Tarot: The Moon

Tarot: The Moon

Tarot: The Moon

The Moon is not a card of answers and explanations, but one that asks us to look at the world through our mystical eye. Our third eye perceives that which is deeper than the physical world. The moon whispers “Something is happening here… beyond what your eyes can see and your mind has yet to grasp.” For some, walking through this territory of the mind can lead to great works and life changing discoveries. For others it can become a supernatural space full of foreboding and mental trappings.

The path of this tarot card runs along the veiled shoreline that separates our world and the ether beyond. This is a place where realities merge, the seen bleeds into the unseen, and the faces in the night seem to constantly shift between angel and demon. In times of uncertainty, it is easy to project fear into this landscape of the unknown. When you feel yourself entering this space, it is time to turn away from negative self-talk and turn toward inner guidance. This card asks you to trust your intuition over your thoughts in times of uncertainty.

When The Moon appears, it’s time to tune into your most primal self. The eighteenth card of the Major Arcana asked us to listen to our instincts and follow our intuition, wherever that journey leads. This is the card of the microdosing physicist who unwinds the mysteries of the universe, the delirious musician discovering new ways to merge melody with emotion, the traveler engaged in a shamanic quest for knowledge. Beyond it all, this card asks us to tune into our subconscious, listen beyond our ears, and see beyond our eyes. There is something hidden in the ether waiting to be uncovered.

The Moon’s journey should begin from a secure space where your needs are met. From that place of comfort you can boldly follow your deep rooted, ancient call into the wild. Feel what the Cosmos have to offer, welcome The Moon’s illogical rain, bathe in star light, scream out loud. When the ancient creature inside of you moves toward the doorway to the unknown: converse, listen, and absorb the wisdom in all that surrounds you.

Major Arcana Symbolism

Tarot Card NameThe Moon
Traditional Card ImageryAnimals baying at the moon
Traditional SymbolismDreams, psychic perception, nightmares, the spirit world, dreads of the night, spiritual mediumship, illusion, mystery, the astral world, real light from above and the false representation of that light from below, pseudo-mysticism, a spiritual crisis in the journey toward union with God, madness in the face of enlightenment, the finite mind attempting to grasp the infinite
Card NumberXVIII, 18
Classical ElementWater
Influencing ElementAether / Akasha
Traditional Upright MeaningWitchcraft, illusion, fear, intuition, wild nature, magic, the occult, mystery, irrational, dreams, complexity, psychic work, spellwork, strangeness, anxiety, deceiving yourself, subconscious, epiphany, error in judgement, psychic awareness, insecurity, shadow work, secret messages, signs, and symbols, hidden truth, haunted mind
Traditional Reversed MeaningLifting the veil of illusion, madness, releasing fear and anxiety, choose carefully, accessing cosmic information you cannot understand, secrets revealed, learning misinterpretation, instability, repressed emotion, uncertain direction, mental confusion, clearing negative energy, paranoia, misinterpretation, emotional insecurity
Archetype In NatureThe physical power of the environment to influence physical and psychic life
ChakraThird eye
Astrological CorrespondencePisces, Neptune
Yes or NoNo
Crystals and StonesLabradorite, Lapis Lazuli, Blue Calcite, Blue Flash Moonstone, Sodalite, Blue Sapphire, Celestite, Azurite, Kyanite, Iolite, Dumortierite, Ceylon Sapphire, Tanzanite
The Moon (XVIII) Tarot Rider Waite Graphic

Allegory of The Moon

A desolate plain stretched before me. A full moon looked down as if in contemplative hesitation. Under her wavering light the shadows lived their own peculiar life. In the horizon I saw blue hills, and over them wound a path which stretched between two grey towers far away into the distance. On either side the path a wolf and dog sat and howled at the moon. I remembered that dogs believe in thieves and ghosts.

A large black crab crawled out of the rivulet into the sands. A heavy, cold dew was falling. Dread fell upon me. I sensed the presence of a mysterious world, a world of hostile spirits, of corpses rising from graves, of wailing ghosts. In this pale moonlight I seemed to feel the presence of apparitions; someone watched me from behind the towers…and I knew it was dangerous to look back.

-The Symbolism of the Tarot by P.D. Ouspensky (1913)

The Moon Meaning

The Moon (XVIII)

The difference between The Moon card and some of the conventional types is that this card is increasing on what is called the side of mercy, to the right of the observer.* The moon has sixteen chief and sixteen
secondary rays. This card represents the life of the imagination apart from life of the spirit.

The path between the towers is a path into the unknown. The dog and wolf are the fears of the natural
mind, as it approaches the exit, with only reflected light to guide the way. The last reference holds the key to yet another form of symbolism.

This “intellectual light” is but a reflection and it cannot show what lies beyond the mystery of the unknown. It illuminates our animal nature, types of which are represented below: The dog, the wolf and that which comes up out of the deeps (the nameless and hideous tendency which is lower than the savage beast). It strives to attain manifestation, symbolized by crawling from the abyss of water to the land, but as a rule it sinks back whence it came.

The face of the mind directs a calm gaze upon the distressing scene below. The dew of thought falls down to earth. The message of this is: Peace, be still; and it may be that there shall come a calm upon the animal nature, while the abyss beneath shall cease from giving up a form.**

*Waite seems to be referencing the right side of the “tree of life” used in Kabbalistic / Golden Dawn tarot interpretation. This card follows the right hand path of the tree toward mercy.

**This line references Mark 4:39 and may be interpreted as: “Embrace the faith and courage to stand up to your inner demons. Only then will your deepest fears emerge and be illuminated by the light of the moon. These creatures lose their power in the light. The abyss, itself, is not dangerous… but it does provide a fertile home to those dark thoughts that crave secrecy and shy away from all light.”

-Modern Translation of The Pictorial Key to the Tarot by A.E. Waite (1910)

The Moon Card Imagery

Some eighteenth-century cards show the luminary on its waning side. Etteilla shows the moon at night, in her plenitude, set in a heaven of stars. In recent years, the moon is shown on the side of her increase. In nearly all variations she is shining brightly and shedding the moisture of fertilizing dew in great drops. Beneath her are two towers, between which a path winds into the horizon. Two dogs (or a wolf and dog) are baying at the moon. In the foreground there is a crayfish moving through the water toward land.

-Modern Translation of The Pictorial Key to the Tarot by A.E. Waite (1910)

The-Moon XVIII Symbolism Infographic

The Moon Meaning

We have now traversed the steps which the spirit descends in its gradual and utter fall towards the material world. All is now ended; the spirit is completely materialized, and the change is indicated by the eighteenth card. A meadow feebly lighted by the moon. The light, the symbol of the soul, no longer reaches us directly; the material world is only lit by reflection.

The meadow is enclosed by a tower on each side. Drops of blood are falling from the moon. The material world is the last point which the spirit can reach, it can descend no lower. This idea is shown by the boundaries of the field. The drops of blood represent the descent of the Spirit into Matter. A path sprinkled with drops of blood winds it’s way into the horizon.

In the center of the field a dog and a wolf are howling at the moon and a crayfish is climbing out of the water between the two animals. The entry of the Spirit into Matter is so great a fall that everything seem to be working together to make it happen. Servile spirits (the dog), savage souls (the wolf), and crawling creatures (the crayfish) are all present, watching the fall of the soul and hoping to aid in its destruction.

-Modern Translation of The Tarot of The Bohemians by Papus (1892)

Significations of The Moon Card

  • End of Divine Materialization, Final Point of Involution = Chaos
  • End of the Materialization of Man = The Material Body and Its Passions
  • End of Physical Materialization = Matter

-Tarot of The Bohemians by Papus (1892)

The Moon Card

The Moon Card

The Meaning of The Moon Card Throughout History

The Tarot deck is a beautiful synthesis of esoteric thought and archetypal imagery. The journey of the deck, shaped by the events and values of each era, has continued to evolve and take on new significance as it adapts to a larger cultural story. Often a tarot card will have a variety of names and meanings. Exploring the historical interpretations of each card will create a deeper understanding of this powerful method for divination and self-discovery.

Various Names for The Moon Card

Tarot de Marseille (1650)The Moon
Court de Gébelin (1781)The Moon
Etteilla (1783)Comments / Water
Paul Christian (1870)The Twilight
Golden Dawn (1888)The Ruler of Flux and Reflux, the Child of the Sons of the Mighty
Papus (1892)The Moon
Rider-Waite (1910)The Moon
Thoth (1943)The Moon
The-Moon-XVIII-5-card-Tarot-Spread

Card XVIII: The Moon

The moon shining in the heavens, drops of dew falling, a wolf and a dog howling at the Moon, and halted at the foot of two towers, a path which loses itself in the horizon (and is sprinkled with drops of blood, a crayfish emblematic of the sign Cancer, ruled over by the Moon, crawls through water in the foreground towards the land). It symbolizes Twilight, Deception, and Error.

Upright: Twilight, Deception, Error
Reversed: Fluctuation, slight Deceptions, Trifling Mistakes

-The Tarot by S.L. MacGregor Mathers (1888)

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The Pictorial Key to the Tarot

The Moon (XVIII) - The Illustrated Key to the Tarot published 1918, public domain
The Moon (XVIII) – The Illustrated Key to the Tarot published 1918, public domain

This guide by Arthur Edward Waite, the designer of the most widely known Tarot deck and distinguished scholar of the Kabbalah, is the essential Tarot reference. The pictorial key contains a detailed description of each card in the celebrated 78-card Rider-Waite Tarot deck, along with regular and reversed meanings. Contents describe symbols and secret tradition, ancient Celtic methods of divination, and wonderful illustrations of each Tarot card. This book is the perfect complement to old-style fortune telling and also serves to make the Tarot entirely accessible to modern-day readers. The Pictorial Key to the Tarot is the classic guide to the Rider-Waite deck and to Tarot symbolism in general.

Golden Botticelli Tarot

The Moon (XVIII) - Golden Botticelli Tarot by Lo Scarabeo © 2007 Lo Scarabeo srl, All rights reserved, used by permission.
The Moon (XVIII) – Golden Botticelli Tarot by Lo Scarabeo © 2007 Lo Scarabeo srl, All rights reserved, used by permission.

The great work of this Florentine master enlivens this Golden Botticelli Tarot deck with Renaissance flair and grace. Let Botticelli’s timeless art, reproduced here with gold highlights, take you to new dimensions of nature, beauty, and spirituality.

Crystal Tarot

The Moon (XVIII) - Crystal Tarot by Elisabetta Tervisan © 2001 Lo Scarabeo srl. All rights reserved, used by permission.
The Moon (XVIII) – Crystal Tarot by Elisabetta Tervisan © 2001 Lo Scarabeo srl. All rights reserved, used by permission.

As rich and complex as life itself, the Crystal Tarot blends the look of stained glass with art nouveau style to gracious effect. The use of patterns within patterns gives depth to the traditional pictures of the Tarot. Influenced by both the Rider-Waite and Thoth Tarot decks, this modern Tarot is an exquisite blend of the old and the new. The familiar images are all there, while the details–executed in brilliant and unusual colors–invite viewers to linger, to search, to make sure they miss nothing–an effective trait in a tool of self-examination.

How will you Harness The Transformative Power of The Tarot?

We invite you to walk into a cosmic narrative in which we are all a unique element in each other’s story. Humanity has long used sacred tools for awakening the soul and illuminating our path toward enlightenment. The Tarot is simply an instrument. These cards amplify your inner wisdom and empower your highest truth.

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Mystic Doorway is always gaining new insight into the rich symbolism of Tarot. We are looking forward to sharing with you as we continue to expand our knowledge of this divinatory tool. Check back with us soon to see what we’ve added to our Library.