Last weekend, I decided to stray slightly from my usual practice of drawing a single card and drew two. I had no real intention or focus. I took three breaths. I kept my mind as blank as possible. And, in order of their appearance, I turned over the following two cards:
Death and the Child of Water from The Gaian Tarot. This two card combo left me somewhat perplexed. These two cards stayed, face up, on our home altar.
I have to say that, despite my knowledge of the Tarot, I was unnerved at having the Death card stare me in the face. I can’t think of the last time I drew ‘Death’. Clients often take a little breath inward when they see this card during a session. I now have a better sense of why that might be. I have always said that the Death card is amongst my personal faves. Kelly might say that might be directly related to the propensity of Scorpio in my birth chart :). But I believe it is because the Death card begs action. We can stare at the end of anything forever and come to the same realization; it’s over. But if we look at death closely, it allows us to grieve but then forces us to move. The death of a relationship must transition into a new phase of life. The death of a loved one must transition from one existence to the next – the first that included their earthly presence; the second that does not. The death of a season must transition into the next. Death signals an end but it also signals a transition.
So, with ‘Death’ figured out :), I focused on card number two: the Child of Water.
You must realize one thing about me. Drawing a Tarot card is often a simple act; like drawing air. Although, at times, I often study the Tarot in depth, this simple act of drawing allows me a brief moment of groundedness. I draw, I examine, I pause and I reflect. But these two cards intrigued me. It might have been the Tarot’s way of shaking me from my position of complacency and saying: “Hey, student, you still have lots to learn from me.” With the cards propped on the altar, each time I passed this sacred space, I thought briefly about this combination. Then, as Archimedes did as he stepped his foot into the bath, I found my ‘Eureka’ moment.
According to Joanna Powell Colbert, creator of the Gaian Tarot, the children cards can refer to “the quality of being child-like and having a ‘beginner’s mind’.” What a way to explore this transition but with the wondrous eyes of a child! The Child of Water explores instinctually. Her imagination is newly developed. There are no limits to the possibilities this child sees before her.
The Child of Water stands ankle-deep on the shore and looks around. She points at a starfish. She watches a hermit crab. She’s not worried that one day, both will die, perhaps someday soon. She might instead be amazed that the crab’s home is carried on its back or that the starfish has an odd yet beautifully symmetrical shape. She is living in the moment and will cheerfully move on to the next one.
Imagine if we approached each transition, regardless of how difficult, with childish wonder. Instead of staying in the moment of grief, we would move into the marvelous moment that the unknown will bring. I imagine my upcoming ‘deaths’: the death of my vacation time; the purchase of our new home that signals the death of my transitory existence; the soon-to-be arrival of the divorce certificate that signals the official ‘death’ of my previous marriage and the burial of my father’s remaining ashes and thus the final ‘death’ of his earthly remains. Tarot’s Death ‘permits’ the grieving that is the natural process for all of these losses. But the Child of Water reminds us that what comes after needs to be explored and enjoyed with wonder, innocence and awe. Imagine the difference if we looked at death from the perspective of the Child of Water.
There is a quote by Richard Bach, from his novel Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah that sums up the juxtaposition of these two cards beautifully, “What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls a butterfly.”
Take pleasure in the breaking cocoon.