After our experience of the Law of Reversal in Key 12 Suspended Man we are now ready to explore Key 13 Transition. In our deck we have changed the name of the Key from “Death” to “Transition”. The term Transition and the Key’s number 13 epitomize the Law of Transformation, symbolized by this Key. This Law is all about change and dissolution. Minds dominated by race thought fear change, not because change is usually adverse, but because its outcome is unknown. They fail to realize that without continual change life could not exist, and that even if it could, its monotony would be unbearable.
The number 13 is also the number of two Hebrew words meaning love and unity. The Unity or One Power from which all things proceed is also the Love Power that is the cause of all attractions and affinities. And we also think of the Love Power as chiefly concerned with reproduction. Therefore Key 13 is attributed to the zodiacal sign Scorpio, which governs the reproductive organs. This sign is also the natural ruler of the House of Death in any horoscope. The Love Power governs both the beginning and the cessation of our bodily activities. From this you may conclude that there is actually only a single power, which has a twofold manifestation.
Man fears death because he does not know the meaning of this transformation. But according to the Qabalists, “Dissolution is the secret of the Great Work.” The dissolution of form is imperative for growth. When forms break down, energy is released and is utilized for further development. Think about the following: stones disintegrate into soil; soil feeds vegetables and plant life; animals eat vegetables and grasses and incorporate their essences into a higher type of organization. Man eats both animals and vegetable forms, and builds the chemical energy of their cells into his own body. And, if man is willing to learn how to liberate himself from the conditions of his physical existence, he will do more than this. He will become master of the energies that build his organism.
What does that mean? Well, when he has achieved this mastery, he is able to maintain his physical body for many years beyond the ordinary span of human life. Furthermore, in the full perfection of this mastery, a man is able to disintegrate his physical body at will, and also able to reintegrate it. For such a man, death as the world knows it is at an end. Sounds crazy, huh!? At this stage in your progress with the Tarot, it may sound a bit much, but it is the doctrine, and because you have placed yourself in the position of examining the evidence for the doctrine, you will ascertain its truth at first hand by performing the experiments that demonstrate its accuracy.
You are beginning these experiments now, with this instruction. So far you have already been taught in the previous Keys the importance of forming the right kind of mental images throughout your daily life. After reading this post you may wish to review the prior Keys. You must begin to visualize yourself as having a body that readily responds to the Will Power you express. Your clear image of a changed organism, which will be a perfect and beautiful body, both in function and appearance, has suggestive power that subconsciousness accepts. Remember, all that we see as material manifests through the subconscious mind.
In response to that suggestion, subconsciousness is even now beginning to set in motion processes that lead to the desired transformations. You do not need to tell subconsciousness how to do these things. Tell it what you want accomplished, and make your picture as clear and concrete as you can. Thus will man triumph eventually over physical death, because man does not die. Suffice it to say that this is an ascertainable fact, which any interested person may prove to his own satisfaction. Those who are prejudiced will not examine the evidence. Those who are lazy will not look for it. Yet the evidence is abundant, and thoroughly convincing.
Remember, science states that there is no human body that is older than seven years. In other words, our entire body replaces itself every seven years. So why the appearance of age? Well, our cells replicate themselves based on what they have become over the prior seven years. And what did we say above? All that is material manifests through the subconscious mind. The millions of cells that make up our bodies are material. And what have you been saying to them and thinking about them for the last seven years? And what have you been feeding them, too?
Let’s go over this Key to see how its symbology and colors support this Cabalistic doctrine. At first glance it seems that we’re looking at the “Grim Reaper!” But why is he so happy! To the initiate it is a reminder that the skeletal structure of the body is the foundation of its every move. All of our muscles are attached to this structure. So we are actually looking at a symbol of the basis of all function, growth and development in our lives.
To further this idea we find in the upper left hand corner of the Key the picture of a symbolic “seed.” This little seed is composed of two ovals (or zeros), one within the other. The two ovals are united, and therefore they are One. The small oval has 5 rays extending towards the limits of the larger oval. Here is a simple symbol of the whole process of manifestation. The inner is a source of radiant energy manifesting as fire, air, earth, water and ether. This energy fills the space enclosed by the larger oval that is one with the smaller oval. Here is expressed a fundamental doctrine of the Ageless Wisdom, that the Inner Power projects itself, or a seeming extension of itself, as Space (the larger oval), and fills that space with forms of energy whose combination constitutes the body of the universe.
The Hebrew letter Nun (pronounced noon) is attributed to Key 13. As a noun it means “fish.” As a verb, because fish are prolific, it means “to sprout, to grow.” Qabalists attribute Nun’s function to motion and the Hebrew word for motion has the primary meaning of “to walk.” All motion is change, transformation, modification, or variation. Thus, by linking up these ideas with the thought of foundation or groundwork implied by the meanings of the letter Nun, we can arrive at the idea that change is the basis of manifestation.
The fish must be raised out of the water in order to make use of its powers. In alchemical symbolism, as in life, this can only be done with the use of a fishhook. The Hebrew letter Tzaddi, of Key 17 The Star, means “fishhook.” The function expressed by Key 17 is meditation, and logically, meditation is the tool used to catch the spiritual powers symbolized by the mysterious fish. The fishing boat pulled up on land refers to this. The black earth upon which it rests refers to the vast Unknown. And, it appears that new seeds are already sprouting in the fertile ground.
Scorpio, a fixed, watery sign, is assigned to Nun. Scorpio is ruled by Mars. Reversal of the currents of the Mars force are hinted at by this Key. Scorpio rules the sex organs, and is therefore closely associated to reproduction. Imaginative Intelligence is the mode of consciousness attributed to the letter Nun. It is the “basis of the resemblances” which are transmitted through the reproductive function. The choice of the adjective “imaginative” is in accordance with the doctrine of the Ageless Wisdom that causation is mental. All changes are primarily changes in mental imagery. Change the image, and ultimately the external form will change.
The skeleton is twisted at two points, one just above the pelvis, and the other at the neck so that the backbone is in front. This would be quite impossible to do in real life. The meaning of this strange position is that the Mars force here symbolized must be twisted, or reversed, in order to perform its highest function. The skeleton walks from north to south, from the darkness of ignorance to the light of perfection. It represents the framework of all progress – the disintegration of form for the sake of the release of energy.
The handle of the scythe is shaped like the letter T (Tav). Thus it has the same fundamental meaning as the structure from which the Suspended Man Key 12 hangs, and refers to the ideas in Key 21 The World. The blade is formed like a crescent, and refers to the powers of the subconsciousness, of which the moon is the symbol. Thus the blade is related to Key 2 The High Priestess, yet it is made of steel, a metal assigned to Mars. The influence of Mars in Scorpio is symbolized also by the red background.
The river flows toward the rising sun. It starts in the north, the left side of the card, and makes a bend, so that it flows eastward. Ordinarily the setting sun is associated with death. The rising sun is connected with Key 3 The Empress, and also refers to the dawn of higher consciousness in the state of Samadhi illustrated by the Suspended Man. The Empress is also referenced by the green sprouts and the leaves of the rose bush.
The white rose has the same meanings as in the Fool Key 0. There the rose represents desire. Its thorns symbolize pain and its bloom beauty and joy. Here it is white like the sun on the Fool Key, indicating that through right cultivation of the desire nature we may bring it into unison with the Primal Will. The rose is related to the number 5. Here is expressed that to gain mastery of the subtle forms of the Mars force is a work of adaptation.
The woman’s head at the left is a symbol the Sephirah on the Tree of Life called Understanding. It represents the Supernal Mother, the divine feminine. The man’s head represents both the Sephirah Wisdom, which represents the Supernal Father and divine masculine, and the Sephirah Beauty, which is the Son. Remember that the Father and Son are One, and their unity is intimated here.
The single hand on the right and the wheel represent the creation of new works from the transformation created by Key 13. The emptied boot shows an empty shell as all that remains of the passing of the Piscean Age. Pisces physically rules the feet. As that Age passes away, so will pass away also the notions as to the status of women and children characteristic of the Piscean Age. The single foot on the left repeats the reference to the ending of the Piscean Age. But we must also remember that Key 13 symbolizes something which is at work in every age.
Man is immortal and can never die. Though his bodies change and disintegrate a thousand times, he remains. You are approaching a time when you will know this as others know it, as those who have gone this way before you. Learn to welcome change and overcome any fear of it. The future holds only that which you have earned in strict conformity with your past actions and the patterns that you are now making. Face it without fretting about it. The ultimate is only good.
Just be aware that no person learns how to accomplish this until he is truly prepared, and more than anything else, this means such ethical preparation that no temptation to the misuse of this power could ever succeed in turning one from the path of strictly constructive application of the forces involved.
From the Bhagavad-Gita: “The wise in heart mourn neither those who live, nor those that die. Nor I, nor thou, nor any of these, ever was not nor ever will not be, forever and ever afterwards. All that doth live, lives always! To man’s frame, as there come infancy and youth and age, so come there raisings-up and laying down of other and of other life-abodes, which the wise know, and fear not.”