Embracing “Death” As We Move Forward

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For starters, this is not a regular post about Tarot cards.

As some of you have read my previous articles, I love to explore the lessons behind some Tarot cards. I find them rich and mindblowing sometimes, and I truly believe those archetypes represent us in our lives’ stories. They gracefully tell our journey of self-discovery and struggles while we try to find our place in the universe.

I have never been a Tarot expert – I’m just an admirer. Not because of its possible divination power, but because of the story it tells. The journey of the Fool until he finds the World (Major Arcanas). The small vicissitudes we encounter along the way (Minor Arcanas).

The Tarot is a beautiful representation of the human condition. If we learn the lessons behind these cards, it can be a beautiful mindfulness tool for self-discovery and self-healing. It makes you go deep and question your beliefs and your actions.

A while back, I wrote about the lessons behind the Ten of Swords: Pain can be Tough, and Yet a Powerful Transformational Tool and the Fool:  Stepping into the Unknown: a Beautiful Lesson by the Fool. Feel free to read those articles too, although this one is not connected to them.

Today, we’re talking about Death. The Death card is one of the most beautiful cards of Tarot (at least in my opinion).

When I say this is the most beautiful card in Tarot, I refer to the fact that this card has mainly two functions:

  1. It keeps us in check with the reality of impermanence: nothing lasts forever. Good or bad. This card does not express physical death whatsoever, but “death” of a certain cycle. A friendship, a toxic relationship, a job, a house, etc. You can try as much as you want, but you can’t control life. Things will eventually “die” physically, emotionally, or spiritually, whether you’re ready for it or not.
  2. It gets us out of our comfort zones when we are told something has to change. A mindful, conscious act of our part needs to take place.

As humans, we love to be in our comfort zones. We thrive in predictable and constant waters and avoid sudden changes in our paths just like we avoid the plague. But as we can’t control anything in life, we should always be ready for an aspect of us to die. It’s not supposed to be the end of the world. A dead tree feeds the other trees in the forest so that the others can live – it’s all part of the cycle.

Our attachments have made us afraid of change, and that fear is what stops us from moving forward, from finding bigger opportunities in life and meeting more conscious and new people. Why should we want to remain the same? We have all changed throughout the years. There are habits that you probably don’t have anymore, so why not “die” a little so you can reinvent yourself and be “born” again?

I follow a Tarot reader on Facebook (Sal Jade), and she does weekly readings where you choose 1 card out of 3. I am not sure it works out every time for me, but I recently got Death twice in a row. And I celebrated it! I was really going through some “skin-shedding,” trying to get out of my comfort zone and doing some shadow work. And I love it when the Death card comes up. It’s a reminder that nothing shall remain the same, good or bad.

I certainly agree that it is a lot more painful to accept that something good has to end. Trust me, I struggle with this too. If we have pretty flowers in our garden, we will still try to protect them from external threats. If an animal destroys them, you create a barrier. And the same way, you create a barrier around your heart, your life, so your flowers won’t perish.

But if they don’t perish because of the animal, they will because of a storm, or something else. The bottom line is we try to hold onto the happy moments so tightly that once they fade, we suffer. Buddhism calls it “attachment,” the root of all suffering. We should appreciate our flowers but not get too attached to them.

I know it’s hard. Really hard, especially when there is some sort of death of something we cherish. A physical death, an emotional one, or even the death of a career.

Like Pema Chödrön says on When Things Fall Apart, Heart Advice for Difficult Times:

“Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing.  We think the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved.  They come together and they fall apart.  Then they come together again and fall apart again.  It’s just like that.  The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen:  room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”

They come together and they fall apart.  Then they come together again and fall apart again. Pema really talks about the same concept behind the Death card, which summarizes the impermanence of things.

So next time you feel that you are on the brink of a very powerful transformational change, don’t resist it. Let it run its course in your life. Let it consume you and cleanse you. It may not be pretty, but we are just like snakes – we need to shed off our skins in order to grow. You may not like the change, but you may at least be mindful of its lessons. That way you won’t get so attached to the idea of change.

I believe that in order to be happy, we need to embrace “Death” in all its forms. We need to allow “room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy,” as Pema Chödrön says.

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