Tarot: Symbolism of the Moon

Hermit’s view on the Wanderer as the Moon

Trump 18 in the Revenant Tarot Deck
Trump 18 in the Revenant Tarot Deck

The Moon is the wild card of the Major Arcana. It signals change, psychic prowess, and a wild emotional or mental roller coaster ride. Wanderer-in-the-Sky is the goddess of the moon, love, change, and dreams, all of which are represented in this card. It is one of magic, mystery, and the darkness of the human mind.

The moon itself is the key feature in this card, reflecting the light of the sun and dimly lighting the path into the unconscious mind. The moon is everywhere in this image, from the shining disc above the werewolf’s shoulders, to the mark on his back, and the Wanderer’s circlet and necklace. At the bottom of the card is a pool of water, a symbol for the subconscious, where all hidden thoughts dwell. The moon, being the controller of the tides, is then a keeper of this state of hidden thoughts, influencing the mind with its phases. Given that the moon is full in this card, it may indicate a state of lunacy, or impaired judgment.

The two pillars in the background of the picture are also in the Rider-Waite card, but here they are more obvious. They echo the two pillars – or in this deck’s case, trees – of both the Hierophant and the High Priestess, both of whom guard hidden knowledge. This card signals that one has gone past that boundary, as is indicated by the standing stones instead of trees, and is now in the land that mystics and dreamers see. The knowledge that was once hidden is now being revealed, if dimly, and the trick will be remembering the lessons learned when this ordeal is over.

In the classical card, a dog and a wolf guard a road, the wolf being our wild state, and the dog being civilized. Here, we have a werewolf, a powerful symbol of the Moon’s influence over the mind, as well as for the shadow-self. That which we hide, and hate most about ourselves, is coming to light in this card. Events will happen, that will bring out our inner wolf, and there is precious little that can be done about it. However, the werewolf in this card happens to be one in control of his own mind, given that he’s not snarling at the viewer, or howling at the moon. His form may be changed, but underneath the fur he’s still a human being. This signals a need to forgive ourselves or others for what they do in times like these, when emotions run wild and logic goes out the window.

Conversely, the figure of the Wanderer stands in for the dog that guards the path, representing the human part of ourselves. She is a goddess, a powerful woman with powers beyond mortal understanding. She reflects the idea that this is the card of mystics and artists, those who see things that normally aren’t seen, and who bring those things into the light. She is the awake part of the lucid dream, the one reminding us that things will be different when we wake up.

In the Rider-Waite version of the Moon, a crayfish is crawling out of the pond at the bottom of the card. Here, we see in its place two Koi, swimming around each other, making a kind of yin-yang. They put forward another meaning of this card, which is one of relationships. The Wanderer is a goddess of love, after all, and while these relationships may not be love, exactly, there is an aspect of it there. It may just be a matter of testing the waters, so to speak, and might not lead to anything serious. The sign the two fish make is also a symbol of cycles, echoing the moon, and balance, particularly between the masculine and feminine parts of the mind. The wild and the tame, the left and the right, the logical and the creative.

The fish also represent the astrological sign of this card, Pisces. It is psychic, receptive, and mysterious, much like the Wanderer. It is the sign of the spiritually inclined, and those who are focused on their own inner journey. This card and its sign are all about this journey, the one taken to conquer the shadow self, slay the inner dragons, as it were, and return to the waking world with the lessons that are learned. The two fish, being completely submerged in the water, indicate the Pisces in complete submersion into the depths of the mind.

The rune on this card is Dagaz, the rune of twilight, balance, and non-judgment. It is the rune that berserkers use when referring to the moment when we first look at something, and see it for what it really is, withholding any and all expectations of what or where it is. It is a rune of transformation, of season into season, night into day, moon phase to moon phase. It illuminates in the same way that the moon does, indicating life changing events, or periods of strangeness. It is by far not the brightest rune, and so may not illuminate things with the brightness of the sun, but, as the Wanderer says, choosing between complete light and complete darkness is just a choice between two different types of blindness.

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