That Death Card

Recently, when Georgie and I did some spreads and sought guidance from beyond, “Death” stared right back into our very souls. But unless my ghost is writing this, you can assume we are both still alive.

Nonetheless the Death card has the capacity to shake people to their melodramatic cores. If there is one thing we can both predict, without the help of the cards, it is that clients will say “I hope I don’t get Death!”

So we agreed to pull out the decks and have a look at some diverse renditions of the death card and talk ‘Death Card’.

Top Row L to R – The Gill Tarot, Ghosts and Spirits Tarot, Tarot de St Croix. Bottom Row L to R – The Lions Gateway Tarot, Murder of Crows Tarot, The Witches Tarot.

The cards we laid out are pretty hard core. With the exception of the Tarot de St Croix death has the appearance of the Grim Reaper coming to grab you. But Georgie didn’t flinch. In fact she revelled in the imagery. She has spent her life working with cards and according to her, “Death”, the thirteenth card of the Major Arcana, could do with a massive rebranding. “It has had a lot of bad press” she says. “People take it far too literally! It is actually my favourite card

“Pulling the Death card is rarely predicting death. It is actually asking if you are you ready to move onto the next level. It is challenging us to consider if we are really ready to transform into the next version of of ourselves” says Georgie. According to her the Death card is “all about releasing stuff and making room for more”. She says that “while this release may feel challenging and bring up emotions we don’t want to feel, we will, ultimately, benefit by surrendering”.

A roadside altar marking a death.

A conversation like this is the perfect ‘in’ for me to talk about Descansos, a concept I read about in Women Who Run With The Wolves many years ago.  Estes describes Descansos as resting places, places that may be found on “the edges of cliffs along particularly scenic but dangerous roads in Greece, Italy and the Mediterranean”.

To make descansos means taking a look at your life and marking where the small deaths and the big deaths have taken place. Estes says that she “likes  to make a time-line of a woman’s life on a big sheet of white butcher paper, and to mark with a cross the places along the graph, starting with her infancy all the way to the present where parts and pieces of her self and her life have died.”

Georgina decides that she will work in her journal and make where there were roads not taken, paths that were cut off, ambushes, betrayals and deaths. She will put a cross on a time-line at the places that should have been mourned, or still need to be mourned.

I suggest that we both spend some time closely examining and meditating upon some death cards. The Margarete Petersen rendition is particularly powerful and will support some journal work.