(i) Thoth Death Tarot Card YouTube Presentation
This is my YouTube presentation of the Thoth Death Tarot Card on my channel DavidH071. Clicking on the image below will start the video.
Meditation, Scripture and Death
Death is the fundamental basis of a Spiritual Path as it leads from one transformation to another as we shed the old and take on ever finer forms of identity resting in spirit. This process is described in spiritual text and Biblical scripture:
Romans 8: 6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
Spiritual work is about dying to the lowest expression of ourselves. In meditation we die to the world. The above sentence is stating that those who are caught up in the world without spiritual purpose are dead to their lifes potential in discovering spirit.
We will now turn our attention to the death card itself.
(ii) Thoth Death Tarot Card
In a departure from the Rider Waite image the skeleton is seen at the bottom of the ocean. It is Osiris in the waters in which he died. Crowleys depiction of this card shows the transformation and resurrection processes associated with death, and thus is a glyph of the complete cycle. Death and its resolution is central to the SPIRITUAL PATH.
(iii) Thoth Death Card Mythology
Seth, the brother of Osiris, chops Osiris into little pieces and eventually scatters them all over Egypt. Isis, wife of Osiris, goes to collect her husband’s body parts to give him a proper burial. She collects all parts but his penis which was swallowed by a fish. This brings us to the hebrew letter association of the card which is NUN meaning ‘fish’.
Sneddon states in his book the Thoth Companion :
(iv) Comparison of B.O.T.A , Waite & Thoth Death Cards
(v) Thoth Death Tarot Card and The Tree of Life
The Death Card is on the 24th Path & connects Tiphareth and Netzach on the Tree of Life. Its connection with Tiphareth is also explained in the section below. Netzach even though it is associated with Venus is still on the masculine pillar of the Tree.
The Death tarot card is also connected to Binah, the third sephiroth which has been described as the ’50 gates of death’. Binah means UNDERSTANDING and one cannot understand the nature of God without dying.
The 24th path is called the path of Imaginative Intelligence. Imagination, in its highest sense, provides the inspiration to move upwards spiritually and takes us from the sphere of Netzach, the realm of our emotions and the basis of our personality, to the sphere of Tiphareth or spiritual beauty and Christ Consciousness. This involves the dissolution of the ego which is the essence of the Death Card.
(vi) Thoth Death Tarot Card Hebrew and Astrological Attribution
The fish has become a direct symbol of the FERTILITY of Osiris and a dying God. Dying Gods are associated with the Sun and are located in Tiphareth, the 6th sephiroth as shown in the diagram in the previous section. Christ is also associated with the Sun God Amen Ra (Christ calls himself the Amen in the Book of Revelations. Osiris is the precursor for Christ and other resurrected figures; Tammuz, Adonis and Attis & Dionysus for example.
We can see that the fish is associated with Christ in the photo below:
Astrologically the Thoth Death Tarot Card is assigned to the sign of SCORPIO, which is associated with SEXUALITY AND DEATH, ruling the 8th house of a natal chart. In previous cultures death has been viewed as synonymous with sex. The fish is also associated with semen.
For those interested I have an article on the Biblical Astrology of Scorpio.
(vii) Thoth Death Tarot Card Symbology
3 forms of Scorpio represented in the card
(i) Scorpion = represents the lowest form of death, and is situated between the alpha and omega (first and last) in the card. Legend says that when a scorpion is in a situation that it cannot win it stings itself to death. In the card it represents the gross illusory side of death. By denying our infinite spiritual nature we also die to life and living it fully with purpose.
The Lilly on the left and the lotus on the right are both associated with Saturn. So, being shaped like the alpha and omega respectively they are showing that the scorpion represents PHYSICAL LIFE BEING TRAPPED IN THE LIMITS OF TIME.
(ii) Serpent/fish = life is a flux between conscious living and unconscious living (death). Live and death are 2 curves of the same serpent.
This pair also represent the masculine serpent and feminine fish in union depicting the act of creation and to that end they are placed at the just behind the origin of the phallus of Osiris.
(iii) Eagle = which is the most exalted form and represents death of the Ego and subsequent oneness with God.
The Eagle represents the ecstasy of the spiritual orgasm that initiates the creation of life. We see threads from the Eagle connecting it to the creative process.
To summarise, the 3 forms of Scorpio represents the cycle of life. A reincarnation cycle can be seen below :
The 3 figures of Scorpio are also associated with the 3 states of water :
Scorpion = Ice due to its hard shell.
Serpent = water due to its flowing nature
Eagle = gas which rises in the air
Soul incarnations = represented by the bubbles below:
The bubbles show figures of various ages, an adult male, an adult female and a child and a single sperm. The bubbles are held together with threads forming the PHALLUS of Osiris.
So here we have the 2 sides of Osiris. With the scythe he destroys life and with his phallus he creates life. We could also see this in the context of an individual soul incarnating in different lives (bubbles) through the creative will of God.
Osiris = black skeleton. He is in black as black is the colour of SATURN which rules Binah, a sephiroth we spoke about earlier. Binah is associated with ‘form’ and structures which have decay inherent in their nature, such as the form of the human body. Saturn also bestows the concept of ‘time’. Higher levels of creation have no time.
He dances as this represents what the death card is about- change and transformation. He prevents stagnation in our life and it is obvious from the symbolism of the card that his scythe gives rise to new life in the bubbles.
Process of death = seen in the 2 figures between the legs of the skeleton:
Legs of Osiris represent the glyph of Saturn:
The lower figure is being beheaded by the scythe as it crosses his neck. The upper figure arises from the head of the lower figure after death and represents the higher mind freed from the ‘death’ of the lower vehicles. A bright light envelops it, representing the Light of that is seen upon physical death as the the soul is absorbed into spirit.
This process of ‘beheading’ is an ANALOGY that religious scriptures talk about. It means the separation of the higher centres of man (located in head), from the carnal desires (the body), and has nothing to do with physical beheadings which has been misinterpreted in scriptures such as the Bible and the Koran.
(viii) The Hanged Man to Death Transition
In this context Death means dying to our emotions and personality (Netzach). It is the outcome of the surrender achieved in The Hanged Man and is a transition to a new more contented self. Our old habits that we have formed in our earlier years die away as they lose their grip. This can be likened to becoming child like again as symbolised by the infant in the Rider Waite Card – the child does not fear change as the others do. However, we have the experience of life which the child has not gained and so we are the adult, free of some of life’s emotional tangles we have got caught up in along the way.
This transition is one of unifying emotion, unifying personality by dying to it – they no longer hold importance to us or control over us. We can leave them as they are without fearing what they are or needing to maintain or direct them.
Relevance to the path
Personality has been surrendered, expressing the spirituality that lies inside. It has become neutral in that we do not limit what lies inside nor limit who we can relate to. We have let go of our sense of “self” as personality, it has “died” because we have transcended it to find a higher, deeper sense of self in meditation.
Difficulties in attempting this transition
A balanced personality with free flow of emotion can be very powerful and thus very seductive – unifying positive and negative feelings and aspects of our personality can give a release of emotional energy that can seem like a great freedom and a contrast to how we have been before. We are no longer trapped into a reactive way of being but can now respond consciously, naturally and spontaneously. We may not wish to let go of this sense of free, expressive sense – we may wish to establish this as our new sense of self – and yet it is still a sense of self, however powerful, based on and in personality. It will change, it will not last.
Practical advice on making this transition
Remember what your overall goal is – to be free of all limitations of matter, personality and mind. Enjoy, but do not be satisfied with, the short-term, limited freedoms found by escaping from old ways of being a person in the world into new ways of being a person in the world.
(ix) Thoth Death Tarot Card Divinatory Meanings
Thoth Death Upright
1.Something in our life is dying/dissolving/disintegrating whether it be a structure we have created, a pattern, habit or way of thinking about ourselves or the world.This is necessary for new beginnings and transformation in our life.
2. A period of great transformation and facing your darkest fears, but the darkest hour is just before the dawn.
3. In order to grow we must abandon the old and death is our protection against stagnation. As we change we are forced to leave behind that which we have outgrown.
4. If our life is passive our life tasks are not being completed and death may not be evident. On the surface things may seem stable and yet we are here to learn and grow and therefore when our life is active we are continually changing as we follow our deepest purpose. Death then is our servant as we evolve completing our life lessons in this incarnation. Growth involves facing our fears and breaking our limits of existence.
5. This transformation can manifest as a crisis period in your life but fear of the future must be gently replaced with confidence in the future
6. A time to cut away that which does not serve you in your life
Thoth Death Reversed
- Resistant to change are reluctant to let go of the past. Things which are not serving you from the past are holding you back in the present moment.
- Life feels like it has stagnated and you as stuck in a rut.
- A time to resolve issues that are in fact holding you back from living in the moment.
- Like the scorpion you may feel trapped with time constraints and limitations in your life at the moment.
- A fear of death itself and a need to resolve it with higher insight
(x) Thoth Death Tarot Card in the Celtic Cross Spread
1 : Heart of the Situation = change and transformation are central to the current situation
2 : Possible obstacle = our fear of letting go of that which does not serve the present
3 : Unconscious Influences = finding it difficult to face our fears
4 : Recent Past = one of drastic change which may or may not have been traumatic
5 : Hopes and goals = to be emotionally content and free of a situation which is holding us back.
6 : Short Term Future = the need to make a major decision which will change our life
7 : Our Self Image in this situation = stuck in a situation and feeling the need to move on
8 : Environment = restriction (like the scorpion) where we feel trapped in our current circumstances
9 : Guidance & Warning = if we do not face our fears and move through that which is holding us back our life will stagnate
10 : Overall Outcome = freedom from that which does not serve us which we are finding hard to let go of. Emotionally fulfilled.
(xii) Thoth Death Tarot Card Links.