I was first introduced to Tarot cards over 20 years ago. I had graduated from an Evangelical Christian college and was exploring new-to-me ways of doing spirituality with a spiritual director. One morning, she suggested we work with the Tarot. I was nervous, at first. Was this really an acceptable thing to be doing? Wasn’t this forbidden by our religion? We talked about those thoughts and feelings, and I relaxed into playing with the cards. I was surprised by the perspectives, questions, and insights raised by the process. I began to see the strengths of an eclectic set of spiritual practices.
Soon after that experience, I purchased my first deck - the Motherpeace Tarot. I was attracted to the feminist representation of the archetypes, the evocative drawings, and the multicultural intent, which now feels a lot more like cultural appropriation. I’m not comfortable using that deck these days, but a few of the images still resonate with me. The illustration for Death continues to inform and secure my understanding of the card.
In Motherpeace, Death is conveyed with a snake shedding its skin. Death is not a final end. It is a process of releasing what was to allow what is next. Shedding a skin is uncomfortable and requires effort. It is also natural and inherent to the life and growth of the snake. Death is a transition to engage and to do actively for the benefit of living and growing.
I recently drew the Death card in a reading. I was using the Ethereal Visions deck, which uses Art Nouveau styled imagery to portray the archetype. I had a sense that it was about the end of a chapter versus the closing of a book, but what did that mean for me? It wasn’t until I looked at the same card in multiple decks that the message it conveyed made sense to me. Now, I know what I am shedding and I am working consciously, deliberately, with practice, to let it go. I am hopeful for the new life that is to be released.
Is a part of you itching to be shed? Where might something new be emerging in who you are or how you live?