XVIII - The Moon

XVIII - The Moon - Tarot Card from the Rider-Waite Deck

The Star, the Moon, and the Sun represent a trilogy of celestial bodies, each with its own focus, this is the second trilogy of cards to appear within the Major Arcana, with the first being formed by Justice, the Hanged Man, and the Tower. The first trilogy deals with the corporeal being, our actions within the Earthly plane and their repercussions within it. The second deals with the ethereal being, our life and approaching death, and the repercussions for the soul.

Where the Star emphasised, our introspection enacting our self-determination, the Moon serves as a warning. Cyclical in nature, the phases of the Moon represent the repetition of the cycle of life, the promise that no pain will last forever and the warning that no joy can be sustained in turn for eternity.

In the upright state the Moon is a warning to consider unseen threats and pitfalls, to reflect upon the transient nature of our existence and understand that we should live for the moment but not fall ignorant to the future and what it may hold. Our lack of preparation today will impact our present in days to come.

In the inverted state the Moon represents diversions, annoyance, and the revelation of threats. What is unseen in the present will be revealed to us in the future, and whilst it is unfair to judge our present self for failing to compensate for what we do not know, our future self will find no hesitation in judging us with hindsight.

In the Rider-Waite deck the Moon is depicted as the central focus but it is the scene below that shows its meaning in context. Below the Moon a dog and a wolf can be seen barking at the Moon, distracted by its reverence they are unaware of the threat emerging from the waters behind them. This threat emerges from the unconscious mind representing that which we have ignored and dismissed and is depicted in the form of a crustacean.

The dog and the wolf represent two extremes of a scale, both ultimately the same animal they depict our tame and our wild nature respectively. Once more these symbols reflect the conflict of want and need, our desire and instincts versus our ethos and discipline, our animalistic desires and our civilised constraint.

Between these three animals the path of life leads up towards the Moon representing our focus and attention on the path forward and the danger of moving forward in ignorance without looking back in reflection. The Moon card serves as a reminder of the consequence of ignoring the direction and guidance of the Star, where the Star prompted us to reflect in order to find clarity and direction, the Moon warns of the danger posed by forgetting history.

Around the Moon can be seen 15 golden drops, again their meaning is often disputed, but they could be an allusion to the Ides of March, which falls on the 15th day of March in the Roman calendar and serves as the traditional date upon which debts were settled, and infamously became the date of the assassination of Julius Caesar by his senators.

Finally in the bottom right within the waters of the unconscious mind the Rod of Aaron is depicted once more representing the persistence of God even when we are distracted by the quandaries of life, his presence remains.

Ever constant in the night sky, whether seen in its reverent beauty serving to distract, or unseen obscured by clouds leaving the viewer in darkness, the Moon represents hidden threats and unseen dangers. The expression goes, to look before you leap. In self-reflection the Moon serves as a prompt to consider the potential pitfalls before making a commitment, to reflect on your situation and consider what risks are present that you have not addressed.

It is important here not to amplify existing anxieties but rather to shift focus onto the elements that we have not yet addressed. Ask yourself “What could go wrong?” with sincerity, not out of despair, and ask “How can I plan for that?” in an attempt to arm yourself.

Where the Wheel of Fortune asks us to accept that positive and negative exist and should be tolerated to an extent in our lives, with the emphasis only on mitigating the negativity not eliminating it entirely, here the Moon instead shifts our focus away from tolerating negativity that is already present and instead focuses on anticipation of future outcomes and preparing ourselves for those potential risks.

In this regard the Wheel of Fortune deals with the present, the Moon centres around the future and what is yet to come.

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