One of my tarot students asked me this question the other night, and I thought it was worthy of a post... as I feel that I am still fleshing out the answer to this question. It's a deeper symbolism than at first suspected, and keeps bringing up more material to the surface..... thanks Lee for asking about it!
In my tarot class, we are using the Rider-Waite tarot deck for study. We're actually going pretty deep, I am only getting about 5 cards per week done LOL so we are working fairly intensively with each card. I am pleased with this progress, even if it means the class will take longer to finish (I don't hear anyone complaining that they don't want to go into extra innings)
We were looking at the 8 of Cups, and Lee asked me what the symbolism of the moon was. I stopped, not so much because I didn't know the answer, but because it was something I hadn't really articulated yet and wasn't sure how to really target it.
The Moon is a deliberate symbol in this card and in most of the cards where it shows up. Pamela Colman Smith's artwork is very thorough in its meaning; each and every detail in an image has a reason for being there and a connection both to the meaning of the picture, and the meaning of the card itself in readings. In fact, I consider this one of the most brilliant decks in print, for that very reason. Smith is known to have "channeled" much of the material for this deck, going into a meditative trance and envisioning an image before drawing it. Often music made up a part of her rhythm for creation of a card. Therefore, the details of each image are startlingly pertinent on many levels.
Thinking about Lee's question, and about the symbolism of the Moon overall, I said, "What is the Sun? What is the Moon?"
Both are astronomical bodies, one of which we are in orbit around, the other in orbit around us. Both illuminate our skies and our lives, the Sun dominates the daytime sky, while the Moon has dominion over the night sky. But that very thing they have in common is also the very thing that defines their difference..... the Sun is an actual star, emitting light waves and heat and radiation towards our small planet and everything else that is in orbit around it. However, the light we receive from the Moon is.... REFLECTED from the Sun. The Moon has no light of its own, it is merely taking the light from the Sun, which is out of our line of sight at the time we see the Moon, and shining it back down at us.
Reflected light, time to reflect.... the Moon showing up in a tarot card reading, whether on the actual Moon card, or as a symbol on another card's image, one of the first things you can do is take a moment and think about how its main quality is REFLECTION. And so of course, the card asks us to pause and reflect.... but it's not just a simple matter of thinking, meditating..... no, this reflection is due to a change in the angle of perception.... so we're not just reflecting, we're taking another look at the situation we're reading about, we're getting a different perspective, looking at things in a different light.
One of my favorite things to point out to clients in a reading when the Moon card comes up is the way that when you see things in real life by the light of the Full Moon, they often look two dimensional in the darkness. Everything has kind of washed-out colors, if not downright grayscale..... everything looks like cardboard cutouts..... perspective is changed, even lost at times. You may be driving along a night road, and everything on the side of the road looks like it is made of flat paper standing up on the side..... it's harder to gauge distance, harder to know what reaction time will be for things, etc. So we must be both more cautious and pay more attention.....
I also like the fact that, even though you may be completely, fully aware of the layout of an area, like a road through your neighborhood or your backyard garden, in the darkness, lit only by the moonlight, it is easy to get disoriented and lost. I mean literally you could have placed every single one of those flagstones on the path of your garden, you intimately know every inch of it, and yet, you can get disoriented and stumble into the rosebushes if you're not paying careful attention. This is because of the changed perspective.
In similar fashion, though you could know exactly where everything is in your bedroom, you can awaken in the middle of the night and be frightened out of your wits by seeing the Boogeyman standing there across from you in the room, staring at you! And yet, when you turn your lights on, you realize it is really only your bathrobe hanging on the back of your door. When you turn the lights back out, you still see your bathrobe, because once your consciousness has emerged from the darkness and is enlightened to what the reality actually is, you cannot "unsee" the bathrobe and go back to seeing the Boogeyman..... and so it is with the Moon..... what you reflect on, what you see, the changed perspective you bring to the situation at hand, once you have seen the changes, once you realize what is actually going on, the truth can never be hidden from you again.....
Once you have taken the Red Pill, you cannot go back into the Matrix.....
Yours in tarot,
Gina M. Pace (aka Wicce), creator of the Pagan Tarot, published by LoScarabeo, and former webmistress of Wicce's Tarot Collection, one of the internet's largest former tarot review websites