~ The 13th Card ~

Death & The Dance of Life

When Tarot Rebels chose the Death card as the topic for our first blog hop, I wouldn’t have imagined I’d end up posting it on the same day that there was an actual death in our family. What had started out as a more lighthearted look at one of the darker cards in the tarot deck suddenly became a lot more poignant.

It’s not uncommon in tarot to explain to a seeker that the Death card rarely has anything to do with physical death – some of the card’s more prominent themes deal with ending, transitions, transformation, detachment, and stripping things down to the bare essentials. As part of the major arcana, the Death card can signify situations or circumstances that are beyond the seeker’s control, and/or that they will be forever changed by these circumstances – there are deeply meaningful lessons to be learned here, quite possibly of a spiritual nature.

In other words, the Death card does a very good impression of the act of dying itself.

Growing up with a mother who was studying Buddhism, death was never presented to me as something to be feared. Death instead became simply another thread woven into the fabric of our story, a transition to another form of ourselves, one who needn’t be confined by physical reality.  In this sense, death arrived with it’s own reward, and though there has always been sadness at a loved one’s passing, the process of grieving itself became more about celebrating the life that had been lived.

I recently shared a spread that featured my favourite Death card in our Tarot Rebels group, describing the figure as being jaunty and happy in his dance – he regrets nothing in having embraced his transformation; rather he celebrates the bare essence of his soul unencumbered by physical limitations. A fellow Rebel responded saying that she too enjoyed this Death’s youthful glee, making the wonderful observation that he now has the opportunity to become the Fool again, ready to embark upon yet another adventure.


death dances by speakofsecrets.com

Death dancing on Nanny K’s last creative work – “I don’t pay attention to the pattern” she said, “I just use the colours that I think are beautiful.”


Waking up this morning to learn that my husband’s grandmother had passed away a few hours earlier, that notion of Death resurrecting himself as The Fool became a healing balm. When we are at the end of a long life, and our bodies have grown tired, and perhaps even broken, death can arrive as a beautiful release – not only for the one who is suffering through a terminal illness, but for those who are standing by, helplessly observing this decline of vital energy. I like to think of Nanny K like the figure of Death pictured above – now dancing free, no longer hemmed in by illness or pain, celebrating all that she experienced, created, and shared. That her soul slipped away on this time of year when the veil between the living and the deceased is at it’s thinnest, and cultures around the globe celebrate those lives which has been lived was not lost on my husband nor myself.

The Death card so very rarely signifies physical death, until it actually does. Yet even when that time comes, it isn’t always something so bad as to be feared.

Farewell, Nanny K – I wish you well as you embark on yet another round of The Fool’s Journey.


Visit other Tarot Rebels in this blog hop by clicking on the links below:

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