Card XVIII: The Moon (La Lune)

(Rough draft of a translation of Paul Marteau’s Le Tarot de Marseille)

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         As the Tarot, owing to its evolutionary principle, has been conceived in accordance with analogies which derive from the number 10[1],  the significance of Card XVIII must be derived from the combination 10 + 8.  10 essentially implies the repose which follows a completed cycle; and 8, because of its indefinite position, represents an activity which closes back on itself, a double current which cancels itself out. The combination of these two numbers expresses the stagnation whose image is symbolized in the card by the obscurity of the eclipse on the mental plane, and, on the spiritual plane by the rigidity of the towers and the conflict of the two dogs who are opposing each other, and finally, on the physical plane, by the marsh.

General and Abstract Meaning


         This card personifies the indivisible and lasting bond which connects the physical plane to the astral plane, which is to say, the plane of invisible forces which govern the visible Cosmos, and it shows the warped interpretation which man imposes of the elements joined to these two planes, while the two preceding cards indicated first, the construction of Man, and secondly, the divine construction in the Cosmos.

In fact, Man has been endowed in his incarnation with a very limited intelligence; he interprets cosmic laws in his own way and distorts them. He is thus driven to multiply beyond measure his own creations, to bring them into the subtle planes, while wanting to give them a reality which can only be illusory and which entraps him in error.

Specific Analogies


In this card, the Moon, a symbol of Man’s imaginative creations, can be nothing but a passing force, fleeting but not creative, as it is not of divine origin, as is demonstrated by its human profile. Man, directing himself to his own chimeras and finding no support there, finds himself faced with his own image like the reflection of a mirror. Nevertheless, with the rays that surround it shows that its momentary existence can exercise an influence. This is why it also symbolizes the ebb and flow of human passions as well as their reflection in the astral plane.

As a purely psychic creation, its color is blue. It is a construct of Man’s spirit, almost independently of his will. The red and blue color of the rays indicate that this astral body is able to influence the material and religious planes, but with limited range because the white shows that they are almost neutral.

The drops falling towards the ground signify that what comes from the earth returns to the earth, and that this creation of man in the astral plane is able to fall back on the earth and endow it with a momentary fertility. It is the ebb and flow of the influence of the astral on the terrestrial plane and the influence of the terrestrial on the astral. They complete each other. These drops, with their points aimed downward, underscore the limited efficiency of the astral on the terrestrial, because underscore the limited efficacy of the astral on the terrestrial plane, because that which seems to fall like fertile manna, on the contrary, starts to diminish, and their red, yellow, and blue colors signify that we should not expect to have more support on the material plane than on the spiritual one, or on the plane of intelligence.

The yellow towers are the symbol of the force and creative and momentary power of a dream which, however, comes to appear as a stable monument, but it is only an illusion. They represent our stubbornness in the error of our ways, the refuge which we create to trap ourselves in our own mirages.

The uneven ground shows that Man is imagining towers which seem, to him, to defy time, but which are not actually able to stand on a level and solid base.

The dogs, flesh-colored, symbolize the primitive instincts, the origin of spiritual torments which assail Man and which inter into conflict with each other. They bark towards the Heavens in order to realize their own chimeras. They open their mouths in order to nourish themselves with liquids, but this nourishment does nothing except accentuate their error. As instruments of the subconscious, the dogs also suggest the intuitive feelings about the errors of the conscious mind.

The crayfish, a voracious creature, with its pinchers which cling and embed themselves, represents a kid of purgatorial state, owing to the parasitic conceptions of the individual, conceptions which stem from malevolent psychic states which appear as the color blue. It is a purification of the deep psyche brought about by suffering.

The pond represents a deep bit, and the shore which surrounds it signifies that, however deep the the plunge, Man, if he wants to climb back onto the shore, is able to find the necessary means by climbing out.

Orientation of the Figures

         The figure in the Moon is in profile, looking to the left, indicating a tendency towards confused imaginings, inactivity, suspension, the cessation of things.

Specific  and Concrete Meaning

         This Card is named “THE MOON,” in other words, the chimera, because the Moon, reflecting the light of the sun as its own light, and not actually luminous in of itself, is presenting an illusion, a mirage. It does not present reality, but is the manifestation of a borrowed existence. It does not have its own life and causes the non-existent to appear.


Meanings as They Relate to the Three Planes

         MENTAL. With respect to negotiations, untruths. With respect to a personal struggle, error. A mirage on all planes.

ANIMISTIC.  Troubled feelings, passions, with no more outcome than disorder. Jealousy, hypocondria, chimerical ideas.

PHYSICAL.  Complete obscurity. State of troubled, agitated conscience. Scandal, defamation, denouncements, the revealing of a secret.

With respect to matters of health, disorders of the lymphatic system, the need to escape from an unhealthy environment and seek out a more arid or sunlit environment.

INVERTED.  Instinct, the source of the mirage, intensifies its effects by the situation, up above the marsh. State of a conscience troubled but which remains latent, inactive.


In sum, in its Fundamental Sense, “THE MOON” represents the chimerical dreams of Man, born in the darkness, under the influence of the fermentation of the soul, subject to the pressure of one’s desires, marshy but releasing his personal torments once he is aware of their emptiness.




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[1] See Generalities about the numbers 1 through 10

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