Margarete Petersen : XIII - Death


Link the the image : Tod

Of all the paintings in this deck, I find Death the be the most spectacular of all. It is a study in perspective, à la Escher, which confuses and tricks the eye - Does anyone see how the continuum of snake slithers either in-and-out of the world beyond, or along the surface of it... depending on how you focus your eyes? -- that is real magic. Visually, the snake accomplishes exactly what he symbolises, psychopompe, he navigates between worlds.

It works just as well, if not better reversed! and makes sense -- the sky is above and the fiery plane of earth below --as we often imagine it should be of heaven and hell.

But I love how the space voyage is beneath, down under, something to fall into! (When meditating, I sometimes see a starry night-- and wonder -- are my eyes open? Am I just sleeping outside? :) ) It's like that scary amazing stanleykubrickian* thought that outer space is actually the inner world!! -- and vice versa- by going inward inward inward, we arrive in the world beyond. oooooooooooooooo!

*as in the film 2001: a space odyssey

Her text:

  • Death
    Entrance into formlessness.
    Changing clothes.
    Flames like a sunset.
    Voyage on the path to nothingness.
    Snake wisdom.
    Cut the thread -- from no longer being separated, we expand ourselves.
    Stepping out of oneself.
    Death - old woman, with your flaming coat, take away that which must change.

There is much much more to say! I haven't even begun. Please fellahs, step right up. What do you see in this card?? What does it make you think of? How do you understand her text?

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This is my favorite card in the deck. It's got a LOT of shamanic influences showing--the snakes, the bridge between world, an upper and lower world, etc.

I think when you have this card come up, you have to think first of where you ARE in the card, you might be the black figure on the bottom looking up, or the person above looking down into water that's actually sky...

It didn't really need the skeleton in the cloak, in my opinion, but then again, it's the author's discretion.

I don't think the card shows 'changes' though, it almost seems like the change has already happened and now it's up to the viewer to decide where they stand in the new configuration. A reminder that things happen without even realizing it sometimes.


Hi HudsonGray!
Your favorite too, eh? Shamanic influences, yes! care to elaborate a bit?


Well, the common theme in shamanic learnings are that the new person go into a meditation where they meet their spirit guides, but they have to arrange with them what payment the guides want, in advance, for doing the guiding through the learning (this part kept me from focusing on being a shaman & pushed me to do solitary eclectic research). Well, the very first serious journey the new to-be shaman does is follow the guides to a deep place. They literally tear the skin, flesh & everything off him, till it's just bones, then take the bones apart & they're shuffled on the floor.

This state of 'non-being' is really impressed upon the newbie, the guides then re-assemble the bones (a figurative restructuring of thinking & purpose to someone who wants to be a shaman, you're rebuilt from the ground up) and the flesh & skin do NOT come back on. They take the skeleton shaman through several journeys, showing him/her the levels of the spirit world (called underworld or above world, depending on the culture), and then when done (they protect him/her through all this) the shaman puts his own flesh & skin back on & comes out of meditation. Usually pretty shaken, I'd imagine, since he's not told about any of this in advance.

The picture on the card shows someone in meditation, with the skeleton behind them (the robe is unnecessary in this context), the spirit shaman is on the 'other side', be it underworld or above world. Snakes are key elements for knowledge being imparted, and can be spirit guides also. Snakes are supposed to function between worlds & can easily travel there. In Central and South American shamanic teachings, the giant snakes have huge amounts of knowledge. I'm not sure about North American shamanism, but they also feature snakes in Asian/Russian shamanic journeys.

So the picture, to me, does cover a huge amount of that first journey on a new life, the destructuring of the person, the guides, the different levels, the fact that you return VERY changed, and have died a sort of death to achieve it all. (There's more to it, but this is the condensed version, I've got a couple books on worldwide shamanism & this journey is very cross-cultural, so it's probably very old & passed down through different ethnic groups--the Inuit have tales of "Bone Woman" that fall into this too, though she was an undersea spirit).


Ah! fantastic, Hudson Gray thank you so much for sharing this! I would never have had any idea.

It blows my mind how perfectly the process you described fits this image. Whoah!

Do you have this deck then? We need to talk! Do you see the shamanic perspective represented in many of the other cards?


I'm afraid I don't have it yet. I've seen the cards from the site, but far as I know the booklet is completely in German, and I'm not sure all the minors would be that easy to read without a lot of study, they seem so similar in many ways.

Still, I was getting stuff from some of the feathers & backgrounds, and that Death card was a beauty!


Yes, Hudson Gray, the entire booklet is in German, that's why I'm so eager to put up these translations. :) I am hoping people who like the deck but can't read German will join in on these discussions along with German speakers, and eventually we will have it all translated.


hey! I made it! ... I have a lot of catching up to do, but I figured I'd jump in here. .... and pardon me if I ramble... just kinda thinkin' aloud here.

The Death Card. This is actually one of the first cards that I saw the image of that made me decide to purchase the deck. I think it perfectly illustrates the idea of a "parallel universe" -- the realm of possibilities. We are vast. There are no confinements. Change can be (should be) fluid. "Energy is neither created nor destroyed, it simply changes form."

To me this card is comforting, in that "everything happens for a reason" or "higher purpose" type ways. It is if the meditating person is connecting to his (her) Higher Self and visa versa. The lines of communication are open. Reflection of macrocosm and microcosm, so above so below, etc.

This card reminds one that there is nothing to be afraid of. That there are other possibilities. You need to "let go" (traditional meaning for this card, I think) and "Let God" (Argh! I know, I know. But you know what I mean.... "god" "goddess" "higher power" "higher self" "whatevers")

This is actually also a good illustration of physical death as well. It helps keep things in perspective.

Does she write more about the meaning? I'd love to read it. Wish I knew German, but it's all Greek to me! :p

(edited to fix smile-guy icon)


Hi Joya, so glad you made it! no she has written only what I have translated. For each card, I translate everything there is. :) Her blurbs for the cards are rather sketchy aren't they. But they also cover everything. Each blurb deserves pages of discussion. :)

I enjoyed your comments...parallel universes, yeah!


This card reminds me of the Little Prince, when he wanted to return to his planet. He asked for a snake to help him...