XVIII. The Moon


Meaning:  You are not alone or unnoticed, find the right environment, one that can reflect your gifts.  There are others out there that share and can understand your feelings.  What you show devotion towards is what will shine in your life.

Reversed:  You’re missing the sweetness of life.  You may have everything under control, but by leaving no openings, happy accidents can’t happen either.  Relax, everything changes, a better time will come around.


Charles VI


The moon has a documented effect on humans and animals alike, on fish spawning and crops changing phases.  Understanding the Moon involves understanding the subtle rhythms of life.   That the light from a satellite can be written into our instincts, that distant things can enter us very deeply.


Unlike the Sun, the Moon card is subjective and there are a couple of schools for illustrating it.  The straightforward silver goddess holding a sickle moon, sometimes a silvery thread of fate in the other hand.  Astronomers are another variation.   The one most repeated in modern decks is a symmetrical esoteric image, a full moon being attended by creatures that notably respond to moonlight… a pair of howling wolves or dogs and a crustacean, of which some types surface to mate on moonlit nights.  The two towers form a neolithic doorway, they indicate the perennial nature of the moon, to alternate between wax and wane.  The typically contrasting colors are reflected in the beasts, and point to the moon’s having a bright and a dark side.


The reason for such a variety is simple – the Moon was understood, going back to the earliest times, to have once been the highest form of deity.  She was the white or silver goddess, her time was reliable and you could keep a calendar by her light.  In matriarchal days, the sun was seen as her weak son or lover that annually lost his heat, died, and was resurrected by the steady moon.

It would help to understand that many goddesses as we know them from mythology were once titles applied to the same Moon.  It is lost on us, when we want a symbol to be just one thing, how matriarchal poets regarded the moon – as having both a full and bright face, and a dark face.  The high goddess was made responsible for great gifts and terrible deeds; unlike the virgin mother, the earth itself, the Moon gives ups and downs, it meddles and intervenes, its phases cause people to act out or to stay inside.

NASA, Alaskan Moondogs

An important feature of the moon card are the two towers and two dogs, reflections of this yin/yang personality assigned to the Moon, and also indicative of the goddess in general.  Flanking pairs of animals always indicate a goddess in a group frieze, and some, like Artemis (Diana) the goddess of the hunt, Olympian memory of the matriarchal religions of the indigenous people, are defined by her pair of hounds or hinds (deer).  This is in part linked to a phenomenon in the North, where cold atmosphere creates a lenticular effect that causes two refractions of its light to appear symmetrically at either side.   The North is where the Moon was generally considered to have her spiral castle, the place where her chosen and noble souls may wait to be reborn into new bodies, and from where the cold winds blow.  The phenomenon are called moondogs, and there were travelers that could swear to having seen them.

Helen Stratton, Artemis, 2012
Helen Stratton, Artemis and Her Hounds, 2012

The first Paris example of this card is rather unique in the sweep of Tarot once again.  It depicts a serenade, the singer is seated on a throne, decorated with a sphinx. A anthropoid Moon with a realistic crescent seems the most pleased, and possibly eavesdropping, while the singer seems to be engaging an actual lady in a window, as though caught in a romantic spell.