The Moon Card as an Integral Map. Pre-personal, personal and transpersonal development in the Tarot
The Moon card is different from most cards in the the Major Arcana because there are no human characters or architypes present; something different is going on here.
In this short blog we will look at the moon card through the lens of the integral movement pioneered by Ken Wilber. Integral theory aims to bring together a diversity of theories including matter, body, mind, soul and spirit into a single framework. A unique hallmark of the integral movement is the use of diagrams to present a framework of development and evolution through a series of stages.
Like an Integral chart, the Moon card can be read like a map, charting a path of human consciousness from the pre-personal into the personal/rational realm and beyond. When this card comes up in a reading it is showing us a point on the map and giving us clues to that we might experience at this juncture.
Moon card from Jacob Jorger's 1801 Tarot paired with with Ken Wilber's Integral model.
Let’s start with that interesting crayfish emerging out of the waters. The crayfish is a bottom dweller so it has already come a long way from the depths to make it to the shore. This can represent the primitive self, emerging from a preconscious state. Integral theorists maintain that in the depths we experience a natural state of nondifferentiation –like an infant in the comfort of the womb unified with its mother. Even after birth, an infant is psychologically one with it's parents and environment. Many physiologists describe a second or “real birth” that occurs later when a child starts to mature and begins to discover its place in the world. The Moon card can be viewed in this context. – a second birth into a more physical state of awareness.
It is natural to want to linger in the comforting waters and this correlates to the tradition that crayfish is wavering or teetering on falling back. However, to truly answer the question “who am I” we need to leave the deep waters and move into a world where we are able to develop into our own unique personhood. Indeed, we need our own second birth. This is just one small step on the path to discovering our own higher purpose and divine nature.
The Moon card from the Light seer's Tarot by Chris-Anne. and the Good Karma Tarot by Kerry Ward (AKA Tarot Bella) Modern interpretations that capture the essence of the card.
As we emerge from the waters, we see the moon illuminating the landscape. We immediately spot a pair of canines and a group of towers. As a growing child experiences a second birth and begins a process of differentiation, she also learns how to organize and categorize the world around her. When we look at the “canines”, It’s not entirely clear if one is a hound and one is a domesticated pet but we are learning to understand these differences. We might be tempted to make a judgement that one is better than the other – But we should avoid this. The point here is that in order to answer the question “who am I”, we need to understand that differences exist. Another way to look at this is to say that we are developing the ability to see the world from different perspectives. And, perspective begets compassion and empathy. We must to be able to see the world from multiple perspectives to truly practice compassion. The “pairs” at this juncture also present us with a challenge; to simultaneously understand and care for the world in all its complexities but also keep ourselves centered and not stray from our path and higher calling.
Further along we see the towers with the moon between them. The towers tempt us to abandon our path and take up residence in the safety and comfort of one of these apparently sturdy and protective structures. Should we stop and settle into one of these sturdy towers ? Perhaps not. The towers can represent a kind of “trap” enticing us to choose one particular perspective over another and we can become stuck in our rational / physical state of awareness. Yes, the moon can be a trickster but she provides enough illumination to gently guide us forward. We will be glad that we made the journey from the murky waters to the clarity and wholeness that lies beyond the towers.
The Moon and Tower Card for Liz Dean's The golden Tarot. Here we see a uncommon rendering of the moon card showing a chart and navigation tools. And that tower ! Perhaps not as stable an abode as we initially perceived! -
We Can be thankful that this awaking is taking place in the moonlight. Even with the protective shell of the crayfish, the brightness of the direct sun would simply be too much at this time. In direct sunlight we would probably just burn up or turn around and dive back to warm waters. It is the subtle light of the moon, reflected from the sun, that has the ability to safely draw us out of the murky depth. Of course, we would like to see and understand everything more clearly but this will take time. Tradition holds that when the moon card appears in a reading things might not be quite as they seem. With this card we are moving from previous blissful state into a more aware state. Some turbulence is bound to ensue at this time and it may be quite jarring at first. The distractions may be challenging but we should remember this new landscape of awareness is one step on the path toward our true birthright.
When the moon card appears in a reading, It may be helpful to pull a clarifying card to add additional context. Some examples to consider.. Cups / emotions; This could indicate a path moving beyond feelings into a deeper relationship focused on a clearer understanding of the needs of others. Swords / Intellect; Old paths of self-deception should be cut off so that a path of truth and discernment can open before us. Wands/Fire and creativity. The path ahead calls us to move beyond our passion and possibility into a place of actualization. And, difficult for many, Pentacles/earthly affairs; A path forward acknowledges an acceptance of economic systems and a call to navigate and participate with intention and integrity.
A new moon teaches gradualness
and deliberation and how one gives birth
to oneself slowly. Patience with small details
makes perfect a large work, like the universe.
What nine months of attention does for an embryo
forty early mornings will do
for your gradually growing wholeness.
-A New Moon by Rumi