Don’t get me wrong. Death is something to be avoided. It sucks when loved ones leave. But that isn’t what this card is about. Luckily, the word is getting out about that detail, thanks in part to The Simpsons and the Happy Squirrel card Tarot episode. Seeing the Death card doesn’t mean you are going to 100% for certain get hit by lightning or zapped by a poltergeist or something. It isn’t doom and gloom. Oh no, it is much worse than that. It means things are going to change.
This reminds a little bit of a conversation on “The Nightly Show” with Larry Wilmore recently. They were talking about the 2016 presidential primaries. I don’t remember the exact details, but they mentioned a person in New Jersey whose will asked that people vote for Donald Trump in lieu of sending flowers to her funeral. One reaction was along the lines of “Oh no you don’t. If I gotta live through a Trump presidency, so do you. I’ll dig you up and make you suffer along with the rest of us!”
Which is a bit of the negative essence of the Death card. We have to live through the fallout of change, be that change that comes as a result of our own action, as the result of other people’s choices, or just randomness. If there is anything to be feared from the Death card, it is the “Beyond Thunderdome” quality, where we have to keep going beyond the threshold of whatever change comes. The kind of change in question here isn’t some small fresh pair of socks kind of change. It’s beyond the Rubicon, point of no return kind of change, which is scary as heck, even if the change is for the better. It is this no-going-back quality that connects the card to death, and sets it apart from other “transformation” cards like the Magician. The death card’s change is irreversible, and connotes more risk than the Magician’s alchemy.
Change for the better is, in turn, the positive essence of the card. Think of the context in which Tarot emerged. The Medieval era wasn’t all that for most people. We are talking beating rugs with cats and trying to avoid being tossed on the plague cart kind of stuff. When life is hard, the concept of heaven becomes more attractive. But you don’t have to die for that to happen. Heaven is just the other side of a positive change. Even if it is just a change in perception. Next time you see a drinking vessel at 50% volume, give it a try. Seriously. I’m not kidding. Look at the glass or cup and think of it as half empty. How do you feel? What does the world look like through the half-empty kind of lens. Now change. Look again at that same cup just a moment later. Think of it as half full. Now how do you feel? How does the world look through half-full kind of eyes?
Change can be friend or foe, depending on how we see our situation now, and where we see it going. Change impacting us is a function of time.
Didn’t see that coming did you? But the way to be free of the gripping fear of the Reaper is to be free from the grip of time. Be here, now. It’s always now. Forever. No worries about good stuff slipping into the past, no worries about dark cloaked skeletons in the future.
Be here now. Then the Grim Reaper and his changes have less of a grip. Relax, and enjoy the Hob Nobs.
“How To Be Dead” will make sense out of the cookie reference. Enjoy.