When discussing or contemplating sharing a reading with Tarot cards the one card that most people are fearful of is “Death”.

Usually this depicts a skeleton in various poses. Devoid of flesh, sinews, blood vessels and all vestiges of the features which make us stand out from other humans; stripped back to the very bones. Nothing left to tell others who we were when alive upon the Earth.

In the 1835 Classic Tarot the skeleton is gathering up symbols of individual lives with his scythe. Helmet, sword, bishop’s mitre, a royal crown, artist’s easel and scholar’s book are all piled together in a heap.

Classic TarotThe Victorians were obsessed with death. We only have to visit Highgate Cemetery in London to see how they viewed it. Heaven and Hell were real places to them. It seems that the larger and more ornate the edifice to the deceased the more likely their place in Heaven was secured.

In the Rider-Waite Tarot, created 1910 by Arthur Waite and Pamela Colman-Smith, members of a metaphysical group, the skeleton rides gracefully, yet indiscriminately past a fallen king, a priest, a young child and a youthful beauty. Chiron steers the dead across the river Styx in the background, yet on the horizon the sun rises between two towers.

Universal Waite TarotDeath is a gentle rider. His bare bones are disguised by a suit of black armour. He rides the archetypal pale horse. Black and white are non-colours; neutral, just as Death itself cuts down without compassion or judgement. The king’s crown lies in the dust. The young girl turns her head, the full-blown rose dropping from her hand.

My favourite Death card comes from the Druidcraft Tarot.

Druidcraft TarotHere the Goddess as crone, The Cailleach, lovingly places a skull into the cauldron of death and rebirth. It is Samhainn, when the ancestors are closest to the living. At this time we honour those who have walked upon the Earth before us. We rejoice in the gifts and lessons they have taught us. We know that they are still around us, guiding us with their love.

For those who have shared part of our lives, and whom we have loved, we remember all those times of sharing, of laughter and sorrow. Our loved ones acknowledge our uniqueness, our vulnerability, our frailties. We miss dreadfully their physical presence, yet they are still part of us, as within this life, however short, our hearts  have connected with love. Therefore our energy fields still hold their essence. This can never die.

Death is no enemy. It signifies the beginning of a mysterious and beautiful transition which we will all experience. Honour the beloved ones who have passed through this transition. They still live in our hearts.

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