The Moon

I’ve somehow managed to misplace the photos I took of the moon cards… When I find them again, I’ll add it in.  In the meantime, you can find most of them on google images if you’re interested.

RWS and Pagan Cats

Both of these cards depict two creatures looking up at the moon, standing between two pillars with water in the foreground and a crayfish.  The moon is looking down on the scene and in the distance are hills.

This moon is glowing brightly but remember that the moon doesn’t shine her own light, she reflects that of the sun, which is currently hidden. Even in the dark, the sun is still there.  Like the moon reflects the sun, the subconscious reflects the world around us – inner experiences reach the outer mind through imagination, dreams and creative practices.

The moon casts shadows and distorts what we see, there is a strangeness to the world when the moon is out, nothing is quite what it seems.  Magic and mystery slides in the space between dark and light.

On the rws card, the two moon gazers are a dog and a wolf, representing the tamed and wild sides of ourselves.

“A werewolf howling under a full moon is a vivid metaphor of the power of the unconscious to bring out something primitive and non-human in the most respectable people.”
– Rachel Pollack

In the pagan cats, we have a cat and a dog instead, perhaps also representing the tamed and untamed but in a more subtle way – it has long been said that humans tamed dogs and cats tamed humans.

According to Pollack, the crawfish (I thought it was a lobster but I defer to her wisdom) at the bottom of the image is emerging from the water but will never completely come onto land, instead falling back again.  This feels a bit like the ebb and flow of the tide, a phenomenon which is itself a lunar process.  It also echoes the just out of reach-ness, just beyond seeing-ness that can permeate the moonlit night.

“The deepest terrors are the ones that never fully take shape.  We feel something inside, but we never see just what it is.”
– Pollack

Interestingly, the cat in the pagan cats appears to be lifting the crawfish out of the water suggesting an attempt or desire to pull that elusive thing out of the unconscious and into the conscious realm.  If you’ve ever tried to remember a dream, you’ll know how futile this is!

In tarot, we see two pillars as a gateway, such as that in the high priestess card.  Here we are standing on one side, on the side of the known, with the unknown or unknowable on the other side.

Wild Unknown

Where the RWS and pagan cats depict animals between pillars, the wild unknown is animal free but does feature two tall trees reaching skywards towards the crescent moon.  The sky is dark, the trees white and the moon golden and I find the simplicity of this card interesting for such a complicated meaning.

The image is a silhouette and this reiterates some of the ideas of not seeing clearly, not seeing all that is in front of you and things being distorted in some way.  The two trees are illuminated by the moon, they are depicted in white, and it suggests to me that we are being welcomed through the gate I mentioned in relation to the RWS card.  This gateway is encouraging you in, inviting you to explore your subconscious and dream world.  Make friends with the darkness, with what scares you, with your inner self.

Carrie Mallon makes an interesting observation about the wild unknown moon;

The ground is not visible in this card. The Moon is a energy that can make it hard to catch your bearings. Up might be down or down might be left might be right. This can lead to wildly imaginative adventures…or it can lead to confusion and anxiety. In the faint light of the moon, you question what is real and what is imagined, what is beautiful fantasy and what is pure madness.”

Lumina Tarot

A moon goddess looks to the reader, an amethyst circle behind her and the symbol of pisces etched in with the other details.  The book tells us:

“This is a card of intuitive and psychic strength – strong messages and insights are coming to you through your subconscious.”

Things aren’t always as they seem; deception, confusion and distortion rule here.  Fears are ever present, but in the shadows, you can find gold.  Through shadow work you can explore the darker parts of yourself consciously.  The moon can illuminate your subconscious self and if you embrace and work with it, you can harness your innate power and work towards an illuminated self.  Going through the moon realm, you can bring light to your unconscious self and grow.  It has a different power to the sun.  The sun directly feeds and nourishes our bodies, the moon gently encourages and invites us to feed and nourish our souls, ourselves.  The moon is no helicopter mom, the moon is the mother that gives you the resources, skills and knowledge and steps aside for you to discover things for yourself.

The moon encourages us to dive deep, to dream deep and to transform.

“This card is ruled by Pisces, who is, in a sense, afraid of nothing, being one with the Universe and the Universe contains all.  Remember that when pondering your fears by moonlight: this thing that so frightens you – is it inside you as well?”
– Michelle Tea

Animal Totem Tarot

Once again, we have two trees as pillars, with an owl flying in front of a full moon, over a body of water where the moon is reflected in ripples.  The great grey owl has a message for us:

“The light of the moon makes everything look different.  The trees seem to become bigger and everything around them looms like an unknown landscape… But the truth is that nothing has changed at all – merely the way you see it has changed.”

We see the world though our own unique lenses, through our experiences and emotions and this changes what we see.  We see what we expect to see, we see ourselves reflected in what surrounds us.  What each person sees will be different, will be slightly distorted by where we see it from and which pool we see it reflected in.

“How you see the Moon is deeply connected to how you see yourself.”

Further, each night we see the same thing differently.  Each night has a different amount of light which transforms what we thought was static, the trees, the water, these things change with the cycle of the moon.

As the owl swoops across the moon, she seems to grow.  Things in the dark can seem larger than they are.  What is it that you are escalating?  What do you think is bigger that it is?  Are you making mountains out of molehills?  On the flip side, what are you refusing to pay attention to?  What are you ignoring?  What is having to make itself bigger for you to notice?

Brady Tarot

The Brady Tarot moon is very similar to the animal totem tarot – two trees frame the image, an owl is in flight in front of a full moon and a body of water is underneath.  This card however also features the crawfish.  In addition, there are two coyotes in the background, one looking out of the card and the other howling to the moon.  Looking more closely and into the darkness we also find two opossoms in the trees.

Pollack describes the crawfish as symbolising the primitive, instinctual part of our self, the deep unconsciousness, a place where fears and wildness live:

“The owl and the crawfish show us the power of wild nature.  The coyotes react to this energy, but the opossoms remind us to simply accept without fear or judgement.”

This card, more so than the others I’ve looked at, illustrates the night as a realm of it’s own.  It has its own inhabitants and it’s own way of being and it’s own way of seeing.  To understand the moon realm, we must immerse ourselves in this world, become one of the characters and feel our way into the part, intuitively.

“Imagination in action.  Instinctive energy, dreams, the unconscious rising up to affect our lives.  Deep instincts that may disturb our daily life.  Animal energy, wildness.  The part of us governed by the phases of the Moon.”
– Rachel Pollack

It would be impossible to talk about the moon without also looking to some of the common lunar associations.  The moon is also about the feminine, about fertility, creation, mystery and power.  It is about the daily tides, the monthly menstruation cycles, the seasons and all of nature’s rhythms.  The moon asks us to embrace the circularity of life, the ebbs and flows, the ups and downs and to trust in the darkness and have faith that light will return.

Our Tarot

Mary Shelley is centered in the card, a full moon in front of her and what look like two horns behind her, perhaps an echo of the antennae of the crawfish?

Of course, Shelley is famous for Frankenstein, an amazing tale of the things that can happen in the night, in the imagination and what can occur when man made monsters are released onto the world.  With this we have themes of death and rebirth, of resurrection and transformations.  We lean into what can happen in the shadows, in strange dreams and fantasy worlds.

“Her chief childhood pastime was writing – “as a child, I scribbled” – and she found her own dreams and imaginings to be far more interesting than her daily life.”

I feel like Shelley is asking us to pay attention to our dreams, both night journeying as well as hopes and goals.  She is asking us to express those ideas we find in the moon light, whether that is in writing like her or in art or science or whatever it is that makes you feel most alive.

How can you draw inspiration from the world around you?  What transformations are currently taking place in your life?  What visions are you bringing to life?

“I stand to face my shadows, I learn from them and incorporate them to give myself greater power and agency”
Jessi Huntenburg

Advertisements

High Priestess

DSC_1383.JPG

Decks

RWS

In this depiction the high priestess sits between two pillars which speak to us of dualities, a key theme with two cards.

“Passivity allows the unconscious to emerge.  Only through withdrawal from outer involvement can we allow the inner voice of vision and psychic forces to speak to us, it is precisely to avoid this inner voice that many people never rest from action and movement.  Our society, based completely on outer achievement, fosters a terror of the unconscious, yet without its wisdom we can never fully know ourselves or the world.”
– Rachel Pollack

This is a card that speaks to us of passivity, but passivbity with a purpose, an active stillness.  To reverse the card, and thus the meaning, we can see how unhelpful passivity might be.  But we all need a change to pause and reconnect with our inner self.  It is here that we can feel our feelings, listen to our intuition and realign with our true selves.

The high priestess speaks to us of the dark, the mysterious and the hidden.  She is reflective, enigmatic, solitary and serene.  She sits in her power, confident in herself, supported by the power of the moon.

Pagan Cats

The Pagan Cats High Priestess is the controversial black cat.  She sits between two curtains, one white, one black and there is our first duality.  Her paws appear to be resting on a religious or ritualistic document, a sign she is in control of the spiritual or magical, appropriately given her status as high priestess.

This version is very similar to that of the RWS deck so I’m going to unpick that black cat a bit more.  They are contrary symbols, in some cultures good luck, in others bad luck and even within the same place there are conflicting beliefs.  They have been associated with witchcraft and the devil and in norse mythology, Freya, queen of the Valkyries, drove a chariot pulled by black cats.

The penguin guide to the superstitions of Britain and Ireland confirms that the beliefs around black cats are confused.  One example is that on a british ship, one black cat is lucky but two are unlucky.  This is captured well in a quote from Percy Shaw Jeffrey in his 1923 book about Whitby folklore:

“[31 May 1797] Saw three black cats last night so did not go to market today fearing some evil, but it turned out well as Betty was taken with spasms and might have died had I not stayed at home and she is the best milker of all I have, this omen for ill brought nought but good.”

Perhaps this is a sign that we should listen to our gut and that what first seems awful may actually turn out for the best.  I’m sure we’ve all been in situations where that’s happened.  How we react to seeming setbacks may also be a factor here.

Wild Unknown

A white tiger gazes off to the left, a crystal ball in front of her and the black sky behind, punctuated by a crescent moon.  I once read that in tarot if a character is looking to the left they are looking at the past and if they are looking to the right they are looking to the future.  With this in mind, we can see a nuanced high priestess in the wild unknown.  Where the pagan cats and lumina tarot have characters facing forwards, this tiger is looking to the past.  And the past does strongly inform who we are, our subconscious desires and motivations and all of this in turn shapes our future.  This may be a card that is asking you to look back, perhaps to childhood, to see how your emotions today have been influenced by your early years.  We all have ‘core wounds’, those things that we tend to overreact to – mine being invalidation and dismissal – and knowing these and understanding them can really help you to understand your reactions and feelings today.

The tiger seems regal, thoughtful and serene.  She seems confident and whilst thoughtful, she is not clutching the crystal ball in an obsessive, need to know and need to know now kind of grip.  She knows the answers will come when they will come.  And she knows that when they come it will be the right time for them to come.  Are you as sure as she is?  Are you pushing yourself too hard to listen to your subconscious?  As frustrating as it can be, it doesn’t work like that.  The harder you push, the further away you get.  Open your mind, use tools like tarot and meditation but don’t stand there demanding answers.

She does not strain herself to explain the mystery – instead, she immerses herself completely in that mystery.”
Carrie Mallon

The touch of colour in the crystal ball accentuates the black and white of the card, the duality and the yin and yang of the meaning.

Lumina

Study your wisdom within

Note, the artist of this deck changed the image between versions of the Lumina tarot.  The other version has an older woman, reflected through the vertical axis, holding a staff in her hand which forms an echo of the pillars from RWS.  Above her the moon is depicted and around it, the iconic dotwork of this deck shows intertwined crescent moons.

By turning inwards rather than looking outside yourself for answers, you will find what you need.  The veil of illusion will move aside and you’ll be admitted into a world that not everyone is allowed to enter.

The horns or headdress pictured here suggests a receptive nature, ready and waiting to receive the messages from the gods and goddesses.  This is echoed by the same crescent shape of her necklace and the crescent of the moon.

We also have the high priestess literally reflected.  As well as seeing this as her inner and outer selves we may see it as looking from a different perspective.

The use of purple seems important to me.  Symbolically it has been used to represent wealth, wisdom, creativity, devotion and peace.  It has also been used to represent mystery and magic.  It is said to be calming and uplifting and to invoke feelings of spirituality.

Bourn Creative says that:

“Purple is associated spirituality, the sacred, higher self, passion, third eye, fulfillment, and vitality. Purple helps align oneself with the whole of the universe.”

Animal Totem

dsc_1393.jpg

A spider sits in a web against a dark blue sky, again a crescent moon is present.  Immediately, on seeing the spider and knowing that the high priestess speaks of a feminine energy, I was put in mind of Sharon Blackie and her book If Women Rose Rooted:

“Women are spinners and weavers, we are the ones who spin the threads and weave them into meaning and pattern.  Like silkworms, we create those threads out of our own substance, pulling the strong, fine fibres out of our own hearts and wombs.  It’s time to make some new threads; time to strengthen the frayed wild edges of our own being and then weave ourselves back into the fabric of our culture.”

Taz Thornton was the second author my mind went to.  She writes about facing fears, using the spider as an example and lets face it fears are such a powerful part of our sub/unconscious.

“If you are afraid of spiders, try to remember when you first learned that fear, then work out what, exactly, you believe you are afraid of… Is it the swift movement?  Would they still be scary if they moved at a snail’s pace?  Is it the legs?  Who else do you know with legs?  Are they scary?  What would a spider have to do to make friends with you?  What if they started delivering your favourite treats, or spinning lovely words for you to wake up to in the morning?”

Their hunting approaches have resulted in the spider symbolising patience and persistence, and combined with their 8 eyes, perhaps the spider is here to remind you to pay more attention to the details or to look closer to what it is that is on your mind.

Linking back to the idea of active passivity, perhaps this card has shown up to remind you of the value of getting out of your head and using your hands.  I don’t know about you but for me answers and guidance often come when I’m doing something else, in particular something creative that is using my hands whether that’s drawing, painting, knitting, playing with clay, cooking or whatever it is that works for you.

Associations

Tigers

dsc_1388.jpg

Cats, and of course tigers, with their ability to see in the dark, are often though to have a gift of prophecy, of clairvoyance or a psychic ability.  We can also feel into this idea as we think of the high priestess looking inwards, into the darkness that is our subconscious.

Tigers also show us some of the contradictory nature of twos with adults described as “solitary but social”:

“Solitary-but-social animals forage separately, but some individuals sleep in the same location or share nests. The home ranges of females usually overlap, whereas those of males do not. Males usually do not associate with other males, and male offspring are usually evicted upon maturity.”
– 
Wikipedia

Their excellent eyesight, great sense of smell and their silent stealth allow them to move through the night, or our inner realms, with ease, with confidence and without startling what it is we are seeking.  We’ve all been there, there’s something in your mind that you’re trying to put your finger on, whether it’s a word or a niggling feeling, and the more you seek it out, the harder it is to find.  That is where the tiger energy comes in – use her skills to creep up on whatever it is without scaring it away.

DSC_1389.JPG

Another creature, the thylacine, has been called the Tazmanian tiger and whilst it isn’t actually a feline (it’s a marsupial), it’s interesting to consider it here.  The keyword on the oracle card is wisdom, and inner wisdom and self knowledge is exactly what the high priestess is about. As a scapegoat, they induce fear and hatred due to a lack of understanding and this can be the case when we relate to ourselves.  How often have you felt anger towards yourself because of something you haven’t taken time to unpick.  Perhaps an example would help me to explain myself; when I feel vulnerable, my mind goes straight to a well used internal record I have that tells me I am stupid and horrible and fat and worthless.  But if I take this feeling and wonder why I’m feeling vulnerable, I can start to treat myself a little more compassionately.

Moon

The High Priestess, as guardian of the subconscious, is as mysterious as the moon.”
Little Red Tarot

The moon features as its own tarot card so I’m not going to go into too much detail here, instead I’ve listed some of the key words that will help us to understand it:

unconscious * dreams * the inner self * emotions * feelings * intuition *feminine * cycles * water * imagination * reflection * soul * creation * compassion * mother * moodiness * subconscious * creativity * nurturing * divination

Most of the moons on these cards are cresent moons which indicate receptivity, being open to messages and the word crescent derives from crescere, meaning to grow.  Take the lessons you learn from turning inwards and use them to further develop yourself.