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The Meaning of
"The Moon" Tarot Card

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What is the inverted meaning of
"The Moon"?

The Meaning of "The Moon"
Tarot Card

The Symbolism of the Moon Card

On the iconic Moon card of the Major Arcana, a dog and a wolf stand in a grassy field, howling at a brilliant full moon.

To the right and left of the Moon are two stone towers, symbolizing a gateway to the unknown or to the subconscious mind.

To the right and left of the Moon are two stone towers, symbolizing a gateway to the unknown or to the subconscious mind. Descending from the Moon are 15 yod symbols, signifying divinity and power.

The yod symbols seem to separate the foreground scene from the background scene between the two towers — suggesting a spiritual importance to the place of dreams and the realms of the subconscious beyond.

In the foreground a lobster crawls from a pool and onto an earthen path which winds past the barking canines, through the towers, and off into the mountains in the distance.

A.E. Waite, creator of the Rider Waite Tarot wrote over a century ago that the wolf, dog and lobster represent different types of our animal nature, or our primitive fears:

The dog and wolf are the fears of the natural mind in the presence of that place of exit, ... beyond it is the unknown mystery which it cannot shew forth ...
A.E. Waite, 1910

The dogs may howl at what they do not understand, but they cannot enter the place of dreams between the towers. The symbolism here points to different levels of conscious thought — distinguishing between animal fears and higher levels of awakening.

Surrounding the Moon are 16 major and 16 minor rays. The number 16 is symbolic numerologically as it reduces to the number 7, which is number of spirituality, mystery and magic in numerology.

NOTE: Observant tarot readers may recognize the two towers appearing on the Moon card. They also appear far in the background of the Death tarot card. The meaning in both places is the same: The towers mark a gateway to the impenetrable mystery of the unknowable. In the Moon card, the unknown is the subconscious. On the Death card, they mark the gateway to the ultimate unknown.

How to Interpret the Moon Card

The Moon is a card of illusion and the subconscious. Typically when it appears in a reading it suggests that something from the hidden part of our minds has surfaced.

... something deep within us — something beyond the edges or our awareness — may be more influential than we know

This surfacing can have a wide range of outcomes: Perhaps an emotion or a memory which was buried, suddenly becomes relevant in some way. A childhood experience or a deep seated fear may have influence over our decisions. In other cases a subconscious like, dislike or bias may affect our perception in some way — without us even being aware of it.

In many cases we choose things or avoid things subconsciously, because something deep in the hidden part of our minds imperceptibly influences our conscious mind.

The appearance of The Moon card in a reading suggests that something deep within us — something beyond the edges or our awareness — may be more influential than we know.

If the card is referencing a past event, it may point to a past event where subconscious desires or irraational fears played a part. If the card is referencing a future event, it may serve as a gentle warning that our judgement is prone to the influence of our own subconscious.

The Moon card is neither positive or negative — it is simply a call to be aware of the influence of the subconscious. It points to something under the surface, of which we are probably unaware. Needless to say, The Moon is a card shrouded in mystery and uncertainty.

The Moon Card Inverted

The reversed Moon card typically indicates that irrational fears or illusions have begun to surface — or even control someone.

Sometimes our fears become amplified, to the point where they're larger than life. At other times, our minds seize on an irrational fear, which no matter how unlikely or impossible, we believe is to be likely or possible.

We may connect the dots in a way that leads us to a false conclusion. Or we may only be looking at one part of a bigger picture...

Sometimes we become controlled by fears, like the fear of failure or the fear of rejection — to the point where our fears inhibit our actions. At times, we may project our fears onto others, and our fears may influence our work, our relationships or our general outlook on life.

In other cases, the inverted Moon card references an illusion, not a fear. Illusions too, are the products of our minds. We believe we see something, which may not be there. We may connect the dots in a way that leads us to a false conclusion. Or we may only be looking at one part of a bigger picture — leading us to an understanding which is incorrect.

The possibility that what we think we know may not be real can give rise to a period of uncertainty. Illusions can temporarily make us question our beliefs, our relationships and everything we hold dear.

When the reversed Moon card rises in a tarot reading, it's usually an indication that an illusion or fear is cause for concern. Someone is either blowing a fear or a worry out of proportion, or someone's perception of something is distorted in some way.

The card asks us to re-evaluate what we think we know. Are our assumptions correct? Or are they illusions, mirages or irrational concerns?

Common Symbols Found On the Moon Card

Tarot cards often use a a symbolic language to convey additional hints about the cards. The Moon contains at least six well-known, repeating Tarot symbols. Each of these common symbols can add additional layers of meaning to the card.

The symbols which appear on the Moon card are:

  • Water

    Water symbolism appears on the Moon card:

    In Tarot imagery, water appears in multiple forms — ranging from small pools, to meandering rivers and streams, to wide seas and oceans. Although each one of these representations of water may imply a more specific meaning, water in the most general sense represents nourishment, emotion and our intuitive nature. In the Tarot deck, water is more common in the Minor Arcana, and is more often (but not always) linked to Cups cards.

    Read more about the symbolism of "Water" in Tarot  

  • Moons

    Moons symbolism appears on the Moon card:

    In addition to The Moon Tarot card where Moon symbolism is expected, the symbol of the Moon appears on a few additional cards throughout the classic Rider Waite Tarot deck. The Moon is a symbol of natural intuition, psychic ability and the influence of emotions. The Moon is also symbolic of cycles of all kinds, and asks us to consider the cycles which make up the Universe.

    Read more about the symbolism of "Moons" in Tarot  

  • Yod Symbols

    Yod symbols appear on the Moon card:

    "Yod" (or "Yodh") is simplest of all Hebrew letters. For such a tiny letter, Yod contains enormous Kabbalistic and mystical importance. It's also an important letter according to the mystic beliefs of Freemasons. Two Yod symbols written together are frequently used to signify the unspoken name of God in ancient Hebrew and Aramaic manuscripts. The abbreviation is used to show respect, instead of writing God's full name.

    NOTE: The Moon card is decorated with 15 different Yod symbols.

    Read more about the symbolism of "Yod Symbols" in Tarot  

  • Pathways and Roads

    Pathways and roads symbolism appears on the Moon card:

    Pathways and roads in Tarot symbology may mean a physical voyage or a trip, but frequently imply a more internal or spiritual voyage of some kind. In this second case, roads and paths may indicate a transition from one state of being to another, or from one feeling to another one. Roads help us to remember that the Tarot, much like life itself, is a journey.

    Read more about the symbolism of "Pathways and Roads" in Tarot  

  • Mountains

    Mountains symbolism appears on the Moon card:

    Mountains are some of the most ubiquitous symbols depicted in Tarot imagery. Mountains generally represent trials which must be passed, and hardships which must be overcome. Depending on the Tarot card where mountains appear, these challenges may either represent future issues which wait along the current path, or they may remind us of past trials and hardships which have already been encountered prior to arriving at this time.

    NOTE: It is worth noting that the two towers which frame the The Moon Tarot card, representing a gateway to the mysterious and unknown, seem to lead to mountainous terrain. Since mountains represent challenges, hardships and trials in the Tarot, the meaning here is that exploring these realms of the unknown is a challenge in and of itself to anyone who enter here. Here lies a path for the unwavering and the intrepid. Adventuring into the world of the spiritual, or even understanding one's own emotions and subconcsious feelings — will not be easy.

    Read more about the symbolism of "Mountains" in Tarot  

  • Night

    Night symbolism appears on the Moon card:

    Just as our vision is better during the daytime than it is in the night, Tarot cards which feature a nighttime scene generally share a some connection to the unknown or mystery. The level of darkness in "nighttime" Tarot cards varies. Some "night" cards depict pitch-black scenes, while lighter scenes depict an evening setting or a setting illuminated by the light of the Moon.

    Read more about the symbolism of "Night" in Tarot  

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