TarotHunter’s Salt Rounds:

  • Stop listening to false prophets or self-aggrandizing experts, instead listen to those who truly lead by example; those whose words are logical and sensible; those who have lived through the experiences of which they speak.
  • When traditional methods and concepts no longer suit the situation you need to find alternative paths. Sometimes we can’t find the answers we seek in history or the ways things were done before. It may be time to explore new ideas and open new communication channels so the situation becomes clearer and less divisive.
  • If current leaders and pundits rely on outmoded, useless and even detrimental practices and beliefs then it may be time for change. If you truly believe this then now might be a good time for you to guide others to a new way of thinking; to explain how things can transform for the better. Be the change you want to see in the world.

Death’s Handmaiden

 

As some of you out there may know, I spent the last 5 years caring for my elderly, dementia-ridden mother-in-law. I lived with her 24/7 and took care of all her needs. Although not a fun experience by any means, I will say that I learned a lot. Most of it I was unable to process until after she had passed, in fact I’m still processing. One thing I did learn is how to appreciate death. I realize this may sound a bit out there but the truth is that there comes a time when death is a blessing and this was definitely one of them.

In life, my mother-in-law was a fiercely independent and self-sufficient woman. She detested asking for assistance and would have despised what her illness did to her. Towards the end she was unable to recognize any of us (although she did still occasionally respond to my hubby’s voice); she had no control over her movements or bodily functions and no awareness of what went on around her. It was horrible to watch as she deteriorated over time and be unable to do anything about it. In her final days her doctor came for a home visit and told us that he felt she didn’t have much time left – days to months at the most. Ironically she died within two days. At the time we were arranging for in-home hospice care for her. We joked that she found the idea of strangers in her home so repugnant that she decided it was time to move on.

After she died she laid in her bed for several hours before the funeral parlor folks were able to pick her up. Although no funeral services were planned, we did want her to be cremated. The hospice agency sent a nurse so that time of death could be declared (it was actually 4:30 although legally the time was recorded as 6:30). The nurse also change my mom-in-law and cleaned her up. Now this is where things got strange for me. I am one of those people that has always refused to touch a dead body – visions of corpses sitting up and trying to grab me have always filled my mind, blame it on too many zombie flicks. Even when my father died I could not bring myself to touch his corpse. With my mother-in-law it was a very different experience.

Perhaps because I had tended her daily for the past few years (there was literally no part of her body I hadn’t seen), I was able to stroke her head and help prepare her for the funeral hearse. I helped the nurse change her and clean her. Before the nurse arrived I found myself entering her bedroom numerous times just to say goodbye and reassure her that her son, my deaf, mute & retarded brother-in-law, would be fine. There was something soothing about this ritual. It made me understand why having a loved one waked in the home makes more sense than a funeral parlor. Doing this for her made me feel like a priestess.

This experience also taught me not to fear death. Although dying can be traumatic, especially to those left behind, it is a natural part of life. If there is no death then there is no room left for new growth. Death can also be a blessing in disguise. I am often reminded of the classic Star Trek Season 3 episode The Mark of Gideon. The basic plot is that Kirk is beamed down to a fake Enterprise where he meets Odona. It turns out her planet is suffering from overpopulation and in an effort to control it Odona hopes to become infected by a disease Kirk carries but to which he is now immune. To these people, death has become a promise of relief, a surcease. For some people who suffer from a long-term debilitating illnesses or dementia, death but start to become a welcome experience.

What I have learned is that even if I have times when death seems cruel and capricious, there are also times when it is a boon signalling an end to suffering. Yes, it is a journey to the unknown but I now believe there comes a time in our lives when what is known is no longer tolerable and it is our choice to embrace this transition. Instead of fearing death and putting off the inevitable, we should speak to our loved ones and make our wishes known should certain situations arise. We should have the right to consciously decide if and when we chose to make this transition and the only reliable way to make our wishes known is through legal documents. These conversations may be painful but knowing how my mother-in-law felt about such matters make caring for her final days much more bearable.

Celtic Wisdom Protector

Celtic Wisdom Protector

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

The Book says: The Protector shows Belenus on the right and Dis Pater on the left, with the chalk-hill figure of Epona, making a strong protector triad upon the hillside leading to the Otherworldly Plain of Delight. Belenus (The Shining One) gave his name to the festival of Beltane, or the “fires of Bel”, when May and the bright half of the year is celebrated. Dis Pater was the Father of the Ancestors, the one who welcomes the dead to the summerlands. The White Horse of Uffington in England shows the dynamic, liberating presence of Epona, who opens the door to the summerlands. An introduced tree, the Apple became immediately widespread and has an important place in folklore.
Keywords: Wholeness, happiness, attainment, success, simple joy and pleasures, devotion, fortunate meetings, gratitude for life, marriage, good health, openness, sincerity, safety after peril, contented circumstances.
Reversed: Hollowness, unhappiness, broken engagements or relationships, intolerance of shadows, such as inability to accept death, political correctness taken to extremes, no change to enjoy life, lack of fulfillment, maintaining the status quo.
Soul-Wisdom: Who are you in your true self?

TarotBroad’s Buzz: Looking at this card I sense its sizzling energy. The Sun is radiant and bursting with life, apples frame the solar face, swirling spirals appear in two spots and the white horse seems to be preparing to charge off the card. It zips and zings with radiance and energy. The figures on the card represent three different Celtic deities – Belenus, Dis Pater and Epona. I found this interesting because this card is composed predominantly of male imagery but the word for Sun in Gaelic is feminine. However there is no evidence that the Celts actually had a specifically solar deity. They had many deities whose names meant shining or light but they were not solar deities per se. Epona is considered a horse goddess and, like many Celtic goddesses associated with horses, may also be connected with sovereignty and solar energies (Rhiannon, Macha, etc.) but is not a Sun goddess. Epona also has the honor of being the only Celtic deity worshipped in Rome in her own right, without being merged with a Roman god first. She had her place in the sun.

Looking at this card, I see a supplicant honoring Epona beneath the rays of a benevolent sun. The supplicant is thanking his gods for all that is positive in his life and the blessings brought to his family. He understands the cycle of life and realizes that with the good comes the bad and that change is part of the natural order but he appreciates when things are going well for him and wishes to acknowledge and thank the gods. This card offers a sense of contentment and pleasure, being on a green hillside beneath the rays of the sun. It suggests the blessings of the gods upon the supplicant and upon the land and by extension upon us all. It reminds us to celebrate and embrace our moments in the sun, our time in the spotlight, because it will inevitably change some day.

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.

Here comes the Sun – Sekhmet!

Dark Goddess Sekhmet

Starting today I am beginning my Dark Goddess labyrinth work with The Sun aka Sekmet. I have to admit to an enduring fondness for The Sun’s energy. Even from my earliest childhood I felt a much stronger connection to the Sun and daylight than I did to the Moon and nighttime. This is ironic considering I am a confirmed night owl but what can I say, I’m nothing if not inconsistent about some things. I have also long felt an affinity for Sekhmet’s energy. She is assertive, aggressive and energetic; roaring out her anger and affection with equal measure. This confident lioness could only be stopped in her destruction by blood colored beer. I gotta love a goddess who can only be slowed down by an alcoholic beverage.

Dark Goddess 3 of Air

To start off our relationship, I asked Sekhmet for a message and she sent me Blue Dakini/3 of Air. This goddess reminds me that in order for something new to bloom, I must excise what is dead and outworn. This is often a difficult process because there are times when what is apparently outdated and work out can carry great sentimental value. Although as I am learning, clinging to the past can often blind us to what promise lies ahead.

The appearance of the Blue Dakini also reminded me of another aspect of The Sun’s energy can be overlooked – the sun’s light is a purifier. It bleaches away stains and destroys bacteria. It’s a powerful source of energy, light and warmth. It is what allows life to exist on Earth. All of these are amazing gifts but they can also have harsher aspects. Too much light or heat can blind or dehydrate. Too much energy can be exhausting. If we destroy all bacteria then we risk killing off the good ones too. So it is clearly a question of balance. The destructive aspects of the Sun are essential and necessary but they certainly should not overshadowing its more beneficent ones. During the journey ahead I’m sure I will find harsh light shed on areas of my life I’ve preferred to avoid and at the same time once I clear away those hidden, shadowy areas I’ll be making room for more creative projects and radiant energy.

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.

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