XVII. Luna - Selene - Moon (17, 18)

Secunda Poculi - Second of the Cup

Roris Nutrix Benigna (Bountiful Nurse of the Dew)
Hecate; Artemis, Diana; Selene, Luna.
4+5 = Celestial Eternity + II.Change/Female (Water); 6+2 = Eternity + 2.Change/Female (Fire).
3+3+4 = Eternity + II.Change/Female.
Greek Letter = Qoppa:
Qolpos = womb, depth, bosom; Quon = dog, bitch.
:I: Name: K'an = the Abysmal. Image: Water, Rain, Moon. The Second Daughter, associated with passion, danger, repetitive bending, penetration. West in Earlier Heaven.


We are looking from the edge of a dark sea towards its shore, which is lit by the narrowest crescent of a young, pale yellow moon shining in the dark blue sky. Glowing tear drops (15 white, 15 reddish) fall in three streams (5 reddish and 5 white each) from the recumbent crescent, which is open to the upper left.

A scorpion, with a scarab-shaped, crab-like body and its tail raised, has paused half in and half out of the dark blue water; silvery sparkles of light dance across the surface of the sea and glow like fish eyes in its depths. An encrustation of dried salt is visible at the water's edge.

On the reddish-brown sand of the desolate shore two canines stare at the moon, a dark wolf or jackal stands baying on the left and a white, domesticated dog, wearing a collar, lies on the right. Just beyond them, on either side of the path, are two plants. Their stems are red and veined in black, and each plant has thirty small yellow flowers, like those of marjoram. In the distance are two tall, square towers (light on the left, dark on the right), beyond which the grassy twin-peaked eastern mountain is visible in the misty distance. There is a hint of a sunrise between the peaks.

Three indistinct paths meet near the scorpion. One follows the shore to the left (north), another to the right (south). The third path (east) winds from the scorpion, becoming more distinct as it passes between the dogs, plants, and towers, until it disappears in the misty distance.


The Nascent Moon commands the sunless skies, And offers wisdom to whoever tries To cross the desert. Guardians must be Appeased to make the passage from the Sea. Approach the dreadful Dark with insight's eyes!


XVII.Moon symbolizes the last trial before rebirth, the final plunge into the unconscious sea and confrontation with its monsters before the climactic journey into the new dawn. As a consequence, ambivalence between opportunity and danger pervades the scene. We are at the far edge of Ocean, the deep salt sea at the outer limits of the world; its brine is bitter, poisonous, yet the very stuff of which we are made and from which earthly life emerged. Our baptism in Ocean is rejuvenating, yet if we do not leave its womb-like fluids, we will shrivel and die.

A primitive crustacean, which is poised on the boundary between Oceanic unconsciousness and Earthly consciousness, seems to offer a step stone for our emergence from the deep. Yet we know the crab can step backward or sideways as easily as forward, so by depending on its hard shell we risk sliding back into the Oceanic Womb.

Nor are our trials over when our footing is secure on dry land, for we are faced with a choice of paths: the right (excessive focus on conscious thought), the left (excessive focus on the unconscious), and the middle (a balance of the conscious and unconscious). If we choose the middle way, we are confronted by two canines, one domesticated, the other not. Are they tame? "Man's best friend"? Will they lead us home? Or are they wild, perhaps even rabid "mad dogs"? Appearances can be deceiving: domesticated dogs can be vicious, and wolves benign.

Beyond the animals are strange, unearthly herbs - healing or poisonous? Will they confer immortality or bring death? The middle path leads between imposing towers from which we may be attacked, but which will protect us when we have reached the distant, promised land, which looks fertile and inviting, though our view of it is hidden by deceiving mists.

The entire scene is dominated by a crescent moon. It provides but a sliver of pale light to guide our way through the darkness, and we cannot forget that the moon belongs to Hecate and her powerful witches, who may be hostile or helpful in our quest; the dogs are also hers. Yet the dewy drops falling from the orb look soothing and encourage our determination. With courage we can be reborn from the primeval waters and advance through the gates toward the dawn of a new consciousness.


Since 15.Tower is the link from earth to heaven, it leads to the "cosmic trumps," comprising 16.Star, 17.Moon and 18.Sun (Simon 49), the trumps that begin the Triumph of Eternity. Moakley (108) identifies 17.Moon with Diana, Luna and Proserpina, and in the Visconti-Sforza deck, she thinks that 17.Moon and 18.Sun are shown with sad faces because they were the victors of the Triumph of Time, but are now captives in the Triumph of Eternity (as in Petrarch's "Trionfi").

Psychologically, the sun corresponds to the conscious mind. In a man the moon corresponds to his anima, the collective unconscious in female form; in a woman it's the opposite, the moon is her animus, the collective unconscious in male form; in both sexes the personal unconscious manifests as the Shadow. Together the sun and moon are the two components of Mercurius Duplex (see 19.Angel and 21.World); the sun is hot and dry (fiery) and the moon is cold and moist (watery). (Jung, MC 101, 106, 135, 140)

In 17.Moon we make our final descent to the Underworld, and have our final confrontation with the monsters of the collective unconscious. After passing this "dark night of the soul" to the satisfaction of Mistress Moon, the Queen of the Night, we shall be reborn from the watery womb, and will be given the opportunity to cross this uncanny desert, and if we escape its dangers we will come to the fiery garden of the Sun (see 18.Sun). (Nichols 313-4; O'Neill 389; Sharman-Burke 110) Thus, in the Rosarium (1593) the Sun says: "in my sister the moon the degree of your wisdom increases, and not with another of my servants, even if ye know my secret" (Jung, MC 138).

The moon is especially associated with the goddess Hecate (Hekate), who doesn't appear in our image, yet is omnipresent through her symbols; she is hidden but pervasive, as expected of a Far-Darter: Hecate and Apollo are closely linked, for Hekate means "far-darter," which was also an epithet of Apollo (Hekatos), and Phoibe, an epithet of Hecate which means "bright, radiant," corresponds to Phoibos Apollo. That is, both Hekatos-Hekate and Phoibos-Phoibe correspond to Apollo-Artemis as hidden agents; they both were called Far-Darters because they loose the swift arrow that appears from nowhere to fulfill the will of the gods. Finally, Hecate was the daughter of Asteria (Star-woman, cf. 16.Star), who was the sister of Leto, the mother of Apollo and Artemis (17.Moon and 18.Sun). (Gantz 27; Kerenyi, Gods 35-6)

Hecate, Artemis and Selene form a lunar triad. Further, Hecate is associated with Persephone, whose name is connected with Perse and Perseis, names of Hecate deriving from Perseus (or Persaios or Perses), Hecate's father. Hence we have the trinity of Persephone (new moon), who rules the underworld, Artemis (waxing or waning moon) who rules the earth, and Selene (full moon) who rules the heavens. (Gantz 27; Kerenyi, Goddesses of Sun & Moon 3, Gods of Greeks 36,232; SB&G 73; Schimmel 60)

As described under 4.High Priestess, Hecate was purified by the Kabeiroi (cf. 16.Star) after visiting both a woman in childbirth and a funeral procession (Kerenyi, Gods 61; SB&G 73). As a consequence Hecate is a goddess of birth and death. She is especially concerned with women's affairs, including childbirth, though she is not a goddess of fertility, beauty or marriage. Hers is more the crone aspect of women (as witch, sage and midwife), although of course as Hekate Trimorphos (Three-formed Hecate, also Hecate Triformis) she represents Maid, Mother and Crone together (see 4.High Priestess).

As a goddess of death, Hecate is associated with the underworld; it was she who went to Hades' realm and negotiated the return of Persephone. She is frequently accompanied by Cerberus, the three-headed dog that guards the Gates of Hades (see 4.High Priestess), and by the Furies, the dark angels of divine retribution (and so she haunts crime scenes). (SB&G 72-3)

17.Moon emphasizes the Crone aspects of Hecate with symbols of danger, death, magic and mystery. Yet the young crescent moon is just a reversal of the old crescent moon, which reminds us the rebirth follows the darkness of the new moon. So also Hecate Trimorphos wears the triple lunar crown, comprising the young, full and old moons from left to right: )O(, the stages of life from birth to death. Kerenyi (Goddesses 33) says, "in her the lunar displays its understanding of the most secret exits and entries, of life's origin and its termination."

The fourth phase of the moon, the new moon, is invisible, as is the fourth form of Hecate, when she is called the Dark Moon, the moon goddess in her hidden, mysterious aspect (see 4.High Priestess). However, in 17.Moon we see the young moon - Hecate as rebirth - shining in the distance, beyond the trials represented by the bitter sea, the dog and wolf, the desert, and the towers. Since the preceding trump (16.Star) showed the old crescent moon, the Star and Moon trumps in sequence represent the transition from old moon, through the invisible new moon to the young moon, that is, Hecate as goddess of death then birth, or rebirth. (SB&G 73-4)

Hecate is the Goddess of Three Ways, called Triodos in Greek and Trivia in Latin, because she haunts the places where three roads meet. So also in our image, she watches over a meeting of three roads: to the right, the sunny south, where the conscious mind reigns supreme and the unconscious is neglected; to the left, the north, cold and dark, where one wallows in the unconscious and conscious thought is slighted; and the middle way, toward a new dawn in the east.

Hecate is the Goddess of the Witches, and so she represents potent feminine power and lunar magic: dark and light by turns, poisoning but healing, threatening but saving, the goddess of cyclic death and birth. She is bewitching, in both its negative and positive connotations. Hecate is the mother of famous witches: Medea, who knew the secrets of the Cauldron of Rejuvenation (in the Argonautica, Bks. III, IV), and Circe, who was able to turn men into swine (in the Odyssey, Bk. X). (Nichols 314, 317)


Medea was a priestess of Hecate and a grand-daughter of the Sun; according to some sources, her mother was Circe. Apollonius Rhodius says she is a double of the moon goddess. (Kerenyi, Goddesses 33)

Circe is the daughter of Helios (the Sun) and Hecate (or Perseis, who in some stories is one of the daughters of Ocean), representing the Moon (Hesiod, Theog. 356-7; Homer, Od. X.139; Kerenyi, Goddesses 3-4). Thus Circe corresponds to the daughter of the Dark Moon (4.High Priestess) and the Dark Sun (5.High Priest), conceived in 6.Love, who is depicted mixing potions in 7.Temperance. (The Moon and Sun were wed on the moon's 28th day, the new moon, which was considered especially favorable for weddings in Athens; Jung, MC 129.)

Circe also shows herself to be Mistress of the Beasts (Potnia Theron), connecting her with 9.Fortitude, for in the Odyssey the wild animals fawn on her like pets. There is a double entendre in the myth, for as enchanter and seductress, bewitching Circe transforms men into beasts. Love is transformative, but the consequences of love magic, which mixes love and coercion, are beastly. (Kerenyi, Goddesses 7-10; LSJ s.vv.) Her predatory behavior is shown by her name Kirke, which means hawk; it is the feminine form of kirkos, which means a circling predator, usually a bird of prey, but sometimes a wolf, or simply a circle (cf. Latin circus, circulus). In old Italy, Circe appears as a circling wolf. (Kerenyi, Goddesses 10-1, 16; LSJ s.vv.)

By casting her magic circle, the sorceress Circe circles her prey, like the unconscious mind circling and spiraling toward the integrated Self, which attracts it like a magnet (Jung, P&A 217). A touch of her wand transforms one to an animal, which, we will see, is the ideal form for the journey to the distant mountains. (For additional background see Kerenyi's Goddesses of Sun and Moon; ch. I is on Circe, ch. II on Medea.)

In 17.Moon the scene is flooded by lunar illumination, which is the reflected light of the unconscious. This illumination is feminine, indeed, virginal, for the moon always keeps one face hidden. It reveals things in a different way than the harsh, masculine, solar illumination encountered in 18.Sun, for moonshine blends and hides distinctions; it exhibits interconnection. Further, because in 17.Moon the night is dark (the moon is only a sliver), vision is inadequate and it is necessary to rely more heavily on the other senses - touch, taste, smell, and the lower senses - as do the dog and wolf. We are operating in a more instinctive realm than we are accustomed to, and courage is required to progress into the unknown. Rationality might dictate retreat, but here we must follow the heart rather than the head. Enflamed by passionate desire, we press into the darkness. (Case 185; Crowley 112; Gar 277-8; Nichols 322)

The demands of the Moon Mistress cannot be ignored; whereas the moon's previous incarnation (4.High Priestess) invited quiet introspection, 17.Moon churns the unconscious depths, and calls up primitive images that cannot be ignored, like the cold-blooded creature crawling from the sea. This is a potent source of inspiration and creativity, but it can be overwhelming. Truly, the situation of 17.Moon demands that we follow the way of the animals, for this is the first trump in which no human appears. Here, like the shape-shifting shaman, we must become wild beasts, and make the Dionysian plunge into the waters of the collective unconscious, newly agitated in 16.Star. (Gar 276; Pollack I.113-4, 116)

In this trump the moon is young, but on the eve of the full moon the rites of Hecate will be celebrated; then, "When the moon shines in her fulness the 'rabid dog', the danger that threatens the divine child, is chased away" (Jung, MC 131). The child is then free to progress to the next trump, 18.Sun. (Gad 276; SB&G 73)

The moon is the lowest planetary sphere, which is why the mundane world is called the sublunary sphere. Therefore, as Macrobius says (Som. Scip. I.xxi), the moon is the gateway to the outer planets, and partakes of both the earthly and the celestial. It is called the infundibulum terrae (funnel of the earth) because it gathers and pours out the influence of the other planets onto the mundane world, and conversely it provides the gateway (as we see in 17.Moon) and the vessel by which we ascend into the heavens. (Crowley 112; Gar 275, 280; Jung, MC 129)

The thin, young crescent moon shows that the dark of the new moon has passed, and from now on the lunar illumination will increase; the moon's pale yellow color shows that this illumination will be intuitive in nature. The lunar sickle is a sign of a rebirth that has already begun. Prior to the new moon its light was waning, which is a time of evil witchcraft and abominable deeds, now happily passed. Like the moon, we shall shine again and advance into the light of 18.Sun. (Crowley 112; Nichols 314; SB&G 72; Walker 122)

The recumbent crescent, often with droplets, eggs or stars nearby, appears in the art of the ancient Near East, India and the Mediterranean as a symbol of the Great Mother, because it is the receptive cup, which captures the Sun's fertilizing rays and holds them in the lunar womb. It is the ark or boat of fertility, and symbolizes childbirth and the earliest stages of growth. Furthermore, since the sphere of the moon is where the terrestrial world meets the celestial world, the lunar boat is a natural vehicle for traveling from one world to the other (see also 4.High Priestess and 5.High Priest). (Butterworth, Tree 107, 123; Cooper s.v. crescent; Jung, ACU 314; Walker 122)

Because it holds the lunaris humor, the lunar waters of life, the crescent moon is the Cup of Immortality, which showers droplets of Nectar (from nektar = death conquering) and Ambrosia (from ambrotos = immortal) on those who bathe in Moonshine. These droplets are scintillae - soul sparks, points of psychic illumination slumbering in the unconscious, which have been awakened by the alchemical process. (Cooper s.v. crescent; Gad 276; Jung, MC 129) The Lunar Cup also reminds us that 17.Moon is the Second of the Cups, the auxiliary of 18.Sun, the First of the Cups.

The lunar crescent appears in the mandala of the Ajna-chakra, the "third eye," which is "like the moon, beautifully white" and "cool like moonbeams," for "the moon is the receptacle of Amrta [Ambrosia], or Nectar, whose characteristic is coolness" (and, it should be noted, Nirvaana means "the Cool"). This chakra is associated with the mind (Skt. manas, Lat. mens, the alchemical salt - see below). (Butterworth, Tree 111; see the commentary on Verse 32 of Sat-Cakra-Nirupana, Avalon 394-5)

The recumbent crescent moon also represents the Cornucopia, the magical goat horn (cornu), which provides mystical food and drink (e.g. Soma, Nectar and Ambrosia). Both Isis and Helen (who is really a goddess) wear the recumbent sickle, and both hold a breast-shaped cup (cf. 20.Justice). Of course, it is Artemis/Diana who most often appears wearing the crescent, which can also represent her strung bow. When played as a trumpet, the horn sounds the primal sound Om, a source of "exalted nourishment." (Butterworth, Tree 43, 104-6, 113-5, ch. V; see also 10.Fortune and 16.Star for bountiful horns)

The crescent moon often appears with three associated objects (drops, eggs, stars) or with three sets of stripes or three columns, which represent the three principal nadis of the back (according to yoga), the tripartite Cosmic Axis, and the three pillars of the Sephirotic Tree. (Butterworth, Tree 108-9)

Macrobius (Saturnalia VII.xvi.21) tells us that moonshine moistens bodies and bathes them with hidden dew. The droplets falling from the moon are the lacrimae lunae (tears of the moon), which are discussed in two folktales. In one it is said that the Moon Mother receives the souls of the dead, and holds them in the Elysian Fields (which are in the lunar sphere) until they are ready to be reincarnated on earth. The returning souls appear as the red and white (male and female) puridia - soul sparks - descending from the moon (cf. the puridia in 15.Tower). (Jung, MC 131; Nichols 317; Walker 122)

In the other tale, the Moon collects the neglected dreams and memories that have escaped from people while they sleep; at dawn they are returned to the earth as dew. This manna nourishes new spiritual life; it is the alchemical aqua permanens (enduring water) or the aqua mirifica (wonderful water), which purifies the body by bringing about the alchemical albedo (whitening), which results in the white state of innocence. The aqua mirifica both draws souls from their bodies, and infuses them into new, purified bodies. As Jung (MC 130-1) says, "Luna, as mistress of the albedo, is the femina alba [white lady] of the coniunctio and the 'mediatrix of the whitening.'" (Gad 276, 280; Jung, MC 131-2; Nichols 314, 317-8)

In both stories the Moon Mother ensures that nothing of value is lost from the earth, but is returned rejuvenated and purified. In this way 17.Moon refructifies the Earth, for the moon is the Great Plant (corresponding to 18.Sun, the Great Animal), which promotes the growth of all plants. (Jung, MC 132)

The alchemist Michael Maier says "Luna is the ruler of the moistures," and the "Aurora Consurgens" calls her the "bountiful nurse of the dew" (Jung, MC 131). The ros coelestis (celestial dew) represents heavenly blessings, the embryo of the Philosopher's Stone. The "Hermetisches ABC vom Stein der Weisen" (1779) says this dew "is celestial and terrestrial, fluid and stable, white and reddish, light and heavy, sweet and bitter." By these contradictory properties we know it is the Elixir. (Biedermann s.v. dew)

In our image there are fifteen white dew drops and fifteen reddish. "Fifteen represents the zenith of lunar power" (Schimmel 213) since it is half of a lunar month (as reflected in the 30 flowers of the moon-plants; see below). Red and white represent male and female respectively (Cooper s.v. colours), and the duality of Sulphur and Mercury, the primal substances of alchemy, principles of coagulation and dissolution (Biedermann s.v. color). We see these, the fixed and volatile spirits, descending to earth, where they are united and embodied in the alchemical Salt, which comes from the Lunar Sea and the Moon Plants (Jung, MC 133; for Salt and the Moon Plants, see below). In this way soul and spirit come to be embodied in matter.

In Middle and Neo-Assyrian orthography, dating back at least as far as the 13th century BCE, the principal gods were denoted by numbers, and the number for the Babylonian moon god, Sin (Sumerian Nanna-Suen), was thirty. Sin's number is twice fifteen, the number of Ishtar/Inanna (16.Star), Sin's daughter, and it is thrice twenty, the number of the sun god, Shamash/Utu (18.Sun), Sin's son. Thus, in the sequence of trumps, the Moon/Sin is surrounded by its two children, Star/Ishtar and Sun/Shamash. The shields of the Three Lamps of Heaven (Ishtar, Sin, Shamash) are often found together in Mesopotamian art, wherein the usual sign for Sin is a crescent moon. (Black & Green s.v. Inana, Nanna-Suen, figs. 7, 73, 90; Parpola 182; Schimmel 213)

Parpola (177-8) associates Sin with the Sefirah Binah (Understanding, Intelligence) representing "reflective thinking, to back up inspiration" (Halevi 38). Similarly, in ancient literature Sin is described as the one "whose counsel nobody perceives," "whose profound heart no god can fathom," and "whose mind no god knows." Sin is also called Wise, Knower of Secrets, Sage of Gods, Understanding and Intelligence. Another name was Imbu (the Fruit) reminding us of the Moon Mother, the "Great Plant," and her moon-plants (see below; Black & Green s.v. Nanna-Suen).

Indeed, we will find that there is a direct correspondence between the last nine trumps and the Mesopotamian gods whom Parpola (176-84) associates with the nine higher Sefirot. This is the Sephirotic Tree with the corresponding trumps and gods with their mystic numbers, as given by Parpola:

21.World Anu=1 <P> 17.Moon 19.Angel Sin=30 Ea=60 <P> 0.Fool Mummu=0 18.Sun 20.Justice Shamash=20 Marduk=50 16.Star Ishtar=15 15.Tower 14.Devil Adad=10 Nabu=40 13.Death Nergal=14 12.Hanged Man the king Notice that 19.Angel/20.Justice form a male/female pair, as do 18.Sun/17.Moon, and their mystical numbers differ by 10. Further, across the central Pillar of Equilibrium, 19.Angel/17.Moon and 18.Sun/20.Justice form male/female pairs, and the mystical numbers differ by 30. The figures down the center (21.World, 0.Fool, 13.Death) tend to be androgynous (12 & 16 are exceptions).

Parpola (181-2) observes that the tenth Sefirah, Malkhut (Kingdom), is of a lower order (it begins the next lower sefirotic tree), and in his scheme he associates it with the king as intermediary between the gods and the people; thus it corresponds to 12.Hanged Man, the last mortal of the Major Arcana. Parpola also associates Daath (the "eleventh Sefirah") with Mummu=0, representing consciousness, and he associates En Soph (Infinity) with the god Ashshur; both are good candidates for 0.Fool following 21.World. These correspondences are explored in more detail with the appropriate trumps.

17.Moon is dominated by the color dark blue, which is especially associated with Hecate and the Moon (see 4.High Priestess). Blue symbolizes the cool lunar mind: emotional detachment, contemplation, the intellect and spiritual concerns. In our image these qualities permeate the sky and the sea - the Zenith and the Deep. Blue (kuanos) is also the color especially associated with Persephone. (Biedermann s.v. blue; Cooper s.v. colours; Jung, MC 149; Kingsley 97-9)

The sea represents the watery depth of the unconscious, within which everything dissolves and loses its form. Boundaries vanish, the ego is lost. In its murky depths the solar/conscious mind is confounded, for knowledge and clarity are impossible in its darkness; shifting moods and confusion reign. Nevertheless, the primeval sea must be faced, for it contains the waters of the collective unconscious, the source of all myths. Further progress requires this confrontation with the transpersonal. (Crowley 112; SB&G 73-4)

The world-encircling stream of Ocean - dark, deep - represents the collective unconscious. 17.Moon symbolizes the final plunge into the depths of the unconscious, and the trials to be passed as its contents are integrated into the conscious mind. Immersion in the briny Ocean brings about the alchemical dissolution, the "trial by bitter waters," and in their murky depths we experience the "dark night of the spirit." There, like every shaman initiate, we suffer complete dismemberment; we are served as a feast for the gods. It is terrifying, but the ultimate adventure. (Crowley 113; Gad 276; O'Neill 389)

The nature of the moon is most clearly seen in the ebb and flow of Ocean, the salt sea (Jung, MC 191-2). Note that the water in 17.Moon is not the Abyss (Sumerian Abzu, Babylonian Apsu), which is fresh water and lies under the earth; rather, it is Tiamat (from Babylonian tiamtum, sea) or Ocean (Okeanos), the salt sea which surrounds the earth and by which the sun returns eastward during the night, and the moon during the day (see also 4.High Priestess and 5.High Priest). (Black & Green s.vv. abzu, Tiamat) Indeed, Isidore of Seville (570-636 CE) derives mare (sea) from amarus (bitter), referring to the sal amarus (bitter salt) (Jung, MC 192). As we will see, the saltiness of Ocean is essential for the alchemical transformation of 17.Moon; as Khunrath (Von Hyealischen Chaos, 1597) says, "The whole magistery lies in the salt and its solution" (Jung, MC 190).

Ocean holds the chaotic primordial waters that contains all four elements, the prima materia, the cosmic womb, the source of all life, called Pammeter (Allmother), the matrix of all creation. Psychologically the sea is the collective unconscious, the matrix of all potentialities, that part of the psyche yet unintegrated with the conscious. (Jung, MC 193, 197, 252-3; Sharman-Burke 110)

In the Babylonian Creation Epic, Tiamat (the salt sea) mingled her waters with Apsu (Abyss), the subterranean fresh water, and so gave birth to the primary gods, especially An (Heaven) and Ki (Earth), who were created when Marduk split Tiamat in two. The world as we know it came into existence when Enlil (Air) separated An and Ki forever. (Black & Green s.vv. An, cosmology, Tiamat) Thus the chaotic waters of Tiamat (Ocean) or Typhon (the Greek name for Set) predate the separation of the opposites, conscious discrimination and the division of good and evil (Jung, MC 197). The primal waters are ambivalent; as Heraclitus says (DK 22B 61), "Sea is the purest and foulest water: for fish drinkable and saving, but for people undrinkable and destroying." Brine is poisonous, yet it preserves from corruption.

The Pythagoreans call Ocean the Tear of Kronos because of its bitter saltiness, which is a result of the corruptibility and imperfection of the prima materia. The salt that comes from this impure water (representing the underworld and moral darkness) is bitter, black and foul smelling. Yet, paradoxically, the Aqua Pontica (Sea Water) can be the Aqua Permanens (Enduring Water), the alchemical reagent of purification, and of the healing and transformation of both matter and spirit. (Jung, MC 193, 197, 199, 235, 252)

According to Jung (MC 199-201) the story of Moses crossing the Red Sea is a gnostic allegory for the alchemical process. The Red Sea represents the waters of corruption, identified with Kronos. These waters are deadly for the Egyptians, representing people without gnosis, but they are the baptismal waters of rebirth for the Jews, representing people with gnosis. By this gnosis, which is the knowledge of the personal and collective unconscious, the Jews escape from Egypt, representing the corruptible body, and cross into the desert: a "genesis without generation." Without this gnosis, we become lost in the sea's murky depths, and drown in the unconscious ocean. With it we escape into the desert (he eremos), which is a solitary (eremos) place, where the Hermet (ho eremos) lives, and where some part of the unconscious content may be brought into conscious light. (Hence the desert of 17.Moon.)

Immersion in Tiamat's water constitutes a return to chaos, mortification and putrefaction, the alchemical solutio, the complete dissolution of the imperfect body in Aqua Divina (Divine Water). This is the first step in the alchemical Magnum Opus, the Nigredo (Blackening) in the waters of 17.Moon, which will be followed by the Albedo (Whitening) on the desert, and by the Citrinitas (Yellowing) in the purifying fires of 18.Sun. (Jung, MC 197, 236)

In Greek the Divine Water is called Hudor Theion, which also means Sulphur Water, for to theion means both "divinity" and "brimstone," perhaps because sulphur was used for purification. The Divine Water is the Arcane Substance, a coniunctio oppositorum (conjunction of opposites), because it combines the polar opposites water and fire (represented by alchemical sulphur, the spirit of fire). Thus in ancient Greek rites the Holy Water was prepared by thrusting into the water a burning brand from the altar, thereby infusing the watery soul with the fiery spirit. It becomes, in Greek, Khernips (Purifying Water), in Latin, Aqua Igne Sacra Inflammata (Water Inflamed by Sacred Fire). In macrocosmic terms, the heavenly light, the masculine spirit, infuses the oceanic soul, the waters in the womb of Tiamat, and warms them; from the resulting salt sea she brings forth her creatures. Then "the spark of light of nature" shines like "fishes' eyes in the sea's depths." (Burkert 77; Fairbanks 100; Jung, MC 244, 254, 255; LSJ s.v. theion, khernips)

At the microcosmic level, according to the mage Ostanes, the Hudor Theion is perfected by immersing in sea water the vessel containing its ingredients. The combined heating and incubation by immersion is, in psychological terms, the brooding over and digesting of unconscious content that results in its assimilation and integration into consciousness (18.Sun). In more concrete terms, it is the incubation by self-heating, the state of tapas, which results from practices such as yoga. (See also below on Gilgamesh's journey to the twin-peaked mountain Masha.) (Jung, MC 203-4, 237)

17.Moon represents the unconscious, and salt is one of its aspects. Salt is the spark of the Anima Mundi (World Soul) dissolved in the dark depths of the sea (Jung, MC 244), and this spark is the daughter of the "spiritus vegetativus of creation" (Hermes - see 1.Magician). However, it is essential to realize that this is not the ordinary salt (or the ordinary sea); it is the Salt of the Philosophers, the Sal Spirituale (Spiritual Salt). We read in the Tractatus Aureus (1566):

It is said in the mystic language of our sages, He who works without salt will never raise dead bodies.... He who works without salt draws a bow without a string. For you must know that these sayings refer to a very different kind of salt from a common mineral.
Salt is necessary for rebirth, necessary for the magic of the Far-Darters, Hecate (17.Moon) and Apollo (18.Sun). (Jung, MC 184, 190, 241, 245; see also 4.High Priestess on the Far-darters)

However, before the salt can be used for this noble end, it must be purified. The alchemists call sea salt "spume of Typhon" (who is the Egyptian god Set), and say it is murderous (like Set), evil, baleful, destroying, and inflicts the incurable wound on Sulphur (as Kundry did on Amfortas in "Parsifal"). It is the sinister new moon (which occurred just before 17.Moon); they call it amarus - bitter, sharp, biting, harsh; amaritudo (bitterness) is the fire within the salt. In the macrocosm it is the fire of Tartaros, where the people who were most evil were punished, a dark and gloomy place hidden behind the steaming river Phlegethon and guarded by a gate with adamantine columns, which neither gods nor mortals could open. (Jung, MC 193-4, 239, 250, 252; Lempriere s.v. Tartarus)

Salt and fire have much in common, for example they both can be used to kill or to preserve (pickling and curing). And though salt is bitter, words for "salt" have been used since ancient times as synonyms for wit, good sense, good taste and spirit; eventually salt became synonymous with Wisdom. (I'll have more to say about salt as bitterness and wisdom, shortly.) Salt, like fire, must be subtle and refined to be used constructively. (Jung, MC 242)

The black snake-like waters of Typhon (Tiamat, Ocean) must be sublimated, and in the reflux condenser the black earth-dragon eats its own tail; it becomes the Serpent Ouroboros. The Dragon's Head is the black (or blood-red) salt left in the bottom of the retort, and the Dragon's Tail is the water that is distilled off but recollects in the bottom to be reabsorbed by the salt (consumed by the Dragon's Head). This reduction of the waters of Ocean to the black salt is the first stage of the Magnum Opus, the Nigredo (Blackening). Because of its color, the black salt corresponds to the base metal lead, which is associated with Saturn, and indeed it is the distilled essence of the Tear of Kronos (= Saturn). (Jung, MC 190-1, 204, 246, 251-2)

Next is the alchemical Albedo (Whitening), in which the salt is purified and refined, cleansed of the imperfections of the primordial waters, which can be accomplished by either washing or burning out the impurities. In this way the White Dove (the white salt), the Spiritus Sapientiae (Spirit of Wisdom), is released from the Lead of the Philosophers (the black salt). By washing (or burning) out the foul corruption, the shadow (the personal unconscious) is separated from the salt. In this way it becomes the Sal Sapientiae (Salt of Wisdom), which is the virgin and pure earth, the spark of the Anima Mundi, which pervades all things. (Jung, MC 197, 199, 235, 239-41, 245-6)

Spiritus Mercurialis, from a German alchemical ms. c. 1600

The Salt of Wisdom is Philotes, the feminine principle of Love (as opposed to Eros, the masculine principle), for it brings all things into relationship and makes a harmonia (harmonious structure) out of them; only Hermes is more powerful in crossing boundaries and joining the disparate. (Thus alchemical mercury is made from common salt.) The "Gloria Mundi" (in the Musaeum Hermeticum, 1678) says: "The mystery of every thing is life, which is water; for water dissolves the body into spirit and summons a spirit from the dead." This salt is the coagulated water of life; it is called the White Water and the Femina Alba or Candida (White Woman), who complements the Servus Rubicundus (Red Slave). The Salt of Wisdom is a cold, lunar spirit, the Wise Serpent, Nous (Mind), Agathodaimon (Good-demon), Serpens Hermetis (the Hermetic Serpent), the Lapis Occultus (Occult Stone); as a spirit it is the Avis Hermetis (Hermes Bird), which ascends to the Heavens. It is the White Dove (the Spiritus Sapientiae = Spirit of Wisdom), the pure, chaste, wise and rich Queen of Sheba (known for her combination of wisdom and femininity). (Jung, MC 131, 192, 194-6, 238, 241, 245, 257)

When the salt is purified by fire, it is called the white ash (scoria, faex, etc.), terra alba foliata (white leafy earth), and the cleansed fruitful white earth; it is called the white stone and the full moon. White salt was also identified with glass, because glass is incorruptible and transparent, and made in large part from two oceanic substances: sal soda (soda salts) and sand. Glass and salt both have the character of solidified water. Now we can see clearly the scintilla, the soul spark glowing like fish eyes in the sea's depths. White salt is identified with the soul, both the personal soul imprisoned in the body and the Anima Mundi imprisoned in matter. Both undergo the three transformations: death, purification, glorification (rebirth). (Jung, MC 194, 238-40, 244)

Salt is the source of the colors, on account of its bitterness; it is well known that throwing salts in a fire will color it. On the psychological level colors represent feelings and values (hence the connection with bitterness and wit; see below); they signal the emergence of Philotes, the feminine aspect of Love, from the salt. In particular, four colors emerge from the stone: black, white, yellow and red, which correspond to the stages of the alchemical opus (Nigredo, Albedo, Citrinitas, Rubedo; see 10.Fortune). The Hermes Bird (the ibis) also displays the colors of the alchemical opus: first its feathers are black (Nigredo), then it grows white feathers (Albedo), finally the feathers become colored (Cauda Pavonis - Peacock's Tail), which represents the Phoenix of rebirth. (Jung, MC 192, 194-5, 248) In the Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz (Foxworth translation, 1690) the Hermetic bird is described:

"Now he was wholly black, and wild, wherefore other meat was brought him..., whereupon all his black feathers moulted again, and instead of them there grew out snow-white feathers. ... At the third feeding his feathers began to be so curiously coloured, that in all my life I never saw the like colours for beauty."
The arcane character of Philosophical Salt is evidenced by its paradoxical duplicity, for it is an alchemical hermaphrodite or Rebis (Two-thing) comprising the two opposite salts: the Red King, which is Radical Fire (the root of fire), corresponding to Sulphur, and the White Queen, which is Radical Moisture (the root of moisture), corresponding to Mercury. Since water is moist and cold, salt is called the "moist-fiery-cold spirit" (hugropurinopsukhron pneuma). (Jung, MC 196, 250)

The duplex nature of salt is also apparent in its association with lunar moisture and with terrestrial dryness, that is, with the elements water and earth, which are feminine, and share the quality of coldness (representing the tendency to mix and join). In psychological terms, salt is associated with bitterness and wisdom - Sal Amarus and Sal Sapientiae; on one hand is rancor and decay, on the other is wisdom and preservation. As water and earth share the cold quality, so bitterness and wisdom share the feeling function of consciousness, but this requires some explanation. (Jung, MC 245-6)

Salt, corresponding to the nature of woman, carries the alternative between bitterness and wisdom, which has its roots in disappointment, for there are two responses to disappointment. Either we may become bitter at the fate we have been dealt, or we can apply reflection and rational insight to our feelings of disappointment, and so attain wisdom. Wisdom is itself a Coniunctio Oppositorum, for it unites fire and water, the two vehicles of purification, that is, feeling and thinking (Sulphur and Mercury). In this way the foul black salt of bitterness is transformed into the pure white salt of wisdom. (Jung, MC 235, 246-9)

Opposing the feminine, lunar elements, water and earth, are the masculine, solar elements, fire and air, which share the quality of being hot, which is the force of action and separation. However, these opposites are not completely symmetric. During the day, when the Sun holds sway, his face is always bright (except during eclipse - see 6.Love), but during the night, when the Moon holds sway, her face is sometimes bright and sometimes dark. Therefore, like the moon which is darkened every month by Nature's law, women are regularly confronted with their dark side, which they consequently acknowledge. Man, however, has the illusion that the brilliance of his mind, like the sun, is never dimmed (so long as he suffers no disappointment), and so he is inclined to attribute his own dark side to women, who regularly present their dark face, inviting his disappointment and blame. These feelings engender bitterness in many men, but they can be a source of wisdom for men who acknowledge the Sol Niger (Black Sun) in their own psyches. (Jung, MC 247-8)

The reddish-brown or ocher-colored sands of the desert represent the trials that must be passed in getting from the depths of the sea to the distant mountains. Brown represents earthy matter, spiritual death, degradation and renunciation; it is Subterranean Love and the Dark Fire. Red represents the desert and calamity, but also the renewal of life and the fortitude necessary to cross the desert and achieve that renewal. The color of these sands was abhorred by the Egyptians as the color of the god Set (Typhon). (Biedermann s.v. brown; Cooper s.v. colours; Nichols 313)

The desert is crossed by the Serpentine Path, which wanders from side to side and undulates over hill and dale, to climb slowly into the Eastern Mountains. The Way avoids wandering too far toward either the conscious (right) or unconscious (left) sides, and though the Way is upward overall, sometimes a descent into a valley is necessary to enable further ascent. (Case 186; Gad 283)

The earliest versions of the Moon trump show astrologers with calipers and the like, though the 15th century Visconti-Sforza deck and several others show a woman, apparently Diana, holding a crescent moon (Kaplan I.27, 40, 50, 52, 73, 115, 117, 118, 129, 135). The "crayfish and two dogs" image seems to date back to the eighteenth century, for example the Piedmontese (Tarocchi of Venice), Mayer, Marseilles, Payen and Court de Gebelin decks (Kaplan I.48, 136, 139, 148). The early sixteenth century Rosenwald deck (Kaplan I.130), which shows just a face in a crescent moon, might represent an intermediate form.

The crayfish is an ambiguous symbol: sinister, yet foretelling resurrection. We are not even sure what animal is depicted on the trump. Though in most contemporary decks it appears to be a crayfish, it is conventionally identified with Cancer the Crab, a feminine watery sign, since that is the only sign ruled by the Moon (Gad 282; O'Neill 388). Perhaps we are being too finicky, for Jung observes (ACU 342) that in antiquity crabs and crayfish (long-tailed crabs) were hardly distinguished. Furthermore, the image is similar to ancient depictions of the scorpion (e.g. Black & Green fig. 130), and it has been identified with the Scarabaeus Sacer (sacred scarab) (Crowley 112; Gad 282; Nichols 317). Perhaps it is safest to say that it is a generic hard-shelled, cold-blooded creature upon which we may step (Nichols 317), but which may bite our foot. Advancement is risky.

We begin with the scorpion. According to Biedermann (s.v.) the scorpion has always been associated with deadly menace and truth, an apt symbol for this final confrontation with the depths of the unconscious. In the Babylonian Creation Epic, the scorpion-man was one of "Tiamat's Creatures," the eleven monsters she bore to attack Marduk; however he defeated them and threw them into Apsu (the Abyssal Waters). Here we see the scorpion, representative of primordial, chaotic powers, poised at the edge of the briny deep. (Black & Green s.v. scorpion-people, Tiamat's Creatures, figs. 7, 90, 130, 131)

The scorpion was a symbol of Ishhara (Black & Green s.v. scorpion), who, we have seen, was often identified with Ishtar (16.Star), which suggests that the creature at the edge of the Oceanic depths is in fact the Astral Woman emerging from her last plunge in the brine of rebirth. Further, in Babylonian astrology this same scorpion became the sign Scorpio, which is a symbol of resurrection, mystical illumination and the occult (Biedermann s.v. scorpion), and in Sumerian mythology crabs, scorpions and lobsters are all associated with the Lady of the Waters (Cooper s.v. crab).

Indeed, the hard shell of our crustacean recalls the armor (the exoskeleton) of 13.Death. In Egypt the scorpion goddess Selket protects the dead (Cooper s.v. scorpion), and Khephra, the scarab beetle, symbolizes resurrection. Like all cold-blooded creatures, the scorpion/crab symbolizes immortality, but immortality joined with the universal fears of the collective unconscious - "the nameless and hideous tendency which is lower than the savage beast" (Waite 140), a stratum of the psyche lower than the reptilian brain. (Crowley 112; Nichols 317, 321; Pollack I.115)

We also recall the scorpion that Artemis sent to kill Orion and his dog (for this story see 6.Love, where the scorpion and dogs also appear). The dog is Sirius, the Dog Star or Star of Isis (the central star of 16.Star). Similarly, Hera sent a crab to bite Heracles on the foot when he was trying to slay the Lernean Hydra, and Propertius warns (Jung ACU 343):

Octipedis Cancri terga sinistra time. (Fear thou the ill-omened back of the eight-footed crab.) Cancer the Crab is associated with danger, with illumination and, because it sheds its shell, with rebirth (Biedermann s.v. crab; Gad 282; Jung, ACU 342). Another reason the Crab symbolizes rebirth is that the heliacal rising of Cancer signals the flooding of the Nile and the beginning of a new year (Jung, ACU 343). Yet the Crab is an ominous new beginning, for Cancer holds the summer solstice, when the Dog Star is at its highest point and the Sun begins his retreat, and after which the darkness encroaches more on the light each day (Gad 282; Jung, ACU 343). The Chaldean astrologers say a new world begins when all the planets return to Cancer - the "dark night of the cosmos" (Walker 124).

The crab is a symbol of the qualities required to escape from the unconscious sea. Like it, we must have a tough shell to resist the dissolving power of Ocean's bitter water. However, such a hard shell will eventually restrict change and growth, so progress requires that it be shed and that we face danger as a psychological foetus with our new, soft inner shell. (Nichols 316; O'Neill 389)

The crab is known for being able to run backward or sideways, which has given us the verb "to crab." Thus the crab of 17.Moon may be advancing onto the land or retreating back to the Pelagic Deep. In the Speculum Imaginum Veritatis Occultae (1714) Masenius says that the crab "depends on the moon and waxes with it." But this waxing must occur when the crab retreats to the water, its element, for the moon is considered feminine and watery, like the crab. Indeed De Gubernatis (II.355) argues that the crab stands for the moon when it is retreating and for the sun when it is advancing. (Gad 282; Jung, ACU 342-3).

If the moon dominates, then the crab moves backwards, drawn by the regressive pull of Mother Nature into the ocean of the collective unconscious (i.e. 16.Star). Such is the fate of those who lack courage, or who become mired in self-consciousness and excessive examination of their own past. (Gad 283; Nichols 284, 314; Simon 49)

When the moon wanes and the sun dominates (as the summer solstice approaches), the crab advances boldly onto the land and escapes from the Deep; it is on the path that will lead it to rebirth in the land of the sun (18.Sun). In this way instinctive patterns from the unconscious are exposed to conscious illumination, and the compulsion to repeat these patterns is discharged. Ritual is one mechanism for thus leading Tiamat's Creatures from Ocean's murky depths into the sunshine. (Gad 282-4; Walker 124)

Canines establish many connections within the Major Arcana. On 4.High Priestess we see the black three-headed dog Cerberus; on 5.High Priest there is a dark wolf; on 6.Love we see three black dogs, Diana's two and Orion's Sirius; on 8.Victory we see the wolf again; on 17.Moon we have the dark wolf and white dog. The dog has many associations, but especially it symbolizes the transforming substance - gentle to those who know it, terrible to those who don't (see Jung, MC 146-60; cf. the alchemical salt).

As symbols of vigilance, dogs are often found guarding the gates of the underworld. Black dogs are especially associated with Hecate (her "dogs of war"), and the goddess sometimes appears dog-headed; Cerberus, the three-headed dog who guards the gates of Hades, the Spirit of the Pit, often accompanies her. Thus, when dogs bay at the moon it is taken as an omen that someone will die; in fact, they are welcoming Hecate, who is the "Angel of Death." Dogs are also associated with the gloom of dusk and dawn, and, like scorpions, with deadly forces. They can be spirit guides between this world and the others (as they were for Orpheus, Heracles and Aeneas when they visited the underworld). Dogs are associated with messengers and crossroads, and so they accompany "Hecate of the Three Ways" and "Hermes of the Four Ways." At crossroads the Hounds of Hecate might show us the way, or they might tear us limb from limb (cf. 6.Love). These dogs must be placated and tamed, not killed or conquered by physical force (cf. 9.Fortitude); if they can be convinced to help, they become the shaman's guide animal. (The dog as psychopomp accompanies both the healer Asklepios and the magician Hermes.) Thus animal nature is harnessed so that it can guide us through the dark. (Biedermann s.v. dog; Cooper s.v. dog; Gad 281-2; Nichols 315; SB&G 73; Walker 123)

Jung (ACU 378) explains that dogs may represent the conscious mind "scenting and intuiting" the unconscious, and therefore the fascination felt for it by consciousness. Thus the dogs in this trump are held spellbound by the moon.

Canines are associated with the Underworld because they eat carrion, and the dog that carries souls to the underworld is named Lupus (wolf) or Feronius (Fierce). Canines are connected with other spirit guides: with Apollo Lukaion (Wolfish Apollo, after whom Aristotle's school, the Lycaeum, was named), who mated with Artemis, Lady of the Beasts; dogs are also associated with Shiva and Anubis. (Walker 123)

In Assyrian mythology, the gateways to the Underworld and the Abyss were often guarded by pairs of animals or animal-men. One Akkadian cylinder seal shows two animals (dogs? lions?) on two towers, the Twin Gates guarding the Eastern Mountains, where Utu (Shamash), the sun god, appears at dawn; in other cases the guards are the scorpions of Ishhara (Inanna/Ishtar). Utu was the son of Nanna (Sin), the moon god, and the twin-brother of Inanna/Ishtar (16.Star). (Black & Green s.v. gatekeepers, Nanna-Suen, Utu, fig. 152; Cooper s.v. scorpion; see below on the Eastern Mountains) Nevertheless, "the dog heals by rebirth into a new life; its fidelity survives death" (Cooper s.v. dog).

Alchemically the wolf and dog represent Mercury Duplex (Cooper s.v. dog), who is conceived when the Red Slave (Sun) and the White Woman (Moon) mate in the form of beasts (for in this work the instincts are more important than the intellect). As Kalid ibn Jazid (c. 700 CE) wrote in the Liber Secretorum:

"Hermes said, My son, take a Corascene dog and an Armenian bitch, join them together, and they will beget a dog of celestial hue, and if ever he is thirsty, give him sea water to drink, ... and he will help you ... in this world and the next." (Jung, MC 147)
The Payen tarot deck (1743) has a dark dog on the left and a white dog on the right (Kaplan I.148), as does our image. The white dog is on the right because that is the side of the conscious mind; it wears a collar to show that it is domesticated; it is lying down, well-behaved. The dark wolf or jackal is on the left because that is the side of the unconscious; it has no collar and is baying at the moon, to show us the untamed, primitive, instinctive behavior of the unconscious. The path leads between the two canines to show that the way is between the extremes. (Case 186; Nichols 320)

We are passing through a strange, uncanny land. Our past knowledge and experience is little help here; better to submit to fate, accept the potion of the moon sorceress Circe, shape-shift to animals, and follow our instincts - bay at the moon like the dog and wolf, and try to pick up the elusive scent. It is significant that 17.Moon is the only trump that contains no human form, mortal or immortal; this realm is alien to humans, and the only way to find our way is to trust our animal instincts. (Nichols 313-5)

If we successfully negotiate our passage with the canine guardians, then we encounter the exotic moon-plants. Prudence (a human virtue) urges that we pass them by. Yet they could be the golden plants of immortality sought by the heroes of many myths. Or they could be lunacy-inducing poisonous drugs. A gamble. (Nichols 313)

Perhaps we have found the Plant of Life, called The-Old-Man-Has-Become-a-Young-Man (Shibu Itstsakhir Amelu) in the Gilgamesh epic (tablet XI, col. vi). When he visited Ut-napishti, the only immortal man, who lives beyond the bounds of the encircling salt sea, Gilgamesh was told about the plant, and he obtained it by sinking into the Deep. However, when he returned to the water to bathe, the Serpent took the plant from him, and thereby became immortal (through shedding its skin). It is perhaps the same as the Plant of (Re-)Birth (Shammu Sha Aladi), which Etana sought by travelling to heaven on the back of the Eagle, whom he rescued from the Serpent, who was taking revenge on the Eagle after he had eaten the Serpent's young. (Black & Green s.vv. cosmology, Etana, plant of life; Butterworth, Tree 154-5; Gardner & Maier 251) These are of course common motifs of shamanic journeys, into the Great Deep and the Great Above, respectively. We saw the Serpent and the Eagle on the Trees of Knowledge and Life in 16.Star, and they compete over Prometheus in 12.Hanged Traitor.

These plants are the miraculous Lunatica (or Lunaria), "whose roots are metallic earth, whose stem is red, veined with black, and whose flowers are like those of marjoram; there are thirty of them, corresponding to the age of the moon in its waxing and waning. Their color is yellow." This according to Galen (Jung, MC 133). Lunatica is found beside or in the Maris Luna (Lunar Sea); the alchemist Heinrich Khunrath (1597) writes, "From this little salty fountain grow also the tree of the sun and moon, the red and white coral-tree of our sea" (Jung, MC 133-4). This moon-plant manifests on earth the celestial power of the moon. The yellow flowers represent the flowering of the intuitive faculties, growing on a stem of sensation (black) and feeling (red).

The two dogs guard the Gate of Death: two towers, each with four sides, representing the bounds of knowledge, for the Tetrad is the number of order and law (see 3.Emperor, the fourth trump, and the Fours in the Minor Arcana). In passing through the gate we leave the sterile domain of the known and enter fertile but unknown regions. As the Ego passes through the Shadow of 17.Moon the two are wed and give birth to the Self. (Case 186; Gar 281; Nichols 320; Walker 123)

The two four-sided towers together have eight bounding walls: a symbol of the (illusory) completeness of our old knowledge: from within they are impenetrable, and there seems to be no way out. (Note 8 = 1+7 = 17, the number of this trump.) Yet we can see that the grass is greener beyond the Eightfold-Guarded Entrance to the Underworld. (Gad 281; see also the Eights in the Minor Arcana)

The light and dark towers represent, respectively, the personal conscious and unconscious psychological structures. However, the conscious tower is on the left (unconscious) side, and the unconscious tower is on the right (conscious) side (as in Manly Hall's deck). Thus each component of the psyche is balking its opposite. Nevertheless the contrasting pairs along the path show the progressive integration of unconscious content into consciousness, and the resulting inner balance. (Jung, ACU 344; Nichols 314, 320; Sharman-Burke 109)

The journey of 17.Moon is described in the ninth tablet of the Gilgamesh epic, which I've paraphrased below from the Middle Babylonian version of the (seventh century BCE or earlier) exorcist-priest Sin-leqe-unnini (Black & Green s.v. Gilgamesh; Tigay 12; see Gardner & Maier for text). (Bracketed numbers give column and line numbers on tablet IX.)

Gilgamesh approached Mount Mashu, Twin Peaks, [ii.1-2] reaching from the Heavens to Arali, [ii.4-5] "Mashu" means "twins" (Gardner & Maier 199), which is the Eastern Gate of the Underworld, whence the Sun begins his daily journey (Black & Green s.v. Utu; recall also the twin peaks in 7.Temperance). Arali (or Arallu) is the place where Inanna granted to Dumuzi and Geshtinanna "the gift of eternal life and death"; it is described below (Black & Green s.v. underworld; Wolkstein & Kramer 167). Land of Demons on the pathway to the Great Below. The Twin Peaks are the Gate that guards the going and the coming of the sun god Shamash. There the hero's visage [ii.3] darkened when he saw the dreadful Scorpions, [ii.10-11] Man and Woman, Guardians of the Gateway, [ii.6] who observed that Gilgamesh was made of flesh that's two parts god and one part human. [ii.13-16] The semidivine nature of Gilgamesh recalls the Orphic grave tablets, where the deceased addresses the Guardians of the Lake of Memory: "I am a child of Earth and Starry Heaven; but my race is of Heaven (alone). This ye know yourselves." (Cornford 60) So they questioned Gilgamesh, who answered, [ii.17-23] "I desire to learn of Life and Death." [iii.5] The Scorpion Folk discouraged his pursuit, but [iii.6-8] he persisted in his quest. The Scorpion [iii.9-] Man described the path, the Solar Road [kharran ILU-shamash] that crosses through the Peaks toward the lightless Core, a dangerous journey that requires a dozen double-hours [beru]. But Gilgamesh, [-iii.11] by inner grief consumed, implored the Gate be [iv.33-36] opened, and the Scorpion Man consented. [iv.37-43] Gilgamesh proceeded through the shadows, [iv.44-] nor could he perceive what was to come or what had gone before. And so he went in darkness seven double-hours. But - [-v.34] in the eighth the Fire flared within him. [v.35-37] The fire within is the body heat of ascesis (practices such as the tapas of yoga), which awaken Kundalini at the base of the spine; it signals Gilgamesh's approach to the Dhyana state, where he comes into the light of 18.Sun. (Butterworth, Tree 88, 134; Eliade, Yoga 36, 311-41) Then within the eleventh double hour he saw the shadow of the sun god Shamash [tsilam ILU-shamash]; [v.45] This first hint of light, the paradoxical "shadow of Shamash," corresponds to the Dark Sun (Sol Niger); see 5.High Priest. when the twelfth had come the Light burned brightly. [v.46] Gilgamesh beheld the Garden of the Gods, a joyous grove of growing gems, with [v.47] glistening leaves of lapis lazuli, and [v.50] fragrant hanging fruit of red carnelian, [v.48-49] welcome to the weary eye and spirit. [v.51] Gilgamesh beheld the sun god Shamash. [conjectured for col. vi] The tablet ends with the arrival of Gilgamesh in the magical Garden of the Sun, in which grow gem-plants with red fruit and blue-green leaves (see 18.Sun).

The Moon begins a series that repeats at the universal level the same Hieros Gamos (Sacred Marriage) that already appeared at the personal level. That is, 17.Moon, 18.Sun, 19.Angel, 20.Justice recapitulates 4.High Priestess, 5. High Priest, 6.Love, 7.Temperance. The constant difference is 13, the number of transition from the temporal to the eternal (cf. 13.Death).

Kerenyi (Goddesses of Sun & Moon 32) say, "Seven is a lunar number: seven days signifies a quarter moon: twice seven signifies the moon's waxing or waning." (See also Schimmel 129-30.) Therefore 17.Moon corresponds to Seven in the second Hendecad of the Major Arcana: The numerical value of TRIODOS H QEA (Triodos He Thea, The Goddess Trivia, Hecate) = 777, which reduces to 7-7+7 = 7. Also, DESPOINA EKATH H QEA (Despoina Hekate He Thea, Mistress Hecate, The Goddess) = 777, which also reduces to 7.

The Pythagorean interpretation of the Heptad is a turning toward a new, spiritual direction (see also the Sevens in the Minor Arcana). The heptad also ties together four different trumps and shows us that the same unconscious sea appears in each. The first is 6.Love, the heptad in the first hendecad, in which Artemis/Coronis emerges from the Pool; 7.Temperance, where Iris/Hebe mixes the water and wine; 16.Star, since 1+6 = 7, in which Rhea/Aphrodite refreshes the Pool of Life; and 17.Moon, the heptad in the second hendecad, in which Hecate/Artemis watches over the waters. (Case 185; Walker 123)

The journeyer through the lunar landscape might find it helpful to repeat the following "Hymn for the Nascent Moon," which I've paraphrased from the Carmina Gadelica (306):

Whene'er I see the Nascent Moon, With upturned eyes I sing this Rune, And bend my knee upon the ground, And bow my head in thanks profound. For Thee my praises, Guiding Light, That Thee I've seen this very night, That Thee, the Nascent Moon, I've seen, Thou glorious Guide on whom I lean. I think on those who've left us, too, 'Tween now and last the Moon was new, While in the earthly realm I've stayed, Thou Moon of Moons and Holy Aid.
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Last updated: Fri Jun 23 11:08:01 EDT 2000