We are now moving into the 13th arcanum of the Tarot and will be discussing the Key titled Death. From the very start this card has to be discussed from its title. Death is a very controversial topic, to say the least. It is the lynch pin of the “unknown” that really makes it a shocker. In Mahayana Buddhist teachings they say that we are all equal in the fact that death will occur, and all also are equal in the fact that we don’t know when!
This is one of the reasons that Shakyamuni Buddha (Siddharta) decided to take death as a principal to prove the impermanence of even the enlightened state called Nirvana. Death has had a major impact on society and history. Ancient civilizations had developed mythology , and shamanic like priesthoods that dealt with specific death motifs. Since its evident that Death is a necessary ‘transistion’ its also apparent that because its unknown this brings on a sense of ‘doom and dread’ to those who are NOT acquainted with deeper and more subtle levels of consciousness.
In Buddhist psychology for instance the two major instincts of the self are attraction and aversion. Attraction to the things we want and feel bring happiness, and Aversion to the things we don’t want and that interfere with happiness. The main mix up is with the attraction to things that don’t bring happiness because of their transient nature, and aversion to practices that do bring happiness because of their insignificance or value in relation to temporary states of pleasure, misidentified by the term happiness.
In Freudian and Jungian psychology these drives are called Eros and Thanatos. Eros is the feeling of “love” and can be for self or another “object of desire”. Thanatos is the feeling of “loss” and can come from the unwillingness to accept or come to terms with the force of “Death”.
This being said we are now ready to discover the deeper aspects of such a powerful state of existence and the results of thinking that come along with it.
The term “escatology” is the study and philosophy of conciousness after death. this is the major fear for alot of people this state is commonly known as “Heaven or Hell”. Escatalogy to really work has to have a salvific component because its whole purpose is to infuse morality for a future event that will recall ones actions and evaluate according to the ‘merit or demerit’ of those behaviors. The problem with this is not its “nuts and bolts’ but its usage from people and groups that extract it from a doctrine of karma and reincarnation. for instance
In most eastern thinking and philosophy the individual accumulates what is called Karma by actions performed in everyday life. These aren’t really negative or positive inherently but do create a impression that is recorded and is brought to ‘fruition’ or ‘ripening’ meaning ‘expression in circumstances’. When this happens one will feel happiness or suffering because of this supposed event that is rooted in ones personal or group karma. This is supposed to be the reason for “believing” in a savior. This is what is being saved ones Karma. However its funny that while totally dismissing the doctrine of karma, the orthodox has rather called it Sin and says from birth we are all given “original sin”.
here’s an argument. if we are born into original sin , how is it that this “saviors” death is able to redeem it? and if its redeemed why must we believe in the person to gain salvation. This is a sensitive subject but it must be addressed. Karma is similar to Sin, but Sin is a term used differently than Karma. Karma is also tied to Reincarnation. Shakyamuni Buddha found that by meditation and deep awareness a stop gap could occur within the karmic cycle and one could ripen seeds of the ‘clear nature of mind’ this is actually a state of consciousness called sinless and perfect.
So we see that both Shakyamuni and Jesus had adherents that perpetuated a Escatological teaching of action-result and salvation of belief in the person hood of each of these enlightened men.
Here’s where we will twist things, the divergence now will be from the Orthodox to the Esoteric. In Theosophy the individual is presented as consisting of seven planes of manifestation from the rays of a planetary logos and solar logic forces. These planes are the actual forms of consciousness of a human being. The secret of this key is also talked about in the Corpus Hermecticum IX that says “For there’s no death for aught of things [that are]..”
The things that are, or Ta Onta is the definition of Gnosis. Death can only decay and destroy things that do not exist as realities. The truth is that Death is everywhere. Every time something goes away and another thing takes it place there is what is called Death. Breath is Death, the death of the exhaled life makes way for the life to be given again in the next breath. This is why Roshi Suzuki says that ‘exhallation is the place of rest and calm’. When its time the exhale will be the final letting go. The reason why Death has such a hold is because of the Attachment force and the paranoia and morbidity we experience when ‘loss’ arrives.
Death is very natural and in Hermetic and Kabbalist thinking the Gnosis of death is really the revelation of subtle levels of existence and reality. Jung in his Red Book called many ordinary people living the “dead”. This is because in order to be alive , we must be attached or identified to the things that are.
This card is packed full of symbolism and clues to this process. It will take a while till this card is dealt with in its entirety . Please feel free to contact or comment regarding this post firstname.lastname@example.org
FL. Cor Meum Lucidum