When I started getting panic attacks in my late 20’s (Thank you, Saturn return!), I was fortunate enough to come across a doctor who spoke the kind of language I could relate to. He explained the process and expected duration of panic attacks, how they affect the breathing etc… but he also told me that it is often the fear of another attack that triggers the next one. It was as if the penny dropped when I realised that my mind could create or prevent future panic attacks… and the frequency of attacks instantly lessened after that.
So what do panic attacks have to do with the Tarot Moon card? The Moon is a card of fear, illusion, delusion, trepidation and feeling out of touch with reality. It can even be a card of insanity and if I had to pick a card that represent panic attacks, it would definitely be The Moon.
A.E. Waite says this about The Moon in his Pictorial Key to the Tarot:
The distinction between this card and some of the conventional types is that the moon is increasing on what is called the side of mercy, to the right of the observer. It has sixteen chief and sixteen secondary rays. The card represents life of the imagination apart from life of the spirit. The path between the towers is the issue into the unknown. The dog and wolf are the fears of the natural mind in the presence of that place of exit, when there is only reflected light to guide it.
The last reference is a key to another form of symbolism. The intellectual light is a reflection and beyond it is the unknown mystery which it cannot shew forth. It illuminates our animal nature, types of which are represented below–the dog, the wolf and that which comes up out of the deeps, the nameless and hideous tendency which is lower than the savage beast. It strives to attain manifestation, symbolized by crawling from the abyss of water to the land, but as a rule it sinks back whence it came. The face of the mind directs a calm gaze upon the unrest below; the dew of thought falls; the message is: Peace, be still; and it may be that there shall come a calm upon the animal nature, while the abyss beneath shall cease from giving up a form.
If I look at what A.E. Waite says about The Moon here, the panic attack is exactly the ‘the nameless and hideous tendency’ and my rational mind, informed by the doctor’s guidance is the ‘face of the mind’ bringing ‘calm upon the animal nature.’
The Moon brings important lessons about fear. The lesson is not that we have ‘nothing to fear but fear,’ but rather that we must overcome our fear with our rational mind – This is the most sacred duty of the logos/rational mind. Once we learn this, we become ready to fully embody our solar self in the next Arcanum. Only when we know that even the deepest darkest fears, terrors and panic attacks pose no real threat are we free to shine the light of our unique individuality into the world. Fear can then be turned into our ally and act as the canary in the coal mine rather than as a hidden influence that undermines us.
The astrological correspondence for The Moon is Pisces. Pisces prefers the loftier realms of spiritual reality, compassion and idealism, so when a person with a lot of Pisces energy incarnates, reality itself can seem terrifying. There is a vibrational mismatch which becomes all the harder to bear for the Piscean since they are also the most sensitive sign. They tend to absorb strong emotions and especially the fears of those around them, to the point of not being able to tell if the fear they feel is their own or someone else’s. The task of the Pisces energy person is to learn to discern what is what with regards to the flow of energy so that they can develop and maximise their natural gift for healing because they are indeed here to help other people with their fears… but never at the cost of their own wellbeing!
(Full disclosure: My Moon, Mars and North Node are all in Pisces.)
In the Frideborg Tarot, I chose to keep the symbology as simple as possible. Luna herself speaks of all the things discussed above and more. She affects the sensitivity and emotions of us all. In the night, she shines her soft light on the shadows so that we are able to face our fears. Luna is the root word for ‘lunatic,’ the crazy person… a person hijacked by their fears and/or delusions. Luna is also the source of all Magick.
The clouds represent confusion and the birds, flying in the direction of destruction (Pillar of Severity on the Tree of Life) represent the untrained/uninitiated mind.
In the Motherpeace Tarot, the woman who is standing in the water, as if poised for adult baptism and the labyrinth before her both symbolise initiation through a process that cannot be fully comprehended by the mind but that, if we allow/flow with it, will purify us.
There is a triple moon in the sky speaking of change/transformation and in the central Full Moon we have the illuminated mind that accepts the process fully, trusting in the divine all the way. This is the grace of the Goddess or the Higher Self, depending on your point of view.Curiosity will conquer fear even more than bravery will. — James Stephens Click To Tweet
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