THE 24TH PATH
“This next path looks pretty scary.”
“The 24th path presents great challenges for even the most courageous hero. Since it is called ‘Death,’ everyone assumes that the card represents physical death. But remember, each card is a doorway to all levels of the self, the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual levels, not just the physical level. The card is nevertheless still inspires fear because it suggests radical change on all levels, and of course many people are afraid of change. But change, of course, is the only certainty on this plane, and more importantly, the soul uses change as a way to grow. On every level death leads to rebirth. Notice the card shows four people who are expiring as death approaches. Only one, a small child, appears to be welcoming death with flowers. It’s that attitude that we cultivate in the face of change on all levels. We must be as little children.”
“Wow, I’m not sure that I can do it.”
“On the last three paths, we have passed within the veil. In other words, we have already begun examining what it means to be awake. So often, we just go about the business of living on auto-pilot, half-asleep. Our family and our society condition us to maintain the unexamined self as a survival mechanism. We adopt certain beliefs and get into physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual habits as we learn to play by the rules. In the process, we become passive, allowing others to control and manipulate and crush our imaginative powers, and it is this very habit of inner passivity that becomes the veil. Even though these habits and beliefs interfere with our ability to live fully and creatively, if nothing challenges our belief systems too much, and life doesn’t treat us too badly, then we remain passive and don’t question anything. But this tower that we create is sometimes hit by lightning, as we saw in the 27th path.”
“So is this card suggesting that we embrace change?”
“On one level, yes. On another, it suggests that we have no choice. The trick is to embrace change in such a way as to move purposefully from lower to higher consciousness. The astrological sign of Scorpio associated with this path suggests this process. On the lowest level, Scorpio is associated with the scorpion, but Scorpio is also associated with the snake and the eagle. The snake, among other things, is a symbol of rebirth because it sheds its skin. The eagle, as well as being a symbol of water, symbolizes the higher self; the eagle, as a soaring bird, sees great distances, just as the higher self takes on the perspective of eternity. Scorpio is, of course, a water sign, and you’ll notice that in the background, a river passes between two towers as the sun rises, or sets, in the distance. The towers suggest the side pillars of the Tree of Life, and the sun as a symbol is associated with Tiphareth, the sphere of the higher self.
“The figure of death holds a flag with a five-petalled flower on it. Geburah, the fifth sphere on the Tree, is just above Tiphareth, and is essentially a sphere of power, the power that surpasses obstacles, the power that sacrifices or destroys or limits in order to allow a greater good, the metabolic power that breaks down form to release energy, the power that brings the wicked to justice. Mars is the planet and the God associated with Geburah, and Mars is not subtle, but he uses his great powers for the highest good. Remember that the highest spiritual experience of Malkuth, the physical plane, is the ‘Knowledge and Conversation with the Holy Guardian Angel,’ the guardian angel being the soul, the higher self. We cannot experience the higher self without the death of the conditioned self.”
“That seems like an extremely hard thing to do!”
“Yes, but at some point in his evolution, the individual, like the little child, embraces the death of the lower self for the birth of the higher self. In the meantime, apathy and inertia are the great dangers of this path. In the face of constant change, the individual might give up on all potential growth. Change might be inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be merely random or destructive. We have the power of the will, which is also associated with Mars.
“In the card, you see death on a white horse moving toward a family. The parents and the children are all dying, which is so sad--a whole family dying at one time. That sort of thing can be just too hard to understand. Why would God allow such a thing to happen? But then everything we know will die at some point. Everything we know now will disappear from the earth at some point. Everything is changing, and we want to put up walls around us to keep all the changes away, but death just keeps coming on his white horse. Where would we be, though, if everything stayed the same, anyway? That would just be a worse kind of death. The main thing is to keep moving along the path, to keep learning and growing in every way that we can.”
Briah: Dull brown.
Yetzirah: Very dark brown.
Assiah: Livid indigo-brown (like a beetle's shell).
Take the next path.
Cards associated with Scorpio:
Five of Cups.
Six of Cups (Binah).
Seven of Cups (Netzach).
Cards associated with the seventh sphere, Netzach:
Seven of Wands.
Seven of Swords.
Seven of Pentacles.
Cards associated with the sixth sphere, Tiphareth:
Six of Wands.
Six of Swords.
Six of Pentacles.
Knight of Pentacles.