The Moon is a major arcana card in the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot deck and other decks based on the Latin Tarot (or the Tarot de Marseilles). The images and numerology on its face are steeped in symbolism that offer clues about its meaning when it appears in a tarot spread.
Symbolism of the Moon Tarot Card
As with all tarot cards in a tarot deck, the Moon has a number of symbols on it. On the card, a dog and a wolf stand on separate sides of a winding path and bay at the moon which also appears to have aspects of the sun. In the background of the card stand two towers. The path runs between the towers, dividing the card's landscape exactly in half. It runs the length of the card, ending in a pool of water with a lobster emerging from the pool.
Significance as a Major Arcana Card
Historically, the tarot deck was created as a card game with major arcana cards as the trump suit. However, as the tarot deck evolved for use as an oracle, major arcana cards took on special significance, indicating information the querent should pay close attention to when they appear in a tarot reading.
Placement in the Major Arcana
The major arcana of decks based on the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot depict a soul's journey from innocence and lack of awareness (The Fool) through awakening on the earthly plane, and ultimately through full awakening or enlightenment (The World). The Moon appears nearly at the end of the major arcana cards, indicating the soul's journey is nearing the end of a cycle. It is the second in a series of celestial cards that include the Star and the Sun. These cards indicate a shift of focus to higher, more spiritual realms after the tumult seen in cards such as the Tower, the Devil, and Death.
The Moon is the 19th card in the major arcana, but it is numbered XVIII (18) because in the Latin Tarot, the major arcana cards start with 0 - The Fool. In numerology, the number 18 is considered in its base form and reduced by adding the two numbers of the original number together. Therefore, both 18 and 9 (1+8) are of numerological significance. The number two is also significant on this card as represented by the two towers, the two sides of the path, and the two animals (dog and wolf).
- The number 18 represents compassion and creating something that has ongoing benefit.
- The number 9 represents wisdom and completion.
- The number 2 represents balance.
Moon and Sun
While other versions of this major arcana card depict the moon by itself, the Rider-Waite version depicts a combination of the moon and the sun. These two celestial bodies together are often used as the representation of universal balance, such as in yin and yang. The moon is yin and represents the emotional, reflective, mysterious, and the feminine while the sun is yang and represents active, bright, masculine energy. That they appear together represents the need for balance of both of these aspects, although the Moon card tends to lean more towards the representation of emotional depth and the shadow self.
Dog and Wolf
Like the sun and the moon, the dog and wolf represent a balance of opposites: the active and friendly nature of the dog versus the dark and protective nature of the wolf. They also represent possible distraction from the path as the dog barks and the wolf growls. These two animals balance each other out on either side of the path, which continues beyond them if you choose to walk away from the distraction they offer.
Towers and Path
The path represents your spiritual journey in this lifetime and others. Towers represent earthly treasures and material gain. The path winds between them, reminding you that while these temptations are available to you as you travel your path, ultimately they are only a stop along the way instead of the end goal.
Lobster and Pool
The pool of water represents the subconscious, and the lobster represents the psychic power that dwells there. Notice the pool of water is the final destination along the path and reaching the subconscious and accessing higher council via psychic power is the ultimate destination shown on the Moon card.
Meaning of the Moon in a Tarot Spread
When the Moon appears in a tarot card spread, it is an invitation to delve deeply and reflect on those things you value. The card asks you to tune out the distractions of the outer world and go inward on a journey of discovery. It also advises you to tune into dreams and intuition, as well as reminding you to seek balance as you do so. The presence of the Moon tells you the answers you seek lie inside of you, and you can access them by tuning out distractions and going inward to reflect. It may also indicate your shadow self is currently in need of illumination, or it may be telling you that you are allowing your fears to block personal spiritual growth.
The Moon Reversed
When the moon is reversed, it may indicate you have released fear surrounding something in your life, it may show you are out of balance, or it may suggest it is time to seek guidance from a wise person or healer who can help you gain clarity.
A Reflective Reading
Ultimately, the moon is reflective and its presence in a reading suggests you also reflect, delving deeply in order to grow.