One symbol leads to another…
In my last post regarding the Mirror symbology, I mentioned Pythagoras and the legend of his mirror with which he could reflect anything he wrote upon it on the surface of the celestial body.
The Moon is closely connected to the Mirror because it is an immense reflecting surface too; there is no denying that the Moon is a convex mirror, despite its irregularities, and, therefore, a huge catoptric machine.
So, I take this opportunity to speak about another very important symbol: the Moon and its various meanings.
The Moon is connected to the feminine principle and to the yin polarity. This association is due to the fact that menstrual cycles have a trend that recalls the motion of revolution of this celestial body. For this reason, the woman’s body recall the cosmic order, making the Moon a symbol of fertility and motherhood: the Great Mother. It has a strong symbolic connection with the water of the Matrix, intended as the element that gives life.
Since ancient times, the Moon has embodied many female deities, such as Isis, Artemis and Hecate.
In the mythology of ancient Egypt, the Moon is known with the name Aah (or Iah) and it makes its journey in the sky on a boat. With time, the Aah deity has been assimilated to Osiris, who returns from death just like the Moon does at the end of every cycle. Also, it is the left eye of the Celestial Falcon Horus (the sun is his right eye) and some myths cite it as the place where Osiris sought refuge to protect himself from his brother Seth.
In Hinduism, the iconography of Shiva is lunar, starting with the crescent moon on his head, and represents destruction and transformation.
In fact, the Moon is strictly connected to the transformation, understood as death and rebirth, and this is an aspect that binds it to the passage of time and to the cyclicity of natural phenomena (tides, seasons, mood). The deities of the world of the dead are often lunar, for example: Osiris, Hecate, Persephone.
In the Book of Genesis, the Moon is referred to as “small luminary” and it was created on the fourth day. According to the Talmud, it represents the qualities of Judaism (compassion, modesty and impetus for gentle action) and the people of Israel.
In Christianity, the Moon has become a symbol of the Virgin Mary.
Still today, for many nations, the Moon represents the culture of Islam; after the conquest of Constantinople (the current Istanbul) by the Ottoman Empire, it is elected as a symbol of the Sultanate and diffused in the Muslim communities throughout the Middle East.
Anyway, the Moon is very important for all the religions of the Book; in fact, there are many holidays and rites established according to the lunar calendar (for example: Christian Easter and Ramadan). Moreover, it is also present in many eschatological doctrines and it has a role in the Universal Judgement.
In Buddhism, the Moon is often used as a metaphor and it occurs more often than the sun; it is the knowledge that illuminates the darkness.
In esoteric traditions, it represents the subtle knowledge of the initiate, compared to the more direct one of the laymen, which is represented by the sun.
In addition, just like the Mirror, the Moon allows the construction of a representation of what is perceived in its reflection, i.e. the knowledge of reality mediated by subjectivity; this intrinsically connects it to the unconscious and creative forces, the Es of the psychoanalytic perspective, the place of the drives. Because of this dualism between knowledge and instinct, the Moon symbolizes the Wise and the Mad (Lunatic) at the same time.
It is also worth mentioning the meaning assumed by the different phases of the Moon which, for centuries, has influenced the life of the mankind.
- Crescent Moon: strengthens and nourishes.
- Full Moon: connected with birth and generating, but also with less positive beliefs (metamorphosis of the werewolves, or regeneration of vampires)
- Falling Moon: connected with introspection.
- New Moon (Black Moon, or eclipse of the Moon): expectation of rebirth, a dangerous moment.
MARSEILLES TAROT: THE MOON – XVIII
The card is divided into three levels.
Upper Level: the blue colored Moon dominate the level, evoking the feminine and receptive nature of the aster. The drops seem drawn by the Moon, manifesting the attractive nature.
Terrestrial Level: it is characterized by two dyads, consisting of two towers (learned, achieved) and two dogs (instinct, drives).
Water Level: it is entirely blue and it has essentially passive value, without direct influences. The surface evokes the symbol of the Mirror. The shrimp establishes the link with Cancer, of which the Moon is the dominant planet.
The Major Arcana XVIII reveals the inner world in its riches and its dangers. Moreover, it represents the first of the three alchemical phases, the Black Work (Nigredo).
by Alice Colombo
Images from web.