The persons affected by Death on both of the above cards do not seem to experience this as an unpleasant event. We see a peaceful smile on almost all faces. This confirms to us that this card does not represent physical death, but a mystical experience. Man is freed from his ego and experiences the oneness of the divine.
On the Estensi card (above center) the ‘dead’ are high ranking clerics and a king. In the light of the other symbolism, we may also interpret the king as a spiritually accomplished person: in alchemy the king represents the person who has completed the Magnum Opus (see also the alchemical illustrations below).
Right: the BLISSFUL facial expression of the man (alchemist) in the grave shows that he experiences the divine, as a result of the awakened kundalini energy (SERPENT), which has ascended to his head. The color red of his clothing refers to a completed Magnum Opus. (Atalanta Fugiens, emblem 50, Michael Maier, 1617)
In the open abdomen of the Visconti Di Modrone Death (above) the viscera are visible. They make a spiral movement that refers to the ascending kundalini.
The scythe is the instrument of Death with which he chops away everything that stands between man and God. This purifying effect will be emphasized more in the centuries that follow, in the Tarot of Marseille.
Right: the Magnum Opus (God-realization) of the alchemist in symbols. The person with the two eagle heads, sitting on the wolf, represents the fused POLAR ENERGY CHANNELS (sun and moon). The front person, with the SCYTHE, represents the purifying kundalini energy. The LADDER symbolizes the ascent of the kundalini through the SPINE. The WOLF represents the energies of the lower (animal) nature that are used for the process of God-realization. (Book of Alchemical Formulas, Claudio de Domenico Celentano di Valle, 1606)