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La Lune - The Tarot Christmas Card

Updated: Jul 22, 2020

The Moon card is full of surprises. There are four key symbols, the crustacean, the dogs, the buildings, and the Moon herself. We saw in The Star card a naked woman who in many versions of the Marseille Tarot appears to be pregnant. It’s possible that The Moon card, since it followed The Star card, could actually be a birth card. But where is that in the symbolism?

In her JSTOR published article, “June’s Zodiac Sign & ‘Lobster-Like’ Crabs“, Jessica Savage writes, “Well into the seventeenth century, the word ‘cancer’ and its translations were used as generic terms for all crabs and lobster-like creatures...So, etymologically speaking, crabs, crayfishes, and lobsters were mingled together from very early on.” Astrologically speaking, the Moon and cancer were related.

Three of the key stars that make up the constellation of Cancer give an important clue to understanding the deeper meaning of this card. Cancer as a constellation is not particularly bright, but at its centre is a star cluster known as Praesaepe, which means “manger” or “crib.” The two stars flanking this cluster are called (gamma) Asellus Borealis and (delta) Asellus Australis. Aselli (the singular of Asellus) was the Greek/Latin word for donkeys or asses. This lead to the idea that this grouping of stars symbolised the manger where Christ was born, which always included asses. Being symbolic of the birth of Christ, it can be extrapolated that this card is announcing the birth of the Christ in the Fool. In other words, the Fool, in having become pure in heart, is now fully aligned with the Christ. Instead of being the ‘son of man’, he or she is now, the ‘son of God’.

The Fool qualifies for this birth because they have relinquished their attachment to the world of The Magician and have adopted both the corporeal and spiritual Works of Mercy as their way of life. The Fool has replaced their penchant for acting with pride, wrath, greed, lust, envy, gluttony and sloth, with seeking to be aligned with the Gifts of the Holy Spirit - knowledge, understanding, wisdom, piety, fortitude, taking counsel and maintaining an awe of God. This was all symbolised in The Star card. All of this means that the Fool has become pure in heart. This is the being ‘born of water’ that Jesus referred to in the Gospel of John, the first of two births that the Fool had to experience in order to enter the kingdom of Heaven. The second was being ‘born of the spirit’ which will unfold a little later in the Fool’s journey.

The sixth Beatitude said, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” This is the face reflected in the moon. With the emergence of the Christ, when you have seen the son, you have seen the Father. In the early Greek translations of the Bible, the origin for the word pure, used in this context was katharos, which was also the root of the word cathar. The Cathar were in essence “the pure”. This level of purity was what was necessary for the Fool, as the emerging Christ, to pass the next gatekeepers, the dogs. They, like their Egyptian forebear Anubis, the Great Dog, would check that the new initiate (in this case the Fool) possessed the Odour of Sanctity. You were sanctified if who you be, matched what you taught. If they were congruent, then you could take on the next phase of service, as the newly initiated Christ.

The buildings are the next revealing symbol in this part of the Fool’s journey. As the newly appointed Christ, your role is to be a ‘light unto the world’. In the Sermon of the Mount, Jesus describes the symbolism of these buildings. “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill can’t be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel...” Now he goes on to explain the key role of the Fool as the Christ, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

The Moon card is defining the role of the Fool as the newly born Christ. The Cathar believed that we all have the potential to adopt the role of the Christ and that Jesus was the first to show that it could be done. Through the symbology of the The Moon card they were also explaining what the Fool would doing - letting their light shine. As you would imagine, what Jesus modelled as the Christ set the benchmark for what the Fool would now be expected to do.

I am very sorry if this went too churchy! But from the Cathar perspective, this is what they would have meant this card to mean. That is why The Moon card could well be called The Christmas card.

(The image of The Moon card included in this article is from the Tarot de Marseille {Edition Millennium © 2011 FJP Paris)

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