The Artistic Process: Death

Death is an awesome card- probably one of my favorites, which is somewhat entertaining because I am notoriously terrible at change. And death is the harbinger of change: a very “out with the old, in with the new” mentality.

Death tells us that it is time for something in our lives to end- but endings are so often accompanied by new beginnings that, even through loss, there is something to celebrate.

The way that I wanted to draw this card is both very personal to me, but also has some powerful imagery associated IMG_4119with it. The skull is perhaps a bit cliche, but it is  something that resonated both with the feel of the rest of the cards and with the concept of death. But in the Death card, there is a lot of hope, a lot of understanding that there is something new coming. Transformation, new life, new growth, new community. I wanted to embody that feeling in this card, and decided that the best way for me to do this was by drawing fireweed.

A little bit of history: before I moved to Baltimore, I had a lover: an incredible person, an amazing herbalist, someone I held (well, still hold) in highest esteem. We lived about an hour apart, but we both knew that I would move when I finished school, and we knew that our relationship would probably not sustain once I did. And that very much happened, and it broke both of our hearts immensely.

Before we parted ways, however, they taught me so much about plants and flowers and herbs: what different plants meant, what different herbs did, etc. One of the flowers they talked about a lot was fireweed. Among many awesome properties of fireweed, it is one of the first plants to grow in a area that recently burned. It’s a sign that the forest is ready to come to life again after a cleansing burn.

IMG_4129A harbinger of hope. A beautiful, tangible, visceral statement that life is ready to be cultivated here again.

They say that fires are necessary for the life of a forest. A cleansing burn is important. Much like the Death card in our lives, forest fires burn away the old and leave space for the new. But it can be hard to know when it is time to stop weeping for what is lost and recognize that it is time to move forward. The fireweed, bursting forth, gives us that sign: although there are things that have laid to rest, things that were once beautiful, things that once supported this life, there is new life coming. Look! I am here!


And I am ready.


For more reading, I suggest checking out Cassandra Snow’s Queering the Tarot series.


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