The Fool’s Journey
With his head still clearing from the visions, The Fool makes his way through an empty field. The weather has changed, and winter is upon the land. Everything around him feels cold and lifeless.
In the distance, as the sun begins to rise, so does the figure of a skeleton, wearing black armor, riding upon a white horse. The Fool recognizes Death, and he feels as though he, too, has been stripped to the bone.
“Am I dead?” The Fool asks.
“In a way,” Death responds. “You have given up your old self and your old world. Both are dead.”
The Fool feels the truth in those words, and begins to morn his loss.
“But,” Death continues, “a new sun is rising, and you will be reborn with this day. Sometimes death is the only way to effect great transformation.”
I want to take a moment to address one of the shadowed perspectives of Death right off. A lot of readers/teachers will tell you that Death doesn’t represent physical death, however, in my own experience it CAN and often DOES, especially when in the presence of the Four or Ten of Swords. Dismissing Death as death does you a disservice.
However, the most common story is one of painful transition and transformation—and it is most often painful because it references a transformation from which we are holding ourselves back.
The image of Death is enough to strike fear into any person, because we, as human beings, fear the unknown most of all. But the transformation Death brings is always a standard course, one that leads to the next level of life, a rebirth after stripping away all that no longer serves you. A river and a rising sun are often symbols found on the card, to remind us that just like water, we ebb and flow in cycles, sometimes spilling over our banks, rushing toward a vast ocean, only to be picked up by the clouds and rained down again.
There can be no birth without Death. If the Death card appears, expect big changes to happen in your life. The sooner these changes are accepted the sooner you can celebrate your rebirth. The change is going to happen regardless, so it is best to allow it to happen quickly (as soon as possible) to avoid as much suffering as possible.
While The Hanged Man was a symbol of voluntary sacrifice, Death also requires a sacrifice, although it is a sacrifice taken by force. When Death appears, take stock of your life and the parts of you that no longer serve you, and as painful as it may be, it’s time to let them die, to wither away in the past.