Dark of the Moon,
Dark of the Moon,
Plant a seed tonight.
Dark of the Moon,
What we envision
Will come to be
By the Full Moon’s light.
This week brings a very rare surprise visitor. And yet, she comes in perfect timing. In this unprecedented season, after a hiatus of eight years, even more strangeness and possible illusions may be in store. (If you can wrap your head around THAT!). Get ready for the magic and the mystery of The Moon.
Here we see a ferocious dog and a wolf, howling and hackles raised. A grassy pathway lies between them, and it is clear we must walk through if we are to go forward.
One of my favorite Tarot authors, Paul Quinn, notes that this may be a reference to the French idiom entre chien et loup, which means “between dog and wolf.”
French translator and blogger Céline Graciet explains, “Entre chien et loup is a multi-layered expression. It is used to describe a specific time of day, just before night, when the light is so dim you can’t distinguish a dog from a wolf. However, it’s not all about levels of light. It also expresses that limit between the familiar and the comfortable, versus the unknown and the dangerous (or between the domestic and the wild). It is an uncertain threshold between hope and fear.”
Could there possibly be a more fitting description of our current crisis?
Other images here are also enigmatic and vaguely disturbing. We are shown two towers in the distance — the same ones that are on either side of the Sun on the horizon of the Death card. But in it, they are far away, and on the other side of the water. In The Moon, we have crossed that river, and they lie directly before us.
There is no way to go backwards, for emerging from the water that bars our way back, there is a crayfish, perhaps representative of our own, most primitive genesis from the waters of regeneration. Waite himself describes the crayfish emerging as, “that which comes up out of the deeps, the nameless and hideous tendency which is lower than the savage beast.”
This is certainly in compliance with our modern understanding of the so-called “reptilian” part of our brain. This is a part of the brain stem that controls the autonomic, involuntary physical processes, like the cardiac and respiratory functions. Associate Editor of Brain World Magazine, James Sullivan, explains:
Primarily, it is meant to regulate our primitive fight-or-flight response, as we size up threats like what we might see in that dark alleyway, or whether we can take on the big lead for sales next month.
A key part of the limbic system, it was once believed to play an important role in mating rituals and displays of dominance, when animals stood guard over their territory. Sexual dimorphism supports this theory, with males and females showing the greatest disparity in size of the amygdala.
In fact, it is this region of the brain that may play a role in the development of autism or post-traumatic stress disorder, disorders where the brain is locked in a defensive coping mechanism against antagonistic forces.
A study conducted [in 2014] at Stanford University with MRI scans showed that children exhibiting higher levels of stress and anxiety had an amygdala “fear center” of significantly larger volume in their brains when compared to their peers, all of which showed patterns of stronger connectivity to the rest of the brain than normal.
Isn’t it fascinating that the Tarot tapped into this understanding long before science did? Even the older decks (such as the Tarot de Marseilles of the 16th century) depict The Moon in a similar fashion.
Fate in Motion
Other important details in the Waite-Smith version of The Moon include the 32 rays emanating from the Moon’s face. This is the number of the ten Qabalistic sephiroth, combined with the twenty-two paths on the Tree of Life.
Plus, it is hard to miss that there are 15 yods.
The yod is the small section of the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, usually portrayed in the Tarot as small bits of fire. The yod is, as Tarot scholar and deck creator, Robert Place notes, “the seminal form of all the other letters in the Hebrew alphabet.”
It is also the first letter of the name of the Abrahamic Supreme Being (YHWH, pronounced “Yahway” or “Jehovah”).
And a yod in astrology is an isosceles triangle formed by two planets sextile (sixty degrees from) each other and both quincunx (one-hundred-fifty degrees from) a third, Fulcrum planet.
It is also called The Finger of God, The Eye of God, or The Finger of Fate. The latter is particularly common, since “yod” is closely related to the Hebrew word for hand (“yad“). Wikipedia tells us that astrological yods of every type “represent extraordinary powers available for good or ill; it is largely a matter of how the individual uses the energy, and whether the planets forming the crucial aspects are in any way harmonious.”
So when yods appear in the Tarot, there is a sense of fate moving, with major forces and life-changing events in play. That is, the Divine is directly interacting with events. Either in the short term, or perhaps after a longer, more challenging period, this will be recognized as a blessing, like dew drops that fertilize for future growth.
If we view the Tarot trumps in terms of a progression of the soul’s evolution, or as a roadmap for initiatory development, The Moon comes after the lessons of Death, Temperance, The Devil, The Tower, and The Star. Each of these nighttime cards offers important teachings about our shadow self and our fears.
Thus, The Moon could be considered the final exam of the dark cards, but remember — it offers the redeeming component of the yods, and it is very likely that the dog and the wolf become our companion allies.
The Path Between
I don’t know anyone who is not, by turns, feeling anxious, giddy, bored, lonely, frightened, and weary from the long, dangerous journey that we are all on, as the world we have known continues to crumble away beneath our feet. Our moods are very much like the changing face of The Moon.
The astrology echoes this sensibility now, driving our mixed feelings, frustrations, and fears. Our friend Lorna Bevan at Hare in the Moon Astrology explains:
Gemini is an Air sign ruled by trickster Mercury so watch as the airwaves go into overdrive. But the caveat is that slippery Neptune will be at odds with Venus until the end of July so fake news is going to be hard to separate from hard fact. Neptune square Venus is a nudge to restructure your emotional reality to find a higher purpose and meaning for your existence.
Venus turned retrograde in late Gemini until July 28th.
As the Goddess deep dives into the dark of the world behind the world, you have 40 days to work with all the dualities in your life, sifting out what you love from what harms you, what nourishes you from what poisons you, what has eternal value and what is a distraction.
There could hardly be a better guide for such challenges than The Moon, for its greatest gift is to teach us to separate illusion from truth, often by means of our deepest spirit-knowing. We find ourselves in a moment when our psychic attunement must be the guide that walks with us in the darkest night.
We are most definitely in a liminal time, between the worlds. We are given this space in which to prepare for the as yet unknown.
It is interesting that the last time The Moon card came visiting was in 2012, the year in which Neptune moved into Pisces, where it remains still, making its 14-year cycle. As our brilliant and beloved friend Elisabeth Grace has explained,
Neptune energy can be challenging for people who live in a material world, as Neptune tends to dissolve whatever it touches. It doesn’t strike with a lightning bolt, like Uranus, or blow things to smithereens, purging and/or transforming, like Pluto.
Its effects are much more subtle, but no less powerful. A few key words for Neptune: intangible forms (wireless communication including film, photography, telepathy, healing, intuition, spirituality, rarefied art forms, including music), oil, dreams, drugs, blood, alcohol, poisons, viruses [emphasis is mine], water, oceans, seafood.
A few key words for Pisces: surrender, empathy, compassion, collective consciousness, belief, martyr, saint, and all human beings that society tends to sweep under the rug, including refugees and other homeless persons, prisoners, orphans and others locked away in institutions.
We could also add the elderly, the at-risk, and those in elder care residences to that list. Somewhat chilling, through the 20-20 vision of hindsight, isn’t it?
The Calling of the Dark
It has been said that “The Moon reveals what the High Priestess conceals.” In both cards, we are being shown the solemn potency of the Feminine Divine.
Perhaps that is why it was long a tradition in Tarot to consider The Moon a card of ill-favor, enemies, occult forces, danger, and delusion. And I would not discount a time of cautious reflection when she comes calling.
However, as Tarot and times have evolved, many have examined and now reject the misogynist overlay of these interpretations, for The Moon is nothing, if not a representation of the Dark Goddess in all her many guises.
For thousands of years, women’s natural powers of seership, emotional complexity, menstruation, and even our near-universal role presiding over birth and death (until “modern medicine” appropriated it) have been necessary, yet also feared, demonized, persecuted, and subverted.
The Moon is a card that challenges one’s deeper instincts as to whether we will embrace or reject this face of the Divine Feminine. Our survival as a species may well depend on how we, as a culture, choose.
Like the shaman who travels between worlds, The Moon appears when we must be willing to be stripped of our ego, our cultured personality and logic, in order to go into the deepest, most shadowed realms. Such a journey must never be undertaken without great experience, respect, and preparation, lest terror and madness be all that remain.
Do you dare take this path? Do you dare not?
You may find illusion, or you may find your truest self, but not without passing the challenger guardians of the dog and wolf, and the Guardians of the Watchtowers themselves. What lies ahead in those shadowed mountains?
This is the awakener of the imagination, the subconscious, and the fears that lie just below the surface so much of the time. The Moon reveals the cycles and patterns of which we may be only partially aware, but which strongly influence us just the same.
It is a long journey and nothing is guaranteed. But we’ve come this far, and there is no going back.
What Shall Be Revealed
The Moon is a mirror; what will it reveal? Its light comes from the reflection of that which cannot be directly seen. She guides us in the night; what cloak of obscurity lies about us now?
Hers is the ever-changing, most ancient and beautiful Mystery that pulls our women’s blood and ocean’s tides. What memory, past life, or dream rises from the deep now and haunts you?
While there is ambivalence and even a hint of danger in this card, there is also great power and hope. The climbing path is clear, once the challenges are met.
But not before.
All things must unfold in their natural cycle, as truly and surely as the phases of the Moon. The light cannot be forced. We ignore this ancient guidance at our peril.
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, stay grounded and do not get swept away, for there is a strong river of illusion also flowing in this lunation.
Now is the final New Moon of Spring’s seed-planting, for Summer Solstice is only a month or so away. Like the seasons themselves, and the cycles of Lady Luna, time processes in its inexorable motion — in a circle, not a line.
The Moon can be fickle, lovely, seductive, wild, and peaceful all at once. Her gifts are given to those who are willing to go beyond the surface, unmask deception, and forgo familiar comforts.
Strange, unnameable realms await. The seeds are in your hands. The Mystery beckons.