Drawn by Court de Gebelin in attempt to show that the Tarot was Egyptian in origin, these cards represent the height of circular logic. They are far more eighteenth-century than they are Egyptian, and in any case they are basically a reproduction of the far older Marseilles pattern tarot deck, with some ideological changes to help him prove his own point.
Court de Gebelin. France, 1781.
Death. The method of presentation is almost invariable, and embodies a bourgeois form of symbolism. The scene is the field of life, and amidst ordinary rank vegetation there are living arms and heads protruding from the ground. One of the heads is crowned, and a skeleton with a great scythe is in the act of mowing it. The transparent and unescapable meaning is death, but the alternatives allocated to the symbol are change and transformation. Other heads have been swept from their place previously, but it is, in its current and patent meaning, more especially a card of the death of Kings. In the exotic sense it has been said to signify the ascent of the spirit in the divine spheres, creation and destruction, perpetual movement, and so forth.
Death, Change, Transformation, Alteration for the worse
Death just escaped, Partial change, Alteration for the better.