That moon which the sky never saw
even in dreams
has risen again
bringing a fire
that no water can drown
See here where the body
has its house
and see here my soul
the cup of love has made the one
and the other a ruin.
In the ancient Greek lunar calendar, the days during this week’s Full Moon were the Thesmophoria. For this is the Full Moon during the Sun’s visit to Libra, and the time of the Autumnal Equinox. This somber festival commemorated the moment at which the Goddess Kore deserts Her mother Demeter, Goddess of the grain and abundance. Demeter, in Her grief, brings the sorrow and death of Winter. And Kore becomes Persephone, Queen of the Dead, who rules the Underworld with Pluto, the dark form of Dionysus. In today’s world, we know this time of change as the Harvest Moon. So it is not very surprising that this week’s card should be The Moon.
The Moon is the last of the “Nighttime Cards” in the Major Arcana. If we see the Majors in terms of “The Fool’s Journey,” the progression of the soul’s evolution, or human awareness, this card comes after the lessons of Death, Temperance, the Devil, the Tower, and the Star. Each of these offers important teachings about our shadow self and our fears. It seems to me that The Moon is the final exam of the Nighttime Cards.
In The Moon, we see a dog and a wolf, howling and possibly turned savage under her light. These are the wild parts of us, aroused by the strange light of the Moon. What is our wild, untamed nature? What dark, perhaps even mad (as in lunacy) parts of us burst forth when our dreams, our fears, or our intuition are too intense to process?
The crayfish emerging from the waters of the unconscious is potentially even more frightening. Waite himself described it as, “that which lies deeper than the savage beast.” It is our reptilian brain: our unreasoning instincts, the part of us that is without control, without words, without logic, but based in obsessive, repetitive, pure survival instinct.
The Moon is the card of the imagination, the subconscious, and the fears that lie just below the surface so much of the time. But where there is fear, there is power. Like the shaman who travels between worlds, we may be able to tap into extraordinary abilities. But it is at great risk. To receive these otherworldly powers, we must be willing to be stripped of our ego, our cultured personality and logic, and go alone into the deepest, most shadowed realms. And like the shaman, such a journey must never be undertaken without great experience, respect, and preparation, lest terror and madness be all that remain.
Yet while there is uncertainty, there is still hope in this card, for there is a road back, if one is willing to face the challenges within. If we are willing to walk through the gateway made by the two towers, the Moon’s light appears in droplets that are, in fact, yods – the Hebrew letter that represents the spark of divine goodness within. As Tarot expert Rachel Pollack so beautifully describes it, “If, through preparation and simple courage, we accept the wild things brought out by the deepest imagination, then the Moon brings peace, the terrors subside, and the imagination leads us back, enriched, with its wonders.”
This week, be ready for strangeness, possible fears, intense dreams and emotions. You may discover your intuitive skills are much more powerful than usual, but try to stay grounded and not get swept away. The Moon often appears when we need to examine the repeating patterns and possible distortions in our lives. Under the Moon’s influence, there is a real possibility of confusion, self-deception, and being overwhelmed by the emotions. If you need to turn away from outer busy-ness and cultivate inner serenity, do so. Be truthful about any karmic work you need to address.
The Moon can be fickle, lovely, seductive, deceptive, and peaceful all at once. Her gifts are given to those who are willing to face their fears, and who are prepared for the experience of journeying in her strange, beautiful realms.