The Moon in the Tarot is the 18th card of the Major Arcana and it is depicted with a face within. A dog and a wolf howl at the moon which appears above two stone towers. In the foreground a crustacean emerges from the water onto land. A path leads from the water and weaves its way between the animals and towers into the mountains beyond.
When we look up at the Moon, it is the reflected light of the sun we see. It is apt that within this card, there is such a strong resemblence between the moon and the sun. The Moon is decorated with the rays of the sun and even within the Moon, is the familiar shape of the crescent suggesting that the full orb is actually the sun. A face within appears confused and deep in thought. We only get to see half the face, much like we only see a faint reflection of the sun’s light in the Moon.
When the Moon appears in a reading, it can symbolise that we are in a period of reflection. There is light out there and it illumines our path but instead of taking a few steps we stand still is the madness of our situation. The dog and wolf howling at the moon and the crustacean emerging from the water represent the ‘now’ in which we find ourselves. It is a bit mad, a bit chaotic, we are feeling uncomfortable but yet we find it difficult to see where we are meant to go. For to change things and follow the path, means leaving the security of the towers depicted in the card and taking the unfamiliar path into the mountains beyond.
We are on the path to change but we need to reflect and rely on that within us to guide us. It is important that we rely on our own intuition because the Moon is a very feminine symbol and centers around the emotional / intuitive. The water depicted in the card reinforces that theme. The crustacean that emerges from the water could be taken to mean the earliest awareness we have as we emerge from our own depths but I also feel that often, it can represent that sniping, pinching feeling we have that we are not meant to remain where we are.
Surrounding the moon are 15 yods – Yod is the first letter of Yaweh (YHVH) and in Hebrew means to ‘work, make and throw’. In earlier writings, Yod was depicted a hand suspended in air (i.e. God’s hand) so to have these falling from the reflected light of the moon might perhaps remind us that there is something bigger calling to us on our journey.
Because the Moon reflects the light of the sun, we are lucky to have nights where we can wander about comfortably in sublime shades of grey. Other nights veer towards pitch black. The Moon can also be taken to represent our own subconscious, that grey area that speaks to us constantly but which so few of us take heed of. Whatever your query to the cards, it is likely that you have some inkling within you of the path you must take but seeing the future in those same sublime shades of moonlight grey is intimidating. Trust your intuition and take those first few steps on your new path.
The strong theme of duality in this card (dog/wolf, two towers, moon/sun, land/water, conscious/unconscious) suggests that there are two options open to us – remain where we are or take the path less traveled.
Eighteen resolves to 9 (8+1) which is the card of The Hermit. A solitary figure who held a lantern to lead him through the night. It is perhaps a reminder that we have been here before. We have made nighttime journeys in our past emerged better and stronger.
Reversed: The Moon in the Tarot reversed can symbolise that we are allowing our own minds to create situation of fear that are blocking us from progressing on our journey. Our fears have gotten the better of us. That crustacean emerging from the deep pool of our subconscious evokes a feeling of terror within us. Even though the present is maddeningly familiar we still have not brought ourselves to wander past the security of the two towers onto the path beyond. Were we to overcome our fears and take those steps, we would find ourselves on the 19th card of the Major Arcana – the Sun.
When the Moon appears reversed, it is time to remind ourselves of some positive thinking. We are holding ourselves back by creating situations in our minds that possibly do not even exist and will never come to pass.