XIII Death - Reserved for Emily

Ancient Egyptian Tarot

XIII Death

This Death card doesn't follow the traditional RWS symbolism. I don't know much about Egyptology so am learning as I go along :) - I will add to this card as I find out more.

It shows Anubis the jackal headed God of the dead and embalming, he holds a green Ankh (symbolising life) in his left hand and a golden Peseshkef (a fishtailed device used to open the mouths of the dead) in his right hand. Green is the colour of resurrection. Anubis traditionally has a black head this is because mummified bodies turned black. He is an old God, worshipped for a long time in his own right but later replaced by Osiris as God of the Dead. Anubis also performed/helped perform the 'Weighing of the Heart' ceremony after the mouth of the dead ceremony had been performed and to feed the heart to Ammit, the devourer of the Soul, if the Soul was unworthy - if it was worthy then Anubis escorted it to the afterlife. Ma'at is shown on the Justice card.

Death is ruled by the planet Scorpio, shown as a red scorpion in front of Anubis.The scorpion was also the sign for the Goddess Selket who protected the living and the dead.

Anubis holds the green Ankh in front of a sarcophagus, the sarcophagus also has a green face, it was made by Set to trap and kill Osiris. Other Gods and Goddess's are also there. The scenes on it show the mummification and resurrection of Osiris.

It might not follow the RWS, which is the symbolism I'm most used to, but the feelings that come from this card are very deep for me. You can see the canopic jars which, going back to the book, hold liver, intestines, stomach and lungs, which are pointing towards a hoped-for resurrection and of moving onto the next plain. We all know just how important the afterlife was to the Egyptians of these times. Figures of jackals were also placed in tombs, hoping that the statues would protect the dead placed there.

Sorry if this all reads a little dis-jointed - But I've been to many sites researching Anubis and will eventually get it more readable. Also not sure if any one has read it but on page 141 of the book it translates the hieroglyphs from the borders of the cards. Its interesting reading. :)


I haven't forgotten about this - been away on holiday - limited internet time :)

Got it all written out, just got to post it.

Edited:- Done it :D


bumping up


Ancient Egyptian Studie Group - Xiii Death

Death XIII:
Is about reborn, transformation, deep change to the man/women/situation.
All is about to start living a new chance.
The past is behind us. The future is now ahead. A new path to liberation is open
The image card is strong. Anubis with his chacal head on a walking position shows a new path.
The card depicts; I presume ; a catacomb, a Necropolis, in a death ceremony on a Purification House
Anubis is surveying all that the mummy/death needs to pass through to the other world, A new one
Anubis has in his left hand the Ankh, the symbol of the power life. The Ankh also is the symbol of the strong elements like water and air etc. all of them necessary for good transmutation. Anubis will be the guide to the new life
Anubis in his left hand has a Peseshkef to rebreath the death bodie to enjoy the new life.
On the Room: The mummy is in stand up position, with a mask looking at the horizon
4 canopies surrounding the mummy keeping inside the minimum things necessary for the journey.
What the canopies have inside? The Soul, The spirit, the will, the hope?
The painted wall depict the death body life. The past.
O n the floor a red scorpion is creeping, may be is Selket, canopies guardian goddess
The ritual is prepared for the gods and goddess for a happy transmutation.

Nota: On my Clive Barret Spanish edition Death has Letter NUN means Ideas, between opposites
I think letter MEM would be better : means renovation, transmutation,


The transition. Endings and beginnings. In death there is new life, represented by the ankh colored green, the color of earth and vegetation. Death itself contains the necessary preparation for the new life, as is represented by the peseshkef.

If we enter the card, we see Anubis faces to the left, the direction of the past (and subconscious as well). This is represents how death affects us, not being able to see a future after the change, instead looking pastwards in an attempt to both make sense of it and accept it.

The canopic jars face both directions, two looking to the past and two facing the future. The contents of the canopic jars facing the past, are the aspects of death that will be left behind and no longer needed. The other two canopic jars face the future, containing the stored lessons of the death we will carry into the future of new beginnings.

The mummy itself represents as sort of stasis of the death process. The body is prepared and in the coffin. The appropriate things have been stored in the jars, with some staying in the past and some being carried forward with us. Yet the mummy has yet to be buried, so the process of death isn't yet complete.

This is one of my absolute favorite death cards. I have never been happy with the grim reaper and sickle. It carries such a westernized fear of death. Barrett's card gives me a vastly different feel for death which I greatly value.


Selket is represented by the scorpion. In addition to being the goddess of the living and the dead, she was one of the four goddesses (including Isis, Nephthys and Neit) who watched over Osiris' body. As the scorpion, Selket is responsible for guarding the Canopic Jars.

The Canopic Jars bear the heads of Horus' four sons (and Osiris' grandsons):
  • Imset has the head of a man and his jar contained the liver
  • Qebehsenuf has the head of a falcon and his jar contained the intestines
  • Duamuttef has the head of a jackal and his jar contained the stomach
  • Hapy (not the god seen in the Hanged Man) has the head of an ape and his jar contained the lungs

If, as suggested earlier, the jars that face the past (from inside the perspective of the card) contain items that aren't needed in the afterlife, then neither the liver nor the lungs were needed in the afterlife, but the stomach and intestines were.

The sarcophagus is the one that Set made specially for Osiris. The images on the front of it show Anubis, Thoth, Horus, Ma'at, Isis and Nephthys as they perform the rites of mummification and resurrection. In the lower panel, Osiris' Ba can be seen rising from his body.

The Ba is the individual personality or soul of a person. It lives in the tomb with the body while its counterpart the Akh (spirit) lives for eternity in the otherworld. If the body were ever destroyed (as was Osiris'), then the Ba would be homeless and both the Ba and Akh would die a "second death." To prevent this, a statue of the deceased was normally placed in the tomb in case the body was destroyed.

The Opening of the Mouth ceremony returned full use of the mummy's senses, preparing it for the life to come in the Underworld.

I see the way that Anubis holds the Ankh, symbol of life, as a means of saying, "Death is not the end of life, but the beginning of a new (eternal) life."