Dispatches

Let's Talk about Death, Baby

Death 

'...death joins us to nature. The consciousness that isolates us from the world will be obliterated; though the body will decay, that only means that it is feeding other creatures. Each death brings new life.' 
-Rachel Pollack, Seventy Eight degrees of Wisdom. 

Why talk about death right now? Well my lovelies, I'm a few days late but we did just flip the sun over into Pisces- which is the crone of the zodiac, the final sign, the death! In another way we are also celebrating the final month of 'official' winter, and we are about to be reborn in Aries fire energy on the day of Ostara- the spring equinox.  But right now, we are in death process. 
 

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From left to right: The Death card from each- Benjamin Mackey's 'The Magician Longs to See: Twin Peaks Tarot', Kim Krans' 'The Wild Unknown' and The Rider Waite Smith Deck.

I recently listened to a podcast that was an in-depth look at the current state of recycling in North America,(side-note- please listen and educate yourself- National Sword episode of 99 Percent Invisible). In the episode one of the speakers referred to 'end of life' with regards to product design. They were asking designers to consider 'end of life' for their products. I had a moment where I suddenly realized this term 'end of life' which I had heard so often in the context of the elderly, of palliative care, of humans who were visibly nearing theirs, that it could be (and should be) applied to EVERYTHING. 

Author and activist Stephen Jenkinson (author of Die Wise) often refers to the world we live in as 'death phobic'. Which makes sense when one of the world's most dominant religions is centered around a dude who RISES FROM THE DEAD. Its a tough pill to swallow to say that death is a part of (not separate from) life. To continue the quote from Rachel Pollack above- "Many people find the notion of themselves being eaten horrible to contemplate. The modern practice of embalming and painting corpses so that they look alive, and then of burying them in sealed metal caskets derives from the desire to maintain the body's separateness from nature even in death." 

Its been the major short coming of human beings to believe they are the end all be all, so the mere fact of their mortality becomes something that is an incredible weakness and is given less and less airtime as a way to say-  'if you ignore it, it's not real- right???'

So fear is present (surprise, surprise.) We fear death because we chose to believe it means that something ceases to be. But here's where the tarot (and the laws of conservation of energy) beg to differ. 

Death in its position in the deck suggests less of a finality or 'ultimate ending' as is our human perspective, rather, its more of a continuation. The card prior to death is the Hanged Man, giving us the ability to try on new perspectives and wedge our foot in the door of a type of action/reaction response to life. Death comes and allows us to let go what is no longer useful, what no longer offers benefit. The card following Death is Temperance- who takes all that was discarded and left to break down into its finest elemental form and alchemizes that into something new, something we could not have conceived of. Its also worth noting that Death is Key 13, and the order of the deck is not random but very meaningful and intentional. DEATH IS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DECK PEOPLE!!! 

My words of wisdom about death to those who pull it in reads is that Death is our way of continuing to move through, to transmute, transmogrify. Death is a point in the cycle, integral to the wheel turning, NOT separate as our death-phobic culture would lead you to believe. It is difficult to experience loss, but there's a thing about loss we can hold and remember- we lose ALL THE TIME. Double meaning there- as in we are constantly losing and we lose time, everyday, minute, second. We lose memories, information, relationships. We lose time, abilities, material possessions. As the poem by Elizabeth Bishop says- "the art of losing isn't hard to master, so many things seem filled with the intent to be lost that their loss is no disaster."

But its in losing that we gain. We know the brain's way of learning is actually more akin to an editing process- taking in information and keeping only what is necessary to form new connections and create insights. When we move through difficult relationships we can feel depleted but we have also gained a greater understanding of ourselves and our needs from seeing up close what we don't want and what doesn't work. 

So in thinking again about 'end of life' I have a thought exercise for you- think about that law of conservation of energy- "In physics and chemistry, the law of conservation of energy states that the total energy of an isolated system remains constant; it is said to be conserved over time. This law means that energy can neither be created nor destroyed; rather, it can only be transformed or transferred from one form to another." (from Wikipedia)
And let's consider, rather than thinking of endings as failures, let's ask ourselves -how does that raw material, that nutrient rich soil, lay the groundwork for the next phase, next generation, next iteration? 

So yes, George Harrison was right- "All things must pass". But maybe Bruce Springsteen was also right- "Everything dies baby that's a fact, but maybe everything that dies someday comes back"

My fav version of Atlantic City, RIP Levon Helm. 

What we can learn from the Death card is to accept the transitions as they show up, let fall away what has run its course, make room for new growth from fertile ground. My hope too is that this card can also give us a perspective on the world we've built and to hopefully enter a new paradigm not built on 'use up and discard' but one built on resourcefulness and acceptance of limitations of resources, to create more ingenious ways of creating that take into consideration how the next generation will benefit from what ran its course in our current generation. 

"For we are only the rind and the leaf. 
The great death, that each of us carries inside, 
is the fruit. 
Everything enfolds it. "
-Rainer Maria Rilke


Books referenced- 
Rachel Pollack- Seventy Eight Degrees of Wisdom
Stephen Jenkinson- Die Wise

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So this brings us to the offering I'm giving this month- From now until Ostara my Tarot books are open for Ten Card Spreads! And I'm offering them at a special price of $60 for an hour read. Because that last push out of winter is hard!

If you've never had your cards read with me before I read from a place of intuition and a deep connection with my cards. I do not make predictions and I do not offer advice.  All reads are confidential and can be done in person at my home (It's actually the home of my two cats they've just graciously allowed us to reside there as well) in Toronto or virtually over Skype, Google Hangouts or Facetime. 

So if you are interested you can use the button below to book your read! 

Stacey Sproule