A few days ago, I sent out a newsletter explaining why I’d been silent for more than a month. Some of you might already know that my father had been sick and passed away at the end of February. I spent some time grieving and just working through stuff, and I wrote in my newsletter about how my father’s death made me think about how I was living my own life. Some of you emailed me back expressing your condolences and asking me to take care, thank you for that.
I also got some feedback that what I wrote about death helped to give more of an understanding about the Death card in tarot, and we know how the Death card often gets an undeserved bad rep, so I thought I’d share a little bit more about the perspective I gained about death and the Death card in tarot.
Most of the time when we think of the Death card, it’s in one of these scenarios:
- most notoriously in a horror movie, when a person gets the Death card in a tarot reading and then dies a horrible, gory death.
- in a mundane real-life setting when we get a tarot reading, the Death card usually means a metaphorical death in the sense of letting go of things, people, behaviors, false beliefs, etc. so that you can start anew.
- occasionally in a predictive reading, it can portend the actual physical death of a person in our lives.
The first scenario gives the Death card the worst reputation among the general public, but most people who are involved with the tarot community and/or have gotten tarot readings, realize that those horror films are nothing more than fictional stories that dramatize tarot and the Death card.
The second scenario is a lot more common; so many of us get the Death card in so many readings representing metaphorical death and letting go of things that we don’t fear the card at all, and sometimes welcome it, in fact.
The final scenario is perhaps the one we dread most, although interestingly in the few cases I’ve heard about or that have happened to me, it also comes as a relief. In my case, my father had been sick and suffering for a long time. It was difficult for him and difficult for us, emotionally, physically, and financially. While the best outcome would’ve been for him to recover completely, Death was a release for him. In the other cases I’ve heard about, sometimes it was the seeker who had a terminal illness and knew that they were dying. The Death card in a way, gave them permission to stop fighting and to let go.
Now the thing about Death is that we think it is the end, the person is gone and that’s that. But that’s not really true, Death is not the end. I’m not talking about life after death, heaven and hell, and all that… While there may well be an afterlife of some sort, it’s not a discussion that we can have with absolute certainty.
What I do want to talk about is this – Death brings new life.
Here is what I wrote in the newsletter:
Facing the death of a loved one makes you question your own life. Am I living my life the way I want to? Is there anything I want to do but haven’t done yet? I know it’s a cliché to ask that question; if you died tomorrow, is there anything you would regret not having done? But when you stop to think about it, it’s an important question.
Life goes on. Death brings rebirth. In tarot, the Death card represents rebirth most of the time. In the Shadowscapes Tarot by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law, the Death card is an image of the phoenix, a bird that regenerates itself after every death, rising from the ashes to become newly reborn.
My husband never touched a guitar until the death of his favorite artist, Wong Ka Kui, the lead singer in the Chinese band, Beyond, from Hong Kong. Some of you might know of them. My husband was only a teenager at the time of Wong Ka Kui’s death, but he was so devastated by it that he decided that he would learn to play the guitar so he could create music and keep Wong Ka Kui’s memory alive. It’s a cute story, but also a powerful one. My husband has now earned himself a reputation as a talented musician and one of the best music teachers among all those who know him and who have studied under him, both in Malaysia and in Canada. We often wonder if he would have even picked up a guitar if Wong Ka Kui was still alive and making music.
Wong Ka Kui was a famous musician in a popular Chinese band, and his music touched millions all over the world. He left behind a huge legacy, only one of which is my husband becoming a musician. My husband, in his turn, has contributed to that legacy by sharing his passion with other young aspiring musicians. He has even helped young children with mild learning disabilities to become more patient and excel in other areas of life through music.
Death brings new life.
My father was not famous, but he was well-known in his industry. He was a natural health practitioner who spent his whole life learning and teaching others about health and nutrition. He started on this path after his brother died from esophageal cancer in his 30s, way too young. He wanted to be able to save others from his brother’s fate. He helped so many people with cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and various other health problems learn to heal themselves. Many of them are alive and healthy now because of him and his work.
Death brings new life.
As for me, I started on my path not because of anyone’s physical death, thankfully, but because of my own metaphorical one. I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at age 19. I was a different person then and I made a lot of bad choices. I was not healthy physically, but more importantly, I was not healthy emotionally. When I was diagnosed, it was ironically the best thing that could’ve happened to me. I changed my life around and became a stronger person. The weak, damaged, critically injured me died, and I rose from the ashes stronger, confident, and whole again.
I learned that being healthy isn’t just about exercising and eating well, it’s also about loving yourself unconditionally and being true to yourself. I believe that emotional and spiritual health is just as important as, if not more than, physical health, and I started my business based on that belief. I want to help people who are looking for spiritual and emotional growth and I feel incredibly happy when people tell me I’ve helped them, and so grateful that I had and continue to have the opportunity to do so.
In a sense, I had experienced my rebirth, my phoenix rising, with my metaphorical death when I was diagnosed with cancer, but my father’s recent passing brought with it a catalyst for a renewal of my purpose in life. I know for sure that this is what I want to do with my life, I know this is how I can make a difference. But am I doing it in the best way possible? How can I improve my services? How can I share my work with more people? These are questions I’ve been thinking about and currently finding answers for.
My father was my first teacher and mentor, he taught me palmistry and spent many hours with me discussing metaphysical and spiritual practices. I am who I am today in huge part because of all that he taught me, and it gives me comfort to know that as long as I continue to pass on his legacy, he will continue to live on.
Death creates life by the passing down of a legacy. It is the phoenix rising from the ashes. As long as we remember our fallen and honor their memory, they are never really gone. They made a difference with their lives, and they continue to make a difference after death.
We have to ask ourselves, are we doing the same with our lives? Are we making a difference? Are we fulfilling our life purpose? Are we going to have a legacy worth passing on when we die?
The truth is, I’d never really lost anyone close to me until very recently. Death was a distant concept to me, something far away I didn’t have to face right now. I was a little fearful of it, because you fear what you do not know, but now I’ve faced it, and it doesn’t scare me anymore. Life goes on. You hurt, you grieve, you feel the void, the empty space in your Universe where that person you loved used to be, but life goes on, and you must live your life to the fullest.