Truth or fantasy? Two sides of The Moon

I asked you to tell me your favourite tarot card.

The Moon was up there in the top five, and many of you wrote additional notes explaining why you love this card.

For me personally, this is a tricky one. I’ve been through loving this card more than any other, a creeping sense of doubt and unease around The Moon, then hatred and rejection (seriously) and only recently, come to love it in a [ahem] healthy balanced way. That’s a whole other story.

And that’s kinda what The Moon is like, right?

It’s confusing! Mysterious and creepy, beautiful but a little bit scary.

I often think of this card as like a journey through a forest, in the dead of night – a full moon above you. You feel scared, but at the same time you are drawn onwards. You don’t know why, and you don’t know what to trust – you’re being led by something completely outside of your rational mind.

The Moon casts a spooky silvery glow. Everything looks different in the moonlight, you notice details you’d never seen before, faces, voices, symbols that are invisible in the daylight, or mean something else when lit by the sun.

The-Moon-Tarot-Card

The Moon, from the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot, illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith

First, there is a crayfish emerging from a pool, like a deep, dark idea crawling up out of your subconscious. There is the long, winding road off into the distant mountains – a journey you must make, though you don’t know why. There’s the dog and the wolf – your domesticated self and your wild side – both now howling. And there’s the moon itself, with a stern, steady face, staring down at you.

It’s pretty full on, no?

So is the moonlight showing you the truth, or a fantasy? Is your intuition calling you, or are you completely deluded? The symbolism on the card suggests both.

For me, this sums up the two different sides of this card:

On the one hand, The Moon is about intuition.

Mysterious hidden knowledge, mystique, buried secrets. What does the crayfish mean to you? What is that secret message, surfacing from your subconscious? The Moon asks you to tune in.

A crescent moon sits in the very skirts of The High Priestess – the guardian of your subconscious – and shows up in only two other cards in the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot – the Eight of Cups and the Two of Swords. Both of these are cards where inner wisdom is needed rather than ‘surface’ thought.

I especially love sitting the Two of Swords and the High Priestess side by side. Can you see the similarities between the two?

two-of-swords-and-high-priestess-moon-tarot-card

The Two of Swords is like a very pared-down version of The High Priestess – a figure in a white dress on a stone seat. The same calm ocean behind them both. The High Priestess, being a major card, wears a lunar crown and holds the moon at her feet, whereas the Two of Swords is watched over by a gentle moon in the sky. The High Priestess represents the subconscious mind itself, whereas the minor Two of Swords puts on a blindfold in order to go within and access that knowledge.

On the other hand, The Moon can mean delusion.

The howling wolf, wild and beautiful, is not always a helpful influence! It can suggest that you feel like you’re ‘going crazy’ or acting irrationally (and not in a good way).

How do you know you can trust what you see in the moonlight? How do you know those visions are not some trickery or witchcraft? Are you just seeing what you want to see? Will you create some amazing work of art from your visions, or be paralysed my mistrust?

the-moon-shadowscapes-tarot

The Moon, from the Shadowscapes Tarot by Stepahine Piu-Mun Law

I love this Shadowscapes version of The Moon, above, with its masked figure and forest sprites. The silvery moonlight is like a mask, it changes everything. In this sense, this card can often suggest that you are deluding yourself, or being led astray by others. I’ve also seen it point to people ‘putting on an act’ or living untruthfully.

An exercise that can help develop your understanding of any card with a strong central symbol is to look for that symbol in other cards – just as I did with the Rider-Waite-Smith above.

Moon-tarot-cards-wild-unknown

In the Wild Unknown Tarot, above, moon symbols feature heavily. In the Two of Swords, unlike the Rider-Waite-Smith version, the moon is eclipsing the sun – blocking out that warm, friendly light. Again, in The Emperor. And a crescent moon marks the forehead of the white horse on The Chariot, suggesting that this card’s very forward-moving energy is fuelled as much by intuition as by fire.

Each of these occurrances tells me something new about The Moon and how its energy can be used in different ways. Try exploring these ideas with your own tarot deck!

I’d love to know how you feel about The Moon – it’s such a complex card. Share your thoughts in the comments!

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7 comments

  1. Ellen says:

    Like you I have mixed feelings about the moon, depending on my mood when I pull this card. Often it warns me that nothing is like it seems and it urges me to try to let go of my fears and see things how they really are. When i feel more balanced I like to dive beneath the surface of the waters to look for treasures 😀

  2. ktreu says:

    I think of the moon as challenge to “proceed carefully”. To listen to my intuition about an issue, but to know that I might not be seeing the whole picture. I’ll keep walking forward, but it’s as if I’m walking barefoot in the river/creek at night and can’t see where I’m putting my feet. Each foot will slowly feel it’s way forward making sure I don’t step on rocks or spiny things. – katie

  3. Trine says:

    I love this post!!! But then again I also love the card. To me it’s about all of the aspects that you’ve touched upon, and it also has a strong element of beauty to me. The beauty of the wild and the domestic side playing tug-a-war, and the beauty of the subconscious to overcome (as well as contribute to) hardship.

  4. Vayla Nightshade says:

    As a Witch I happen to love this card and see completely different than most. I see it as a guiding light , in sunlight we tend to be busy working ,tending to all worldly affairs but in Moonlight we need to look inside and find our feminine powers. Our monthly cycle is related to the Moon and as women we should be aware that we are STRONGER during our cycles and I don’t mean physically stronger but psychic powers and magically. The Moon rules the oceans and we are submerged in waters not unlike the ocean waters for 9 months awaiting birth (or as I see it rebirth). Therefore to me the Moon can also mean a rebirth. So the Moon is magick, psychic powers, and rebirth and paying attention to cycles and patterns in our lives.Blessed Be !

  5. C says:

    I loved the beauty in this post.

    However, as for the Moon Tarot Card? I am never easy or comfortable around this card. This card to me can spell problems. Problems in the way of the presence or upcoming presence of deceptiveness in a situation or deceptive people. Not good…and this is the upright Moon Tarot Card.

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