Let’s start our exploration of Pisces in the tarot with the Major Arcana. The card associated with Pisces is the eighteenth one, The Moon. That often comes as a surprise – you might think that The Moon in the tarot would be associated with the Moon in the sky, but no, confusingly, the Moon that orbits the Earth is linked to the High Priestess.
So why The Moon? Well, let’s think back to what we know about Pisces. It’s the mutable water sign, the sign that puts no boundaries on emotions and feelings, the sign that merges conscious with unconscious, that’s linked to compassion, sensitivity, all-encompassing love and nurturing... all qualities that have become associated with the Moon. Often referred to as a psychic sign, Pisces is interested in exploring the soul, the psyche. It opposes Virgo on the axis of ‘service’ – while Virgo wants to be of use on a practical level, Pisces wants to be involved on the spiritual level. Pisces can feel restricted by the ‘mundanity’ of everyday life; it wants to transcend this, and does so through dreams (the daydream variety or in sleep) as well as through creative expression and the imagination. The Moon card, too, is linked to intense dreams and the power of the imagination.
|The Moon: DruidCraft Tarot (trimmed)
Created by Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm,
illustrated by Will Worthington
We often see water in the Moon card, another link back to the water sign of Pisces, and the DruidCraft Tarot is no exception. Pisces floats through life, flowing with the tides – another link to the Moon. The gravitational forces exerted by the Moon and the Sun, combined with the effects of the rotation of the Earth, produce the rise and fall in sea level – the ebb and flow of the tides. The Moon is also linked to cycles through its phases – new, waxing, full, waning, old. In Will Worthington’s depiction of The Moon card in the Druidcraft, we see clearly the waxing crescent moon, although with a bit of imagination I can also see the outline of the new and full moon as well.
The shadow side of Pisces can be a tendency to escape into a fantasy world, a world of illusion – which can also lead to addiction. The Moon card is often associated with illusion – that things are not what they seem. Rachel Pollack, in her Seeker: The Tarot Unveiled (Llewellyn Publications, 2005) talks about ‘the passage through the unknown’, and how this can refer to actual journeys as well as inner ones. Either can be adventures, journeys of discovery – but both involve uncertainty. Sometimes the uncertainty can make us feel a little ‘mad’ – bringing us to the link between the Moon and lunacy (‘luna’ being Latin for ‘moon’). The dog and wolf depicted here, as in many versions of this card represent the wildness, the animal instinct to howl at the moon, to run wild, the ‘madness’ that needs to be released, the unconscious. The crab, half in water, half on land, also symbolizes the connection between conscious and unconscious.
Have you noticed how rarely people are depicted in this card? It’s often only animals...our wild side, our unconscious.
And it takes courage to walk that unknown path, not knowing where we’re going to end up or what we’re going to encounter on the way. Yes, we could fall prey to illusion or deception on the way, but fear of this shouldn’t stop us. Fear, represented in the image by the two standing stones (the Gateway of Fear that leads to Rebirth, according to the accompanying book), has its place, as the creators of the deck say in their book, “in protecting us from danger and clarifying our emotional limits....but ...fear can also be our ally and teacher”. The dog and the wolf, the Guardians of the Threshold in the DruidCraft Tarot, can become our guides, our allies, as we step into the unknown.
Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm go on to say “The challenge offered by The Moon is to confront your fears, and use your discrimination to separate truth from illusion, while at the same time allowing yourself to be open to the realm of imagination..”. By accepting the fears, the ‘madness’, the uncertainty, we gain access to instinct, to our unconscious – the goal of Pisces!
DruidCraft Tarot created by Philip Carr-Gomm and Stephanie Carr-Gomm, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections 2004