The Heirophant is my biggest Major Arcana challenge in terms of concept. The Moon is the card where the artwork never seems quite right.
The classic card is pictured here (vintage deck in the public domain via www.sacred-texts.com). I use the U.S games Raider Waite deck when I’m doing readings for other people, simply because it is the most generally recognized. It’s what most people seem to want and expect. It is a wonderful deck. This is the one and only RWS card I don’t like. This particular card is always a little disconcerting to read because the intuitive messages and the feel of the card is so different from the actual look of the card. I think it’s the colors. It looks like a sunny day at the beach to me, nothing Moon-like about it, although the presence of “two” always feel significant. There are two two towers, two dogs, two faces to the actual moon (new and full), two of every other phase (waxing and waning).
And then you have notable singular exception… the lobster. What the…lobster? Drawn butter anyone??
The Moon and moonlight is, to my way of thinking silver and pearlescent, with the dark blue hues of night. My first deck, (Art Nouveau by Matt Myers) got the colors right, but it it only shows a single female figure, with none of the duality that seems so telling with other versions of the card. The Moon is deeply associated with natural cycles and changes, so twos and opposites, like the towers and dogs/wolves, are significant. This card is a balance of dynamic opposites, a bit like the taijitu (yin yang symbol)
The moon is a powerful thing to we Earthlings. It pulls and tugs the tides – and our heartstrings. The moon is ever changing, ever the same. The moon symbolizes our relationship with those natural flows – physically, emotionally, energetically, indeed spiritually.
The balance here, as I see it, is about our relationship with that natural ebb and flow. Spirituality is our individual, personal understanding of life’s intangibles. It isn’t tied to ritual, calendars, groups or taught dogma. It is unique, internal, and flowing. It is normal and natural for those spiritual feelings to wax and wane. We don’t feel deep and spiritual every minute, nor should we. Fighting the flow of the moment is when the imbalance happens. Being in the flow is balance in motion. This is the kind of spiritual journey of the Moon card teaches.
I always thought it was comical to have a lobster of all things on a Tarot card. But when you put into the context of learning balance, it is actually kind of genius. It is the lone figure between the dual figures. It is the individual standing among the tides of spirit and nature. The lobster stands strong, keeping its balance in the middle of the waves at the water’s edge. Why a lobster? I have absolutely no idea. I guess any single image would work in this context, but who better than a sea creature to understand the natural tides connected to the Moon? Think of the physical balance it takes to stand in a wave pool, or in the ocean waves at the beach. It makes a kind of sense.
Ted Andrews associates Moon with spiritual guidance. Diane Morgan emphasizes spiritual journey. Some associate it with intuition itself. A.E. Waite (Pictorial Guide to the Tarot) associates the Moon card with both imagination and intellect. All of these apply. We make our spiritual journey when we follow the natural flows of imagination, intellect, and spiritual guidance. When the Moon comes to a reading, think of your inner gyroscope. How are you balanced in the middle of the spiritual tides of life? Is the spirit and energy flow telling you to be mystical and connect with the deeply spiritual…or are the energies flowing in a more carefree, playful way? Our spiritual journey follows a natural, sometimes winding path, not a straight rocket shot to enlightenment. There are ups and downs, fast parts and slow parts, phases, and eclipses.
The moon requires something of us before showing us its balance point. It asks us to engage with our spiritual journey, spiritual guidance and with the natural cycles and flows of life. Only then can we begin to look for our balance withing those ebbs and flows.
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