People turn to tarot cards for answers, ideas, and clarity. Sometimes in life, however, clarity is not on the menu. In fact, sometimes in life the whole reason you feel “stuck” is because you’re going through a necessary growth process that actually requires you to actively work through feelings of fog and confusion. In tarot readings, this energy is often expressed by The Moon.
The Moon allows for deeper understanding to emerge
In our digital world, everything moves fast and faster. We may feel like we aren’t able to keep up, we aren’t producing enough or fast enough, we’re off track or without purpose, or we’re simply spinning our wheels. Inevitably, the more we try to overcome these feelings by pushing harder, the more they seem to overwhelm us. As I’ve written in the past, we have forgotten how to allow meaning to emerge. The Moon reminds us that sometimes the feeling like we can’t keep up, that we don’t know where we’re going, and we aren’t even sure how to get where we don’t know where we’re going, is all a valuable growth process that we must experience rather than try to quickly push away. When we accept that we don’t know and we feel lost, we stop trying so hard to “fix” things and instead shift our focus to observation and listening. This shift helps meaning to emerge.
The Moon allows us to consciously experience “not knowing”
For those of us who are high achievers and extremely competent people in our daily lives, the feelings of bewilderment and “I don’t know” that come with The Moon energy can be especially frustrating. When we feel like we have lost our way and don’t know where to turn for guidance or solutions, The Moon encourages us to explore the depths of that uncomfortable feeling of not knowing. What if, instead of feeling responsible for knowing the answer, we were to sit back and simply observe our experience for what it is? What can we learn by admitting that we don’t know, we don’t have the answer, we may not be capable, competent, we may not be able to solve this problem? It doesn’t mean it’s true or that solutions won’t come—in due time. In the meantime, The Moon asks us to pull up a chair and get comfortable with not knowing. One of the benefits can be that we stop expecting to have all the answers. We may even stop needing to constantly know why in order to judge whether something is good or bad, and start saying maybe—I don’t know; and feel comfortable with that.
The Moon calls on us to take ourselves out of the picture
When we become overly concerned about where we’re supposed to be headed in life, what our purpose is, where we’re going, what we need to be doing, and we come up feeling empty-handed, confused, and without any answers, the process tends to snowball. It feeds upon itself until we’re left spinning and obsessing. There are no human beings in The Moon card. We can imagine this card calling on us to forget ourselves for a moment and allow the Ego to take a back seat to the Psyche.
The Moon gives us an opportunity to connect with intuition
Intuition is a rather clichè term but in its simplest form it is a non-cognitive way of knowing. We’re used to reasoning and logical thought processes to arrive at conclusions and answers. The Moon doesn’t work that way. The Moon works in shadow and in subtlety. In order for the power of this card’s teachings to infuse us with growth, we must open to the idea that our brains and our rational thought processes aren’t the only way to arrive at knowledge. When we stop chasing answers and stop concerning ourselves with the fact that we feel unprepared, incapable, inadequate, or any of the other feelings that may lead us to a proverbial “dark night of the Soul,” we can open up to listening to the voice inside that knows our essence. In practical terms, this means giving weight and value to our emotional life and to our subconscious. It can also mean digging up shadow material from the depths of the psyche so that it can emerge and provide us with new paths to explore.
The Moon teaches us about initiation
In life, when we move from one phase of being into a new, other phase of being, we often must pass through some sort of initiatory phase. In the transition from one state of being to another, growth comes through evaluation and trial. This card gives us space to experience passing through the gauntlet in order to emerge on the other side with new knowledge. Look at the path leading out of the card and into the distance. It goes up into the mountains and onto the other side. In the process, it passes through a pair of towers with one window each, almost as if they are two watch towers, two sentinels observing passersby to ensure that they are qualified to move forward. There’s no growth without challenge. The initiation phase brings us to deeper truths about ourselves and our experiences by testing us with opportunities to challenge what we know to be true.
The Moon reminds us of cycles
When we feel lost or stuck it can be easy to feel like the situation will never pass. The Moon cycles through phases, and with this come many of the phrases we use in everyday speech, especially in relation to the tides which The Moon governs: ebb and flow, high and low, waxing and waning, dark and light. For women especially, this cyclical nature is important. The Moon governs cycles, including affecting women’s menstrual cycles.
Christine Northrup, M.D., states: “Scientific research has documented that the moon rules the flow of fluids (ocean tides as well as individual body fluids) and affects the unconscious mind and dreams.”
When we routinely block the information that is coming to us in the second half of our menstrual cycles, it has no choice but to come back as PMS or menopausal madness, in the same way that our other feelings and bodily symptoms, if ignored, often result in illness.
(Hampson, E., Kimura, D., 1988. Reciprocal effects of hormonal fluctuations on human motor and perceptual skills, Behavioral Neuroscience, vol. 102:456–59.)
Cycles of clarity and confusion are important for both men and women, however. We must acknowledge that it’s natural and healthy for our psyches to go through both waxing and waning phases. The polarity of the phases helps us to find psychological balance.
Helpful practices to work through this card’s energy include dream journaling and stream-of-consciousness writing (morning pages can be a good way to do this), meditation, prayer, psychotherapy, and divination practices that don’t require your conscious and rational control to provide insight (tarot, I-Ching, and others that rely on symbolism, metaphor, and processes of random chance). Practices that help you tap into your subconscious and non-rational self and listen for guidance and information without judging or censoring what comes through are the ones that will best help you to align with what this card is trying to teach.
In short, when The Moon emerges in a tarot card reading, take a moment to honor the confusion, bewilderment, darkness, shadow, subtlety, and even the wild, bizarre “lunatic” feelings that come along with it. There is value in this energy. If it is repressed, it will seek other ways to emerge forcefully. When you deny the promptings of this energy, its force pushes harder to be acknowledged. The more you deny it, the less opportunity you’ll have for conscious reflection to work with it. When you refuse to welcome it to integrate its messages, The Moon energy increasingly renders you subject to its uncontrolled nature in order to impress its lessons upon you. “That which you seek to control will ultimately control you.”
When you encounter The Moon, let go and gracefully accept not knowing, and allow the energies of this card to share their wisdom with you.