The Moon Tarot Card Meaning
Keywords: Subconscious – Instinct – Illusions
A dog and a wolf howl below a bright moon. The dog represents civilization and waking life. The wolf represents wildness and the nocturnal. In the foreground, a crayfish emerges from watery depths. In the Key to the Tarot, Arthur Waite suggests that the crustacean is symbolic of our deepest, strangest imaginations made into a physical reality. A road stretches toward two stone towers. Beyond the towers, silvery mountains appear to morph into something not unlike choppy waters. The moon itself is personified by a pensive or meditative face. The moon’s eyes are closed to the scene below.
The Moon is the eighteenth card of the tarot’s Major Arcana. It represents mystery, wildness, the deep subconscious, and illusion.
Upright Meanings for the Moon Tarot Card
Most often, the Moon card shows up as representative of the deep subconscious and the concealed. It shares themes of secrecy and the shadow self with the High Priestess and Devil (the latter being the shadow self manifested and running amok.). When the Moon card appears, there’s more underneath the surface than you’re aware of.
It speaks to secrets and hidden dynamics at play in relationships. It can be our own internal urges and wishes that we don’t consciously realize. The Moon is the repressed things that bubble back up to the surface unexpectedly. The presence of the two towers, eerily similar to the ones in the Death card, suggests that there may be a powerful event that moves you towards the path of uncovering these secrets.
The Moon card also speaks to illusions. The darkness of night and the reflection of moonlight distorts our vision. The world doesn’t appear as familiar in the dark.
Along with these distortions, things are not what they seem. You may have information that has been manipulated or hidden from you completely. This card is similar to the High Priestess and the Two of Swords, where some information is inaccessible to you or a tarot reader. It can present as a dead-end in a reading, even when clarifying cards are pulled.
Sometimes, we are the ones deceiving ourselves. The crayfish emerging from the depths symbolizes fears and imaginations made manifest. This can point to things we’ve ignored and tampered down that are finally coming to the surface.
The Moon can hint at wildness and instincts. Here the domesticated dog runs with his ancestor the wolf. It can be a call to understand your desires that run contrary to “normal” life. In horror movie tropes, the theme of werewolves is an apt metaphor. This can be the battle between animalistic parts of ourselves and the ego. It can speak to shedding a socially acceptable part of ourselves for a metamorphosis. Maybe you need a good run in the woods under a full moon!
In traditional tarot reading, this card is historically associated with “madness”, mental illness, and emotional distress. Part of this comes from the obsolete term “lunacy” a derivative of the Latin word lunaticus meaning diseases caused by the moon (luna being “moon” in Latin). You may find some readers still using this association with the Moon card. I’d argue that some of the behaviors that could historically qualify someone as a lunatic, and committed to an asylum, were perhaps a rebellion against a repressive society. It’s something to consider when looking at whether the strange behaviors revealed via the Moon card speak to a restrictive, flawed environment.
But the Moon still dances around the tension of what we understand something as versus what it really is. It can represent nighttime tension and anxieties, particularly if it’s near the Nine of Swords in a reading.
The Moon card is sometimes connected to the otherworldly, the supernatural, and high strangeness at night. Answers to questions may appear in dreams and psychic visions. This is a time to listen deeply to your inner voice.
Love and Relationships
Relationships represented by the Moon card are often of an unexpected and unexplainable attraction. Keep in mind, traditionally there can be elements of illusion and deception in the Moon card. This in itself isn’t a red flag. We often curate what we show others. Carefully crafted dating profiles and social media feeds give us the illusion that we know someone. And let’s not even get into catfishing! When this card appears, you may not have seen the clearest picture of who this person is.
The Moon card can speak to those who are a mystery to us. This is a dreamy, artistic, introverted partner who is a puzzle to decipher. These can be deep, transformative relationships that push all parties to grow and understand ourselves better.
The Moon is an unusual card to receive when looking for a new connection. It can suggest either a subconscious belief that is holding you back – or that you really just can’t be bothered right now to look for a new relationship. And there’s nothing wrong with that! You may experience outside pressure from friends and family to abandon your lone wolf nature. Don’t give in to that pressure —when you’re ready, you’ll find someone.
Career and Work
Unless directly referring to careers related to the Moon card, this is a potential red flag in a work-related reading. It suggests obfuscation of some kind at your workplace. There’s more underneath the surface. It can speak to hidden work dynamics at play. In a practical sense, you may find higher-ups have a secret agenda.
But the Moon card can often point to strange subconscious behaviors that play out in the workplace. For example, someone who grew up with an abusive parent may act out past family dynamics when they have a harsh, authoritarian boss. The Moon tends to tap into our subconscious programming. Look at what past dynamics are at play here.
In workplace conflicts, it can suggest there’s more than meets the eye to the situation. Again, as in the previous example, be cognizant of the emotional baggage each party brings to the conflict. You may find that the solution to the problem isn’t an easy one, considering that the source could be a deeply entrenched belief.
For potential jobs and careers, the Moon suggests counselors, psychotherapists, and investigators. It can represent artists, musicians, actors, and other creatives who trawl the deepest parts of our minds for creative works. It can represent the emotional aspects of being torn between a practical job and the one you really want. For example, the 9-5 six-figure salaried individual who would be happier working outdoors in a national park.
People and Personalities
Individuals represented by the Moon card are often introverted, dreamy, and artistic. They may be a mystery to others and hard to read.
The Moon is connected astrologically to Water signs, particularly a Pisces (born February 18 to March 20).
The Moon Reversed Tarot Card Meaning
Reversed Keywords: Revelations – Denial – Confusion
Reversed Meanings for the Moon Tarot Card
The Moon reversed often represents revelations. New information has come to light. This can be a shocking experience, even if you already suspected the truth. Be good to yourself while you wrap your head around everything.
Similarly, the Moon reversed can signal a time of confusion. This can be caused by those surprising revelations or by a confused mental state. In the case of the latter, it can indicate cognitive dissonance or biases being challenged. But, be careful before jumping to conclusions in your reactions because the Moon card still carries with it an element of distortion. Step back and sort out the facts before taking action.
It can also suggest that you are denying the truth. This is not a time to put your head in the sand. Trust your intuition. Just as in the upright meanings of the Moon card, face the subconscious fears that are under the surface. Don’t’ look away even though you may be afraid of what you’ll uncover. Listen to your inner voice.
Reversed Love and Relationship
The Moon card reversed in a love reading can suggest exposure of hidden truths in a relationship. This often appears after a shakeup within an established relationship. While it sounds scary, it’s a neutral card. It can represent secrets that destroy a partnership or strengthen it. Often, it’s the latter. These truths might be unsettling at first but could lead to a stronger, more authentic bond.
With romantic partners, family, and friendships, watch out for the Moon’s connection to distortions. Make sure the information you have is accurate. Be discerning of your sources as well. What motivations does the person giving you information have? Question news that has come to you via hearsay or assumptions.
The Moon card reversed can be a warning that there are distorted views and confused feelings regarding new romantic partners or friends. Some of this could come from unrealistic expectations. Be wary of the influence of parental figures on what these relationships should look like. Get clear on what it is you want.
Reversed Career and Work
The Moon reversed for a career related reading can represent an exposure. The true nature of a situation has been revealed. Depending on the context, this can be positive or negative for you. It can denote a workplace that is disorganized, unstructured or has competing agendas.
In workplace conflicts, it can suggest a situation so confusing that it’s best to stay out of it if you can. Give yourself more time to figure out what’s really going on.
Reversed People and Personalities
Individuals represented by the Moon card may be disconnected from themselves. They may be rigid and put too much stock into what others think of them. This card reversed is a call to begin reconnecting and understanding your true wants and desires.
Numerology: 18 & 9 (see the Hermit)
I embrace the mystery of life
Some of My Favorite Examples
The Moon Card from the Circo Tarot takes inspiration from traditional Mexican folk art. Sitting next to a patch of cacti, The Moon’s familiar canine companion is still present. The Moon evokes the folk motif of La Sirena the mermaid. Some folklorists believe this figure could be connected to stories of an ocean goddess from the Marina Islands’s indigenous Chamarro people. It’s theorized that legends of La Sirena spread as Chamarro people made contact with Mexico. In tales from the American Southwest and Mexico, La Sirena isn’t just connected to the sea: she appears in lakes as well. This inspiration connects this card with both the divine feminine and the metaphysical element of water. Perhaps La Sirena appearing in a desert represents a strange, magical event.
The Victorian Romantic Tarot evokes the image of Diana from Roman mythology. The goddess Diana was the ruler of the Moon, childbirth and the wild. She’s an important influence on modern women’s spirituality. There is an air of mystery to this card, one can’t be sure if this is the personification of the Moon goddess or someone playing dress-up. Here, the line gets blurred between reality and imagination.
The Moon card in the Starchild tarot is one of my favorites in the deck. I appreciate that Danielle Noelle has focused more on the moon’s energy of quiet introspection in order to see with clearer eyes. Behind the figure, we see a faint specter of herself. Flanking her are transparent wings evocative of the Egyptian goddess Isis —hinting at this seeker’s inherent divinity and power. Behind the figure are many moons representing the lunar cycle.
Mary Shelley, the writer of the gothic horror/science fiction classic Frankenstein represents the Moon card in the feminist Our Tarot. Mary Shelly wrote Frankenstein from what she referred to as a “waking dream” after a conversation with her husband, poet Percy B. Shelly, and poet Lord Byron. These “waking dreams” were most likely Shelly in a deep, creative daydream. While contemplating the mystery of the creation of life, a thought occurred to her: what would happen if the dead could be reanimated? Her subsequent work of fiction would go on to be considered one of the early predecessors of (if not first) science fiction novels. And of course, Dr. Frankenstein’s monster went on to be adapted to the big screen and become one of the most iconic movie monsters in the West. Shelley teaches us that there’s precious gold buried in the depths of our imagination. The dark and the strange isn’t something to be feared. Creativity challenges us to examine urges and fears to uncover truths about the human condition.