Tuesday, 3 July 2012
Tarot: The Moon - Symbolism and Meanings
There's a long, long trail a-winding/Into the land of my dreams/Where the nightingales are singing/And a white moon beams...Those words from a song of the First World War always come into my head when I draw The Moon in a Tarot reading.
That's sort of what The Moon card is about to me - and it seemed appropriate to write about it now, as there is a full moon this evening. Whereas The Sun Tarot card, which I wrote about at the time of the Summer Solstice, is about the conscious, rational mind, The Moon is all about the unconscious, dreams and the imagination.
Traditional interpretations also say that while The Sun is very a positive card, the Moon means trouble. To be honest, I don't entirely go along with that. Maybe it's because I'm a witch, and therefore rather likely to enjoy a full moon, but to me The Moon card fills me with excitement. I see that long winding trail and I yearn to be on it, having adventures on the way, but in the end discovering what lies beyond those distant misty mountains.
As I did with The Sun cards, I've photographed The Moon from four different Tarot decks. From left to right in the picture above, these decks are The Crystal Tarot, the Robin Wood Tarot,a Tarot deck from the early 1970s produced by Reiss Games and the Tarot Flamand, also known as the Bacchus Tarot, which was designed in the 18th Century.
The three cards on the left show versions of The Moon that are very similar to those in the Rider-Waite deck, which is probably the best known form of Tarot. They all show two large, foreboding pillars - which are often depicted as towers, although in the Robin Wood deck they are megaliths. These are often said to represent dangers that one must tread a careful path to avoid. To me they can represent portals to another world - or sometimes watchtowers to be crept between carefully to avoid the eyes of any sentries before escaping to freedom.
In the foreground, a wolf and a domestic dog howl at the moon. These are traditionally said to represent the fears of the natural mind. When I see them, I think of all those werewolf stories, from Little Red Riding Hood to American Werewolf in London, where the advice to "keep on the path" is a good idea. Under the full moon, that path is clear. Follow the path of your dreams, and do not stray.
The pool in the foreground, from which a crayfish is emerging, is sometimes interpreted as being the primal abyssal sea, with unseen depths, from which monsters can emerge. Again, maybe it's because I'm a witch, but I'm not that scared of the Creature from the Black Lagoon, Great Cthulhu or other Monsters from the Id - and I quite enjoy a crayfish supper too.
The Moon in the Bacchus Tarot is different. It shows a woman and the moon looking at each other, as if in mutual challenge. The tree looks like a path up to the moon, inviting the woman to climb as high as she can. The meaning is that if you aim high enough, and persist, you will get all that you dream of. Maintain your purpose and overcome difficulties; you will succeed if you try hard enough. To me, that is a more appropriate meaning for The Moon.
I think it goes to show how Tarot cards can have a different meaning for different people. When doing a reading, it is more important to think what the card means to you personally than to just read the book and go by what it says. Don't be afraid to use your own imagination, it is a powerful tool.
Links and previous related posts:
Robin Wood Tarot Deck