The Thoth Tarot- ATU 13- Death and the Tarot of The Spirit- Key 13- Death:
Death-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/dancing skeleton on the Thoth Card. However, this card is less about the danse macabre, and more about the personality death of inner-self identity transformation.
The Trumps or Major Arcana, are Paths of Initiation on The Qabalistic Tree of Life and 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 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 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/Soul which is a collective of many experiences.
On the Path of Nun, one is literally launching the consciousness into the Dark Collective Unconscious of Quantum-Universal Origins. This takes courage and determination, for the consciousness appears to be extinguished in the Universal Collective Unconscious. I liken the 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/idea", that moves within the Infinite Creative Ocean of Unconscious. Interestingly, since Nun is a Hebrew verb, it means to "sprout or grow", implying the Skeleton is a perpetual seed.
The perspicacious reader 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/dulls 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 and/or the motion of life.
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 /Psyche 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/sleep to do so. 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, indoctrination and the other boundaries of the physical form/brain. Thus, the fear of Death, must be conquered by the 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.
The Great Work, is Life itself, 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 Approved 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 how the Ocean sees itself.
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 worn over fear of death). In other words, you "Know Thyself" as Life who transforms itself by dying.
The Tarot Card- Death-key 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. Therefore, 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 " inner-spiritual transformation", rather than an actual physical death.
After Traveling One of the 3 Paths of the "Dark Night of the Soul", where your consciousness is torn down, as decided by the Feminine aspect of the Higher Self, 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 of the I AM; 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 reaction to environment , culture, and peers! You are made of spiral electromagnetic energy (spirit), hence, a body is an illusion, and/or a mask that you wear, so that you can "tell yourself a story" of what I AM is. Hence, I AM Me, is an illusion but a very necessary one to prove information as Self-Awareness and/or in-form-action.
To reiterate, Nun, is the Hebrew letter 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 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 to once again become a "me".
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-key13, 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 Fertile Energy of Life, weaving its way upward to become an Eagle (behind and above the Thoth Deck 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, 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. 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 3 Paths of the Dark Night; The Devil, Art and Death, of which 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 Divine Child, and I awoke as the "Will to Form" and/or the Desire of the Great Mother of Form who has given the I AM form as a "Me".
This inner journey is a very hard journey to explain, for it is darker than any despair 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 have no value. However, one still mechanically crawls towards the Higher Self by sinking into the dark depths of microwaves. Moving forward in a total 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; a dissolution into the Red Blood of The Cosmic Mother. The Great Red Binah, known as the purifying Force of resurrection, and/or "the Scarlet Woman", bathed me and with caresses, peeled the "dead" manmade 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 by letting the body decide whom we are.
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 Personal Simulation of the Higher Collective Self, and the emptied brain is filled with the Primary Imagination...The "I Will Be- "The Will to Force and the Will to Form and the Understanding of the Great "Womb with a view".
Mars 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 one another as separates and/or "predator and prey".
The Tarot of The Spirit-Key 13, also represents the transformative experience of life moving as death, and into regeneration. The skeleton is again shown as a metaphor for "stripping down to bare bones" and rebuilding to begin again. Again the scythe is a symbol for cutting away all that is unnecessary in our self-identity and here by swinging the scythe in a lemniscate (lazy eight), representing infinity, death acknowledges the process of the 7 alchemical processes to purity (click on below link for more info). Here you are facing a transformative process of facing your deepest-darkest fears, the darkest hour is always before the dawn.
On the pelvic bone are -left-Hebrew letter of Nun and on the right-sigil for scorpio. In the center of this skeleton is a "womb" with a fetus, illustrating the birthing of the Christ within, and or the 6th Sephiroth of Tiphareth. Reestablishing the True Beauty of I AM ME. The horizontal bar of the cross, is representing the world of matter. The vertical axis represents the Spiral Energy/Spiritual plane. Encircling the cross is the spinning wheel of Life and death and/or transformation. The body parts on the bottom of the card, represent possibility, while the fish on the above left, represents eternal life. The white rose on a platter, the upper right, represents innocence, truth, and purity, and/or the Beauty- Way of Tiphareth.
Since the Tarot of The Spirit-Death is of the similar meanings represented in the Thoth Card, they share the same divinatory meanings.
The Tarot-Key/ATU 13-Death, when thrown during a reading, suggests:
If ill defined by surrounding cards:
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