ARCANUM XVIII – THE MOON

Like Veiled Isis, this is a difficult card for most readers because it could represent so many things, the first being a mystery. The second most common interpretation of The Moon is a period of depression, moodiness, or insanity. 

The sun in this card is eclipsed by the moon, symbolizing that what is happening is not taking place in the light of day but is hidden or kept secret.  The Moon also represents our moods and, in this case, the Moon represents depression, lowered vibratory levels, or a woman’s “Moon Time,” a volatile time, indeed. 

Full moons have long been associated with insanity.  We get our English words lunacy and lunatic from the Latin Luna, meaning moon.  It has long been noted that emergency rooms are busier than usual during full moons, and criminal activity increases. We know, too, that women who commit violent crimes are more likely to do so during their “Moon Time,” particularly if she’s in the kitchen with a lot of sharp knives!  Full moons are associated with the legend of the werewolf, also known as lycanthrope from the Greek.  Legends of shape-shifters during a full moon like the werewolf are common around the world, particularly in Native American traditions.  The legend is perhaps an analogy for what people have known since time immemorial – that people can and do change, or shape-shift, for the worse when depressed or emotional. 

There are usually two dogs depicted in this Arcanum.  In some decks, one looks like a friendly little pup, and the other looks like a jackal.  In the Egyptian deck, one dog is black, representing deceit, hostility, and possible ambushes; and the other dog is white, representing a friendly soul who is offering flatteries but probably not the truth.  Man and dog have shared relationships for some 40,000 years. Humans could not have evolved without the many services offered to us by dogs in exchange for the scraps of food we have always left behind. We have come to recognize dogs as protectors and defenders, herders, hunters, police dogs, guide dogs, medical aides, and just plain good company!

However, dogs on occasion will bite!  The dogs on this card represent our family, friends or close associates that, too, will bite – or maybe a better choice of words is backbite — when we least expect it or when we’re not aware of it. 

There are two pyramids.  One pyramid is black with no door, symbolizing an ignorant and uninspired life, and the other pyramid is with a door, symbolizing a learned, enlightened life through science and spiritual wisdom.  The door of the white pyramid represents a solution or a way to safety. 

The scorpion (sometimes depicted as a crawdad, which is a creature of the night) represents treachery and knowledge used to dominate and control. 

Arcanum XVIII is ruled by the astrological sign of Cancer, the sign most susceptible to influences in the environment, both seen and unseen, and the sign most closely associated with domestic issues and the occult science of mediumship.  Mediums often work in a darkened room and allow themselves to be “taken over” by another entity.  This is a dangerous practice at best, but often it, too, is simply a hoax or yet another form of deception. 

When the mystics talk about going into the darkness, they are sometimes talking about literal darkness and sometimes talking about a metaphorical darkness.  It is true that immersion into total darkness, like a cave for example, is likely to produce hallucinations after only a matter of hours.  Oracles, those people through whom a deity speaks or a shrine in which a deity reveals hidden knowledge, were widespread all over the ancient world.  These oracles were always underground in tunnels and caves. There were some priests who never saw the light of day.  An Egyptian temple is rarely without an underground passage that leads to a secret chapel. 

In the previous Arcanum, The Star, we spoke about finding truth both from an intellectual and emotional standpoint.  But, in order to test our truths, we must experience them.  It is one thing to know that fire is hot and quite another to experience the flame! Metaphorically speaking, when we experience “a dark night of the soul,” we enter a dark and frightening place, fraught with danger and pitfalls; we are in effect, undergoing an initiation of a sort that tests our metal and tests our truths.  And often, after we come out the other side, we have a clearer understanding of ourselves. If the card represents lunacy, however, our hero may never come out the other side, and may remain trapped in the hellish environment of his own mind. 

In the Egyptian Book of the Dead with commentary by E.A. Wallis Budge, there are several passages describing the circumstances of the Tuat, or afterlife, as it was conceived immediately following death. Near Abydos, the present-day seat of Osiris worship, there are two mountains. It was believed that in order to enter the Tuat after death, the soul had to pass through the valley between these mountains to the Great Oasis, where some historians have placed the Elysian Fields. (In Greek mythology, the Elysian Fields were the resting place of the souls of the heros.)  But it wasn’t easy to reach the Great Oasis because it existed in the most remote corner of the Dead-land.  A soul might easily lose his way or be accosted or driven back by hostile entities who hid in the shadows.  Hence, the only safe way to passage was through the aide of guides, or the “openers of the ways.”  Interestingly, Anubis, who is often depicted as a dog, seems to represent as a nature-god either the darkest part of the night or the earliest dawn.  In the legend of Osiris and Isis, Anubis played an important role in finding the dead body of Osiris, and one tradition asserts that he only found it with the help of dogs. According to another legend, it was Anubis that led the souls of the dead to the Elysian fields in the Great Oasis. Another god called Up-uat or “Opener of the Way,” was depicted in the form of a wolf, and Anubis and Upuat are often confused in funerary scenes…one dog and one wolf…one tame dog and one wild dog…one white dog and one black dog.  Perhaps the dogs in this Arcanum not only represent our enemies, but also our guides.  Afterall, we must forgive our enemies if we are to assimilate the experience they brought to us.  

In summary, there are many key words and phrases associated with The Moon.  Some of them are: lunacy, depression, deception, false friends or secret enemies, dangers in the home, warning that non-physical entities are not to be trusted, family or friends are not to be trusted, political infighting, backbiting, flattery, the confrontation of shadow material which must be recognized and assimilated in order to progress and, finally, moving forward is the only option. 

The spiritual message of The Moon is: 

Remember, then, son of earth, that whosoever braves the unknown, does so at his peril.  Hostile minds, figured by the black dog, will surround him with ambushes; friendly, servile minds will offer him flatteries; and treacherous minds, like unto the scorpion, will plan to attain their ends through his ruin.  If Arcanum XVIII should appear in the prophetic signs of thy horoscope, observe and listen, but know how to be silent.  __C.C. Zain, The Sacred Tarot 

For more information about The Brotherhood of Light Egyptian Tarot and the rest of the  Brotherhood of Light lessens, visit http://www.light.org.

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About letstalktarot

Allyn McCray began reading Tarot in 1971 after discovering a deck in an occult shop in San Francisco, California. In 1999, the American Tarot Association recognized her as a Certified Tarot Reader. During her experience as an Internet reader between 2000 and 2002, Allyn’s readings were regularly featured on the websites, Psychicnut and Roadtalk. In 2002, Allyn joined The Church of Light, aka Light.Org, a non-profit international school of esoteric studies, where she is now a Hermetician, Certified Teacher, and Minister. Allyn also serves as the Communications Director of The Church of Light and is a Section Advisor in The Order of the Sphinx.
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