DEATH BECOMES THE RENEWER
The Renewer reveals.
The Renewer was formerly the Death card. The old figure of Death was a skeleton, mowing a field with a scythe in which human hands sprouted up as the mower mowed down human heads – some crowned, some uncrowned. The cycle of death and re-birth was symbolized by the old Death Card.
The Book of the Renewer also represents Death, for it is only through the gates of Death that the final mystery is revealed. Death is not necessarily physical death. The death shown here is absolute Death – or the ego-death. It is the death which is the necessary prelude to re-birth. But only when Death is seen as an absolute can the birth into greater Being take place.
To most men death is a thing to be feared, a thing to shrink from. Few people care to think about it. Man, as the Thinker, in his conceivings, split apart eternity – the ever-present – calling one “the here”, and the other “the here-after”. The Here he cut into segments, naming them “Time” – days, weeks and years. The Hereafter he named “Death”, and he has pondered its awe-full and incomprehensible void ever since. As the powerful Actor, man thought himself in full control of his world, yet the one thing he could never conquer with his thinking was Death. This was his fright and his nemesis.
The fear of death is so great that even the subconscious avoids it. But when the moment comes that Death is faced in all its awful majesty there occurs a transformation within one. One sees life from a different standpoint, from the standpoint of the ONE. For behind the gates of Death there is not an absolute void, but rather the ONE which is beyond the personal self and beyond mortality.
In facing the absolute Death, the Seeker, kneeling within the crown and facing the skull sees … What does he see? A skull whose eye-sockets form the symbol for eternal life. He sees the One Being. That and more.
That is what the Renewer reveals.
The Renewer stands within the crown chakra. The crown centered the Maze. “There is no way out but up”. The crown was the fire on the mountain top in the Seeker Book, and it was the fire in the cauldron of the Deliverer, the blazing light at the Citadel’s top – the mighty jewel.
Having drunk the cup of fire – initiation – the Seeker faces Death, and the One Being is revealed.
Mysterious is the figure of the Renewer. His flesh is blue. His loin cloth is green. His mask is red. The jewel that clasps his cloak is yellow. His sceptre he holds behind him. He is the King of Kings – or God: the seeming ONE. Above his head is a cloud veiling the sun. The sun sends seven shafts of light outwards. When the cloud, which is Death but also Life opens, the sun will be revealed. The Renewer is like the cloud veiling the sun. His clothe mask reiterates the same symbol.
It is the skull he upholds.
The skull must also be contemplated by the entered apprentice seeking Masonic initiation.
For the skull is the symbol of life and death – mortality and of life eternal.
The same skull appeared under the feet of the white horse in the Doer Book. and it was seen, vaguely, in the desert near the pit bones left behind by the Nameless One. The skull is the past even as it is mortality. What remains is the symbol of eternity, written in fiery serpents at the top of the Deliverer Book, in the skull’s empty eye-sockets seen here.
The man kneels within the crown. The woman kneels outside the crown, burying her face in the cloak of the Renewer. She leans, however, into the crown.
The woman, formerly the Feeler, feels what the man, the former Actor, sees directly with the eye of the mind.
To the right of the figures is a well whose wall is made up of five rows of stones. The re-emphasis of the number five again is linked with the five jewels of the crown, the five leaves surrounding the Virgin’s garland of roses, and the five letters in the word Tarot. The well represents the shaft of the chakras or of the Tree of Life which is surmounted by the crown. But a well goes deep into the earth and reaches down to water. On the edge of the well is a golden cup with three handles. This is the cup from which the young man in the Deliverer Book drank the fire. The cup has three handles. The handles refer to states of consciousness and to the three worlds, also to the different uses of the cup. The cup can be used to draw water from the well or to hold fire; but it is also the common cup of Life which is never discarded but only transmuted and irradiated.
The cup of water has always been a symbol of Spirit and of giving and receiving.
To the left and in the background is a garden containing two trees and a fountain of water. This suggests the Garden of Eden, refounded. One of the trees is in leaf, the other, bare of leaves, in fruit. There are ten fruit upon the tree. The ten fruit may refer to the ten Sephiroth upon the kabbalistic Tree of Life; they are also the ten fingers used by the Seeker in feeling his way towards the mountain-top.
But the two trees in leaf and in fruit are also linked with the final symbol at the foot of the Unity Book, the tree in leaf and fruit simultaneously. In this sense, they represent the final T of the word Tarot, thereby linking the Renewer to Unity.
And what is Unity here?
With the Renewer the concept of Unity has progressed to the point where the Manifestation is united with that which lies behind and within the Manifestation: the One. It refers to the uniting of principles, or of God in man with the One Being.
This can only happen when one has stepped through the gates of Death after drinking the cup of fire of the Deliverer … and thus Death, the Renewer, is seen as the cutting of the thread of Destiny, after which the Kingdom is opened.