XVIII • The Moon

Hebrew letter
Ruler of Flux and Reflux
Child of the Sons of the Mighty

The Moon stands for imagination as a separate force to that of the spirit. The pitfalls of faith in intellectualisation. Just as the moon reflects the light of the sun, the mind can only provide a reflection of reality. When we observe the universe, our intellect interprets and recreates it in our minds. Because our minds are inherently limited, any interpretation is necessarily imperfect. All mental processes are prone to error and any attempt to overcome this by the appliance of the mind is likewise flawed. This leads on to the ideas of illusion and delusion, and all things that divide humanity from reality. In the absence of the clear light of the sun, superstition becomes established. It is an adventure into the unknown, accompanied by the fear of the unknown. The Moon represents the glamour of fantasy.

Jackals are the sacred animals of Anubis the moon god which inhabited the lands at the edge of settlements. They lived in the cemeteries, scavenging amongst the bones of the dead. On a lower level the two jackals represent our basic animal nature.

The towers of the sacred pylon guard a gateway. Here is the threshold between life and death. They are different views of the same. On the towers are the gods Osiris and Khonsu. Osiris is deceased, awaiting the time of his resurrection. Khonsu is also bound in the mummiform wrappings of the dead - his name means the wanderer. He was a moon god and protector against evil spirits.

The coffin of Osiris floats on the Nile, yet to be discovered. The image of the scarab lies between the water and the earth. It suggests the mind attempting to rise from the waters of confusion, drawn by the light above. Unfortunately this light is not the true light, merely a pale reflection. The coffin is decorated with pictures of the fish that consumed the lost part of the divided body of Osiris. The fish are also the symbol of Pisces, the sign of this card. Pisces is the last sign of the zodiac, the end of winter, signalling that the sun will soon regain its strength. This card is the gate of resurrection.

The landscape is in a sense sterile like that of the Emperor, but here the presence of the Nile suggests that this is merely a period of dormancy. The path stretches dimly from the gateway to the distant mountains, showing that the seeker is still on the correct route, but must be constantly aware of the risk of straying. To continue he must surrender totally his imperfect conception of reality and seek the true light for his guide. Courage is required to achieve this.

Eclipses of the sun and moon follow a regular and predictable cycle. This is known as the Saronic Cycle, whose period of repetition is 18 years, the number of this card.

lnterpretation Science founders in its own logic. The Moon indicates a period of introspection and quiet reflective thought. Using the mind to explore the limits of the imagination. Prophetic or troublesome dreams, perhaps the witnessing of psychic happenings. Here the intuition succeeds where reason might fail. The falsehood of using reason to solve problems of belief. This card is also warning against the deception of illusion.