Atu XVIII: The Moon
Letter: ק Qoph (Q)
Proximity: Sephira #7 (Netzach) to Sephira #10 (Malkuth)
Pent #29 “Corporealizing” – Water of 兌 (Tui) The Joyous, Lake (Above/Below)
Earth of 震 (Chên) The Arousing, Thunder (Without/Within)
Berashith: “Elohim blessed them”
(Upper right) Fire: Hex #41: 損 (Sun) Decrease
(Lower left) Air: Hex #42: 益 (I) Increase
(Upper left) Water: Hex #32: 恆 (Hêng) Duration
(Lower right) Earth: Hex #31: 咸 (Hsien) Influence/Wooing
Keywords (Dignified): Lunar, Miasmic, Murky, Eerie, Dreamy, Hypnagogic, Astral, Sensual, Mystical, Foreboding, Shadowy, Transmutable, Reflective, Reverberative, Illusory, Secretive, Ominous, Visionary, Disorienting, Psychological, Drugs, esp. Hallucinogens
Keywords (Ill-Dignified): Cold Reality, Terror, Misery, Psychopathy, Lunacy, Self-destruction, Danger, Poison, Entrapment, Insanity
Historical: Usually depicting a night scene, and two towers, there are also present two dogs which represent the fears of the mind as it approaches the unknown mystery, where only the reflected light of the Moon may guide it. The Visconti-Sforza presents us with a young woman, blonde, wearing a red dress and white belt. The belt is shaped like a bow, and the fallopian tubes, and makes a shape like the vesica pisces. The idea of the womb as the bow from which men and women are cast into the world is here.
In the background, rolling hills of emerald green reveal the shape of two flanking hills, one has a house on top of it, while the other resembles the head of the uncircumcised phallus, and a stream of golden stars emerges from the tip to surround the card, representing Father Nature.
Golden Dawn: Called The Moon, Ruler of Flux and Reflux, The Moon card corresponds to the zodiacal Pisces and places between Sephira #7 (Netzach) and Sephira #10 (Malkuth) in the Golden Dawn system.
The Waite deck does little to lift the Christianity from the card. Artemis the Virgin, a stand-in for Mary the Virgin, is still triumphant, her hounds and crustacean pointing at the Moon. In the mid 20th century decks, the imagery was uplifted somewhat to include a winged scarab, an alternate attribution for Cancer, and the twin canine gods Anubis (Kemetic: Anpu,) and Apuat-Sebek, but still, it never regained its focus onto the Method of Science.
Thoth: The Moon is a strange scene in Crowley’s tarot, with waveforms and a creepy looking cockroach carrying the solar disk (I suppose it is meant to be a scarab) and two, large tower sized statues of Anubis, and Apuat. It is quite effective at illustrating the Moon’s weird qualities. The ocean rises up, to support the scarab holding the solar disk that appears about to enter the vaginal canal, where the moon is seated between the towers of the Duat.
Mutational Alchemy Interpretation: The strange name of the ruling Pentagram “Corporealizing,” hints at some kind of phantom, unfinished form, coming into being. It calls to mind ghosts and spirits, the unborn, and the undead. This spooky energy is what the Moon is all about. Water of Tui and Earth of Chen, signifies an auspicious feminine energy at play, and its nature as something good is affirmed in the line from Berashith, “Elohim blessed them.” This reflects on the Fire Hex ,of the previous ATU, Grace, in which beauty is essential, even though it seems impractical.
The hexagrams could not be more appropriate. We have Decrease and Increase, Influence/Wooing and Duration. These are very similar to the traditional lunar attributes. Or rather, it is the cycling nature, the increase and decrease of the moon and the romantic attributes of its eternal light, that have caused it to be associated with these universal signs and symbols. It was one of the ATU early on, that caused us to stop and wonder exactly how this could be possible. How could a modern system, Mutational Alchemy, be so coincidentally perfect in its alignment with the ancient Tarot, without making any adjustments to suit it? These are questions which may never have an answer, but to assume the tarot is coming to us from scholars who had access to deeply mathematical, and logical systems of magick. It certainly lends its credence to the Kemetic origin theory of the tarot, and the idea that modern day Israelite ideas came from a wellspring of Sumerian and Kemetic syncretism.
Decrease, the Fire hex informs us that if one is transitioning through a time of scarcity, they should not become desperate or bewildered, they should make adjustments, until the time has come when things are more prosperous. Increase, the Air hex, tells us exactly how we might go about creating prosperity. Through careful activity and perseverance, paying utmost attention to *right action* and *right thinking* we can begin to turn things towards good fortune.
Duration at Earth seems to reinforce this idea, but adds the doctrine of True Will to the mix. One should stand firmly in one’s own moral code and ethics, not giving in for fear of anything. “Thou hast no right but to do thy will, do that and no other shall say nay” it tells us to continue on our path no matter the cost, no matter the threats from outside our immediate area of focus. Hexagram Influence in Water reveals that the *unexpected* is lurking, waiting to shower us with new opportunities, if we would only make room for them. Being open to new people and perhaps even a new partner or wife, is important. The card may actually indicate marriage, but will point to the wife, specifically, so that if drawn for a man she may be unknown, or known, if drawn for a female, it will be a female.
Sexuality is always connected to the Moon card, and we find this reinforced in the hex Influence. It does not warn against sexual contact, it only warns against being careful about one’s behavior. “Exceed by delicacy.” The same can be said of drugs, which can be considered “the maiden,” in some instances.
The Scene: Rather than confine the deck to Earth, the literal terran moon is absent. The texture on the crescent is from a photograph, taken by Nasa, of the surface of Phobos, one of the two moons of Mars. This speaks for the eerier side of the moon card symbology, where fear surrounds the subconscious, and manifests as paranoia, and irrational fears (phobias.) Gravity exerts a vast degree of control on the internal workings of lifeforms, weather and other matter, here on our planet, which lends the moon potency in the religions of man, across the ages. One cannot deny one’s own internal nature, just as the dog cannot wholly escape its genetic heritage derived from wolves, an image the card displays on most other versions of tarot. Instinct is ultimately king, whether or not we admit it to ourselves, choices may barely be ours, instead, it is all too often based on irrational fears and primal instinct.
Instead of depicting a defeated Diana, it depicts a triumphant Hermes. Dionysus, often depicted as an infant, in the arms of Hermes, is an alternate association with the moon, and his animal is the leopard, hunted to extinction in Europe long ago. (As Hermeticists, we of course, don’t like Diana, or her cult of the primitive, so we didn’t want her on the card at all – Crowley agrees she was greatly degraded from her original form as Artemis Cynthia in Greece.)
The Hexagrams themselves have a dreamy quality, combined with the hexagrams for Increasing and Decreasing, the lunar symbolism is clear. Mushrooms, under the feet of the composite beasts, are a nod to the hallucinogenic herbs that formed the backbone of human civilization’s forays into science. These hidden friends of Man offer occult insights even into the modern age, and beyond, simply for as long as the human brain responds positively to hallucinogenic substances.
Purple and green, artistically the colors of poison, absinthe and nightshade were chosen for the card, as well as the gold and blue-black of the composite chimeric creatures, representing mystery. This is the traditional symbol of the god Ningishzidda, adapted from an ancient Sumerian beaker, created under the rule of King Gudea of Lagash, by an unknown artist. His patron god was Ningishzidda, and he rules as patasi, or governor, in the ancient city of Lagash, a location renowned for its stunning visual artifacts, produced by very advanced artisans.
On the original beaker, the chimeric creatures are mushussu, chaos monsters, here they are leopards. In the various Sumerian studies I had performed in order to accurately interpret the beaker’s symbology, I came across some opinion that they were griffins or cats, which isn’t actually true, although the leopard lends itself well to the symbol. Ningishzidda is referred to as “impetuous leopard” in one translation of a Sumerian balbale dedicated to him. There is an excellent artifact called the Assyrian Lamaštu Plaque which also features this composite beast, and it is equated on that plaque with Pazuzu. Pazuzu did not exist in the Sumerian pantheon, so this is an interesting insight into the nature of Ningishzidda, since the two griffins can be equated with the powers of wind, the element Air.