Death-key 13, is known as the Path of Nun on the Qabalistic Tree of Life. Nun, means, Fish
(illustrated on the Thoth card) and is also the Hebrew simple letter for Movement,
thus the running skeleton on the Thoth Card and the Riding Skeleton Knight on the Ryder-Waite.
Path of Nun runs from Netzach (Victory) to Tiphareth (Beauty) on the
Tree of Life, and is one of the three aforementioned paths that leads
from the Personality to the Higher Self. The initiate may experience the
Higher Self on any one of these Three Paths, Art (The Path of Samekh),
The Devil (The Path of Ayin), and Death, the Path of Nun; but the
lessons of all three must be mastered. The figures of the Art card, the
Devil card and the Death card are all different aspects of the same
thing; The Higher Self.
On the Path of Nun, one is literally
launching the consciousness into the Dark Unconscious of Universal
Origins. This takes courage and determination, for the consciousness
appears to be extinguished in the Universal Unconscious. I liken the
consciousness to an Artificial Intelligence, and the Unconscious as the
Real Intelligence This artifice aids me in trusting the dissolution of
my consciousness, as a transition towards re birthing it purified of
illusion and deception. In fact, the word meaning of the Path of Nun,
Fish, reveals the whole arcane doctrine of the Qabalah, as it is the
symbol for the "first matter" that moves within the Infinite Ocean of
Unconscious-------i.e. Thought. Interestingly,since Nun is a verb, it means to "sprout or grow"implying the Skeleton is a perpetual seed.
perspicacious student will note that the Tree of Life has a Path for
Death, that of Nun, but seems not to have a Path for Birth: However, The
Devil, Path of Ayin, enchains our Personality in Matter as it leaves
the Higher Self on its journey down the Tree of Life. Thus the Devil is a
card of Birth. Plus there is the fact that both Death and Birth are
essentially the same transition. As one is born in visible light and/or
"outer World", their "I" sight dies to the invisible or "inner world",
just as the personality transitions from the outer world back into the
inner world at physical death. One energy Transforms itself by the
process of destruction of energy phases. From one phase to another. The
Personality constructed consciousness, is indeed extinguished in the
Unconscious causing a period of "forgetful sleep" before the Personality
exits the Higher Self again and produces another operative artifice
known as consciousness used to operate another material form. The
exception to this recycling process, is when the consciousness
accompanies the Personality back to the Higher Self, without needing
physical death to do so. This is done when the consciousness has become
discriminatory, and knows the tricks of Matter, i.e. the illusions of
senses, that the Personality experiences on the physical plane (The Devil card). These
illusions or delusions come from the perspective of separateness and
survival thinking of the physical form. Thus, the fear of Death, must be
conquered by the consciousness "that won't experience the death
sleep"., that is, the consciousness that knowing transfers from body to
body, by Personal Higher Self manipulation.
The Great Work, is Life
itself as a Wholeness-----not a divisionism of separates all trying to
prove themselves to a Creator that by the very process of creation,
had already Approve them into being! Those who are seeking approval, a
survival mechanism of the social animal, are what I call "fish in the
Ocean,looking for water." and/ or "Wanna-Be's" who forgot that they
The Beauty of Tiphareth, the Higher Self, is
that once you return to this aspect of Personality, you return to your
body knowing you as a Personality are completely accepted and not
fearing rejection in the least ( a mask of fear of death)! In other
words, you "Know Thyself".
The Tarot Card- Death-key 13, is called the many texts of the Mysteries, "The Child of the Great Transformers" and also the "Lord of the Gates of Death";
Implying that Nun is not the Great Transformers themselves, he is
their Child. Thus Nun is not Death itself, rather Nun is the keeper of
the Gateway into Transformation. Roughly, this states that the "first
matter", thought, is the Gate keeper of Transformation, which is not too
difficult to "wrap your head around", if you understand that how you
"perceive yourself" and that perceiving transforms your reality. After Traveling one of the
Three Paths of the "Dark Night of the Soul", where your consciousness is
torn down relieved of all that is not worthy of you, as decided by the
Higher Self,and then sent back down the Tree into your Malkuth-body
transformation. This death of perspectives of the Personality therefore change from reality
to the Real perspectives of the Great Work; To become an aware-sensual-Soul,
rather than a socially made personality. This transition is only possible by returning
to the Higher Self....Your brain can't do the job as it is an artificial sense of self who is programed by its reaction to environment!
To reiterate, Nun. is the Hebrew word that means Fish , which is the symbol for the First Matter. There is also an alchemical symbol of this Path as putrefaction,
which is the decaying black mass in the crucible that eventually
transforms into gold and is considered a trans-formative process of
turning death into new life.
The Thoth Deck card symbolizes this
trans formative process as a scythe, a harvesting tool that is also a
symbol for Time. Time is under the control of Saturn-Binah, the giver
and destroyer of Life. This process is Illustrated in this card as the sweeping scythe,
harvesting souls, and the trans formative bubbles of new life in its
wake, all of which, support this analogy of life giving and life
The skeleton is the frame work that holds the organs
and can be seen as a seed of the body as the minerals that are
attributed to bone are the "seeds" of organic forms.
astrological sign attributed to Death-key13 is Scorpio, a trans
formative sign of three symbolic images, the Scorpion, the Serpent and
the Eagle. Thus, we have the transformation of a dangerous
earth-crawling creature, to a serpent which symbolizes the Astral Light,
weaving its way upward to become an Eagle (behind and above the Thoth Deck figures
head) that sours above all heads. All of which are represented in the
Thoth Deck Tarot Card as movement. Movement being seen as
change/transformation, which is the skeletal pattern of the Universe.
For it is only by constant change can entropy be overcome.
The term "Dark night of the Soul" refers to the darkness of
unknowing, where the psyche is striped of the desire nature of the
personality. This leaves a dreadful emptiness, almost a complete
disinterest in everything. Personally, upon experiencing these Three
Paths of the Dark Night, The Devil, Art and Death, there was left only a
thought of despair repeating over and over again, abolishing any other
desire or thought. It was, " I can't be YOU, You must be me." The
Higher Self responded to that by sending my " skeletal awareness"
directly to the Great Mother Binah, who then broke down and reassembled
the Personality into that of the Divine Child, and I awoke as the "Will
to Be" and/or the Desire of the Great Mother of Form. This is a very
hard journey to explain and it requires one not to be concerned with
living or dying. One becomes a mechanical motion, pushing ahead with
great faith, as Life's processes have no value one still mechanically
crawls towards the Higher Self. Moving forward in a total darkness, inch
by inch, the Soul (Psyche) begins the process of "putrefaction",
believing, but not always so sure, that there will be light that will
eventually appear and lead the way. It was a Red dot of light that
appeared to me out of indescribable darkness....The Great Red Binah. the
purifying Force of resurrection, Bathed me, \Loved me (indescribable
ecstasy) and sent me back down the Tree into Tiphareth and the Fiery
Light of the Higher Self. Once a Divine Child always a Divine
Child....somehow we've forgotten that, and thus disinherited ourselves/
our personality, from the Macrocosm.
The term "Dark Night of the
Soul" was first coined by St. John of the Cross where he
said."...although this happy night brings darkness to the spirit, it
does so only to give it light in everything; and that, although it
humbles it and makes it miserable, it does so only to exalt it and to
raise it up; although it impoverishes it and empties it of all natural
affection and attachment, it does so only that it may enable it to
stretch forward, divinely, and thus to have fruition and experience all
things, both above and below...." Upon conquering the Path of Nun, the
Soul is reconstructed as the Personality of the Higher Self, and the
emptied brain is filled with the Primary Imagination...The will to form and the Understanding of the Great "Womb with a view".
rules Scorpio. Scorpio rules the sex organs. Thus this Death Card,
represents a Sexual energy, a reproductive energy which is consciously
directed in a physical exercises such as that of Tantra, or that of
Crowley's Middle Pillar, an activity best represented by
Crowley's Death Card. The initiate is now following the "Path of the
Flaming Sword" (see Robert Wang's-THE QABALISTIC TAROT) , which is both destructive and constructive and not for
the weak of character. or for those who fear death, as shown by trying
to dominate others.
The Ryder-Waite Death Card, as did Crowley in the Thoth Card, departed from the Tradition set by the Golden Dawn or the older Marseilles cards. Here the warrior quality of the Death card is expressed as a Skeletal Knight. His medieval presentation of Death as the Black Knight, riding past the fallen King of Matter. Before the Death Knight is the Bishop with fish-shaped Mitre, implying the passing of the Piscean age. The rising sun behind the two towers (first seen on the Moon card) refers to resurrection which is the conquest of death. The flying banner, depicts a white rose of ten petals, five inner and five outer. Being based on five, the white rose refers to Geburah's Martian force. However, the totality of the petals, refers to the entire Universe under Kether, as Kether is presented as the White color (perfect balance of all colors). This also relates to the 0-Fool and Uranus, to which the White Rose is related.
The Death Card, during a reading, suggests:
- Time, Age and transformation.
- Rarely does it symbolize physical death
and only if borne out by the accompanying cards.
- For the Querent, this
is the Principle of letting go, and moving on.
- A rebirth out of Old
- A type of transitional metamorphosis which destroys the
something old to build the something new.
- A Realization of Life Power
as it is released from past confines and revitalized by change and
Thank you for your interest and comments. May you live long and prosper!