A few weeks ago, I lost my father to ALS. His death was expected as there is no cure for ALS. So, I knew this day was coming.
However, his death affected me in an unexpected way. This is something I realized during meditation, actually. While I was meditating, I noticed that my mind kept drifting to my car outside. For some reason, I was terrified that something was going to happen to it. This fear was so persistent - as was my inner voice telling me the car would be fine - that I finally asked myself, "what am I scared of?"
The answer came quickly. Death.
Now, this is not the first time someone has passed in my family, although my father was the closest. Still, I have never really had any issue getting over past deaths. It was only with this one that I noticed this nervousness. It was this feeling that the sky was going to fall at any moment!
Clearly, I was having some trouble processing his death. So, being the Tarot reader that I am, I decided to do a reading about it. I share it here in case it may be helpful to others. My intention is not to advertise my grief, but to use this experience as a tool to learn.
And learn a few things, I did.
The reading looked like this:
- What is rising into consciousness for me with regard to death? (3 of Pentacles)
- What am I having trouble accepting about death? (4 of Wands)
- What is the source of my fears? (8 of Pentacles)
- How could I better align my view of death with truth? (10 of Cups reversed)
- What can I learn from death? (2 of Swords)
- What aspect of this time is worth keeping with me? (7 of Pentacles)
The reading begins with the 3 of Pentacles. Here I see that I’m starting to think about death in a rather technical way. Indeed, this simple 6-card reading is my attempt to boil death down to the basics and answer the question, "what’s bugging me about it?" I feel the need to understand it, to know the blueprints.
Also with this card, I see that I’m starting to consider the religious aspects of death. For me, raised Catholic, I sometimes see the 3 of Pentacles as representing the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit - it's the Trinity in a card, so to speak. So, I see that I’m dealing with this side of the equation too. Perhaps there’s something about the Bible that could help me understand death better...that would not have been my first stop normally, but I'm keeping an open mind.
With the 4 of Wands, I see that I’m having trouble accepting death as a homecoming. This came as a surprise, yet, you could see how doubts about this could make me crazy. If I was certain the afterworld was a marvelous place, then death probably wouldn't be giving me such fear. So, perhaps I am having some second thoughts about that concept.
Noted. We move on.
The source of my fears is represented by the 8 of Pentacles. In this card we see a man working diligently on his craft, head down, focused. Well, this looks a lot like what I was doing when death arrived at my door. It’s not that I didn’t see it coming given my father's diagnosis, but that doesn’t mean you’re ready. When you get that phone call, are you really anywhere close to ready?
I also grasp with this card how attached I am to the physical world. When I was a kid, I used to lay in the grass in my backyard because it felt so good to be close to the earth. I really love the physical world. Why would I want the freedom death offers? Again, this is clearly something that I'm getting stuck on.
When I asked how I could better align my view of death with the truth, the Tarot gave me the 10 of Cups reversed. Here once more, we have the theme of the home, or the Home, and its overwhelming joy. It’s a “10,” the card says. It’s happier than you can imagine! More than you could ever grasp! It’s the ultimate, the supreme, it’s Heaven! That’s the truth!
The 2 of Swords shows me that the challenge with death is that I cannot see it for what it really is. It’s either good or bad, the end or a beginning. What I cannot see with my physical eyes is the truth. Much relies on faith, and death of a loved one is a test of faith if nothing else is. It challenges me to view the transition as neither good nor bad, but what it is. Plain and simple.
The reading ends on an awkward, but telling note. I asked what I should take from this time, and with the 7 of Pentacles, I’m told it’s financial. This took me aback slightly. I mean, yes, there was a small financial benefit to my father’s passing. But, really? I mean, there’s nothing more that I should take from this?
And here I see the major theme emerge. We shouldn’t overthink death. It happens, we should honor and even celebrate it, but then we must move on. In other words, take the money and run!
This theme was reinforced by the cards that I chose. Before I did the reading, I thought with a topic like this, I’d get at least half of the cards from the Major Arcana - the part of the deck dealing with strategic issues - but I did not get one. Instead, all of the cards were of the Minor Arcana, encompassing things that we have some power to control. The message seemed to be that while I cannot control death, I can control my response to it.
So, yes, while I love the Spirit World and trust in its guidance, I struggle with aspects of death. And yet, I do know a few things! For instance, I know that I can ask Spirit these questions, and it will respond. I also know that there’s solace in that 10 of Cups card - reversed for emphasis - that I just need to internalize. And I know, in the end, it’ll come for me anyhow, so why dwell on it? It’s a challenge we all must face.
And face it here, I did.