The Moon

#1
A thread to discuss the iconography of The Moon
The Tarot will lose all its vitality for one who allows himself to be side-tracked by its pedantry. - Aleister Crowley

Re: The Moon

#3
The Silver Ladder of the Moon:
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Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
T. S. Eliot

Wolf/Dog and The Moon

#5
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I have always been fascinated by the two canids depicted on The Moon in many historical decks following the 16th century. While the 'wolf howling at the moon' image seems common and self-explanatory, there is a rich and very old tradition dealing with language using a dog and a wolf as metaphors for light and darkness. I doubt I can put it better than Barry Lopez did, so here is a segment from Of Wolves and Men:
It is perhaps not an accident that the wolf, a creature of the twilight hours, came and went so frequently in the expressions of a people emerging from the Dark Ages. From classical times he had been a symbol of things in transit. He was a twilight hunter, seen at dawn and dusk. From the common perception that his way of life bore some resemblance to that of primitive man came the idea that wolves themselves had taken form halfway between man and the other animals.

The link between the wolf and a period of halflight--either dawn or dusk, though dawn is more widely known as the hour of the wolf--suggests two apparently contradictory images. The first is the wolf as a creature of dawn, representing an emergence from darkness into enlightenment, intelligence, civilization. The second is a creature of dusk, representing a return to ignorance and bestiality, a passage back into the world of dark forces. Thus, in the Middle Ages, the wolf was companion of saints and the Devil alike. His howl in the morning elevated the spirit. Like the crow of the cock it signaled the dawn, the end of night and the hours of the wolf. His howl at night terrified the soul: the hours of the wolf (famine, witchery, carnage) were coming on.

The association is old enough to be the basis for the Latin idiom for dawn, inter lupum et canem, between the wolf and the dog. Another Latin idiom expresses it a bit more abstractly: Hac urgent lupus, hac canis, literally, "The wolf presses here, the dog (light) there," a reference to the dimly lit area between two fires in a Roman military camp. [Note that Lopez omits the common Latin use of this idiom as found in Horace and Cicero, among others, which can be translated idiomatically as "between a rock and a hard place."]
On some renaissance decks, The Moon depicts Luna as a woman or the goddess Diana (sometimes accompanied by a hound). What is less commonly known is that the god Apollo--who appeared as The Sun in some decks--had a strong association with the wolf as well. Apollo Lykeios (Λυκειος) was known to early classicists as both a god of light and a god of wolves (see Servius's commentary on Virgil). The pairing of wolf/light (lykos/lukos) and the interesting interplay of symbols that creates seems very in keeping with many of the divinatory meanings that have been developed for The Moon. I have little doubt that some of these deeper/archetypal meanings influenced the addition of the wolf/dog to the early trump design.

(Image above taken from something Robert wrote.)

Re: Wolf/Dog and The Moon

#6
Morgan wrote:
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The link between the wolf and a period of halflight--either dawn or dusk, though dawn is more widely known as the hour of the wolf--suggests two apparently contradictory images.
(Image above taken from something Robert wrote.)
Hi Morgan,

That's very interesting, and seems to explain an idea put forward on another thread, in which Eugim suggests that the card depicts a solar eclipse. One could look at the image of the moon (seemingly partly obscuring the sun) in this way, but it makes more sense that what is being suggested is the changeover or half-light that you mention above. Thanks - I love these moments of insight...

Going back to my previous post re. the two towers, it's a pity that the area between the two towers on the Cary Sheet moon card isn't clearer - if it depicted water and ships the link to the harbour woodcut would be stronger. I'll try to enlarge it later if I have time.

Pen
He's not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy...

Re: The Moon

#7
Enlarged detail of the central background area of the Cary Sheet Moon.

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And with extra contrast.

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I don't think it's water - the object on the left looks like a figure on a horse seen from the back, and the one on the right could almost be a bearded man. There does seem to be a glimmer of water just right of centre though, as if the foreground stream continues. The central object seems to be a building in the distance, but I can't make out what the dark rectangle set at an angle to its right could possibly be. If you look for long enough you can see all manner of things...

Pen
He's not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy...

Re: Wolf/Dog and The Moon

#8
Morgan wrote:The pairing of wolf/light (lykos/lukos) and the interesting interplay of symbols that creates seems very in keeping with many of the divinatory meanings that have been developed for The Moon. I have little doubt that some of these deeper/archetypal meanings influenced the addition of the wolf/dog to the early trump design.
I agree with your last statement and that the unclarity between dog and wolf at dusk and dawn played into the development of the card design. (There are various threads that also mention this connection from some time back, by the way)

I had not made the additional connection that you bring with the Greek - 'wolf/light (lykos/lukos)' - thanks for that. It's these additional insights that bring to life ever more deeply interconnections within the cards!
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association.tarotstudies.org

Re: Wolf/Dog and The Moon

#9
jmd wrote: (There are various threads that also mention this connection from some time back, by the way)
It is mentioned in the Gebelin/Mellet thread on AT for example :

http://www.tarotforum.net/showpost.php? ... stcount=27

It is interesting to note the proverb is rooted in a pun, it has often been observed there appears to be some proverbial and punning content in some of the tarot imagery.
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
T. S. Eliot

Re: Wolf and Dog

#10
From the Book of Lambspring, circa 1625:

Alexander writes from Persia
That a wolf and a dog are in this field,
Which, as the Sages say,
Are descended from the same stock,
But the wolf comes from the east,
And the dog from the west.
They are full of jealousy,
Fury, rage, and madness;
One kills the other,
And from them comes a great poison.
But when they are restored to life,
They are clearly shewn to be
The Great and Precious Medicine,
The most glorious Remedy upon earth,
Which refreshes and restores the Sages,
Who render thanks to God, and do praise Him.

Lambspring includes illustrations and can be found online here:
http://www.levity.com/alchemy/lambtext.html

In alchemy, the wolf represents antimony (Lupus metallorum). I forget what the dog represents but I suspect it would be gold in this context, or possibly sulfur.
"Music is nothing but knowing the order of all things" - Hermes Trismegistus

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