General Book of the Tarot, by A. E. Thierens, , at sacred-texts.com
The picture speaks for itself--as indeed most of them do--but still there is more in it than we might suppose at first sight. Beyond all doubt it is a sort of allegorical representation of Father Chronos, Time, who, while creating, consumes his own children, and was very often pictured as a warning of death or a remembrance of mortality. But on the other hand Time marks the beginning, and birth is not less under his government than death. The ancient edition of this card shows the figure harvesting heads and limbs of human bodies upon a field. This may be an expression of an old superstition, which said that those limbs with which man sinned would grow out of his grave. Probably a distorted teaching of the Law of Karma or cosmic reaction, which is also ruled by Saturn, at least in the execution. And in this function he is the old God of Israel, whose law was "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth."
But Saturn is more. He is the planet or cosmic function (let us say planet for convenience sake) of Formation, which means also determination in Place and Time, limitation, definition, etc.
Now let us see what P. says. He identifies the card with the principle of the Hebrew letter Mem, who "is a woman, the companion of man," and therefore gives rise to ideas of fertility, formation.
[paragraph continues] "It is pre-eminently the material and female, the local and plastic sign, an image of external and passive action." It is really a great pity, that this occultist never realised what he was saying, astrologically or cosmically. "Mem is one of the three mother-letters."
Saturn is the ruler of the Tenth house, Capricorn, which as such is called the house of the 'married woman' in Hindu astrology.
That Saturn, the Christian Satan, has close relations with woman and even that he used her as his favourite vehicle or agent, is one of the Christian 'teachings,' in which we recognise distorted or perverted occult knowledge.
Death certainly is only relative and the death of the form may mean the commencement of life on another plane. Birth down here may be seen as a sort of death of a higher existence. "The veil and mask of life is perpetuated in change, transformation and passage from lower to higher . . ." (W.) Higher to lower as well. W. shows the figure on horseback, which is not inadequate for the ruler of Capricorn, which succeeds to Sagittarius: action and definition in space and time are born from thought. ". . . perpetual rebirth of the Being in the domain of Time." (P.)