Friday, April 22, 2016

The Death Card in Tarot

I find myself walking slowly - picking my way thru a densely grassy thicket near a sandy shore. It is damp out and there seems to be a mist all around me. I am cold and a bit uncomfortable. I clutch this cloak tighter around myself and continue pushing forward. In my right hand I hold a varied bouquet of dull colored flowers. As worried as I am about the placement of each foot, I hang the bouquet upside down in my hand; it seems the least of my concerns right now even as I find myself vaguely wondering why it is there.

The fog breaks a little and I realize I have come up on a tiny rise, a plateau of sorts and I look at the sandy shore below me. My eye is drawn up to a massive waterfall in the distance. The spill of white water seems unbroken over a long wide shelf and I hear the rumble now as I watch the force and power in that flow. The water pounds down and into a massive body of extensive blue that stretches close to where I am standing now. The water smooths as I follow it's view towards myself and I see a harbor of sorts and a ship resting there. It gently responds to the undulation of the water as I notice its dark sails rising and falling in that sway. The deck seems empty so my eyes are again drawn up and above that compelling waterfall. Far beyond, I sense at two gray towers rising out of the fog and I notice their strength and fortitude while feeling that they have stood for centuries in this very wide and open place. They are made of heavy rock and crumbling architecture. They have stood and watched this place for a long while. I feel myself at once begin to shiver. It is so cold and grand here and my being feels exposed in it all. I realize my cloak seems thinner than when I first started this walk. I clutch at it and continue walking towards the shore. There is no cover and no where to seek shelter.

I notice a sound and glance to my right. There is a small group of people and they seem furtive about something as they gesture to each other and mutter among themselves in a worried sort of way.  I strain my ears to listen closer, unable to make out their words. There is a soldier among them that has fallen to his knees and is trembling uncontrollably. I now understand the reason for their fear and angst. They seem to be trying to help him but are unable. I notice the soldier's wide and fearful eyes. He seems to be riveted on something beyond and into the fog. His gaze seems to indicate something coming thru this gray mist to where we are. I look to my left to ascertain the reason for the rash fear in his eyes. But I don't see anything and I glance back at the soldier in time to see sweat pouring from his brow and his eyes rolling back in his head as he falls completely to the sand below. I feel my own heart clench in the fear that is so palatable in this moment. And I notice his small entourage again. The young woman standing near him looks frantic as she immediately kneels at his side. A small child in front of them, whom I presume to be their offspring continues to face outward seemingly unaware of what is befalling her father and the fear that clenches and weakens in the dark moods around her. There is a priest among them who now hovers over the fallen man. He seems the calmest of the small group as he takes in this situation and acts unhurriedly.  After a short time, I notice that he turns himself and continues standing and facing the dark mist. Everyone seems to expect something coming thru that dense gloom. And then I myself notice a distinct sound.

It is the clip clop, clip clop of horse hooves. And I glance at the sand below all of our feet. How can such a sound ring as tho the ground were hard surface when it is soft sand but I notice the sand has turned to glass. Shiny smooth and hard glass. I feel myself slipping and looking for some sure foothold to keep myself from slipping. Now the glass is smooth and slick with the droplets of water forming over its surface. My feet still, and I again glance in the direction of the sound and the misty fog. Two red eyes seem to be coming thru this fog with no apparent embodiment. They suspend over air and I feel my own fear and my own body grow slick in a cold and fearful sweat. My stomach sinks and I clutch harder at the flowers in my clammy hand cracking some of the stems. Gradually those red eyes gain casement in the head of a pure white horse. The horse raises and lowers its head quickly as an uncanny whinny escapes its throat. The sound somehow adds to this surreal sight and my eyes are drawn back farther into the mist to notice the rider of this horse.

I jolt as I see skeletal hands...thin skeletal hands holding a thick black bridle. I find myself unable to move as the rest of this being comes into my focus. He is average size, but somehow he grows as I look at him and he looms so darkly against the fog and the mist. There is a sneer upon his mouth, or is it only that he can form no other expression in the lack of flesh upon his being? These bones allow no expression but the one so darkly clear in my mind. One bony hand clutches the bridle of this beautiful pure white horse and the other raises high into the cloudy shroud. And I try to discern what he is holding. I suddenly notice to my right again that the priest has met this creature with eyes unfaltering and postured even slightly in the direction of this fearful sight. He seems less afraid than the rest of us and I find a comfort in staring at him as opposed to this apparition.

But at another whinny from the ghostly horse, my eyes are startled back to see this the skeleton man coming closer. Now I see that he holds a black flag in his upraised hand. Somehow there is a glowing white flower emanating from the center of deepest coal black and I am captivated by the flower's apparent pulsing, distinct petals and lifelike quality. I realize this skeleton man is coming closer to me and my eyes are ripped away from his mysterious flag and I am drawn to those hollow and black eyes. How does he have such a piercing gaze when it seems he has no eyes at all. But I am riveted by the dark depths of those cavernous openings. They steal something in me and incapacitate me and I find tears streaming down my face and my middle convulsing in a stricken way. He is coming towards me, I suddenly realize! I find myself unable to move or utter a sound. My throat is closed against such a deep fear and grief. Those deep dark orbs. These thin but somehow capable and strong skeletal hands. He looks as tho he might fall apart as his bones clatter and move against each other but somehow he is fused together thru his own sheer will and I see him dismount off his horse and come closer. There is a cold fetid breath around me and I am colder still, I feel his sharp fingertip brush my own soft fleshy one and he has snatched the flowers away and in the other hands he wrests my cloak off my shoulders. He crumples my small buds and flowers and they turn to dust and fall onto the glassy ground and are blown away in this strange breeze. And for a moment, our eyes lock and hold and I feel my own strength in not falling to my knees before his gaze. And then he whirls around and remounts his horse furling my own cloak over his bony back. He kicks the horse painfully into a wild gallop.

I glance at the small child before me and notice she has watched all this in utter fascination. There is no fear in her gaze. And I realize of all of us, she has simply accepted what she has seen. She steps towards me to hand me a tiny white rose. My fingers seem so stiff and unmoving but I will them to open and accept this tender sweet gift. She reaches up and touches a shining tear upon my cheek and I see her eyes like soft blue orbs full of compassion. My eyes rise to behold her shining hair. It is so golden and I wonder at the warmth I feel emanating from it and notice it is not her hair but rather the sun I see so brightly and certainly above her tiny head. The sun has risen above those dark gray towers so far in the distance and the gray fog has begun to lift. I glance again to my left to notice the ghostly, red eyed horse and his strange companion have vanished and before me stretches a lake that has begun to flow into a massive river. And now it is just the child and I standing and gazing at the changed landscape. I vaguely realize the ship has sailed and that those others have somehow left us. I imagine they were swept away in the flow of water that so steadily and strongly makes it's way past me and the child. I clasp at her hand and we stand watching silently.

The sun touches my goose-pimpled flesh and I am grateful for the warmth and kindness I feel in those tangible rays and in the tiny hand I clutch to mine. I feel overwhelmed by the changes that have occurred so deeply and unalterably. And yet, more peaceful as I watch this water rush past us and carry so much of my own fear away with it.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my, the imagery you are able to portray is magnificent. This was so... Beautiful.