78 Tarot Cards: Death

“All things come to an end, and from that new beginnings arise.”

Death, as the inevitable consequence of living, is something that polite western societies do not talk about. There, death is something that happens to other people because they did something that undermined their right to live. Death, to the western thought, is a judgement and a punishment, because good people deserve to live forever, and bad people deserve to be forgotten.

Death, as a tarot card, is another waypoint in the Major Arcana’s tale of living. While it can represent the stark reality of its namesake in a divination, it can also represent the cessation of that which is detrimental to living, and the transformation of that which is no longer useful or available into that which can extend and embellish the present state of being.

A neutral card that does not require the Querent to have a moral stance on the matter, its presence forces the Querent to make such a judgement on the subject of their query. What are they willing to lose? What loss are they facing regardless of their answer? If given the chance, what are they willing to release so they can keep what the card is referring to? What if the matter has already been settled and the Querent’s attempt at bargaining is really the beginning expressions of grief. Much of the Death card’s unwelcome reputation grows from those unwilling to accept an unchangeable outcome as final.

That the Death card is in the middle of the accepted sequence of the Major Arcana is a symbol of the transformation that this card often heralds. It may signal the ending or “death” of one matter, but by doing so it signals the beginning or “birth” of another within the larger context of the Querent’s life. In the same way that a caterpillar must die for a butterfly to emerge, so too does the circumstance or way of life of the Querent cease so that they may continue working out their life in a different way.

In a one-card reading, the Death card answers “Stop” for queries about continuing and “Go” for queries about halting. It is not contrarian in nature, however. Rather it encourages the Querent to reconsider what they want to do and to be prepared to do something entirely different instead. In regard to timing, it says “No more”, “Not now”, and yet also “Immediately”. In regard to relationships, it speaks of solitude and isolation.

Well-dignified and/or upright, the action described by the Death card is swift and clean. (How the Querent responds to that action is up to them.) Ill-dignified and/or reversed, the ending of the matter is unnaturally or improperly extended. Here is the failing business owner that maxes out their credit cards to keep the shop going “a few more weeks” instead of selling off the assets to quickly pay off any debts. Here is the soured friendship that falls into toxic codependency because keeping up appearances is more important than personal health and independence. Here is the fruit that was kept on the tree for too long and either rotted in place or was half-eaten by animals, rendering the produce unsafe for human consumption.

If drawn as a descriptor of the Querent, it will be to the delight of the Querent if they are goth in nature and/or dress. Otherwise, most Querents will be horrified to find this card as their reflection. Such persons (goth or not) are quiet and reserved at the moment, giving themselves to great thought about what part of their life are they about to let go and what should be buried so they can continue. They may be grieving about a matter, openly or not. The appearance of this card should not be used as an excuse to deliberately cause anxiety in the Querent. It is not a declaration of some moral failing on their part nor is it the herald of a disaster about to befall them or their family. It is a call for the Querent to sit still and reflect on their life up to this point, and to not take anything for granted. It is a call for them to be good to themselves, if only for this very moment, because the time will come for them to move on into the rest of their life.

Next Card: XII – The Hanged Man

Noxporium’s Tarot Card Masterpost: 78 Tarot Cards

Previous Card: XiV – Temperance – “Whatever you need to be, to be yourself.”

78 Tarot Cards: Temperance

“Whatever you need to be, to be yourself.”

In modern reckoning, the call for temperance is regarded as a call for moderation, restriction, and/or reduction. It is a clarion call for people of all ages to temper their expectations, their enthusiasm, and their efforts in life because to be a proper adult is to be unoffensive in desires and actions. While this outlook makes for easy-to-write blog posts and easy-to-market coaching services, it makes for poor advice for living.

The Temperance tarot card is not a call to find the middle lane of life and remain there without ever experiencing anything else, even though doing just that can be a necessary action for a time. It is a call for the Querent to find balance within themselves, for however that balance can be achieved and maintained in the current moment. It does not require that the Querent force themselves into a moderate ideal that must remain as is and unwavering. It does require that the Querent examine themselves to determine what is needed at the current moment to achieve stability, and then to reexamine themselves later to determine if this state continues to be useful, or what to change to better fit in the changed environment.

The balance that the Temperance card calls for may be seen as an extreme state by others who see only the exterior of the Querent’s circumstances. They may see the Querent choosing to remain angry about a situation and say that calmness is needed more than wrath, but they don’t see how the Querent’s anger is helping them focus on doing the work necessary to secure their safety after the immediate threat eases. They may also see the Querent’s silence in sorrow as withdrawing too far, but they don’t see how the Querent is using the solitude to work through the process of grieving in a pace that is not self-destructive.

In a one-card reading, the Temperance card does not say, “Yes” or “No”, it asks, “Why?” and “What?”. Why is the Querent asking this question. What does the Querent need to enable them to take action or to face the problem with open awareness. If the answer is not immediately apparent in the question, further cards can be drawn to guide the Querent’s attention. If the question is regarding timing, the Temperance card answers, “Not Now” or “Wait”. But if the Querent asks if keeping their anger in check would help the situation and is answered by the reversed Temperance card, the answer then becomes, “Don’t hold back. Go off.”

When the Temperance card is ill-aspected or reversed in a multi-card reading, care must be given to the context of the question. If the Querent wants to wait for clarity, the ill-aspected card warns that it is better to move immediately and seek balance later. If the ill-aspected card is drawn as the necessary action of the Querent, it informs them to use whatever power is available even if it goes against “common sense”, lest they yield their agency to those willing to use them as tools to be discarded.

However, if drawn as a descriptor of the Querent, it warns that they have already gone too far in their actions and their refusal to regard their actions in the context of their circumstances is leading them to damaging consequences. Regardless of the position or orientation of the card, whether the card speaks to expansion or compression will be found in the context of the question.

The Temperance card describes a state of being and the process by which that state is realized. Depending on the Querent’s world view, that state of being could be unity with the cosmos, unity with the divine, unity with their ideal of themselves, and/or unity with their present state. None of these ideals are contradictory within the Temperance card, as it asks the Querent to consider not only what do they need to be at the present moment, but what actions the Querent can take to achieve that state. Tomorrow, the Querent may want to be someone else, something else, and this too is a state of balance.

Next Card: XIII – Death – “All things come to an end, and from that new beginnings arise.”

Noxporium’s Tarot Card Masterpost: 78 Tarot Cards

Previous Card: XV – The Devil – “You always had a choice. You just chose not to choose.”

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