I climb to the tower-top and lean upon broken stone,
A mist that is like blown snow is sweeping over all,
Valley, river, and elms, under the light of a moon
That seems unlike itself, that seems unchangeable,
A glittering sword out of the east.
— William Butler Yeats
This week, strangeness and possible illusions may be in store, for our card is The Moon. The the last of the “Nighttime Cards” in the Major Arcana, if we see the trumps in terms of a progression of the soul’s evolution, or human awareness, it 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.
So it seems to me that The Moon is the final exam of the Nighttime Cards.
In it, we see a ferocious dog and a wolf, howling and hackles raised. The crayfish emerging from the waters of the unconscious is mysterious and disturbing. Waite himself described it as, “that which lies deeper than the savage beast.” This reminds me of the “reptilian” part of our brain, the brainstem which controls the autonomic, involuntary physical processes. It is the part of our brain that is responsible for rage, xenophobia, and basic survival fight-or-flight responses. It is deep, nonverbal, and non-rational, and the source of nightmares.
The Moon is the card of the imagination, the subconscious, and the fears that lie just below the surface so much of the time. It speaks of cycles and patterns of which we may be only partially aware, but which strongly influence us just the same.
Tarot writer A. Venefica notes, “No one is immune to the influence of the moon. She is the mirror, reflecting back the light that shines upon her. She is a timepiece to the ancient movements of our galaxy. She is the music that prompts the ocean to dance. She is the illuminator of our creative powers.”
For while there is uncertainty and even the hint of danger in this card, there is also great power and hope. The pathway is clear, once the challenges are met. 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.
This week, do not be surprised to see fears take center stage. Be prepared for intense dreams and emotions. The Moon often appears when we need to examine the repeating patterns and possible distortions in our lives. And while your intuitive skills may be much more powerful than usual, try to stay grounded and not get swept away, for there is a strong possibility of illusion.
The Moon can be fickle, lovely, seductive, deceptive, and peaceful all at once. Her gifts are given to those who are willing to forego familiar comforts, and journey in her strange, beautiful realms.