of the social animal, are what I call "fish in the Ocean, looking for water." and/ or "Wanna-Be's" who forgot that they already Are Being.
The Beauty of Tiphareth, the Psyche/Soul or Higher Self, is that once you return to this aspect of personality, you return to your body knowing you, as a personality, are completely accepted and therefore, do not fear rejection in the least (a mask worn over fear of death). In other words, you "Know Thyself". Life/ Death, is the same as Time/Space, inseparable and simultaneous. For there is no beginning without end and no end without beginning. All is a measurement of Self; of I AM. Manifestation is Information activated as In-form-action.
The Tarot Card- Death-ATU 13, is called the many texts of the Mysteries, "The Child of the Great Transformers" and also the "Lord of the Gates of Death"; Implying that Nun is not the Great Transformers themselves, he is their Child. Thus, Nun is not Death itself, rather Nun is the keeper of the Gateway into Transformation. Roughly, this states that the Psyche/Soul, is the Gatekeeper of Transformation, which is not too difficult to "wrap your head around", if you understand that how you "perceive yourself” transforms your reality. Therefore, this card is more about a "spiritual/inner transformation", rather than an actual physical death. We have forgotten our "most beloved" the Soul, but it has not forgotten us, for we still breathe. What we have also forgotten, is that the body of flesh, is the Soul's most beloved.
After Traveling One of the 3 Paths of the "Dark Night of the Soul",(Art, the Devil and Death) where your consciousness is torn down, as decided by the Feminine aspect of the Divine Creative, and relieved of all that is not worthy of you. You are then sent back down the Tree into your Malkuth-body transformation as an Active -Knowing Psyche/Soul rather than a reactive persona made by indoctrination. This personal death of perspectives changes our "I" sight, from man-made reality to the Real perspectives of the Great Work; To become an Aware-Sensual-Soul that is intimate with creation, rather than a socially made personality that is frightened of life (fear of death). This transition is only possible by returning to the Higher Self....Your brain can't do the job as it is an artificial sense of self who is programed by outside events and its reaction to environment and peers!
To reiterate, Nun. is the Hebrew word that means Fish, which is the symbol for the First Matter. There is also an alchemical symbol of this Path as putrefaction, which is the decaying black mass in the crucible that eventually transforms into purity and is considered a transformative process of turning death into new life.
The Thoth Tarot-Key 13- card symbolizes this trans -formative process as a scythe, a harvesting tool that is also a symbol for Time. Time is under the control of Saturn-Binah, the giver and destroyer of Life. This process is Illustrated in this card as the sweeping scythe, harvesting souls, and the trans formative bubbles of new life in its wake, all of which, support this analogy of life giving and life destroying.
The skeleton is the framework that holds the organs and can be seen as a seed of the body as the minerals that are attributed to bone construction are the "seeds" of organic forms.
The astrological sign attributed to Death-ATU 13, is Scorpio, a transformative sign of 3 symbolic images of transformation: the Scorpion, the Serpent and the Eagle (all shown on this card). Thus, we have the transformation from a dangerous earth-crawling creature, to a serpent which symbolizes the sexual energy, weaving its way upward to become an Eagle (behind and above the Thoth figures head) that sours above all heads. All of which are represented in the Thoth Tarot Card as movement. Movement being seen as change/transformation thru in-form-action, which is the skeletal pattern of the Universe. For it is only by constant change can entropy be overcome.
The term "Dark night of the Soul" a phrase coined by St. Francis of the Cross, refers to the darkness of unknowing, where the psyche is striped of the desire nature of the personality and all of its self-perceptions. This leaves a dreadful emptiness, almost a complete disinterest in everything. Personally, upon experiencing these 3 Paths of the Dark Night; The Devil, Art and Death (not necessarily in that order), I was left only a thought of despair repeating over and over again, abolishing any other desire or thought. It was," I can't be YOU, you must be me." The Higher Self-responded to that by sending my "skeletal awareness" directly to the Dark Sea (Abysmal Womb) of the Great Mother Binah, who then broke down and reassembled the Personality into that of the original Divine Child, and I awoke as the "Will to Be" and/or the in-form-action of the Divine I AM.
This inner journey is a very hard journey to explain, for it is wordless and it requires one not to be concerned with living or dying. Hence, one does not fight, or try to swim out of this ocean of darkness. Rather, one becomes a mechanical motion, pushing ahead and/or descending with great faith, as Life's processes fade away and have no value. When all is "lost" one still mechanically crawls towards the Higher Self by sinking into the dark depths. Moving forward in a total mental darkness, inch by inch, the Soul (Psyche) begins the process of "putrefaction", believing, but not always so sure, that there will be light that will eventually appear and lead the way. It was a Red dot of light that appeared to me out of indescribable darkness. The Great Red Binah, known as the purifying Force of resurrection, and/or "the Scarlet Woman", bathed me and with caresses, peeled the "dead" identities from my Psyche, an act of Divine Love (indescribable pain and ecstasy) and sent me back down the Tree into Tiphareth and the Fiery Light of the Higher Self. Once a Divine Child always a Divine Child....somehow we've forgotten that, and therefore, disinherited ourselves as our personality is trained to become property of rulers and their propaganda of words.
As stated:The term "Dark Night of the Soul" was first coined by St. John of the Cross where he said:"...although this happy night brings darkness to the spirit, it does so only to give it light in everything; and that, although it humbles it and makes it miserable, it does so only to exalt it and to raise it up; although it impoverishes it and empties it of all natural affection and attachment, it does so only that it may enable it to stretch forward, divinely, and thus to have fruition and experience all things, both above and below...". Hence, upon conquering the Path of Nun, the Soul is reconstructed as the Sun/Son of the Higher Self, and the emptied brain is filled with the Primary Imagination...The will to form and the Understanding of the Great "Womb with a view". Mother Water welcomes her children. the Fire Father doesn't care for it only burns for her.
Mars/Aries rules Scorpio; Scorpio rules the sex organs. Therefore, this Death Card, represents a Sexual energy, a reproductive energy which is consciously directed in a physical exercise such as that of Tantra, or that of Crowley’s Middle Pillar, an activity best represented by Crowley's Death Card. The initiate is now following the "Path of the Flaming Sword" (see Robert Wang's-THE QABALISTIC TAROT), which is both destructive and constructive and not for the weak of character or for those who fear death, as shown by trying to dominate or control others or how they think about "Others" as "good or bad". Because it was an ancient practice to blame death on some god-like force, many images of Death are personified as gods, and/or the Demiurge. Samael is such a personification in the Western world.
In the Western World, the Angel of Death was known as Samael*
From Wikipedia- the free encyclopedia
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*Samael (Hebrew: סַמָּאֵל, "Venom of God" or "Poison of God," or "Blindness of God" Sammael or Samil) is an important archangel in Talmudic and post-Talmudic lore, a figure who is an accuser, seducer, and destroyer, and has been regarded as both good and evil. Rabbinical writings describe Samael as the guardian angel of Esau (and the Roman empire) and a patron of Edom.
He is considered in Talmudic texts to be a member of the heavenly host (with often grim and destructive duties). One of Samael's greatest roles in Jewish lore is that of the main archangel of death. He remains one of God's servants even though he condones the sins of man. As an angel, Samael resides in the seventh heaven, although he is declared to be the chief angel of the fifth heaven, the reason for this being the presence of the throne of glory in the seventh heaven.
In Judaism, Samael is said to be the angel of death, and sometimes the name of Satan is accorded to him. While Satan describes his function as an accuser, Samael is considered to be his proper name. While Michael defends Israel's actions, Samael tempts people to sin. He is also depicted as the angel of death and one of the seven archangels, the ruler over the Fifth Heaven and commander of two million angels such as the chief of other Satans. Yalkut Shimoni (I, 110) presents Samael as Esau's guardian angel.
According to The Ascension of Moses Samael is also mentioned as being in 7th Heaven:
In the last heaven Moses saw two angels, each five hundred parasangs in height, forged out of chains of black fire and red fire, the angels Af, "Anger," and Hemah, "Wrath," whom God created at the beginning of the world, to execute His will. Moses was disquieted when he looked upon them, but Metatron embraced him, and said, "Moses, Moses, thou favorite of God, fear not, and be not terrified," and Moses became calm. There was another angel in the seventh heaven, different in appearance from all the others, and of frightful mien. His height was so great, it would have taken five hundred years to cover a distance equal to it, and from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet he was studded with glaring eyes. "This one," said Metatron, addressing Moses, "is Samael, who takes the soul away from man." "Whither goes he now?" asked Moses, and Metatron replied, "To fetch the soul of Job the pious." Thereupon Moses prayed to God in these words, "O may it be Thy will, my God and the God of my fathers, not to let me fall into the hands of this angel."
In The Holy Kabbalah (Arthur Edward Waite, 255), Samael is described as the "severity of God", and is listed as fifth of the archangels of the world of Briah. Samael then became the consort of Adam's first wife, Lilith. Lilith is a demon created alongside Adam, originally created for the role Eve would fill. Samael created with her a host of demon children, including a son, the "Sword of Samael" (or Asmodai).
In several interpretations of the Ascension of Isaiah, Samael is often identified as Malkira (Heb.: מלך רע melek ra - lit. "king of evil", "king of the wicked"; or מלאך רע malach ra - "messenger of evil", "angel of iniquity") or Belkira (prob. בעל קיר baal qir - "lord of the wall") or Bechira (בחיר רע bachir ra, - "the elect of evil", "chosen by evil"), which are all epithets of the false prophet sent by Belial to accuse Isaiah of treason. Notably, the passage also identifies him as Satan.
In Pirke De-Rabbi Eliezer, a Midrash work, dated to the period during the spread of Islam, Samael appears as the serpent in Genesis and Satan. Probably influenced by the Quran, due to its parallels to the Islamic equivalent of Satan; Samael, consisting of fire, disapproved the creation of Adam made from dust, afterwards descended from heaven to seduce Adam and Eve to eat from the forbidden fruit. Furthermore, probably adopted from Apocryphon of John, Cain was born from Eve by intercourse with Samael.
In Christian demonology Samael is sometimes regarded as a powerful demon.
It should be noted, however, that this link is a dubious one and likely arises from a case of mistaken identity equating Samael with the demon Azazel who is himself in Zoharistic lore a combination of the angels Azael and Aza.
In the Apocryphon of John, found in the Nag Hammadi library, Samael is the third name of the demiurge, whose other names are Yaldabaoth and Saklas. In this context, Samael means "the blind god", the theme of blindness running throughout gnostic works. His appearance is that of a lion-faced serpent. In On the Origin of the World in the Nag Hammadi library texts, he is also referred to as Ariel/Anael, the Archangel of Principalities.
To anthroposophists, Samael is known as one of the seven archangels: Saint Gregory gives the seven archangels as Anael, Gabriel, Michael, Oriphiel, Raphael, Samael, and Zachariel. They are all imagined to have a special assignment to act as a global zeitgeist ("time-spirit"), each for periods of about 360 years. Since 1879, anthroposophists posit, Michael has been the leading time spirit.
· · "Samael" in A Dictionary of Angels, including the fallen angels by Gustav Davidson, Simon & Schuster, p.255
· · Jung, Leo (1925). "Fallen Angels in Jewish, Christian and Mohammedan Literature. A Study in Comparative Folk-Lore", The Jewish Quarterly Review, vol. 16, no. 1 (July 1925), p. 88
· · The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: Apocalyptic literature and testaments, ed. James H. Charlesworth, Hendrickson Publishers, 1 Feb 2010, p.658
· · Louis Ginzberg, The Ascension of Moses, Chapter IV "Aggadah: The Legend of the Jews"
· · Tales of the Hasidim, by Martin Buber. Book 1, page 77.
· · (Erika D. Johnson) rosetta.bham.ac.uk citing The Oxford Classical Dictionary definition [Retrieved 2012-12-13]
· · "Jewish Virtual Library". Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved 2011-12-05.
· · "The Apocryphon of John". Gnosis.org. Retrieved 2011-12-05.
The Tarot of Druids-Key 13-Art mac Cond (Conn) depicts the death of a young ruler, who died in the battle of Mag Mucrama. His death was predicted by the Olg Aiche, the Druid. The story of Art mac Cond (Conn) is dutifully laid out in its bardic story on the Link below. Click on link for more information. Which is well presented and fun to read.
Suffice it to say, that Key 13 of the Tarot of Druids, is comparable to the Thoth ATU 13 Card.
The Tarot-ATU 13-Death or Key XIII-Art mac Cond, when thrown during a reading, suggests:
If ill defined by surrounding cards:
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