Tarot – The Moon

The moon is so much more than a lump of rock. Its influences affect the life of every human being and RWS Moon cardevery other living creature on Earth. Did you know that you can take a living oyster 2,000 miles inshore and its internal cycles are still connected to the tides that are directly caused by the Moon? Even the tea in your cup is affected by the movement of the moon. No surprise then that the tarot card Moon is mysterious, moody and ever-so-slightly disconcerting.

The Moon is numbered 18 in the Major Arcana. In numerology, 1+8=9 takes us back to the realm of the Hermit, that solitary archetype, who advises a journey within in order to discover our true nature. Coincidentally, or not, the real Moon has a cycle is repeated every 18+ years. The other Major that is strongly connected to the Moon is the High Priestess with her feminine intuition, her persuasiveness and her subtle magic.

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Description of the Moon card

The Rider-Waite moon card shows an odd-looking moon – it is quite sun-like in appearance, with a crescent moon and a human-faced half-moon superimposed upon it. There is a shower of 15 leaf-shaped drops (or yods) falling to Earth. In the distance is a range of mountains. In the middle ground stand two towers. A dog and a wolf are looking upwards; we are to assume they are howling at the moon. In the foreground there is a pebble bordered pond or stream, from whence crawls a crayfish towards a pathway that runs between the dog and wolf, between the towers and off into the distant mountains.

Tarot Moon symbolism

The moon is shown in its three light phases – full, crescent and half-moon. The droplets are the subject of much discussion. It is thought by some that they are ‘yods’, the 10th letter of the Hebrew alphabet and the first syllable of the name of God. Others think they are dew drops or even human thought. Interestingly, in the Marseilles deck, there are 19 drops. You make you own choice but I think they represent little nuggets of divine help.

The towers are constructs, like the buildings we feel safe in. Ultimately, we are fooling ourselves if we think we can ever be totally safe – see The Tower. The path that passes between them shows us that our future lies in the unknown. The barking dog and howling wolf represent the two sides of human nature – the civilized and the untameable. We have both, we need both, and we may as well accept that we are driven by both.

The crab/lobster/crayfish creature does a neat job in reminding us of our primordial origins, and also links the card to the astrological sign of Cancer. See the table below for a quick reference for the moon card’s symbolism.

The moon cycle lasts a little over 18 years
Our trained, domesticated nature
Our wild, primitive instincts
The primordial swamp
Mankind’s journey from unconsciousness to spirituality
Illusion of safety
Human origins. Symbol of astrological Cancer
Distant Mountains
Moving towards the unknown
Spiritual help

The Fool’s Journey

The Fool enters the realm of illusion and imagination. He has been lulled by the peace and tranquillity of the Star and arrives here in his dreamy state. The moon is deceptive – she promises to light his way, but she moves quickly; her changing light and deep, dark shadows distort human vision.

The Fool is lost, dazed and confused. The moon is unreliable; unlike the sun, which continues to shine and provide light even on the cloudiest day – sometimes her light is obscured, sometimes she isn’t even in the night sky and sometimes she appears totally dark. The Fool must resort to his intuition to lead him out of trouble. He tunes in to his wild, instinctive self and uses his gut feeling to guide him through the dangerous terrain.

Interpreting the Moon

The very nature of this card is amorphous – you can try to grab it but it slips away; its meaning is difficult Deviant Moon cardto pin down. Be prepared to follow your feelings, even if they lead you up blind alleyways. Nothing is ever clear-cut when the Moon appears in a reading. Your client may be withholding pertinent information, she may be confused or is being deceived by others. Consider the other cards around it carefully, to get an indication of how to interpret it.

The Solitary Moon

If the Moon turns up in a one-card reading, then it usually mean that there is confusion around the question being asked. Perhaps the querent is not clear on what they want. Perhaps they have no idea where they are headed. Often they think they know what is happening in a situation, but in actuality they are being kept in the dark. Their best bet is to simply do nothing until a course of action reveals itself. Explain that no-one can make a good decision if they don’t know all the true facts.


The tarot Moon is linked to the star sign of Cancer, which is a water sign and ruled by emotions. Therefore, the appearance of the Moon can show that the querent, or someone close to them, is allowing their emotions to dictate their actions. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but they should be aware of it.


The Moon reminds us that we should remain aware of the power of our intuition, our gut feelings. In certain situations, instead of attacking the problem with logic or bemoaning the lack of clarity, we should relax and let our intuition guide us. Sometimes it is best to feel your way through a problem, rather than think or talk.


The Moon card can point towards health issues – it is very strongly connected with cycles, so will often mean a disrupted menstrual cycle, menopause, or hormonal imbalance. The Moon influences water, so there may be lymph, blood or kidney problems. The Moon can highlight mental issues – Alzheimer’s in a relative, a breakdown, anxiety, sleeping problems or merely mild distraction.


The Moon could be telling you that a relationship is in a down cycle – there is confusion, mis-communication and misunderstanding. In this situation, the couple concerned need to stand back, take a short break or get some counselling. They need to shine a light on their relationship and hold it up for examination to see whether they are both committed to a future together. The Moon can indicate a lover’s deception but that would require clarification by other cards – for example, the Three of Swords, Seven of Swords, Four or Five of Cups and a reversed court card or High Priestess. Your client may be attempting to justify her attraction for another who is off-limits. Again, look to other cards for confirmation.


The Moon is a positive card for those involved in creative fields – it is where the imagination can roam, where nothing is off-limits, where inspiration and fantasy collide. The artist or writer enters the realm of the tarot Moon and allows threads to tangle in ever-more complicated confusion. Dreams have substance and ideas form from nothing.

Useful keywords for the Moon: confusion, illusory, fantasy, fancy, lacking substance, duplicity, hallucination, amorphous, shape-shifting, vague, cycle, water, health, mental health, feminine, feeling, intuition, imagination, artists, writers, poets, fluid, psychic, hidden depths, mystery, lack of clarity, fear, terror, perversion, visions.

I hope this helped you a little – if the Moon has anything to do with it, you are even more confused than before you landed here 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and reading this far. Good luck on your own exploration of the tarot.

2 thoughts on “Tarot – The Moon

  1. Eileen

    Thank you! I retired my tarot cards years ago and have recently begun to use them again. I hope to continue studying the cards again and your site is a great resource.
    Kind regards,


    1. theraggededge Post author

      Thanks Eileen; I’m glad you find it useful. Good luck with your studies – it’s such a fascinating subject. x


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