Behind the Shadows: The Moon
I love this part of the Major Arcana… when you finish with the scary cards (you know the ones) and start soaring into the skies with the heavenly bodies. The Moon is probably the dark horse among the Star, the Moon and the Sun, but I still like it (despite my propensity to favor shiny happy cards over the dark and mysterious ones). Read on to see how I tackle the Major Arcana's 18th player.
The Moon is one of those things I am always aware of. I'm one of those people who like to stop and stare at the Moon, no matter what phase it's on. Something about its light really speaks to me as awe-inspiring and primal. Two descriptors that I think we can also connect to the Moon as a tarot card. It speaks of things that are both beguiling and bewitching, it shows us light—but the kind that only comes up when we're cloaked in darkness.
I like how the Small Spells Moon breaks down characteristics of this archetype into chunks I find easy to comprehend and relate to. The Moon can stand for cycles—just as it waxes and wanes and marks its path ever so clearly as a New Moon or Full Moon, so do our lives echo the same kind of flow and pattern.
The snake with the spider and cobwebs may symbolize all the creepy crawlies that are hidden in the same darkness that envelops the moon. In the depths we don't easily reveal, we all have skeletons we're not comfortable exposing to other people, and sometimes even to ourselves. It's part of what makes us human. (The Small Spells Tarot guidebook has a deep explanation for this symbol too—something that I didn't really come to me as I looked at the card on its own… Check out my writeup on the Deck and Guidebook for a more in depth review).
The werewolf is another archetype directly linked to the Moon (has anyone here seen Penny Dreadful? Ah, Lupus Dei). The word Lunacy itself comes directly from the Moon. Sometimes the Moon's pull draws our darkest shadows out and some say that the crazy can manifest during the Full Moon.
Lastly, the Joker card shows the dual nature of the Moon. I'm a big believer in yin and yang—active and receptive energy. The Moon with its pull on the tides and our energies, as well as its ability to receive our asks and intentions is just one way it manifests this duality.
Pretty Standard Stuff About the Moon (as seen in the Pagan Otherworlds Tarot, Nicoletta Ceccoli and the Dreaming Way Tarot):
- Most standard depictions of the Moon show two hounds, howling (in the Ceccoli Tarot, they're skeletons). You've got a domesticated animal and a wild one, symbolizing the dual nature that lives within each of us. I like how the Werewolf archetype so neatly joins these two forces into a single (albeit complex!) mythical creature.
- Most standard Moon cards also have a lobster or crawfish, as in the Dreaming Way. This symbolizes our crawl up the depths towards a higher calling.
But what about cards that go off the beaten path? (Check out the card from Metro Tarot).
- I find that looking at a mirror will show us the light and shadow exemplified by the moon. When we stare into our reflections, we'll discover parts of ourselves we don't want to deal with, and those that we prefer to show everyone. If we took time to examine both, we'd have a deeper, richer, albeit more complex relationship with ourselves.
- The mirror is also topped off with a crown fit for a Queen, which harkens to the feminine aspect of the Moon. The Sun, typically associated with yang energy or action-oriented energy is the polar opposite of the darker, more introspective, cooler toned feminine Moon.
When was the last time you tracked your own development across a lunar cycle? When was the last time you actually looked up at the Moon? Maybe this card on this day is calling you to examine these deeper, darker aspects of the Self for a reason. Try looking up and seeing if this mystic celestial body has something to tell you tonight. :)