Last year I bought my first Tarot deck with the intention to learn about this ancient tool. My purpose was to use the cards to understand myself and my life better, rather than as a way to divine the future. So when I drew the Death card reversed last week, I was not alarmed. I did not read the card as a warning that somebody would die soon. Somebody is always going to die.
Anthony Louis says that death reversed is about resisting necessary change (death upright is about transformation). He writes, “you are clinging to an outmoded situation, relationship, or attitude that really should be discarded.” I had asked the question before I drew: what will help me most going forward to heal myself, my whole self? And the answer I get is that I am clinging to the past because I fear change. It is time to discard a mode of living. By clinging to it, I am hindering my growth. My sense is that the outmoded ways I resist changing are, one, depending on my “rational” way of making decisions and two, living impulsively. I picture these modes as living from the top part of my body, neck up, rather than centering in on the heart. I have been slowly transforming into a fully intuitive being who follows deep inner knowing: not impulse, but intuition. I can trust my inner process, my discernment, my inner guide. That feels very right at the moment. And it doesn’t mean eschewing intellect or reason. Of course there is a place for those! It just means that when I feel scattered, my thoughts whipping around my head, and confusion reigning, I need to settle back into my body, put my hand on my heart, and sit with what’s happening at the moment, asking myself, what do I need right now? Answers do come, sometimes slowly, other times quickly. Deep knowing has its own timetable. The knowledge that comes is sometimes mysterious, yet pretty much unassailable.
I had a recurring dream as a child that I was clawing my way through a dark underground tunnel. The physical feelings accompanying the dream were pain, suffocation, fear, and claustrophobia. And then, after a long time, bloody-knuckled and exhausted, I saw light. I came out into the air, greeted by a daisy growing at the mouth of the tunnel. And the lightness I felt then was like the lightness you feel after setting down your pack at the top of the mountain. I can still recreate those sensations of the childhood dream, though I haven’t had it for decades. For a long time I thought it was about birth, then I thought perhaps it was about death. It’s probably about both, but it’s also about the journey from living in the head to living from the heart.
In my mandala, I painted that underground journey.
In my book of poems, I wrote about it in a poem called “Daisy”: “But finally I came up into the day and/ a big daisy—such a cartoonish flower—/was handed to me./ I sat on green grass at the mouth of the hole,/ crosslegged, light, my bones like a bird’s, holding a large/ white-petalled, yolk-centred flower that seems now like the repository of all happiness!”
Louis, Anthony. (2001). Tarot: Plain and simple. St. Paul, MO: Llewellyn Publications.