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Ironwing Xlll Death

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Okay, let's look at the Death card...

The first thing I notice is that the crystals(?) coming out of the skull look like popsicle sticks to me. Which gives the card an absurd touch of humor.

Next I see the beautiful rust flower with its shiny, black tentacles. It looks like a hybrid of a hibiscus flower and some underwater anemone to me. Exotic, beautiful, and very alive.

Between them floats a meteoric sphere that links this card with the Star card. Since I recently learned that one of the earliest swords was forged out of the metal ore of a meteor (by Inuit people? it may be in the Ironwing book?), it carries both an association to the distant past, and to battle/war/violence as a major reason for death in human history. (Here's an article about tools and weapons made from meteors.)
It also looks like a smoking piece of resin, reminding me of the many different rituals humans have created around death (and other transformative processes).

Now I look at the night sky full of stars behind the skull, and the microscopic close-up of the bone. Both dimensions are present in death - the large picture of life and death, becoming and decay, the philosphical dimension, much larger than any tiny blip of a single life is even able to grasp. And the small dimension, close up and personal, embodied by the ones who die and the ones who are left behind, the physical dimension of decay and becoming something else. They seem like opposites but they aren't.

The sky also is a metaphor that some humans use to visualize where their loved ones go when they die. ("Mommy has become a star now and watches over you every night.")
Besides, who knows which of the stars we see every night have already died long ago? Their light comes from so far away that we can't tell... This can be a scary and hopeless thought - or a hopeful and comforting one.

The vulture shapes in the bone also connect the two dimensions. They fly high up in the sky, and yet they also come down to physically take apart and transform what has died.
The bone cross sections behind the first one make the vultures look like little insects - which interestingly have pretty much the same job as the big birds: take care of the leftovers and transform them into new life.

Now I look at the stretched-out material the skull holds between the teeth. It makes me think of muscle and sinews, but also of gritting your teeth to deal with the pain of death. Maybe it sometimes speaks of not being able to let go, to holding on to something that should be released now.

The surroundings of the teeth on the right side make me think of rotting flesh. This idea may sound creepy or scary, but it's also a fact of life (or rather, death and decay). It may acknowledge our fears of death, of seeing something or someone we loved fall apart.
The little toothed drops of blood (or poison?) underline the fear aspect of death. Ultimately, everything physical will be devoured - and thus changed into new life.

The little white squares represent this breaking down to the smallest parts to me. They also seem like building blocks for the next "incarnation."

The rusty part on the right side also looks like a microscopic close-up of blood vessels and muscle to me. There are little branches reaching out, that at the same time are cracks in the surface. Next to the flower, this is the part that looks most alive to me.

Finally, the third eye. What does it see? Maybe it simply tells us to see and accept the beauty and horror of death, our fears and our hopes, the tragedy and absurd comedy. It's all there, and it can all be a part of death.

Oh wait, there's more... The other two eyes. The one on the right side almost looks like a womb about to receive the seeds of new life. At the same time, it could be a swollen wound, eyes after lots of crying, pain and emptiness within.
The other eye socket holds a swirling sun, sucking us in - or circling towards us. We can't escape death. It's always right there with us in the middle of blooming, pulsing life. And vice versa.

The one part that doesn't make much sense to me is the white background in the upper right. Is it the white light that people keep reporting of seeing during their near-death experiences?

Of course the death in question doesn't have to be a physical one. Loss, decay, and dying happen on many different levels, literally and figuratively, on large and small scales. And who's to tell whether an actual physical death is necessarily more tragic or painful than the death of a dream?

While I don't find the image very calming or aesthetically beautiful, the card now leaves me with a surprisingly peaceful feeling. I think I even have a better understanding of why the absurd "popsicle hair" is exactly what is needed for me to see in this card.

What does this card mean in a reading, then? All and none of this. I believe the important parts for any given reading will stand out for me when I look at the card as part of that reading.

Maybe it sometimes just means that a bowl of spaghetti sauce spilled over a medical textbook illustration...
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wendywu
Our deaths reveal our truths: how we face it? (both the death and the Otherworld)
Also: how do we face the death that happens around us? To loved ones - and not-so-loved ones? People, habits, ideas, projects?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wendywu
Cut through bones: take an honest look at your core values, habits etc. See them as if exposed like these bones. How do they seem now?
Bones > core. I like that!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wendywu
We die in bright light, surrounded.
No quiet dark death for us.
No peace. Busy. Noise. Light.
Ah, let me die in the silent darkness.
This complements my averse/non-understanding reaction to the massive white light. Maybe it also speaks of over-exposure and (together with the flower) of our attempts to even prettify the dead... (I remember how the funeral home owner talked about their abilities to make my dead father look good in case someone wanted to see him again. To this day I'm glad that I didn't replace my memory of his dead, calm, waxen, yellowish face with whatever the funeral home people made of it...)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wendywu
I love the wavy tentacles. So easy to get caught in ….. so hard to free yourself from.
Simple and very profound.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Surja76
May be I am wrong, but I think the main subject of this card is Thanksgiving Day.
[...]
And.. What can I see it is the body of Turkey. May be I am wrong but I see long turkey beard, tuft... heavy turkey body.
I don't quite see the turkey but your association makes me remember that death is the necessary basis for life. We kill whatever we eat (yes, plants, too), and that's true for lions as well as for butterflies as well.
So, on Thanksgiving we give thanks for all that life that has ceased to live so that we can go on living...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Milfoil
What strikes me right now about this card is the time taken for these changes to occur. It takes a long time for these crystals to grow, for the skull to turn from bone to mineral and often we just want the pain of death to be over with, done, finished but that's not often the way of death. Profound change takes time.
Another great observation!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mi-Shell
What “should not be here”???
Yes, let's not forget that some things/habits/behaviors need to die - or even be killed. It sounds cruel, but maybe it isn't.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mi-Shell
Time is up!!!
On what????
Where are we prooooooocraaaaaastina….and so never find the END
=”ting”!!wake up!!
When we do not find / face the end of “that” we can not begin something new = birth new life into …. Something
And yet another great comment!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mi-Shell
To avoid Death – for now – for RIGHT now, THIS minute we have to LIVE!!!
Are you?
Are you fully present?
Oh yes, and that. In my experience, many of us who have faced death, either by ourselves or in those close to us, come away from that experience with a greater appreciation for life, with more radiance and joy about being alive...

Thank you everyone for your observations and comments!
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