Importance of the Scythe
We learn in the Third Degree lecture that the Scythe is an emblem of time, which cuts the brittle thread of life, and launches us into eternity. In classic Mythology, the scythe was associated with Saturn, the god of time, which in turn taught men to use the implement in agriculture. Many illustrations of time as a figure show an old man, usually bearded, having a hour glass in the one hand, and a scythe in the other.
The scythe is often associated with destruction. However, upon deeper reflection, the scythe also cuts the old to make way for the new - and thus the cycle of life repeats itself. For example, in order to gather the harvest (grain, which feeds life) the giver (in this case the plant) must be killed. Until the fifteenth century, it was not the scythe, but the sickle that was portrayed in similar ways the scythe is today. This probably reflects the changing implements used in farming. It should be noted, that the 13th Major Arcana Card in the Tarot, Death, depicts a scythe not cutting down life, but the wordily illusions. This also corresponds with its meaning, which is not the end, but the beginning of a cycle. In this case, the scythe is a positive tool - one that opens the door to the realm of the true and invisible reality.