Archive for the ‘ Death ’ Category

Speaking with the Dead

I had a very strange experience last week. I’m not sure why I should be so surprised by it but I was. I had arranged for a Tarot reading with the wonderfully talented Mitchell Osborn. My reading with Mitchell was very different to they type of Tarot reading I’m used to giving and receiving. His style reminded me of a session with John Edwards. It was more as if he was channeling messages from the spirit world than interpreting cards.

Over the course of our reading, Mitchell described receiving messages pertaining to my hubby from someone he felt might be associated with show business or a comedian. Now my hubby had an uncle who worked as a teamster in the film industry but that didn’t feel right. Mitchell once again said he was getting a strong feeling of a comedian. I mentioned my brother Tom who has been dead since 1986 but was well know in my family as a clown. The 31st anniversary of his death was two days after the reading. As soon as I mentioned him Mitchell almost shouted “Yes!” I explained that Tom had died when he was 15 but gave no more details. I just shared how Tom had been a practical joker and one statement that Mitchell had offered from the spirit world sounded exactly like something Tom would have said.

For the rest of the reading, Mitchell gave me messages from Tom that I didn’t even know I needed to hear. He explained that Tom was showing him his head hitting the ground as a way to explain that he died instantly and felt no pain. What I did not know at this point is that my brother’s skull had been fractured in seven places by the attack on him. Mitchell also shared that Tom was showing his spirit standing next to his body in shock – he didn’t realize he was dead, and that he stared at his attacker wondering what had made him so angry and full of pain. This sounds so much like something Tom would think that it brought tears to my eyes. Any skepticism I felt immediately drained away.

A few things Mitchell mentioned didn’t make any sense at the time. He asked if my brother ever drove a car or liked cars because he kept seeing a red Mustang. Now, I assume my brother Tom like cars as much as any teen boy but living in NYC meant very few people we knew owned cars. My hubby was one of the few and although Tom like riding in them he showed no special attachment to them. Of course, the odds are that the longer he spent with my hubby the more likely that would change. Mitchell also asked if Tom had a girlfriend. I explained that as far as I knew he didn’t, at least not when he was killed. Mitchell said he kept mentioning “the girls that wasn’t included” but I had no idea who that might be. Once our reading concluded I immediately called my mother and shared that portion with her. We both cried at the confirmation that Tom hadn’t suffered. I think we’ve carried that burden for 31 years and never realized how heavy it was.

Now here comes the part where I got messages from Tom. I kept thinking about the “girl who wasn’t included”. It bothered me. So as I laid in bed thinking things over it hit me – Tom meant my sister-in-law Tracey who had died last year. She wasn’t included because she was not yet part of our family when Tom was killed. I became convinced that was who Tom meant. I believe he was trying to let us know he was watching over Tracey in the afterlife. I mentioned this to my family and got non-committal responses. They didn’t want to disagree but didn’t really agree either. So I went to my default divination tool, my Tarot deck, and simply asked Tom for clarification. I asked, “Who was the girl who wasn’t included?” I drew Death. That seemed pretty clear to me but I wanted additional confirmation. So I asked Tom “I want to be sure, we’re talking about Tracey, right?” I drew The Hierophant upright. This is significant because I indicated that an upright card would be a positive response and The Hierophant is my birth card. So Tom was clearly saying “Yes, you are right”. I once again shared this with my family and we all agreed this was Tom’s way of reassuring us. Even my brother Billy (Tracey’s husband) said he felt a little better after receiving that message.

To add even more layers to this, I began thinking about the car connection. Now, as I mentioned, Tom certainly enjoyed spending time around my hubby’s cars but wasn’t a “car guy” per se. Then I remembered something. Tom was scheduled to start high school the September. The high school was called Automotive High School! Then, while driving up from NYC, my hubby passed a spot where he has noticed people place cars that are for sale. This time as he passed by he saw a red Mustang! We took that as another sign Tom was around and wanted us to know it.

This was a very powerful and mind-altering experience for me. I’ve always wanted to believe that we can communicate with loved ones who have passed on but I’ve also always been skeptical. This has definitely eradicated that. It occurs to me that perhaps our loved ones on the other side are often trying to communicate with us but we don’t pay enough attention or understand the signs and messages. Going forward I am definitely planning to keep my eyes, ears, and heart open to future signs. I already know my father is good at finding us parking spots when none seem available so simply being more aware would probably help this process.

Because I could not stop for Death

Jodorowsky Death

 

Today for my AM Tarot tweet I drew Death reversed from the Tarot de Marseilles. The image is quite stark and dramatic. The only figure is the scythe-wielding skeleton. Various body parts are scattered at the skeleton’s feet, like something out of an episode of Dexter. There is a relentlessness and implacability to this image. Death no longer human, if it ever was. There is no reasoning, no pleading to be spared. Death does not make deals and no one is spared. As The Doors sang “no one here gets out alive”.

Modern society seems to do everything it can to stave off death or avoid facing its reality. Much of the medical treatment I’ve seen for the elderly seems to focus on maintaining life regardless of quality. They have the ability to stabilize the body but not actually improve the situation. So if a patient is suffering from liver disease or some form of Alzheimer’s or dementia, the doctors can keep the body going but not actually heal it. I’ve watched both my in-law’s go through this process. My father-in-law’s health would deteriorate to the point that he had to be hospitalized. We would be told he had a 10% chance of improvement. Then 2 days later he had been stabilized enough so he could return home only to have the cycle repeated a few months later.

I’m not trying to promote euthanasia (although the longer I see similar scenarios played out, the more of a proponent I become) and I don’t blame the medical profession for this situation. They are simply doing what society and the law demands they do. As a society we seem to have developed an imperative that death must be postponed as long as possible regardless of consequences. If a family decided to just let an elderly parent die at home by not taking her/him to the hospital, could the family be brought up on legal charges? After watching what my husband’s family went through with his father, I often questioned why we kept returning him to the hospital when his health deteriorated. We knew he would not get better. All the hospital could do was stabilize him enough so that he could return home. It was a relentless cycle that eventually broke my mother-in-law and led to the situation I now face.

I have come to appreciate that there truly are worse fates than death. Lingering on in a state of limbo is one of them. In fact it’s made me question why anyone would want to be immortal – assuming it was possible. Watching everything one knows and loves die or change has to case psychological damage. I become melancholic just thinking about the changes I’ve seen in my life. What would my mental state be after centuries of change?

In the original Star Trek they dealt with such scenarios in two episodes that I recall. In one, Capt. Kirk finds himself on an empty Enterprise with a female he doesn’t know. We eventually learn she is the daughter of the ruler of a planet The Enterprise has recently visited. The planet knew no death or illness and as a result had become so overpopulated that it could no longer support itself. At various points throughout the episode Kirk hears heartbeats and we eventually learn this is the sound of the hearts of the populace of the planet that surrounds the fake Enterprise. It is overwhelming to hear. The woman eventually becomes ill and is happy. That was her goal – to become infected with a disease which Kirk carried but was immune to so that she could bring it back to her people. Many had volunteered to become infected in order to ease the pressure on their planet and because they no longer wanted to live. In another episode, (Requiem for Methuselah) Kirk and Spock meet Flint, a man who has lived for centuries. He had been Leonardo da Vinci, Brahms, Alexander the Great among others. In an effort to ameliorate his loneliness he had created a android companion. The crew eventually learn that Flint is slowly dying and it seems it will be a relief for him.

Dark Goddess Death

Humans seem to crave immortality (some moreso than others). Many see their children as a way of achieving that goal. Others pursue public works or donate money so that hospital wings or even buildings will be named for them. The sad truth is that nothing lasts forever, not even the greatest works of humanity. The Pyramids and Sphinx at Giza and Stonehenge are slowing eroding. “Civilizations” great achievements – towering skyscrapers, enormous damns and glittering arenas can be washed away in an instant. Today’s celebrities are tomorrow’s “whatever happened to?” fodder. Today’s heroes become little more than entries in a history book to the next generation. The truth is that everything changes, everything dies. We do not need to court death but I think if we can manage to appreciate the blessings it offers we might find a sense of peace within ourselves about its inevitability.

I have spent the last six years caring for my ailing mother-in-law. In that time I have seen her deteriorate from a semi-independent woman who needed assistance such as preparing meals and handling other household tasks to someone who needs help with the most basic facets of life. It saddens me because in her prime my mother-in-law was a fiercely independent woman. Despite the fact that she has a developmentally disabled son, she never asked for help. Now she is unable to walk without assistance. What makes it both sadder and a relief is that she is unaware of how helpless she is. She is like an infant – knowing only that she needs something and relying on someone else to provide it.

Dark Goddess Death

I feel like Death’s handmaiden. I am not in any way contributing to this process (although dealing with this has given me a new appreciation for euthanasia). My task is to calm her, provide what she needs (to the best of my ability) and try to ensure she’s not alone if/when her time comes. Having said all of this, I cannot help and will not justify the resentment I feel about this situation; the rage that flares up inside me at unexpected moments. The desperate wish I have that it would all just be over and I could reclaim my life again.

I am no saint or martyr. This current situation is intolerable to me. I detest it with every fiber of my being. Sometimes I practically vibrate with it. Every effort made to find assistance from external sources (government agencies, visiting nurse services, etc.) has either proven to be a dead end or beyond our financial means. I’m not willing to put this woman, who spent much of her life caring for family members, into a nursing home where she will be strapped down and drugged until her body can take no more. I may hate the lack of control and independence I have in my life right now but I would have that situation even more. I also don’t think I could forgive myself for it.

Well-meaning friends and acquaintances have spouted various platitudes about some divine being who does not give us more than we can handle. Generally my response is either a pained grimace or a colorful rejoinder which includes various profanities (depending upon how well I know the person). I bitch and moan to anyone and everyone who will listen, including the indifferent gods whose existence I honor. I get it – this will end when it is meant to end. However I must reiterate that it sucks beyond measure.

The main take-away I’ve gotten from this experience is a fierce determination not to find myself in a similar situation. I have no one that I can count on to care for me if I end up like my mother-in-law. I’ve also seen the various nursing home facilities available for elderly people in this condition and the reality is that if a family member is not a regular visitor and if one’s health coverage doesn’t provide enough benefits, the patient/family member ends up ignored, neglected, and even abused in some circumstances. That thought gives me nightmares.

Wheel of Change Death

I don’t believe we deal well with death in our modern culture. We fight it with a desperate determination that often results in circumstances like this one. The body keeps going because medical technology can maintain the status quo but it can’t do much to stop the progress of diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. So the body is kept alive and as healthy as possible while the mind continues to disintegrate.

Support services for caregivers who are tending to family members in this condition are minimal and (in my experience) woefully inadequate. It’s wonderful that there are support groups, but if I cannot leave the family members alone how exactly do I attend? Home visits from doctors? Oh sure they still happen, just not in this part of the county. Home care assistance? It’s available but not to my mother-in-law because she’s not on Medicaid. My brother-in-law (who is deaf and retarded) is eligible but services cannot be activated without a doctor’s approval. No doctors make home visits in this area and he will not leave the house without a serious fight. It’s a Catch-22 that leaves you bitter, exhausted and defeated. I hate it!!! In fact, I cannot stress how much I hate it. The only thing I would hate more is to have to institutionalize these two people that I love. I accept that. It’s the trade-off I make in my life. I’ll put things on hold to tend to them and I can still face myself in the mirror and sleep at night. It’s not a perfect situation but it’s the best I can do right now.

So if there is anyone else out there who has found themselves in similar circumstance, please know that you have my respect and admiration. It’s a thankless task that is fairly unappreciated by the wider society. Make sure you keep in touch with friends somehow or else the isolation with warp you. Take care of yourself. Even if all you can do is spend 10 minutes every day one yourself, treat that time as sacred. I’ve done the “giving my all to the relatives” trip and burnt out quick. I have found the work of Jennifer Louden and SARK to be inspirational and helpful in dealing with all of this. I still find it difficult to balance time for me with their needs but I’m stumbling along and finding ways. And if your choices are different than my own and you had to make the agonizing decision to institutionalize your loved one, please know that you have my sympathy and support. No one else can understand what you went through and how difficult it was for you to make that decision. Don’t allow anyone to shame you because of it. We are all just doing the best we can in this life and shouldn’t be held to someone else’s standards or expectations.

Death – Blue Rose Tarot

Blue Rose Death

 

Blue Rose Tarot
Created by Paula Gibby
Published by Soul Guidance

The Book says: In the Blue Rose Tarot, the symbolism of the Death card mirrors the continuing, unfolding journey of the Fool. In the foreground stands the very gateway, here represented by a human skull. It is the Threshold leading from one existence into another. The skull is flanked by two roses – one red and one white. They symbolize the dual aspects of the Fool. The red rose symbolizes human existence in the material, physical world. The white rose symbolizes the spiritual being. Within the empty sockets of the skull are two dice. Snake eyes. When playing dice, rolling snake eyes means finality — the game is over. And for the Fool, this particular stage of the Game is over. But look further past the forbidding gateway, for in the distance, we see the Fool, symbolized by the lavender butterfly winging his way across the dark terrain, following the beaming rays of light leading him onward towards a horizon that we cannot interpret or see beyond. What is beyond that mercurial sky? That sky filled with light, electricity, color and movement? It is not for us to know. We will find out when the time comes. When it is our turn to follow the rays of light and continue our own Great Journey.

TarotBroad’s Buzz: This card reminds us that sometimes we need to stare what we fear the most in the face and learn to see beyond it. The crystal skull, with its burning red eyes, represents our fragility and a state of being that we ultimately cannot avoid. As the saying goes “nothing in life is certain except death and taxes”. Well ladies and gentlemen, this is death; this is what we are when we are stripped of our flesh, our hair, our personalities. Stripped to the bone we all become amazingly similar, all those external factors that allow us to create barriers in life are gone and we are all truly equal now.

Even as we face this image of our greatest fears we see the beauty and wonder in life too. The two roses, the butterfly and even the color of the sky and clouds overhead are wondrous and beautiful. And the crystal skull has a pink tinge to it, a reminder that once we pass the skull, once we open that door and pass through this fearsome gateway, we will find a new beauty. It represents the potential and transformative energies that await us. Those black cliffs might look fearsome and overwhelming, but once we cross them we will find ourselves embraced by the beautiful sky above. We too can be like the butterfly emerging from its cocoon. We can spread our wings and enchant those around us with our grace, beauty and joy. But we can only experience this transformation is we dare to open that door.

Death – Transformational Tarot

Transformational Death

 

Transformation Tarot
Created by by Arnell Ando
Published by US Games ISBN:1572815396

The Book says: Transformation and spiritual evolution. The stripping away of outgrown feelings or beliefs. The end of the old and the birth of a new cycle. The need to surrender to the inevitability of change. An ending that is illusory when viewed from a higher perspective. The natural conclusion of a stagnated relationship or familiar situation that stifled individual growth and change.

TarotBroad’s Buzz: In this card Death is portrayed as having not only a recognizably human face, but a heart too. This Death is not an unapproachable figure, but one who seems to offer welcome and solace. Yes, she wields a scythe which can separate us from the physical world. At the same time her love and compassion allow us to move closer to the spiritual. A snake winds around her legs and she stands on a rattlesnake skin, reminding us of the snake’s ability to shed it’s old skin and grow a new one. The is the blessing this Death offers us. She allows us to shed our worldly skin and grow in spirit. She guides us along the way, refusing to abandon us while we are at this delicate and defenseless stage in our growth.

This is the Goddess as Crone, she who destroys and releases so that the new growth has room to shoot through. She may be surrounded by skeletons and death but she is not forbidding or unapproachable. We can see her love for us and understand that she is helping to release us from the bonds of the past so that we can move into the future unburdened and ready to learn and grow more. Death may still seem frightening because it is so unknown, but at least with this Death card we won’t be walking towards it alone.

Mansions of the Moon Azazel, Angel of Death

 

Mansions of the Moon Tarot
ZADOK (dahogue@nctc.net)
Self-Published

The LWP says: Traditional meaning – pale horse of revelation, Biblical imagery.

TarotBroad’s Buzz: This card shows a fairly dark, somewhat gloomy image of death. The skulls, black candles and horse’s head all give it the appearance of some type of dark mass or dark ceremony. The hooded figure, with it’s small gray head is ominous and eerie. The wings may be the wings of an angel or may be a cape of feathers. Either way this figure does not inspire hope and faith but rather fear and awe.

Maybe because it is so full of Biblical imagery, I don’t find much comfort or relief in this vision of Death. It reminds me of smoky, incense filled churches with voices intoning hymns for the dead. It brings to mind warnings of damnation and the need to ask for forgiveness and repent before it is too late. Once the bowl is broken it can no longer be fixed – once you have died you cannot make amends for your faults.

This card is about transformation, releasing and letting go. But it also visually and symbolically shows the fearful aspects of death – the pale horse upon which Death rides, the skulls, etc. But when we are finally able to peer into the cowl and face death head on – we see the humanity hidden there. And suddenly maybe, just maybe, Azrael, the Angel of Death is not quite so fearful and terrifying anymore.

The Liberator – Celtic Wisdom Tarot

Celtic Wisdom The Liberator

 

Celtic Wisdom Tarot
Text by Caitlin Matthews, art by Olivia Raynor
Destiny Books, 1999
ISBN 0-89281-720-8

The Book says: Change, transformation, renewal of blockages, clearing the way for liberating change, letting go of old habits, regeneration, change of consciousness.
Reversed: Fear of change, stagnation, illness, impasse, stuck in old habits, clinging to outworn ideas, enforced removal.
Soul-Wisdom: The Liberator of Devotion releases the Soul to unconditional love and liberation if we can humbly face and befriend death. What do you need to let go of?

TarotBroad’s Buzz: Something about this image reminds me about the lady on the Land O’ Lakes box. She holds a Land O’ Lakes box bearing her image, which holds a Land O’ Lakes box bearing her image, etc. Only in this image we see the Sheila na Gig, symbol of rebirth and regeneration, bearing the image of the Cailleach Beare, symbol of release and clearing away. And within the Cailleach is the seed of the Sheila, bringing new birth, new hopes and change into our lives.

The Sheila seems so welcoming, as though she understands our weariness and our need for change. She offsets the cold and somewhat forbidding image of Cailleach Beare. The Cailleach’s fearsome visage may be frightening and unwelcoming but if we can face the changes she brings and accept her gift, we may find ourselves transformed and liberated in unexpected ways.

There are always two sides to any tale – light has darkness, spring has winter and death has life. Accepting this and working with it, instead of trying to go against the tide, can be liberating and allow us to release what no longer serves us and move on to a new phase in our lives.

Death – Wheel of Change Tarot

Wheel of Change Death

 

Wheel of Change Tarot
created by Alexandra Gennetti
Published by Destiny Books, 1997
ISBN #0-89281-609-0

The Book says: When this card is part of a reading reflect first on the skeleton, or framework of the issues you are dealing with. Try to see the elemental nature of your situation by stripping away the outer layers of the problem or situation. Get at the bones of the matter. When you have done this, you may recognize parts of the situation that can be pared away or given up in order to facilitate growth. These things will symbolically die, thereby fertilizing the soil of the present situation so that new circumstances can arise. When you complete one thing you are given room to try something new. This is a card of endings, completions, letting go. All these things imply a loss, but the loss may be of something old that you are finished with anyway and that you just need to cut out of your life pattern. When this card arises, you may be experiencing the fear of losing something that you don’t want to give up or something comfortable that you are afraid to do without. The Death card implies a big change, with the result that you must give up life in the way that you know it. Every moment of our lives is a moment of death, as we give up the past to step into eh present. This is the manifestation of the spiral path of life, on which we walk into and out of death in every moment.

TarotBroad’s Buzz: This card adds a beauty and majesty to death that is sometimes missing from other decks. Death, draped in its white cloth, almost seems to be dancing and celebrating that passing of this woman’s soul. Death knows the secret – just as the sun is setting on the day (or this woman’s life), tomorrow it will rise again. Everything about this image is beautiful; there is nothing fearful or frightening. Even the vultures take on an otherworldly beauty. The skeleton’s wrap spirals around its body and the way the edge floats in the air behind it gives the impression of something floating free, being raised higher and soaring to the skies. Death’s scythe may have descended and ended someone’s life on this plane. But it has also freed that person to cross over onto another plane. There is beauty in the darkness as well as in the light. There is a beauty to the cycle of death and rebirth. I think we may dread death because we don’t really trust that there is anything beyond it. But this card offers us hope. There is something beyond Death. It is merely a crossing, a passing, a transformation from one phase of existence to another. Maybe on the other side of that river is paradise, an Otherworldly garden of delight and joy. Or maybe it is a transformation to a different type of life. I remember reading a romance novel once where the heroine has a car accident and awakens in the South before the Civil War. She eventually realizes that she is can’t return to her own time and she no longer wishes too. And in the last chapter it returns to modern times and her sister, who is remembering the heroine and the car accident that killer her. To me this was an intriguing idea and this card brings it back. Death is the guide, the guardian and the catalyst. It forces us to face and deal with issues we might prefer to avoid. But if we never make those changes and cross that river, then perhaps that is when we are truly “dead” in the way that we fear.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers:

%d bloggers like this: