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Observations placeholder

Wirth, Oswald – 18 The Moon



Type of Spiritual Experience


Again the explanation is extremely long and has been shortened.  The archetype of the moon describes the feminine as a whole,the 'column' upon which all the other cards and stages are based.  The three - Sun, Moon and Stars are the foundation of the symbol system in the Greek pantheon system, the Tarot and astrology.

Diana is the Roman goddess of the hunt, the Moon, and nature, associated with wild animals and woodland. She is equated with the Greek goddess Artemis, and absorbed much of Artemis' mythology early in Roman history.  Diana was known as the virgin goddess of childbirth and women.

A description of the experience

The Tarot of the Magicians – Oswald Wirth English translation 1985 Samuel Weiser.

First published in Paris in 1927 under the original title: Le Tarot, des lmagiers du Moyen Age

ln order to display the splendours of the sky, the Night plunges the earth into darkness, …. we aspire to relate the celestial to the terrestrial by a simultaneous contemplation, which is made possible when the Moon spreads her pale light. This body which is close to the stars without subduing their brightness completely, only half lights up the objects bathed in her uncertain and borrowed light.

The Moon does not allow us to distinguish colours; everything her rays strike upon she tinges with a silvery grey or with vague bluish shades, leaving the opaque darkness of the shadows of night to continue.

By observing the effects of the moonlight, how can we not think of the imagination whose way of illuminating is revealed in a similar way in our intellect? The imaginative visionary sees things in a false light. Fascinated by Hecate he turns away from the poetic shining of the stars to concentrate his attention on the contrasts of the deceptive chiaroscuro of the moon. In metaphysics he forges erroneous theories, based on unreal contrasts, optical illusions of the mind: out of good and evil, out of Being and nonbeing he makes objective entities and falls into the trap of a dualism which is fatal to the healthy appreciation of reality. The dupe of apparent contrasts, he imagines matter to be dense, solid, heavy and indestructible, whereas in the last analysis it is reduced to the infinitesimal whirling of a weightless, ethereal substance. The chief errors of the human mind derive from the imagination which cannot stop itself from making the subjective objective.

Now as this feminine faculty is awakened in the face of masculine reasoning, we imagine first of all, then we try to reason afterwards, free then to strive to build logically with doubtful representations. The result is not brilliant. We must, however, achieve full light by exploring at our own risk and peril the immense space which the Moon lights up only in part and very imperfectly. The field which is offered to us is uneven land where stumbles are inevitable. Let us expect frequent falls, by being wary of traps and hidden snares.

Luckily others have gone before us in this dangerous exploration. Their steps have traced a path where drops of blood are seen. This painful track leads to a goal for him who perseveres in spite of obstacles and threats....

Myths, fables, popular stories proceed from truths which are too deep to be put into direct language. The thinker takes delight in them if he can discern the esoterism behind the facade of naive and coarse appearances. To reject superstitions in the way that 'clever people' do is a weakness, for credulity is never completely blind: an instinctive lucidity holds him to powerful truths which however are too diffuse for the men of reason to grasp.

........... Even in dull daylight he would perceive nothing of what is stirring in the depths of the troubled water, but by the light of the Moon he can distinguish an enormous crayfish emerging motionless from the foul water. This crustacian devours everything that is rotten.

It would be fatal to let dead beliefs continue, leading to reprehensible practice: the fierce crab sets things in order there. If it walks backwards, that is because its domain is the past, and not the future from which it flees. ......

The crayfish in the Tarot is red, not because it is cooked, but on the contrary, by reason of the inner fire which makes it display an incessant activity in order to fulfil "its mission of making things salubrious''.

At this point it is fitting to recall the analogy of the opposites which, in the double row of the Tarot, superimpose arcana 5 onto arcana 18. The Hierophant receives beliefs in order to synthesize them in the form of positive dogmas, whereas the crayfish (18) acts by negative selection, devouring all that is decomposing and cannot stand upright in face of believers' good sense.


Near the marsh where Cancer rules, two dogs guard the route which is, astronomically speaking, that of the Sun. They are the barking animals of the Canicula, the Canis Major and the Canis Minor of the celestial sphere. ....

The Canes (Dogs) become placed in charge of the defence of the forbidden regions where the imagination wanders. Their howling increases at the approach of the bold person who has turned aside from the marsh to continue his interrupted pilgrimage. They watch over what is permissible relating as much to faith and feelings as in matters of social or political institutions. The little white dog on the left yaps furiously at the impious who refuse to believe what is accepted as being true. He stands up on his hind legs, for he feels that he is in the service of spiritual interests. The big black dog on the right remains lying down by reason of his positivism which keeps him attached to the earth. Anxious to preserve good order and the intangible rights of propriety, he howls at the revolutionaries with subversive plans. The person with a firm step walks disdainfully between the two dogs, .......


But here are two massive fortresses, two square towers, different in form from the round tower of arcana 16. The flesh-coloured walls form living buildings and their golden crown, placed on a red foundation, likens them to intelligent beings capable of acting with discrimination. They are bodies, or better still public bodies placed as sentries to warn the foolish man of the dangers that threaten him if, once past the dogs, he aspires to rushing into the treacherous steppe to which the Moon draws him.

From the tower on the right, which is lit up, come the reasonable warnings about the sad destiny of Hecate's victims, liable to lose their mental balance, their reason, their physical and moral health, even their life.

The dark bodyguard on the left is no more reassuring: it echoes with mystic murmurings on the impiety of giving in to tempting curiosity. Let us remain ignorant, rather than jeopardize the salvation of our soul. Let us think of the paradise lost and not desire the fruit of the tree of knowledge! If the irresistible attraction of mystery wins him over against the voice of the two towers, nothing then will stop this fated man.

Summoned to submit to the fearful trials of initiation, he will go .....................................

Arcana 18 represents the Moon as a silver disc on which is outlined in profile a feminine face with puffy features. From the disc come long yellow rays between which appear short red glows. These colours attribute to the Moon a weak spiritual activity (red) but a great strength in the sphere of materiality (yellow). That signifies that the imagination, or lunar faculty, favours the visionary by giving objective form to his thought, but it scarcely helps to understand and to seize the real essence of things.

Although Hecate is deceiving we must pass through her school in order to learn not to be the dupe of her phantasmagoria.

Keywords:  Visible form. What comes within our senses. The theatre where human existence is played out. Illusions of materiality. Maya.

Imagination, whims, fads, fantasies, errors and prejudices, mental laziness, credulity, superstition. Indiscreet curiosity, false knowledge….. Intellectual passivity, impressionability of the imagination, clairvoyance, lucidity when sleep-walking.

The source of the experience

Tarot, the

Concepts, symbols and science items

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps