A Feminist Tarot: Death

Ah, Death.  The card misused in movies and TV as the card of doom, the harbinger of tragedy.  We’re supposed to fear death more than anything, especially when predicted by a probably stereotypical female tarot reader in a tent or a trailer or whatever.

But there’s some truth in it, isn’t there?  We’ve been taught to fear death — actual death, not just the card — more than just about anything else.  In fact, we’re taught to fear it so much that we try to avoid anything that leads to it.  Like aging.

Women, especially, are still taught by the culture in which we live that we’re really only valuable while we’re young.  After that we’re relegated to doting on grandchildren and hanging out with other old women, pushed out of anything we might have once really enjoyed.  Looking younger than our actual age draws complements.  Signs of aging are covered up.  And it’s sad, because you’d think that in all the feminist advances we’ve made so far, surely we would have stopped judging each other for doing what we can’t help doing:  getting older.

But Death in the Tarot isn’t about death as much as it is about rebirth.  It’s not a card to fear because the message is really about the necessity to let things go when their time is up, to mourn and bury and move on in order to enable something new to grow.  It’s the image of the phoenix, not the reaper, which should adorn this card.

And the message in it is, in fact, to stop fearing death.  The more we fear it, the more we resist it, the less we are prepared and capable of moving past it.  And it is on the other side where the rebirth happens.

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