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Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Grateful dead

A red-eyed skeleton with blue hair perches on a fat-bodied bat. Shes holding up a flower, its petals coming off in the wind, her hair and cape flying, as the bat wings its way toward the unknown. This is the Death card from Joie de Vivre Tarot (Cassidy, US Games 2011).

There is a feeling of decay in the card, with the ribless spine of the skeleton and the sickly splashes of green. The bat is like a bug-bat combo, it's odd, fat body like that of certain moths or bees. It doesn't seem unpleasant, though, and its destination is a glowing 7-pointed star at the end of a tunnel.

There's something about this card that reminds me of the Grateful Dead. Death is encountered full on in this card, considering that the deck itself is rather fey and sweet in many ways (with some pointy edges!) This card confronts the decay of the physical body, an aspect of Death that many tarot cards skip right over in their leap to the 'transformative' effects of Death. But Death itself, as Rachel Pollack points out in 'Tarot Wisdom', is not transformation. Death is the ending that must occur before transformation can happen. This card seems to me to take a frank look at the end of physical life (as frank as you can get in a deck that also features mer-bunnies).

That said, in a reading, I would always hesitate to interpret this card as literal death, though that is always a possibility, and I think it's important that readers should not be squeamish about it. I would usually interpret this card to mean an ending of some sort.

I wonder what is coming to an end for me today. It's a daily draw, and so as I often say, anything that happens will be very mundane. I wonder...


  1. well all the computers and wi fi in the library have died - that's one possible interpretation of the card and the fire alarm ended my enjoyment of a good book on movies i was reading. Why does this card remind me of the movie The Nightmare Before Christmas????

    1. Yep, this whole deck has a mild Tim Burton vibe.

  2. It's funny, I notice the Death figure is sitting in rock pose on the back of the bat thing, like the 9 of Pents lady sits on the bird's back... Maybe once they pass through the faery star, they'll pop out the other side as that other card :)