Cold hearted orb that rules the night
Removes the colors from our sight.
Red is grey and yellow white,
But we decide which is right.
And which is an illusion?
--Graeme Edge (The Moody Blues)
The Moon. Mother of mysteries, forever linked to dark forces; natural, untamable forces, the feminine, the tides, and unstable currents, moods, and times. The myths surrounding her cannot be shaken loose, though statistics, science and rational thought have debunked the notions that homicide rates, birth rates, menstrual cycles, earthquakes and lunacy are effected by the moon's gravitational pull. Nevermind science and rational thought. What have they to do with the moon anyway? We humans are a funny lot and we will persist in what we feel to be true regardless.
The only one out of my four babies' births I predicted correctly, against the doctor's little wheel-chart thingy which gave a date entirely too early, I calculated by counting lunar cycles. He gave me a due date of November 26 and I sat eating Thanksgiving dinner with the bun still in the oven. I knew, however, that moonwise she was more likely to make her grand entrance sometime around December 5. She hesitated but two days and birthed herself on December 7. So don't get me started on science.
The Moon card in Tarot's Major Arcana is itself mysterious and difficult to navigate and comprehend. Interestingly, the Moon card in the later esoteric decks strongly resembles the Moon in the earlier Marseilles decks. While other decks of the same time period have different iconography, often having to do with Diana, goddess of the moon, or being "moonstruck" either in love or lunacy, the earliest printing of tarot cards show the Moon card pretty much as we see it portrayed in the Rider-Waite-Smith. All feature the Moon front and center, the two towers or buildings in the background and the lobster coming forth from the water in the foreground. The lobster was probably meant to symbolize the Cancer crab. Who knows, maybe crabs aren't abundant in France and Italy? The dogs howling at the moon also appear in the earlier, though not earliest, images. The association of the moon with instinct and wildishness is pretty timeless, pointing out that even domesticated beings have within them untameable forces.
I particularly like the image on the Minchiate Etruria card of an astronomer with a sundial in his lap and in my deck he seems rather upset that he cannot navigate under the moon's faint deceptive light. I've come to associate distressing times with this card, times during which you have no idea which way to go or what to do because all your external information and stimuli is confusing. Fear, too, is associated with this card, as being in that state of confusion is quite frightening and disturbing. Mental illness is sometimes indicated by this card, too. I've had it appear as a warning that someone close will soon be acting a little, or a lot, crazy. It can show up to indicate cycles and phases, so at least you know that if things are a bit looney it is a phase and will pass.
I could get into a rant here about how the ancients associated things dark and negative to the feminine. Yes, why don't I? Hysteria was seen as a woman's ailment, you know. Where do you think the word hysterectomy comes from anyway? The notion that a woman's mysterious, hidden sexual reproductive organs caused all manner of mental disturbances has been prevalent since the Greeks at least, who thought the uterus free floated around inside a woman's body. The very process of reproduction is hidden and it is mysterious, but it isn't a dysfunction. There are still medical doctors today who call pregnancy a "diseased state" fergoshsakes. Because a healthy female body shouldn't get pregnant? No, no, brothers, it's a normal, healthy state. Just because it doesn't happen all the time, round the clock, doesn't mean it's a disease. In fact, a woman's body in some ways is made stronger and healthier the more pregnancies she has, the more babies she has nursed, the fewer periods of menstruation she has had. The estrogen is necessary for her health, her skeletal structure, and yes, her moods. We don't corner the market on moods and at least ours often have a biological basis. While the moon has long been associated with the feminine, it is the divine feminine, the Goddess she represents. If you find her dark, mysterious, and a little freaky, well, it's not like Gods are all even tempered either.
The Moon can indicate moodiness, grouchiness, shifting moods and swings. Mood cycles, emotional upsets, and unpredictable behavior. Like the Moon, though, the source is natural, not unnatural, and not due to any external event but more an organic part of the person. Their own natural tides ebbing and flowing. In relationships it can indicate that a person is strongly drawn to another, subconsciously, irresistably, instinctually, even though that attraction causes them some concern and wariness.
When the Moon comes out in a reading, it comes as a caution. It indicates things aren't necessarily as they appear and you must tread carefully. The light is dim, and what light there is casts shadows of spooks and bugaboos that may or may not really be there. Much can be hidden in that darkness: deception, illusion, and unnavigable paths. It's a signal that you may not be able to rely on what you see, so you'll need to use your other senses, such as your intuitive sense predominently, in order to find your way safely through. Call on the High Priestess for help and with her intuitive guidance, you will be ok.
Image credit: Bad Moon Rising By jachang for the Song Titles 8 contest at Worth1000.com