13 Death – Golden Dawn

Golden Dawn Title for Death: The Child of the Great Transformers, Lord of the Gates of Death

Divinatory meanings

Time. Ages. Transformation. Involuntary change. Sometimes death and destruction, but only if borne out by the cards with it.

MacGregor Mathers

Change, Transformation, Alteration for the Worse

Reversed meanings

Death just escaped, Partial change, Alteration for the better.

Attributions of Death

Golden Dawn description of Death

The thirteenth Key of the tarot represents the figure of a Skeleton, upon which some portions of flesh still remain. In a field he is reaping off with the Scythe of Death the fresh vegetation which springs from corrupting bodies buried therein, fragments of which, such as hands, heads and feet appear above the soil. Bones are also strewn upon the surface. One of the heads wears a kingly crown; another is apparently that of a persm of little note showing that Death is the equaliser of all conditions. The five extremities, the head, hands and feet, allude to the powers of the number Five, the letter HE, the Pentagram, the conccealed spirit of life and the Four Elements, the originator of all living form”. “The Sign of Scorpio especially alludes to the stagnant and fetid water, that property of the moist nature which initiates Putrefaction and decay. The eternal change from life into death through death into life, is symbolised by the grass which springs, from and is nourished by putrefying and corrupting carcasses; the herbage, in its turn affords food to animals and man which when dead, nourishes vegetable life and bring to growth and perfection the living herbage. This is further shown by the figure itsetf putrefying and decaying as it reaps the grass of the field. ‘As for man, his days are as grass, as a flower of the field so he nourisheth. “The top of the scythe forms the Tau Cross of Life. showing that what destroys also renews”. “The whole is a representation of the eternal transmutation of the life of nature, which reforms all things into fresh images and similitudes “. This symbol represents the corrosive und destructive action of the infernal fire as opposed to the Celestial, the Dragon of the Waters, the Typhon off the Egyptians, the Slayer of Osiris which latter yet rises again in Horus. The Scorpion, Serpent of Evil, delineated before the figure of Death in the more ancient form of the Key, refers to the mixed and transforming, therefore deceptive, nature of this emblem. Behind him is the symbol of the Nameless One, representing the seed and its germ, not yet differentiated into Life, therefore incapable of definition. The Scorpion is the emblem of the ruthless destruction; the Snake is the mixed and deceptive nature, serving alike for good and evil; the Eagle is the Higher and the Divine Nature, yet to be found herein, the alchemical Eagle of Distillation, the Renewer of Life. As it is said: Thy youth shall be renewed like the Eagles, Great indeed and many are the tnysteries qf this terrible Key.

Correct design of Death

A skeleton with a scythe mowing men

Hebrew letter Nun, N

The Putrefaction in the Athanor. Initiation is guarded on both sides by Death.

Liber 777

Nun = The Putrefaction in the Athanor. Vau = Initiation Nun = Death

Nun a Fish, is that which lives and moves in the water: Which is here a symbol of death. It therefore indicates the forces of Scorpio, generation through putrefaction. The final form suggests a tadpole.

Zodiac Sign


Scorpio is the 8th sign of the Zodiac ruled by Mars. The symbol is the scorpion. Scorpio is a fixed water sign.

Path of Wisdom

The Twenty-fourth Path is the Imaginative Intelligence, and it is so called because it gives a likeness to all the similitude’s, which are created in like manner similar to its harmonious elegance.

Deities associated with Death

Egyptian Gods


Serpent or Dragon deity


Dragon or serpent deity


Serpent or Dragon deity

Merti goddesses.

Serpent or Dragon deities

Greek Gods




The Pythean because of his Serpent

Roman Gods


Personification of Death.

Flora and Fauna of Death



Siamese Benzoin

Precious Stones

Greenish Turquoise

Is attributed to Death as referring to its putrefaction.


Suggests Scorpio directly.



Means Scorpion.


The Shark is one of the most martial inhabitants of the sea.

Lobster, Crayfish

The Lobster and Crayfish are, so to speak, water scorpions.


The Beetle is given to Scorpio chiefly on account of the peculiar colour and partly because of certain habits, such as its transmutation through putrefaction. All reptiles may be placed here for this reason.


The Wolf is naturally appropriate to the night house of Mars.



The Cactus has a watery pulp and poisonous spikes, relating to Death


The Nettle is treacherously Martial. All treacherous and poisonous plants may be attributed to Scorpio.

Magical Attributions of Death

Magical Powers


Magical Weapon

The Pain of the Obligation

The Oath is the formula of transmutation. The Serpent is connected with several of the magical weapons, and implies the secret kingly power of the magician, the essence of the phallic energy as employed in transmutation.

Magical Formula


Colour Scales of Death

Knight Colour

Green blue

Queen Colour Scale

Dull Brown

Prince Colour Scale

Very Dark Brown

Princess Colour Scale

Livid Indigo Brown

The vivid watery vibration of putrefaction assumes the hue of the beetle Kephra. The perfection of Scorpio is to bring corruptibility through its midnight.

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