Exploring Death and Rebirth with the Tarot



Next weekend, Baltimore Reclaiming will celebrate Beltane, the fullness of life, by honoring Death, its sacred release, and the movement to rebirth. The Ritual Planning Cell has prepared a ritual to hold and share grief, let go of what is lost, and transform the energy of mourning into the will to take up the living work of liberation. To use a gardening metaphor, we will use the compost of that which has passed to nourish the seeds of healing and justice for the future.

Working with death and grief can be difficult, so preparing for this ritual may take a bit more compassion and time to reflect on what is lost and needs to be mourned, released, and transformed. For some, there is an immediate acknowledgement of what this is: an environmental or political cause, a social justice issue, or even a personal matter like a relationship, addiction, or way of being in the world. For others, some gentle exploration is needed. This post offers a tool for that.

Tonight/early tomorrow is the full moon in Scorpio. Scorpio, who shines the brightest light into the deepest darkness. Scorpio, knower of secrets. Scorpio, who represents all that we fear and obsess about. The sign of Scorpio is traditionally associated with the Death card in the tarot, and the cards offer clear assistance during the full moon.

This reading is adapted from a spread that appears in the Death card chapter in Rachel Pollack’s Tarot Wisdom. It’s a great book with in-depth exploration of each of the cards from a number of different angles – I highly recommend it!

The reading asks the following questions.

  1. What needs to die?
  2. How can I let it go?
  3. What needs to live?
  4. How can I bring it to life?
  5. What is the midwife psychopomp? (the guide or helper with this process)

In the past I have used this reading when the Moon was in Scorpio with (sometimes uncomfortably) clear results. I suggest, if you already know the answers to “what needs to die” or “what needs to live” for yourself, to look though the deck and choose a card that represents the energy of that thing rather than pulling cards blindly. The cards are a tool, after all, not for confusion but for clarity.

The world cries out for healing, and dares us to change  – how will we respond? I look forward to finding out next weekend.


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