The Moon



A bright moon hangs in the center of the sky, it’s unhappy face showing both the full and quarter moons.   Beneath it a dog and a wolf howl at its’ light while a cray fish crawls out of a pond, claws extended. A shining road runs off into the distance between two towers.

This is a card of illusion and self-deception.  Think of seeing the world under the light of the moon rather than the sun.  Shadows and light blend into one another and our eyes and mind see things that aren’t really there.  Or maybe they are.

There is a tendency for the unconscious, unexamined contents of our minds to come forth when The Moon is present.  The craw fish is a primitive, almost prehistoric, creature and it reminds us that our emotions are ultimately based in the very ancient and equally primitive portion of our brains.  That theme is repeated with the presence of both the dog and the wolf. The dog is our modern companion, tamed and loving, but its’ genes and brain rest squarely on it heritage with the wolf.  

The Moon shows that the questioner is involved in a very murky area of his or her life.  There doesn’t seem to be any definite goal or destination right now, just a road running off into the darkness.In terms of a relationship, The Moon shows that the questioner may be involved with someone on a very primitive, unconscious level and that there may be deception on the part of the partner or, more likely, denial on the part of the questioner.  There is a lot of emotion present but it may not be of a healthy, evolved nature.

If finances are involved, The Moon gives a huge warning that things are NOT what they seem to be.  Slow down, delay, wait for better light to illuminate what’s going on.

Another, somewhat vexing, aspect of this is that the Tarot may just be telling you that this really isn’t a good time to do a reading.  Things may be a bit murky and uncertain and it might be better to try again a little later.

REVERSED:  Pretty much the same as the upright card but probably on a slightly less serious level.  Think of one of those irritating periods in your life when your friends are lying to you for no particular reason, nothing is going quite right and you keep losing your car keys, and you’ve got The Moon reversed.

A Few More Thoughts About The Moon:

The designers of the Tarot sort of crammed all of the astronomical cards in at the very end of the deck:  The Star, The Moon, The Sun, The World. Only The Moon had a bad reputation.

The Sun, of course, brings life to our planet.  It gives us warmth and light and makes seeds germinate into plants.  It’s power has been recognized and worshipped in nearly every culture.

The Moon, on the other hand, is a much closer body but it’s magic was poorly understood and frequently frightening to primitive humans.  True, it provided light, but it was a wavering, false light, so unlike The Sun, and provided neither warmth nor comfort. Moreover, it changed mysteriously, appearing as a sliver, growing into a silvery golden ball and then gradually diminishing until it disappeared.  What could be so ephemeral and fleeting as a creature that was born, grew to full life, and died, all in a few weeks?

Even the most primitive peoples, though, recognized its’ powers.  It seemed to pull the waves high out of the oceans and control their movements.  It caused women to bleed from their wombs and men built, “moon houses,” so that women might live apart from other people when they were, “stricken” by the beams of The Moon.

Worse, still, its’ energy seemed to drive some people insane and turned others into werewolves and monsters.  The words, “lunacy,” and, “lunatic,” still live in our language and hearken back to a commonly held belief that the Moon could make some unfortunate people quite mad.

There’s a certain amount of truth in the old tales.  Cops, firefighters, and emergency department nurses will all tell you that things get worse when there’s a full moon.  Many farmers still plant their crops according to the cycles of the moon. If you’re a psychically sensitive person you probably know what it’s like to be knocked ass over tea kettle by The Moon.

There is something about its’ power that calls to the most primitive part of our brains and souls.  The Moon card shows a cray fish – a VERY primitive organism – rising from the depths of a pool of water to contemplate a full moon, a perfect metaphor for the way that it affects and transforms us.

Fairly modern Tarot decks like the Waite deck usually depict both a wolf and a dog baying at The Moon to emphasize that its’ power still holds sway over us, no matter how much we may have evolved.    And, as in the Temperance card, a long road stretches off into the distance, as if showing the way out of the Land of Lunacy.

The older decks didn’t bother with the wolf/dog metaphor and there was no road leading to salvation.  There were just two howling beasts and a folk art moon with a fancy collar flinging out psychedelic moon beams.


And perhaps that’s more fitting.  Madness is a part of the human psyche and – in measured doses – is just as important to our existence as sanity.  Madness makes us question reality in the same way that The Moons’ light makes us question what we see. Is it a rope lying there in the darkness or is it a snake?  Is it a bush or is it a bear?

When Magellan said that the world was round and not flat people told him he was mad.  Quite, quite mad, darling.

Time travel back to the early 1950s and tell someone that one day we’ll have computers that fit in the palms of our hands and we’ll be able to talk to anyone anywhere on the globe if they have one too.

What are you nuts?

It’s never comfortable having The Moon in your reading.  It feels like things are confused and muddled and don’t make any sense.  Still, sometimes we need that. If we didn’t have those periods of mild insanity we might never change, might never fall in love.

There’s a great line at the end of, “Zorba the Greek.”  Zorbas’ boss is a very proper Englishman who would never, ever do anything out of the ordinary.  Zorba looks at him and says, “I like you too much not to tell you, boss. You have everything a man needs except one thing.  Madness. A man needs a little madness or else he’ll never dare to cut the rope and be free.”


Author: Dan Adair

Artist, writer, semi-retired wizard, and the author of, "Just the Tarot," by Dan Adair

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