About a month ago, friend, illustrator, and Golden Moth Deck owner Katie Green asked me to write about Card #21, or what I consider "The Moon" card. Forgive me if this post gets a bit rambly, because it has been on my mind for awhile now. It is also serendipitous because when I checked out Priscilla Smith's blog Spirit Speak 444, I discovered that she had pulled this card today! Priscilla is pulling one card everyday this November and writing about it. You can read her Moon/Star post here. It has been interesting to read Priscilla's interpretations of the cards because it further reinforces my decision to keep the symbols simple and in a single color (which was also suggested by Katie Green - double thanks!) I think these artistic decisions make the interpretation of each symbol much more open and free-flowing. With simple line drawings and no color cues, people are able to see what comes to their unique minds without too much outside influence. Priscilla's posts have also shown me that how someone literally sees an image is so very personal, based on their history and personality. It all continues to fascinate me, as both an artist and the creator of this deck. When Priscilla first mentioned this card in her Golden Moth Deck Interview, she called it "The Man from the Moon." Upon seeing this, I realized that when turned upside down, the object in the center of the image does look kind of like a person! Crazy, I did not picture this when I was drawing it. Actually, I meant the object to look a bit like a castle or a weird plant. I left it purposely ambiguous. The image actually came to me many years before as I was doodling some designs for T-shirts and this strange castle-ish image came out onto the page. I certainly didn't think I would end up turning it into a divination card.
When I created this symbol, I was highly inspired by the Moon card of the traditional Rider-Waite tarot deck and the interpretation I found on www.learntarot.com.
The Moon card is often seen as representing fears, anxieties, heightened fantasies and imagination, intuition, and creativity. I thought of this card as a ghostly imagination-castle growing out of a lake reflecting stars. However, the reflections are not total mirror images, which makes them a little less cut-and-dry. In fact, for a long time this card still remained ambiguous, artistically and interpretation-wise. I had some idea of what it meant through studying the Moon card in tarot tradition, but it still eluded me a bit when it came up in readings. Now I can see the symbol of an upside-down Man in the Moon is very fitting for this card as well. It reminds me of the Hanged Man card in the tarot tradition.The Hanged Man is one of those paradoxical cards. While the words "Hanged Man" can sound ominous, the man in the card is very calm and the ring of light around his head makes him seem as though he is enlightened in the spiritual sense. (And isn't it further serendipity that my Moon card is #21, and the tarot Hanged Man card is that number reversed - #12? Woo...believe me, I didn't do that on purpose.) From learntarot.com:
I see the influence of this paradoxical and mystical energy in my Moon card. In readings for others and for myself, the Moon card will often come up during times of uncertainty. But I also think it is about trusting the moment and allowing unknowing to function in your life. The moon appears when the clear light of day is absent and we are left with a different kind of light - bright in its own way, but softer, more mysterious and magical. I think that this card often appears in times of life when events, thoughts, or actions have this sort of mysterious quality. Perhaps we are building a castle out of moonlight, letting the castle grow out of the water like a strange plant with its own life-force. Maybe we are simply dreaming, letting ourselves float through the night because we know the dream won't last. Or maybe we are dreaming so that we can figure out how to build the dream during waking life. The light of the moon is our testing ground, a time when we can create, drift, imagine, explore what we don't know. This all sounds pretty ambiguous and mystical, I know. But I do believe that is what the Moon card is about, at least to me. A time of transitions, a time to see our world in a different light. What does the Moon mean to you?"The main lesson of the Hanged Man is that we "control" by letting go - we "win" by surrendering. The figure on Card 12 has made the ultimate surrender - to die on the cross of his own travails - yet he shines with the glory of divine understanding. He has sacrificed himself, but he emerges the victor. The Hanged Man also tells us that we can "move forward" by standing still. By suspending time, we can have all the time in the world."
This card also has personal significance for me because I believe it is my guiding force when doing readings for other people. Since self-publishing the deck, I have done many more readings and I think that I have grown as a reader because of it. There have been many instances when people have told me they felt better after a reading, and I could feel it from their smiles and the lightness in their demeanor. But there are times when I feel nervous or unsure of what others are getting from the readings. Sometimes I go into anxiety-mode and start talking much more than is necessary, trying to fill the nervous space by leaving no stone unturned. I've come to realize that reading cards is very much about being in the moment, responding to people's needs as well as knowing what it is in my power to offer them. I can't always tell people what they want to hear. As much as I want to help people who are going through difficult situations, I have decided that my role as a reader is one of facilitator for people to understand themselves better. I try to remind people that they do know themselves and what they need to do, the cards are just there to help them see it in a more conscious way. I am not an all-knower, all-fixer, or there to placate them just so I feel good about myself. I don't think anyone really expects that of me, but it is tempting to wish that I could make people's lives better through my readings.
I am constantly floored by the mystery of life. Who is to say what effect - subtle or larger - that the readings will have on a person? Maybe I helped someone become more conscious of a negative pattern. Maybe talking through a reading helped lightened a burden for someone. Maybe the burden will come back, maybe it won't. I can't know or control it all. All I can do is try my best to be open to what is needed in the moment. Whenever I shuffle the cards, I've come to ask in my head "What does so-&-so need to hear right now? What does he/she need?" which amusingly makes me think about the Oracle in The Matrix movies. And it is amazing when I allow myself to be open to the cards and see them fresh each time. I definitely have personal interpretations for each card, but lately I've been trying to truly be in the moment and trust my intuition. It actually makes a card look different each time. Certain aspects will appear more strongly to me. I also am more open to other people's interpretations. When I am unsure of a card's meaning in the spread, I will ask the Querent what they think. And this is always the "right" meaning for their situation. I have learned so much more about my cards and their possibilities through the thoughts and suggestions of other people.
Whenever you feel confused or unsure, remember the Moon. Don't try to understand right away. Let it be. Let it be scary, let it be crazy, let it be the wrong thing for you. Or the right thing. Maybe they are the same thing. Let it ramble just as much as this post about the Moon. It is your nightmare, your dream, your mysterious and sacred life.