The Babylonian Tarot- Key 13-Death-Ereshkigal, depicts the Underworld goddess of the Babylonian's sitting on her throne, while being surrounded with the dead. Ereshkigal means-"Queen of the Great Below". The Peoples of Mesopotamia had several names for the underworld including, Arali, Irkalla, Kurnugi, Ekur, Kigal, Ganzir, Kur and Ersetu. The front gate to the Underworld was guarded and opened up to a staircase that led to the Underworld cave or chamber that went even lower than the freshwater sea, Absu, below the earth.
Ereshkigal, could be the shadowy alter-ego of Ishtar. Her demeanor was ferocious, and aggressive. Her rage, once invoked, was boundless and primeval. The Underworld is an often used metaphor for the subconscious mind with all its fears, jealousy, unwanted passions or desires, and repressed psychic impulses. The suggestion is that all the shunned raw instinctual impulses that have been shoved into the subconscious, are represented by Ereshkigal. Hence, we are warned that repression of these primal impulses leads to undesirable leakage. For this Psychic material is often called "emotion", and repressed "energy-in-motion", means only that it will build and build until something breaks. Therefore, Ereshkigal will not be ignored. Balance is only achieve when one acknowledges their and own fears, and desires. Hence, we then shine the light of day into our own dark recesses of the primal animal mind and our own mental workings. Thereby, gaining true self knowledge and receive the godhood we should have over the subconscious mind.
ATU 13-Death, is known as the Path of Nun on the Qabalistic Tree of Life. Nun, means, Fish (illustrated on the card) and is also the Hebrew simple letter for Movement. (Thus the running skeleton).
The Path of Nun runs from Netzach (Victory) to Tiphareth (Beauty) 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.
On the Path of Nun, one is literally launching the consciousness into the Dark Unconscious of Universal Origins. This takes courage and determination, for the consciousness appears to be extinguished in the Universal 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 it purified of illusion and deception. 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" that moves within the Infinite Ocean of Unconscious-------i.e. Thought.
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 journey down the Tree of Life. Thus the Devil is a card of Birth. Plus there is the fact that both Death and Birth are essentially the same transition. As the invisible psyche is born into 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. One energy transforms itself by the process of destruction of energy phases. From one phase to another. The Personality constructed consciousness, is indeed extinguished in the Unconscious causing a period of "forgetful sleep" before the Personality exits the Higher Self again and produces another operative artifice known as consciousness used 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 discriminatory, and knows the tricks of Mater, i.e. the illusions of senses, that the Personality experiences on the physical plane. These illusions or delusions come from the perspective of separateness and survival thinking of the physical form. Thus, the fear of Death, must be conquered by the consciousness "that won't experience the death sleep", that is, the consciousness that knowing transfers from body to body, by Personal Higher Self manipulation. The Great Work, is Life itself as a Wholeness-----not 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.
The Beauty of Tiphareth, the Solar Self, is that once you return to this aspect of Personality, you return to your body knowing that you, as a Personality, are completely accepted and not fearing rejection in the least ( a mask of fear of death)! In other words, you "Know thyself".
The Tarot Card- Death-Key/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 "first matter", thought, is the Gate keeper of Transformation, which is not too difficult to "wrap your head around" if you understand that how you "perceive yourself" transforms your reality. After Traveling one of the Three Paths of the "Dark Night of the Soul", where your consciousness is torn down, relieved of all that is not worthy of you, as decided by the Higher Self, and then sent back down the Tree into your Malkuth-body transformation, the perspectives of the Personality change from reality to the Real perspectives of the Great Work. To be an aware-sensual-Soul, rather than a socially made personality, is only possible by returning to the Higher Self....Your brain can't do the job as it is an artificial sense of self! Personality is but the "color" of consciousness.
One of the esoteric aspects of the Death card, also known as The Path of Nun, meaning Fish, 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 gold and is considered a trans-formative process of turning death into new life.
The Thoth Tarot 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 Illustrated in this card is 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 frame work that holds the organs and can be seen as a seed of the body as the minerals that are attributed to bone are the "seeds" of organic forms.
- The astrological sign attributed to Death-key 13 is a transformative sign of three symbolic images, the Scorpion, the Serpent and the Eagle. Thus, we have the transformation of 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 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", 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, The Devil, Art and Death, there 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 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.
This passage into the dark mysterious depths of Psyche is a very hard journey to explain and it requires one not to be concerned with living or dying. When in the Abyss, one becomes a mechanical motion, pushing ahead with great faith, as if Life's processes have no value, yet one still mechanically crawls towards the Higher Self. 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....I became the original “I” of Kether, observing the red atom of me that originally issued from the Great Dark Menstrual Sea of the Red Binah. This purifying Force of resurrection, Bathed me, \Loved me (indescribable ecstasy) and sent me back down the Tree into Tiphareth, via the Lightning Path, and the Fiery Light of the Higher Self. Once a Divine Child always a Divine Child....somehow we've forgotten that, and thus disinherited ourselves/ our personality, from the Macrocosm.
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...."
Upon conquering the Path of Nun, the Soul is reconstructed as the Personality of the Higher Self, rather than one made by mankind, and the emptied brain is filled with the Primary Imagination...The will to form and the Understanding of the Great "Womb with a view".
Mars rules Scorpio. Scorpio rules the sex organs. Thus 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”, which is both destructive and constructive and not for the weak of character or for those who fear death, a fear exposed by trying to dominate others and your environment. What I find curious, is that when you combine the images of Scorpio, the scorpion, the serpent, the eagle and the Path of the flaming sword you get: A Dragon!
Those who practice Tarot and/or are readers of my blog, know this charming bone dancing Thoth fellow as Death. In the British Isles, he was known as LORD DREAD or DREAD LORD and the end of October is his Holy Day! He is the Semitic version of the Asiatic Sana, Samara (Aryan), or Samarium, "the leveler" And most of us know that you can level things very well with a skillful usage of a Scythe, a very particular harvesting tool of this dancing fellow.
He is the JUDGE OF THE DEAD, identified with the underworld King Yama and in the Sama Veda (Hindu), he was called the "Storm god", clothed in black clouds. Thus the usual depiction of this deity is dressed in a hooded black all-encompassing robe. The later version of him is called Satan, he was Prince of the Power of the Air, another way to say he has a ”Stormy" nature. The Celts know him as the god of SAMHAIN, the Feast of the dead, and Christianized as All Souls day. The Medieval Gnostics called him SAMMAEL OR SATANAEL or at least they were accused of worshiping him as such. But the Worshiping concept is suspect as that was the accusation of those who accused them of heresy.
What is interesting, in early Britain, Samuel had a female counter part, SAMOTHEA (Death Goddess) who seems to have been another form of Ereshkigal, of SKADI or SCATHA. Samothea, or Skadi was considered to be the goddess of the mysterious (Arcane) land of Hyperborean, the land where Pythagoras traveled to learn the arts of letters, astronomy, and science from this All Wise Lady.
Qabalists know that Hermes/Thoth is the Magician (Magus) of letters, words and sound, while the Art of Forms (astronomy) is definitely the Domain of Binah as the Star card and science from The Art Card...(Alchemy) where He and She combine to make all, making the Dread Lord a Hermaphrodite.
Thus one might say that Hyperborean was the Supernal Triangle of the Tree of Life, known as the World of Aziluth, which is across the Abyss and a place you can only reach after a death of your human realities.
According to the pagan lunar calendar, festivals were celebrated on the "eve' rather than the day. Thus Halloween or All Hallows' Eve, was the original festival that was later displaced to the following day. The Irish called this Holy Night, the Vigil of Saman.
Christian's of the day, described this night as heretical practices, where magic charms and divination', reading the future with Witches mirrors and nutshell ashes and other objectionable rites: Even the unholy act of ducking for apples in tubs of water, which was said to represent souls in the Cauldron of Regeneration.
But this is not just limited to past superstition, even today it is believed that if a girl peels an apple before a mirror, on Halloween, she will see the image of her future husband in the glass.
However, today's celebration of parties, and candy/gift giving actually follows the original version of Samuel’s day, as the original divination was considered to be Oracular utterances by the Elder dead (Ancestors) who came up from their tombs on Halloween, bearing gifts for the children of their living descendants.
Sicilian Halloween tradition, states that, "the dead relations have become the good fairies of the little ones." There are many more traditions across Europe. Even in Lithuania, there were burn offerings of domestic animals to their god ZIMIENNIK (Samanik) believing that if the Lord of the underworld accepted the offering on behalf of the dead, the spirits would do no harm.
The Fact That Death is seen as an active force, relates to the fact that Death, acts like the Dark Energy that pushes the Universe outward, by pushing Life forward,
The objective Self, the Mortal Form, may fear its own demise, but the Subjective Self, (that is 99.6% of you) does not. Spirit knows Death to be but a tool that transforms, as is Life, which Transforms Self Concepts in to Self-Reality.
On that note:
The celebration of Halloween, should be a celebration of the Spirit who survives mortality, knowing full well, that by owning your own beast, you can push your Identity Forward into the Invisible Universe---and be Lord over Death. Thus, the Thoth Death Card is a Rebirth Card, where we drop the old, and become the new in a spiritual transformation.
So Party on Dude and Dudesses, you are really celebrating your mastery over death on Halloween! It is only the Fear of Death that enslaves your Soul!
Say hi to old Sam and Skadi. Party hard, so that spring may be full of bounce!
The Death Card, thrown during a reading, suggests:
- Time, Age and transformation.
- Rarely does it symbolize physical death and only if borne out by the accompanying cards, such as the 10 of swords-Ruin.
- For the Querent, this is the Principle of letting go, and moving on.
- A rebirth out of Old conditions.
- A type of transitional metamorphosis which destroys the something old to build the something new.
- Metamorphosis and Alteration.
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