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Death, the Sun, and the Moon

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Herodotus  Herodotus is offline
Join Date: 17 Nov 2015
Location: Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Posts: 131
Death, the Sun, and the Moon

I've noticed something about the image on the Death card in the RW deck:

The Sun is rising in the background of Death. This has been described on this site; but I noticed that the Sun is rising over the river and between the two towers that make up the landscape of the Moon card.

Surely this is significant?

Following the story of the Fool presented here, the Fool must travel the river of the Moon before he reaches the rising Sun. Death is the precursor to all of this.

I would interpret this as follows: while there is hope in Death, it is only at the end of the difficult and otherworldly journey represented by the Moon. This is a connection between the three cards that I had not previously noticed.

Based also on the Fool's story, the landscape of the Moon is also foreshadowed in the High Priestess card. And it all leads me to wonder, what is the true significance of the Moon? Why is it referenced twice before it actually occurs?

To me, it represents the "belly of the beast", that descent into the underworld that is the crux of the Hero's Journey so universal to myth, that trial the hero must pass before he or she can identify with the so-called "Solar Father" (the Sun) and return to the Great Round in a state of apotheosis (the World).

I'm sure this isn't news to most, but I post it as a novice reader eager to share my discovery with others. Do any of you have any thoughts on this?
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Lucas Prince of Cats  Lucas Prince of Cats is offline
Join Date: 04 Aug 2015
Location: California, USA
Posts: 428
Lucas Prince of Cats 

Well, Wait was more amazing with his ideas for illustrations than one can imagine. Some people divide the tarot deck into three paths. My method is very unusual. Anyways, in my method, there is a path of power, learning, and sprituality. The moon is the epiphany of the spiritual path (the sixth of eahc path si the epiphany), and death is the transformation of the power path (the fifth of each one is the transformation), and the sun is the success of the power path (the seventh of each path). I believe taht in the path of power, one can also add a change of power or situation in death. Some poeple believe that it goes 1-7 8-14 15-21 and the last one is spiritual, and so, death is both the entry to spiritual and power success.
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Abrac  Abrac is offline
Join Date: 13 Aug 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 4,466

I like your characterization of the Moon as a trial, well-said.

In my opinion the cards should be ordered,


I haven’t tried to sort the whole sequence in a way that I think makes sense as far as a logical progression or the Fool’s journey; but for the questions at hand this is the order that makes the most sense to me.

In Waite’s description of Death, notice what he does. First he says:
“There should be no need to point out that the suggestion of death which I have made in connection with the previous card is, of course, to be understood mystically, but this is not the case in the present instance.”
Then in the very next breath:
“The natural transit of man to the next stage of his being either is or may be one form of his progress, but the exotic and almost unknown entrance, while still in this life, into the state of mystical death is a change in the form of consciousness and the passage into a state to which ordinary death is neither the path nor gate.”
He goes from talking about literal death right into talking about mystical death. It’s the idea of mystical death that he’s getting at. So while it appears as literal death, it really represents something else. There are clues to this in the card itself (see here). I’m not so sure the sun’s rising either. In his Fellowship of the Rosy Cross, Waite refers to the path on the Tree of Life to which Death corresponds as the “Gate of the Setting Sun.”
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