This is one of Crowley’s strangest cards. Unlike in the RWS or Marseille decks, here the skeleton turns his back towards us, and he wears the crown of Osiris, the Egyptian god of Death and Afterlife. He is surrounded by the creatures associated with the Zodiac of Scorpio, and instead of reaping body-parts he is popping the bubbles of peoples’ lives with his scythe. It almost looks fun. Almost…
But what is really interesting about him, is the way he is holding his scythe. This is not how a farmer would reap his crops. This is not how it is supposed to be held. I have tried to read up on it, but I couldn’t really find anything. Of course, thousands of articles have been written on the Thoth, so maybe I just haven’t clicked on the right ones. Be as it may, I wanted to find out about this. I have journeyed.
I close my eyes…
Take a deep breath…
I am sitting on a hilltop. The wind blows lightly, but I can feel it is much stronger near the gigantic black skeleton some distance away. I can hear a constant murmur, like I am under water in the ocean, listening to currents moving above. There is another, eerie sound; just at the border of hearing, something similar to the screeching a stopping train’s wheels make. It comes from the scythe as it separates those souls from their bodies. It sends shivers down my spine.
I look to my left and get a jump. A pair of upside down… khmm… body-parts hang just next to me! I remind myself where I am. This is the previous card, the one every querent wants to turn around at first. I look down, searching for his face but I find the features of a bird; or perhaps a robot.
“He looks majestic, doesn’t he?” The Hanged Man asks.
“Yes. He does.”
“I can’t wait to reach him at last! It will be such a relief.”
“Why are you hanging like this? And what happened to your face?”
“I have given up my attachments, only the holy Ankh, container of all Life Force keeps me pinned here now. While hanging here I have realized the difference between this body and me. The real me that is my soul. I am free from ego and so I don’t have a face.”
“Will He turn around or do you have to go there?”
“Let’s get closer, shall we?”
He floats towards the skeleton and I follow him.
“Why is he holding his scythe in such a strange way?” I ask.
“He is not reaping, he is not taking. He is not violent. He is offering his scythe to those who are ready to pass below it. He is kneeling down and makes this ultimate offering of kindness and mercy.”
“The mercy of death?”
“The mercy of release. Of change. Of evolution and progress. Yes. The Mercy of Death.”
Suddenly he is not there anymore. I am standing in front of the skeleton. He is even taller than I first thought. He looks down at me and gently shakes his head, then shoos me away with his hand. I understand. He lets me watch, but it is not my time yet.
I turn around and see an ocean of souls. I feel scared. I am terrified of ghosts. They swarm around me and I want to scream, but suddenly I feel a hand on my shoulder. Then on the other side. My grandfather and grandmother are standing behind me. They are giving me courage to see all those souls for what they really are: people, just like me.
I see them part and let a group of spirits through. I recognize my wife from a previous life. I hug her tight and she hugs back, and I am so thankful she is here! Then I feel a tug on my suit (when did I change from my night dress?) and my children are there, waiting for their turn. I am so happy and relieved; I was a horrible father and husband, I thought they hated me. But they smile and I know they have forgiven, if they were ever angry at all. I call them by their names and realize I know everything I thought to have forgotten about them. The eldest is wise beyond her years; the boy is a sweetheart; the youngest is a cheeky little girl… They hug me once more and I know it is time for them to go. They slowly dissolve into the sea of souls and I stand there in my nightdress, grateful and uplifted.
“So this is your mercy?” I ask Death. “You offer it to those who are ready for it.”
He doesn’t speak but I hear his voice in my head.
“This was not for you. This was mercy for them. To see that man you used to be without the hatred that tainted his memory. They are now released. Your turn will come too.”
I wake up, back in my room, emotional and a little sad. I decide that This card is going to be my safe place.
Have you journeyed into or meditated on this card? I would love to hear about your experience!