Tarot Conversations: Remain Nameless

(This blogpost is part of the Tarot Rebels' Alternative Tarot Blog Hop. This month's theme is "The Thirteenth Card." Click the icon for a full list of participating blogs and their related content.)

Call me when you need me,
Call me anything you want.
~Florence + The Machine, "Remain Nameless"

Most readers who've been following me for a while know who my writing mascot was.
A Blue Heeler and Australian Shepherd cross, he came into my life thirteen years ago as a bright-eyed two-month-old pup in a year when, fortuitously, my soul path card was The Fool. We parted ways earlier this past summer when his tumors finally got the best of him. My soul path card this year -- XIII.

The original Tarot de Marseille called this card L'Arcane sans nom, -- the Arcane with no name. Later iterations included the label LA MORT, yet naming the thing doesn't give us power over it. Or does it?

In the archetypes, XIII is a point of transition, where the focal point of the major arcana shifts from the individual path to the grander spiritual path where everything is bigger than the body, beyond the parameters of the individual, extending into higher awareness, the spiritual journey, the oneness of the individual with the universe as a whole, as a small piece of a grand tableau.

I like to think my friend, who walked with me a little while, has moved on to the next stage of their journey. And for all that we give one another names, whether we name our children or our animal friends, we can never know truly another's name. Names have power. Names influence how we perceive a thing, be it a concept, object, or individual. Names give us power. If we can identify and label a thing, it loses so much of its mystery, and thus its influence over us. Ignorance, after all, isn't a strength.

Is XIII about mortality or death of another kind? Either way, can we diffuse the power it has over us? Why do we grieve what ceases physically? The corporeal form doesn't truly identify us, only houses the essence of who we are. Energy cannot be destroyed, only transmuted. Thus XIII isn't a literal mortality but a figurative one. Slay the things that rule you, it says. Kill what holds sway over your soul, constrains your path. Separate the gross from the divine. Set yourself free.

We mourn the things we lose from our lives, even when they aren't fellow souls. Our jobs, our homes, our relationships. Change is painful, for some reason. It places us at the whims of the unknown, in the currents of chaos. In a visceral sense, it represents an increased risk, and for the earlier, more primal humans, such upheaval could spell disaster and doom. Yet for modern humans, this no longer holds truth.
In the same vein, freeing ourselves from the structures holding us captive is equally disruptive. Social expectations, cultural convention, archetypal roles, presumptive labels and stereotypes. These are the true characters in need of slaying, depicted in later iterations of L'Arcane sans nom. The king, the pope, the woman, the child.  Overriding our programming takes strong will, determination, and perseverance.

Whether there's a skeleton with a scythe staring back at you from XIII, or the imagery of transition takes on another form, the message is the same. Let go of what no longer serves you. Clean out your closet; let go of the dead things, the pieces of the past, to which you cling.

Does all this give new meaning to the loss of my mascot? Not really. My friend has ascended and moved on. He is with me in spirit, as are the others who I hold close to my heart though they no longer walk with me. The synchronicity of what this year means for me personally has helped me come to terms with his departure, though. L'Arcane sans nom holds new and more personable meaning for me now.

The cards hold meanings unique to each of us, within the context of our experiences, our perspectives, and our mindsets. How far we've come, where we are, the path we walk, and where we're heading. I don't imagine XIII will hold the same colorful meaning in a few years' time, for only a year ago it certainly didn't have the connotation it does now. For where I now stand, this is what the landscape looks like for me. Once I have accepted the pain of change and moved forward, the scenery will alter, and even looking back won't offer the same view as I have in this moment.


  1. What a beautiful and poignant piece. I think you're right, XIII will take on a different form at the time of each XIII experience we face

  2. I love what you have to say about the focal point shifting from the mundane to the spiritual with the arrival of XIII. It certainly hails a time of shedding our excess, whether that be of a physical, emotional, behavioural, or spiritual nature. Associating this card to this time of year has given me new insight to both the tarot and the season - in order to move forwards, there must be an acceptance with the way the cycle turns.

    Condolences on the loss of your mascot. <3

  3. Third time must be a charm for adding a comment. I apologize if it comes up multiple times.

    I wanted to say first off that I am sorry for your loss. Secondly, your thoughts on death being what frees us from that which holds us captive is beautiful. it is a thought I have thought often, but have been unable to express clearly. Your post is deep, and insightful and I appreciate it greatly.

  4. Very well put. It is the uniqueness that sometimes causes the loneliness that comes from Death, and that growth or regrowth. Lovely x

  5. Dogs are really a too good gift and change lives! What a way to experience your year card. As others have mentioned, placing death as a refocus "where everything is bigger than the body" is a great way to put it. The great equalizer.

  6. I am so sorry for your loss. That was a beautiful piece on Death. In reading it, it dawned on me that my greatest loss took place on the 13th, a Friday no less.

    "Slay the things that rule you..." That will be with me every time I interpret this card.

  7. Sorry to hear of your fur baby. My Blue (a Maine Coon cat) had to be put down for his own relief and my great dismay from various sicknesses. 4 years ago, miss him still. Thank you for this post

  8. I love this piece about not really knowing each other's names. So true. Thank you.

  9. Love your view on this topic. Thanks for sharing.


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