At our previous magical chat, one of the other topics that came up was what if “Death” is one of the cards flanking your “Sacred Twins” card? I have recently been re-reading some of Carlos Castaneda’s works, and there are some interesting passages on Death as companion in “Journey to Ixtlan.” Castaneda’s mentor, Don Juan Matus, told him, “Death is our eternal companion … It is always to our left, at an arm’s length” . Don Juan suggests, “The thing to do when you’re impatient … is to turn to your left and ask advice from your death. An immense amount of pettiness is dropped if your death makes a gesture to you, or if you catch a glimpse of it, or if you just have the feeling that your companion is watching you.” He adds, “Death is the only wise adviser we have. Whenever you feel, as you always do, that everything is going wrong and you’re about to be annihilated, turn to your death and ask if that is so. Your death will tell you that you’re wrong; that nothing really matters outside its touch. Your death will tell you, ‘I haven’t touched you yet’” . With this in mind, it would be especially interesting to note if, in your Tarot reading, Death is to the left of the figures in the central card.
As an alternative explanation, when Death is a flanking card, it could indicate that one’s alter ego is undergoing an extreme transformation, which could include getting down to the bare bones or dying away to make room for the birth of a new facet of the Self. I am also reminded of Rainer Maria Rilke’s writings on how our Death is always a presence inside us, and Heinrich Boll’s assertion that, “The artist carries Death within him, like a good priest his breviary.”
One more literary reference: in cases where the Death card comes up next to the Lovers, I’m reminded of Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ tale of “Skeleton Woman” in “Women Who Run with the Wolves.” Estes describes love as “a union of two beings whose strength enables one or both to enter into communication with the soul-world and to participate in fate as a dance with life and death” , and explains, “Because love always causes a descent into the Death nature, we can see why it takes abundant self-power and soulfulness to make that commitment” . She advises us to ask ourselves, “What must I give more death to today, in order to generate more life? … What must die in me in order for me to love?” .
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