The transformative nature of the previous two upper arcana, the (21) World and the (5) Hierophant may well deliver a death blow to the old orientation of the psyche or even to one’s former practices in the world of affairs. On the other hand, (13) Death may refer to those who turn the (5) Hierophant’s articulation of the mystical vision of the (21) World into a dead dogma of canting phrases, as is the case with the Jews who go into the wilderness to find John the Baptist and tell him that they do not need to do anything as they have Abraham as their father…
Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.** And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.Luke 3: 7-9
** There is a play on the sound of the words “Abraham” “stones” (abanim) and “children” (banim) as well as a reference to Isaiah 51 v 2, which refers to Abraham as “the rock from which you were hewn.
The axe laid to the root of the barren trees is paralleled in the arcana of (13) Death by the scythe that is laid to the stem of the blown rose. What is reiterated is the idea that I mentioned in yesterday’s meditation, that the work does not end passively in the vision but must be transmitted into a new order of being and doing… The old self must die, or the vision itself must perish within the soul that fails to respond to it.