In the Tarot, Scorpio is connected with card 13, or Death. Just over half way through the Major Arcana, the card is an invitation, (but really more of a command), to shed what no longer serves us. Death comes when whatever identities, habits, behaviors, beliefs, positions, things, jobs, relationships or situations we've outgrown have already run their course and now we must release them. Sometimes the reaper comes and we are ready and willing, gladly submitting to his scythe. But, often we are filled with fear and we cling, grasp, and try to protect whatever mask(s) we've grown so comfortable hiding behind. Many of us are quite expert at doing all the work that leads us to the brink of death, and then become immobilized with fear, unwilling to commit to that final release and thus remaining in a limbo of pain for far too long. And perhaps we are not to blame for this failure. We live in a death-phobic culture, a culture which whisks bodies away to pump them full of chemicals and paint their faces so as to appear 'life-like' before they are placed in a vacuum sealed metal box which ensures the natural return to soil will be held off many lifetimes. In one of the longest running propaganda campaigns of all time Patriarchy has successfully turned death and darkness and all their symbols into things to fear and avoid, replacing the cyclical spiral path of our ancestors with a straight line that promises eternal life in a bleached white perfected state. If we just follow the right rules we will never have to succumb to the deep dark earth, never return to the womb of the mother, never embrace the shadow, never dance with death. But the truth these lies cover up is that Death is our dearest love. Death is always with us, always waiting in the wings, the lover that will never quit us. And in their perfect love, no one is left out. Death comes for each and every one of us. There is a skeleton inside of every king and commoner alike. Death is the gateway to life, it clears out what is stagnant and old creating space and fertile soil for us to plant new seeds and reach our highest potential. We cannot be in devotion to life if we are not also in devotion to death. And so, in this season when all is dying, all is dark, we are asked what in our lives has all but died? What are we clinging to out of fear that must be shed? What change, release, and shedding is inevitable? Why and where are we running from the reaper? How can we learn to turn and embrace our truest lover? This my friends, is the season for befriending Death.
To expound on this Death time, I've drawn three supporting cards to show us what we're being invited to let go, embody, and embrace.
The Queen of Cups is showing us what Death invites us to release. With her deep intuitive waters and unparalleled emotional intelligence this queen teaches us sovereignty of these realms. In this placement she is shining light on what relationships stand in the way of our emotional sovereignty. Where have the waters gone murky with out of balance emotions? Where have we allowed our intuition to go dark in favor or holding onto an already dead love? Where are we tangled in webs of co-dependency, over giving or over taking, taking on other emotions, doing free emotional labor until our cups are empty? Are you parched or drowning? This may be in relationships with partners, lovers, family members, ancestors, co-workers, or with larger entities like a job or religion. Examine the balance in all of your relationships between giving and receiving, take note of your boundaries, observe where and in which relationship you feel emotional sovereignty and where you do not. With Death guiding it is likely that this relationship has already ended energetically and if you're honest you've known that for some time. Now the reaper is here to help you, let them strike this final blow. You are strong enough, and you deserve to grow.
Ace of Pentacles reversed shows us what to embody in this moment. The Ace of Pentacles is a bright shiny new coin, or seed, full of incredible potential and ready to be planted so that it can bring new life. Reversed it is showing us that if we wish to plant this beautiful seed, to grow an oak from our acorn, we must first ready the soil. As we allow Death to do their work and shed the emotional blocks the Queen of Cups shows us, we are in essence infusing the soil of our heart with all the best fertilizers. And yes, shit is one of the best fertilizers there is. So, let yourself embody this process. Go through the shit. Let the layers shed. Don't jump the gun and try to force the seed to grow, you aren't even ready to plant it. Just let yourself fully embody the death taking place. Take a cue from the trees all around us who are dropping their leaves knowing that they will decompose through the winter making the spring growth that much richer. Embody this Death as a commitment to the seeds that are waiting to be planted, this is the best gift you can give yourself. In letting go you are preparing the soil for growth you can only imagine.
In this process of Death we are being invited to embrace the High Priestess, who more than any other archetype in the Tarot is the Dark Mother, the Death Crone, the Goddess of the Underworld. The High Priestess knows the power of drawing within, of spending time in the dark. This is where her throne is, this is where her power lies, deep within and in concert with the cycles of the moon. She embodies the fertility that awaits when we close out the distractions of the world. She whispers to us that this is the time of year that corresponds to the cycle of the Dark Moon, the time leading up to solstice when the New Moon shows its tiny silver crescent and the promise of light returns. In this month she teaches us to fully embrace total darkness. Total death. This is what our magic requires if we want it to flourish. Let her intuitive wisdom show you your power in darkness. She invites you to be enfolded in her dark embrace, curled in fetal position as our skin slowly sheds.
A story feels appropriate to illustrate the magic of this reading. I call this the Parable of the Christmas Cactus. When I was in college I had a beautiful Christmas Cactus. I loved them dearly and kept them in the sunniest spot in my room where they were regularly watered and given fertilizer. I talked to them and sang to them. When winter break rolled around I made arrangements to have a friend keep and care for my cactus, but, in my hurry to leave I forgot my cactus in the bathroom. The bathroom had no windows and the heat was turned low while we were gone. I was sure my dear plant friend would perish in the dark and cold during the month I was gone. When I returned I rushed to see the fate of my friend. I threw open the bathroom door and was SHOCKED to see that they had doubled in size and huge magenta buds adorned every arm, ready to bloom. In order to really grow and unlock their full potential this being had needed a time of darkness, a time of death. Sometimes we mistakenly try to give ourselves only light, only miracle grow. We forget that death is a crucial part of the life/death/life cycle.
Happy dying my dears.
Deck featured is The Moonchild Tarot