Death strikes everyone – kings or commoners alike.
The skeleton implies that eternity triumphs over the transitory. Death liberates our soul from the sinful flesh so that we may join God in a greater life to come. Each death brings new life. Since we will not know what happens to our bodies once the spirit leaves, what we really fear is the destruction of our personality. The ego which does not wish to die. It wishes to make itself superior to the Universe. If we can accept death, we can live more fully.
This card does not actually refer to transformation, it rather shows us that very moment at which we give up the old masks and allow the transformation to take place. We live under the egos control for so many years that we come to believe that nothing else exists.
If you see the card carefully, the 4 people depicted clearly demonstrate different approaches to change. The king, struck down, shows rigid ego. If life comes at us with enough power, the ego may collapse; insanity can result from the inability to adjust to extreme change. The priest stands and faces Death directly. He can do so because this stiff robe and hat protect him and support him. This is a code of belief to help us past our fears of death. The lady symbolizes partial innocence. The ego is not rigid, yet still aware of itself, unwilling to surrender. She kneels but turns away. Only the child shows complete innocence and faces Death with a simple offering of flowers.
Death wears black armor; black and darkness symbolize the source of life and its end. The white rose stands for desires purified, for when the ego dies, selfish and repressive needs die with it. We fear the death of our old selves because we do not know what to expect afterwards.
13 symbolizes a new creation, death breaks up old forms and makes way for the new. In nature, life and death are inseparable. Death signifies a time of change, which also shows a fear of change. It shows clearing away of old habits and rigidness, to allow a new life to emerge. It also indicates a crippling fear of physical death.
This card reversed indicates being stuck in old habits. A sluggish boring life masks the sometimes desperate battle of the ego to avoid change.
The card always indicates that death is not only a possibility, but a necessity. By drowning us in lethargy, the ego prevents awareness of this fact from coming into consciousness. Depression often conceals inner terrors.
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