Card Meaning: XVIII The Moon

The Moon
Element: Water
Zodiac: Pisces
Hebrew letter: Qof, ק


  After The Star card, one could easily think that problems are solved and that there is an easy way forward, towards the end of the journey, whatever that end might be. But than again, we are faced with maybe the greatest challenge in the Major Arcana. But why after all tribulations, after the sacrifice of The Hanged One, passing through the gates of the Death, facing The Devil, after transforming The Tower, and at last recieving the beneficial omen of hope with The Star, we must pass through these two sinister towers on The Moon card. Maybe astronomy has an answer for us. The Moon doesn't have a light on its own, it is a cold, dead object that is only reflecting a light from the true source of light in our system - the Sun. In time of the full Moon, the reflection is the strongest, in time of the new Moon, there is no reflection, looking at the Moon will be as same as looking at the Sun. That is the moment where the Moon is in its "natura esoterical" position towards the Sun and the Earth. It is aligned with the Sun, symbolically showing that will of the Ego is the same as Will of the Soul. But than again, in just forteen days it will fully reflect the light that it is not his, in that moment, again symbolically speaking the Ego would like to tell:  "The light is mine!". Thus, the Moon is trapped inside its primal revolution around the Earth and secondary around the Sun with the Earth. Similar situation is with the Ego, the body of Man and the Soul. After a seed of insipration in The Star card has been established, there is a danger that the Ego feels more important than the wellhead of that seed, that he adopts that spark as his own nature renouncing the true source of divine insipration. It is dark night of the Ego, to reject itself and subdue itself to the higher consciousness. Moon is lying and decieving part of the Ego, and to see throught that deception and delusion is the final obstacle in the Major Arcana.


   In the "Flemish Deck" by Vandenborre, there is a woman seated in the right-hand corner and a tree in the left part of the card. The moon is above her. She is shown with a distaff in her right hand and spinning thread in her left hand. In the Tarot de Marseille, La Lune (The Moon) shows a crawfish or something similar that is coloured blue as if it is hidden in the pond. Two towers are again shown on both side of the card, with the Moon in between: it has a face and emits coloured drops, twenty-two in total in the Noblet version of Tarot De Marseille. Two dogs seem to want to catch them with their mouth. Rosenwald Sheet just portrays large Moon that has a face. The image on the Cary Sheet shows a crustacean in a pool of water, rising to the call of radiant Moon with a face above. On both side of the card is a hill with a tower. The Visconti-Sforza Tarot depicts a woman who holds crescent Moon in her right hand, with her left hand she plays with cords around her waist. She is dressed in a long, red dress, her feet are bare.


   On its positive side this card foreshadows unexpected realities, imagination and new ideas, but caution is recommended since there is always possibility of delusion in this card. On its negative side, it can also bring fear, confusion, highly charged emotions, lies and deceit. If you are involved in clandestine affair this card can represent a good omen, but in negative context there is a possibility that your secret can be exposed.

two towers, dog, wolf, crawfish, the Moon

   The central motif of this card is the Moon. We can see the sour face upon the Moon, with eyes closed facing down to Earth. Obviously, it is not a celebration card. The Moon is shown in phase with 32 (10 + 22, 10 Sephirots with 22 Hebrew letters and cards of Major Arcana) rays around it. It is shown in its first quarter when the Moon is getting brighter. There are 15 Yods between the Moon and the Earth. It seems that they are not desceding  from the Moon, the Divine Words symbolized by Yods are raining from The Sun, the next card, here they are depicted hovering in the air, waiting for us on the other side of the pillars. The gray pillars we first saw far on the horizon in card the Death, where the end of the road of the Major Arcana has become visible. They can represent our left, rational side and our right, creative side, but their prime role is to be the guardians on the Path. Are we pure enough? Only than we will be able to pass them through. We have a dog and a wolf barking at the Moon on either side of a pathway, pathway leads from the water, maybe an ocean, up to the pillars and then to the mountains. The road is rather bumpy telling us that walking upon it certanly is not easy. The wolf is untamed, natural energy, and dog is a sort of man made animal, that evolved with a human. There is an obvious combat here between that two forces. Careful balance of the two is needed, two much "civilization" drives man far from his true nature and source, two much wild in a man drives man towards the level of animal, on lower levels of cosciousness. A lobster or a crayfish, beginning to crawl out of the water accentuates deep subconscious forces at work within us. Living in the material vessel, we need to refine our biology to accomodate higher consciousness. Sleep is also attributed to this card since its mechanisms are rooted deep into our subconscious and our biological functions. This card definitely asks for soberness and focus. 18 adds up to 9 so The Hermit is the card that offers us tools to achieve this step.

The distinction between this card and some of the conventional types is that the moon is increasing on what is called the side of mercy, to the right of the observer. It has sixteen chief and sixteen secondary rays. The card represents life of the imagination apart from life of the spirit. The path between the towers is the issue into the unknown. The dog and wolf are the fears of the natural mind in the presence of that place of exit, when there is only reflected light to guide it.

The last reference is a key to another form of symbolism. The intellectual light is a reflection and beyond it is the unknown mystery which it cannot shew forth. It illuminates our animal nature, types of which are represented below--the dog, the wolf and that which comes up out of the deeps, the nameless and hideous tendency which is lower than the savage beast. It strives to attain manifestation, symbolized by crawling from the abyss of water to the land, but as a rule it sinks back whence it came. The face of the mind directs a calm gaze upon the unrest below; the dew of thought falls; the message is: Peace, be still; and it may be that there shall come a calm upon the animal nature, while the abyss beneath shall cease from giving up a form.

The Pictorial Key to the Tarot, by A.E. Waite

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