The Moon Card, Lunacy, and Multiple Realities

I have an ex-relative who is bipolar and – in the time honored tradition of many bipolars – about every two or three years he decides to stop taking his medications and blow up his life.

After a certain amount of sleep deprivation during the manic phases he’d start making statements like, “A coven of witches is sending energy beams at my head.”  And, because of my belief systems, I’d have to actually stop and wonder, “Well . . . IS a coven of witches sending energy beams at his head?” And, no, they weren’t, probably because he was an obnoxious, shallow, self-centered twit and why bother to curse someone when they’re doing such a good job of it themselves?

It did start me thinking, though, about so many of the things that we take for granted in New Age terminology, things which would have been considered totally loony tunes about 75 years ago.

Auras. Energy fields.  Spirit Guides. Telepathic communication.  Totem animals. Chakras. These are all so commonplace and accepted today that you can actually go into your therapist’s office and discuss them with him or her.  Perhaps they’ll even recommend a therapeutic massage to clear a blocked second chakra.

It was a far different story in the 1950s, though.  If you told a psychologist that you saw glowing auras around people, or that you were receiving guidance from invisible entities from another dimension, or that particular animals communicate with you telepathically, you’d be on your way to the nearest locked psych ward.  And there you would be rewarded for your beliefs with electroshock therapy or insulin shock or even a lobotomy if you continued to cling to your, “delusions.”

It actually makes me wonder if some of the mental patients back then were simply experiencing phenomena that our society had no explanation for or grasp of at the time.  Maybe they WERE talking with angels. Who knows?

A few advanced thinkers such as Scottish psychiatrist R.D. Laing emerged in the 1960s and suggested that perhaps schizophrenics were actually experiencing EXACTLY what they were reporting and the best, “treatment,” was to just care for them and let them heal on their own.  For the most part, though, if you held New Age beliefs in the 1950s or the early 60s, you were MAD, darling. Quite, quite mad.

The Moon is the Tarot card that has traditionally represented psychosis and delusion.  The light in the card is murky and objects are out of focus and ill defined. A crustacean crawls out of the still pool of the unconscious while a dog and a wolf bay at the glowing orb overhead.  A rope on the ground might be mistaken for a snake, a dark bush for a lurking beast. The lines of reality are blurred and indistinct.

That may well have been the way that a person who was channeling or highly sensitive to psychic phenomenon would have experienced the world in the 1950s.  So what happened between then and the emergence of New Age philosophy in the 1970s?

Well, the 1960s happened, obviously.  A fairly substantial number of people took a fairly substantial amount of psychedelic drugs and began to view the world and life as magical rather than mundane.  There was a reemergence of occultism, Tarot cards became commonplace in any hippie household, and people began to talk a lot about astral travel and, “vibrations,” of energy (“I’m picking up bad vibes, man.”)

I think one of the most defining moments, though, was the publication of, “The Teachings of Don Juan,” by Carlos Castaneda in 1968.  A new term entered the common lexicon:  “nonordinary reality.”

As Castaneda employed it, it was used to describe the three worlds that shamans pass through on their journeys, but it fit so perfectly with all of the spiritual views that were emerging in the 1970s.

There was suddenly an acceptance that there isn’t just one consensually shared reality.  That there can be many, many different realities and they can ALL be just as true and just as valid as the, “reality,” that most people cling to.

Today we recognize the sacred connection that The Moon has with the human body and mind.  We watch Her cycles, draw down Her energy, and gather together to celebrate when She’s at her zenith.  The,”lunacy,” of the past has become the sanctified vision of the present.

We can finally share those, “nonordinary realities,” with each other and continue to grow and evolve spiritually through that shared knowledge.  How sweet is that?

“I’ll let you be in my dream if I can be in yours.”  – Bob Dylan

Abuse Cards in the Tarot

One of the most frequent reasons for people to consult a Tarot reader is relationships, specifically romantic relationships.  This includes the full gamut of topics from, “Does Bobby like me?” to, “Is my marriage worth saving?”

You may find that a prominent subcategory of that topic is physically and/or emotionally abusive relationships.  People who are in abusive relationships are frequently desperate for advice and guidance.

You may also find – as any cop, social worker, or emergency department nurse can tell you – that the questioner may not even be willing to admit that he or she is in an abusive relationship.  They may be deeply ashamed of it. They may have been victims for so long that they’re afraid to reveal the truth, afraid that talking about it will only bring more abuse down on their heads.

It can be very puzzling to a reader.  You’re looking at a reading that indicates that something is very, very wrong in the questioners life and, yet, they assure you that everything’s fine.  There are, however, a few cards that can tip you to what’s actually happening.

NINE OF WANDS


The picture kind of says it all, doesn’t it?  This card may well indicate an abusive relationship though at this point – given that this is a Wands card and, thus, ideas card – the abuse is probably more verbal than physical.  A couple living in a constant state of verbal warfare with nasty, wounding arguments.

EIGHT OF CUPS

A card of stealing away in the night, this may indicate someone who is literally fleeing from a really bad relationship.  This can be a relationship that is SO bad that the questioner is leaving town to get away from his or her partner.

FIVE OF SWORDS

This is a card of really ugly power games and can indicate a person who is a serious sadist.  Deep wounds are being inflicted here and they may be actual physical wounds as well as emotional wounds.

SIX OF SWORDS

This appears to be a fairly placid card on its’ surface but there are undertones that can indicate abuse. As I said in the original definition from my book, “Just the Tarot,” this is a card of leaving troubles behind and moving toward better times.  A journey from rough waters to waters that are placid and calm. There is a definite element of escape, of fleeing in this card.

There is also an element of hiding and of turning your power over to someone else and asking them to guide you to safety.  The woman and child are cloaked and bent over, as if to conceal their identities.

I have seen this card frequently in the context of an abused wife or girl-friend fleeing to a women’s shelter or finally, finally calling the cops to stop the abuse.  

SEVEN OF SWORDS

This card doesn’t so much indicate physical abuse but may point toward a form of emotional abuse.  The questioner may be involved with someone who is stealing his or her power in a relationship, belittling them, and grinding down their sense of self-worth on a daily basis.

EIGHT OF SWORDS

Again, the picture pretty much speaks for itself.  A person who is literally being held prisoner in a terrible relationship.  The blindfold can indicate a high level of denial on his or her part, refusing to even acknowledge, much less deal with, the fact that they’re in deep shit.

TEN OF SWORDS

This may well be the scariest of the abuse cards.  It’s the end of the power cycle and the subject lies dead on the battlefield stuck full of the swords that he or she tried to wield.  A reminder that abusive relationships can have horrible endings.

NINE OF PENTACLES

I’m including this card in the post, not because it shows overt physical or emotional abuse, but because it may show a certain form of emotional or financial bondage in a relationship.  The woman in the card is to all appearances happy, content, and surrounded by wealth. One of the key elements of the card, though, is the blindfolded hawk. This card may indicate a person who has – perhaps willingly – surrendered his or her freedom for financial security.  There can be a great deal of inequity and inequality of power in a relationship like that and that can certainly lead to abuse.

THE DEVIL – UPRIGHT OR REVERSED

The Devil can, of course, indicate a whole slew of other things besides relationship abuse but it’s almost always there when abuse is present.  You have to be a wee bit cautious in automatically assuming that, though, because human sexuality covers a whole spectrum of behaviors. I have never personally understood it but there ARE people who enjoy giving and receiving pain as a part of their sexual experience.  If it’s mutually agreed on, it’s none of our business.

Despite that, The Devil can be a clear indicator of a relationship that has gone very, very wrong.  The man and woman are chained but the chains are obviously loose enough to be slipped off if they chose to do so.  There is an element of voluntarily sinking into a terrible, poisonous relationship and elevating the very worst of human nature into a so-called, “relationship.”  The abuse here can be emotional, physical and spiritual.

THE TOWER

The Tower can show abuse but it’s probably just happened.  The Tower is sudden calamity, a bolt from the blue, a shocking development.  Chronic abuse can go on for years. It may be shocking to others to discover it’s been going on but it’s certainly not shocking to the victims or perpetrators.  Depending upon the surrounding cards this may indicate the very start of the abuse cycle.

THE MOON

As I said in my original definition:  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.

This card can show the depths of rationalization and deception involved in an abusive relationship.  Everything is murky, shadowy, and there’s no clear path out for the victim.

So those are the primary cards that may indicate an abusive relationship.  They don’t always indicate that but you’ll be able to tell a great deal by the surrounding cards.  I would also emphasize that these are by no means the only cards that can indicate abuse. Abusive relationships can be incredibly complex and so can the readings for the person being abused.

The World Tarot Card

 

world

A semi-nude woman, who seems almost to be dancing, is in the center of the card.  She holds a wand in each hand and is partially draped with a blue cloth. She is surrounded by an oval laurel wreath bound with red and purple cloth.  In the corners of the card are an angel, an eagle, a bull and a lion, representing Aquarius, Scorpio, Taurus, and Leo, the four fixed signs of the zodiac.

This is a card about balance, completion, honor, and rebirth.  A project is coming to a very satisfactory ending. The questioner has worked hard, overcome many obstacles, and is now being rewarded with great success.

The woman holds a wand in each hand, indicating that she has integrated the feminine and the masculine and is in control of all of the elements in her life.  She is balanced and in harmony. Moreover, she is surrounded by the fixed signs of the zodiac indicating that she is stable and grounded.

The laurel wreath indicates that the questioner will receive honors of some kind for his or her efforts.  Perhaps a promotion or a bonus. Perhaps public recognition.

There is also the element of rebirth.  The laurel wreath is very much in the shape of the birth canal and this indicates that the questioner is emerging into a new world or about to start a new project, strengthened and reinforced by his or her past experiences.

On a mundane level, this may indicate the completion of a successful pregnancy or extended travel.

REVERSED:  The questioner is this close to finishing a project but has run off of the tracks for some reason.  Shows a lack of focus on the final goal and perhaps someone who has lost herself in the minutiae of a project and is not seeing the overall picture.

 

A Little More About The World:

There are people who believe that the Major Arcana of the Tarot contain some sort of a secret doctrine, a hidden path to wisdom that can be discerned by those who have the occult knowledge necessary to understand it.  I see very little evidence for that.

I think of the Tarot as less of a path and more of a mirror.  The Major Arcana show us the large, archetypal forces that are operating in our lives at any given moment.  All of us experience those forces at one time or another. We all feel the child-like joy of The Fool, the sense of mastery and control of The Magician, the luxuriant contentment of The Empress.  We all experience the mourning and loss of Death, the sudden reversals of luck that are signified by The Wheel of Fortune. Certainly since 911 The Tower is seared into our psyches.

These are forces that move through our lives, that shape us, help us to grow and evolve and sometimes defeat us.  To say that there is a path in the cards is somewhat simplistic, I think. Rather, the path is in ourselves, in our own individual dharma, and the events and forces that the cards portray help us to define that path.

I’m in the third act of my life now and so I have the luxury of hindsight.  Not to disparage the Wisdom of Forrest Gump, but life really isn’t like a box of chocolates.  Unless some of the chocolates are laced with arsenic.

Life is a lot more like a mountain river, sometimes wild and out of control and then spreading into a serene meadow before plunging into the next set of rapids.  As we go along we sometimes get dumped into the chilly water and have to fight our way back into the raft. And sometimes we can just sit there and float, enjoying the scenery and grooving on the serenity.

One way or another, though, we are always moving forward, from beginning to end of each incarnation.  And one way or another we learn a lot about how to navigate the river, how to get through the rough waters and how to savor the calm.

The World is the last card in the Tarot deck but it isn’t about the end of the journey.  It’s a pause in the journey, like pulling into a peaceful, quiet cove to rest and assess what we’ve been through.  It’s the full realization of all of the skills that we’ve gained in following our paths and the confidence we can feel in using those skills in the future.  We’ve been through the mill and we’ve come out the other side stronger, wiser, and more capable. We’ve integrated the lessons that The World teaches and they’re a part of us now.  No one can ever take that away.

To quote the Beatles:  “Life goes on within you and without you.”

 

 

 

 

The Moon

 

Moon2

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.

marmoon

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.”