Key 13: Death
The Child of the Great Transformers; Lord of the Gates of Death
“The Twenty-fourth Path is the Imaginative Intelligence, and it is so
called because it gives a likeness to all the similitudes, which are created in like manner similar to its harmonious elegancies.” (Sepher Yetzirah)
Death is without doubt one of the truths we will all have to face, and he is never far away since the very cells in our bodies die and continually renew themselves. Death works on many levels, including our spiritual work – to rekindle the silent inner voice of our own Higher Selves, once so ruthlessly vanquished by the outer ego.
This card reminds me of the work of the Golden Dawn Temple, which is to break down the stronghold of the egocentric grip on our conscious point, which believes that it is the supreme victor of its domain. As we balance the elemental forces within ourselves, we break down the ego’s hold so that the inner voice begins to re-establish its rightful place in our lives. It has always amazed me how powerfully the initiations affect us – Death breaking down aspects of unnecessary and outmoded influences in our lives, until eventually we must face Death at the Portal of transition so that a new relationship with the Higher Self can be formed.
The Scorpio was considered the great malefic of the medieval astrologers. This is probably because they were frightened of the sexual force. However, as this card shows, that same sexual power can lead to great spiritual awareness. It goes through three phases: first the scorpion, then the eagle and finally the phoenix which is a process that yields much to meditation.
As we start out, we are like scorpions ready to sting anything that is outside of our own frame of understanding. At some point, we find our place in the egregore and begin our work to help the Temple grow and become stronger. As we move up through the grades, the Temple begins to look like a spiritual battlefield, wherein our individual, egocentric dreams and inflated ideas are cut away. The broken pillars in the key suggest that not only is the Outer Order subject to Death, but also the Inner Order must succumb to its power. Within this destructive, transformative force, renewed life begins and rises to the call of the Higher Self, as Death works on, breaking down the unwanted egos strewn across the field of play like dismembered limbs.
Nun lies silent, like a shadow amongst the debris. The fish represents the feminine influence, above which the serpent carried by the eagle, represents the masculine influence, creating a magnetism which draws us higher into the fiery symbol of the phoenix. At the top we have the ringed eclipse, which suggests the uniting of the Lower and Higher Selves as a final act of transformation, reinstating the silent inner voice to its rightful place, enabling us to now perceive our True Will.
And of course, the Bible reminds us that one day, even Death will die.
Transformation. Sexuality. Old age. Death. Framed within the syntax of Time. Letting go of unnecessary or outmoded influences. The breaking down of the ego. The process of the surrender of the self to something bigger.