The Tarot of The Ages-Key XIII-Death, keeps more to the traditional Tarot art and keeps to the Thoth Tarot assignation of Scorpio and but uses the Hebrew letter Mem (water), which the Thoth Tarot assigns to the Hanged Man. Illustrated is the traditional skeleton with his scythe, reaping the souls of the dead, in the wastelands of the "underworld". The Scorpion symbol of the zodiac is also seen on the ground. The meanings of this card are the same as the Thoth Card, and therefore, both are represented as one card, with the meanings posted on the bottom of the blog.
The Thoth Tarot- Key 13- Death
Death-Key/ATU 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.
The 24th Path of Nun runs from Tiphareth (Beauty) to Netzach (Victory) on the Tree of Life, and is one of the three aforementioned paths that leads from the Personality to the Higher Self. The initiate may experience the Higher Self on any one of these three Paths, Art (The Path of Samekh), The Devil (The Path of Ayin), and Death, the Path of Nun; but the lessons of all three 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" and/or personalities.
On the Path of Nun, one is literally launching the consciousness into the Dark Unconscious of Quantum-Universal Collective Origins. This takes courage and determination, for the consciousness appears to be extinguished in the Great Ocean of the Universal Collective Unconscious. I compare the self- consciousness and/or small ego 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 caused by 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 Unconscious. Interestingly, since Nun is a verb, it also 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 Path for Birth: However, The Devil, Path of Ayin, "enchains" our personality in matter as it leaves the Higher Self on its ever more condensed journey down the Tree of Life. Therefore, the Devil 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 of energy phases. From one phase to another is evolution.
The Personality constructed consciousness and/or self-consciousness, is indeed seemingly extinguished in the limitless Universal Unconscious causing a period of "forgetful sleep" before the Personality exits the Higher Self again and produces another operative artifice known as self-consciousness that issued 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. This is done when the consciousness has become trained in a discriminatory and/or discerning, discipline 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. However, these illusions of intimacy are just what the Soul wants and has therefore, created a personality to experience them in the name of I AM. To accept the illusion of senses as the entertainment they are, the fear of Death, must be conquered by the personal 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 vice versa. Therefore, the disposable personality, is no longer disposed of ; The Soul doesn't fix what ain't broke. It helps to realize that The Great Work (I Will Be)is Life itself, as a Wholeness where the avatar of the soul and/or the” alive" persona, are no-longer perceiving themselves as a divisionism of separate Spirit-Mind-Body, all trying to prove themselves to a Creator that by the very process of creation, had already Approve them into being! When the Spirit above, becomes the Spirit of the Below, The Great Work has been achieved.
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 the Ocean and its fish avatar.
The Beauty of Tiphareth, the Psyche 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 wore over fear of death). In other words, you "Know Thyself".
The Tarot Card- Death- ATU/Key 13, has many titles in the 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 "first matter", thought, 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 transformation", rather than an actual physical death.
The term "Dark night of the Soul", a phrase coined by St. John of the Cross, refers to the darkness of unknowing, where the psyche is striped of the desire nature of the personality****. This leaves a dreadful emptiness, almost a complete disinterest in everything. Personally, upon experiencing these three Paths of the Dark Night represented by The Devil, Art and Death Tarot Cards, I was left only a thought of despair repeating over and over again, abolishing any other desire or thought. That thought 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 Unconscious Sea (Abyssal Womb) of the Great Mother Binah, who then broke down and reassembled the Personality into that of the Divine Child, and I awoke as the "Will to Be" and/or the Desire of the Great Mother of Form.
After Traveling One of the Three Paths of the "Dark Night of the Soul", where your consciousness is torn down, as decided by the Feminine/Birthing aspect of the Higher Self (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 Soul rather than a reactive persona. 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, rather than a socially made personality. 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 its trained reactions 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-ATU 13- card, and more traditional Tarot cards, symbolizes this transformative 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 three symbolic images, the Scorpion, the Serpent and the Eagle. Thus, we have the transformation from a dangerous earth-crawling creature, to a serpent which symbolizes the Astral Light, weaving its way upward to become an Eagle (behind and above the Thoth Deck figures head) that soars above all heads. All of which are represented in the Thoth Tarot Card as movement. Movement being seen as change/transformation, which is the skeletal pattern of the Universe. For it is only by constant change can entropy be overcome. This should be understood by you, for you are Life and Life is the movement of the alive. As the Life of your homo sapiens sapiens form, you animate the body according to your observations.
This inner journey is a very hard journey to explain and it requires one not to be concerned with living or dying. Hence, the initiate 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 have no value, one's consciousness still mechanically crawls towards the Higher Self by sinking into the dark depths. Moving forward in a total darkness, inch by inch, the now conscious 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/our personality, from the Macrocosm with a caul of words.
****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 Personality is reconstructed as the Personal Simulation of the Higher Self, and the emptied brain is filled with the Primary Imagination. I AM,...The original Will to Form and the Understanding of the Great "Womb with a view of Self-Awareness".
Mars rules Scorpio and Scorpio rules the sex organs. Thus, this Death Card, represents a Sexual energy, a reproductive fecund 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 one.
The Tarot- ATU/Key 13-Death, when thrown during a reading, suggests:
When ill defined by surrounding cards:
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