Suicide and Symbolism

A study

In My Life

I was 16 when my friend killed herself. She had been tossed around hospital to hospital, home to home. She had difficulties with this world. Her father was absent, and her mother was content to have her in group homes.

I had known her for several years, she introduced me to poetry, to people like Kerouac and Ginsberg.

When she hung herself, I accepted it. Her life was not one you would want to lead. But I cannot help but desire, however selfishly, that she had lived.

I loved her. As I love all my friends.

When I have experienced periods of depression and wished to die, I have, in my Heart, told myself that it is a desire to be reborn. To live an even greater life.

All Suicide methods are attempts at Alchemy.

This is to say all desire for death is in the most unconscious way, a desire for a rebirth. One could say this describing an effect as a cause, that alchemist look at death and ascribe rebirth to it.

Freud provides the key to this Mystery, he says “The Unconscious does not know Death”. Seeing as all symbolism has its roots in the Unconscious, Death can only function symbolically to the largest part of our Selves. We see Death, and we only know our own rebirth. 

To dig deeper into this, I’ve looked at common suicide methods and how they function Symbolically.

Though this is a grave topic, that many, including myself have been horribly effected by, I hope by looking at the desire for death as a desire for rebirth, even one person can see this in themselves, and choose not die.

With love,



In the tarot, the Death card is signified by Scorpio. Scorpio is the fixed Water sign, though its water is not the Cancerian pool or Piscean depths. It is an acidic water, one which in Alchemy is used to reduce and purify base metal. This burning away of the impure is embodied in the Scorpion itself, which when surrounded by a ring of fire will sting itself to death. Its symbol is a Blue Flame.

The mystery of the “unlucky” number 13 is here as well. As the Zodia and clock face contain only 12 hours or months, we imagine 13 to be the end. In Magick (remember, we do not know Death) this is simply a rebirth, never an end.1

Several prominent suicide methods fall into this symbolic form, namely:

  • Poison

  • Overdosing

  • Suffocation

  • Spontaneous Human Combustion

Poison is the vitriolic fluid. An overdose, in its most base sense, is an attempt to medicate pain. Suffocation by way of carbon monoxide or other fume, is again, a poison.

The last is something some do not believe in it at all, I do however.

Spontaneous Human Combustion occurs primarily in the elderly, those who are extremely isolated. Though when there are witnesses, they describe blue flames that rise from the lower torso, the segment of the Body associated with Scorpio.

The Fall

This symbol informs one of the most primal suicide methods, jumping from a height. The Fall itself is a primal symbol, the Fall of the Titans, the Fall of Satan, and the Fall of Man. Though each of these is regarded as a punishment, an end in itself, alchemically, the Fall is the promise of an even Greater Ascent. From lowest Lead to loftiest Gold.2


Selfishly, I’ve devoted much study to the the symbolism of Sagittarius. It is the Thunderbolt of Jupiter, the Arrow of Eros, and today, the Gun of the Cowboy, and even the mighty steed, our Car. All of these are extremely dangerous forces, Jakob Boehme describes clearly the terror of God as Lightning, and how nothing can withstand it, all is transformed by it.3 The Taoists attribute this same Value to their Thunder.4

The Fall of the Titans and the Fall of Satan are both catalyzed by the Sky Father’s thunderbolts. So let’s look at how these violent forms of transformation inform our desire for rebirth.

The methods:

  • Gun

  • Explosion

  • Train/Car

  • Electrocution

The Gun is one of essential, modern methods. In America they are ubiquitous. The Gun is the evolution of the Bow, and so an evolution of God’s Thunderbolt. Our deepest self wants to be jolted to new life.

The explosion functions similarly, the crash of Thunder causes these, when our chemistry advanced to this point, we gained another divine power.

The Car or Train is a steel horse. I’ve described before the way that the Cowboy is literally Sagittarius (sagit = shoot tarius = bull). The horse of Sagittarius has become a Car. So when we are hit, or crash, we again are jolted. When this occurs accidentally, and is survived, survivors often feel as though they were literally reborn.

Consider Radiohead.

In the next world war

In a jackknifed juggernaut

I am born again


Electricity is again, literally man’s controlled form of Thunder. When we electrocute ourselves, we wish to be reborn.

Odin, The Hanged Man

This one is extremely direct. Odin hangs himself to gain knowledge of the world, to enhance his divinity:

I know that I hung on that windy tree,
spear-wounded, nine full nights,
given to Odin, myself to myself,
on that tree that rose from roots
that no man ever knows.

They gave me neither bread nor drink from horn,
I peered down below.
I clutched the runes, screaming I grabbed them,
and then sank back.

-Poetic Edda

One can see the mundane hanging as sharing the same unconscious purpose.


Fire and Drowning are, other than the Fall, two of the most primal means of death. They are nature’s elements from which we arise and often fall back into. Fire and Water in Alchemy seek unity, for the sake of greater creation. When we die by the Elements we seek to magickally invoke them, to be reborn.


Gemini’s element is Air. Its suit is Swords. When, in a fit, as Ajax, we fall on our Sword, or cut ourselves, we are cutting away that which we cannot bear in ourselves. Surgeons, attempting to remove what we see as cancer. When this kills (as surgeries often do), we are unable to change into that which we will.

What each method has made clear is that we wish to change our lives, but in making these transformations physical and violent, we rob ourselves of this ability to change.

The End

Consider 1 Corinthians 15:31-32

31 I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.

32 If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.

And in Aleister Crowley’s Book of Lies,

Is this not our struggle as human beings? To be wounded endlessly, to change again and again. To die daily. But to grow ever stronger. To live in eternity.

Do not kill your body, die daily!

-Chris Gabriel


The Book of Thoth, Aleister Crowley pg 99-100


The Hermetic Tradition, Julius Evola pg 2-12


The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, Carl Jung pg 295-299


The I Ching, Richard Wilhelm pg 197-198