The Moon, which is the 18th Key of the Major Arcana or Trump, is also the 29th Path of Qoph-meaning, back of head or ear. Connecting Netzach (Victory) with Malkuth (Kingdom) , the Path of Qoph is described as the "Victory of the Material World" and/or the "deceptive effect of the apparent power of the material world". This path, is also known as the "Threshold to life", a spiritual birth that may be considered on two levels.
On one level, it is the course of incarnation where the soul organizes the physical body of which it will inhabit. It is a kind of sleep (physical consciousness not yet formed), a kind of pre-consciousness, that differentiates into mater from the collective unconscious of Netzach.
On another level, where the student is advancing spiritual awareness up the Tree of Life, it is a path of conquest of the phantoms of their "man-made" personality which are creations of the created.
The astrological sign attributed to the Moon Card is Pisces.
The path of Qoph is a probationary path, where the student must face the emotional phantoms hidden in the dark recesses of their own mind, as well as those of the race.
This path can be disturbing to those of weak moral fiber, or "those looking for love in all the wrong places" and can pose real dangers to one's emotional stability. On the other hand, those strong enough to tread this Path and slay the monsters "within" our sleep-consciousness while understanding their mechanisms, gain the capacity to manipulate those qualities in ourselves and those of others. In other words, fearlessly becoming lucid in the dream, and transforming it. Hence, mastery of Illusion is a product of this path.
As stated: The meaning of Qoph is the back of the head,and behind the head itself, is the Sun-(Hebrew word-Resh). The Moon symbolizes the anterior to the bright intellect of the Sun. The Moon, the Path of Qoph, only reflects the light of the Sun. Thus the central path of the card goes from the dark side of the Moon, towards the light side that reflects direct Sun-light. This rising act of direct Sun-light is show as the Egyptian Scarab symbol of the God Kephera (khepera), pushing the Sun towards the Moon, as shown on the bottom of the Thoth Card.
Crowley disagrees with the Ryder-Waite-Smith representation of this Key 18, as Waite believed the Moon to be on its increase. Waite's rational being that, on one level, the crayfish crawling out of the water (On his card) is the symbol of Cancer, meaning that when the Sun is in Pisces the Moon will be increasing in Cancer. As he stated," the Sun below the horizon, as he ever is when the Moon is increasing above." Crowley developed the idea of the Crayfish as a representation of the Dung Beetle, or Scarab, making the Scarab central to his card emphasizing the darker aspects of the Moon Key 18, on its last dark cycle.
Basically, the Moon -Key-18, symbolizes the rebirth of light out of hideous darkness; bright intellect overcoming the dark denizens of our sub-conscious, i.e. the illusions of instinctual fears.
In the Qabalisitic Thoth Tarot, THE HIGH PRIESTESS, is a source of pure, crystal clear waters (consciousness) emerging from the God Head-The Father, to God the Son. The Same waters of consciousness are seen here on the Ryder-Waite-Smith and Thoth Tarot Deck-the Moon card, but in the Thoth Tarot they are polluted with the dark subconscious fears of mortality, something that physical manifestation bestows on consciousness. However, as I have stated before, the traveling up the Path of Qoph, towards the "Sun/Son Consciousness", notably changes the body physiology, as the Bright Beautiful Light Intellect of the Son (Tiphareth) descends into it. When traveling up the Path of Qoph, the Personality becomes increasing aware of the Higher Self and less control by the dark fears of the body, the "lower self" where they are felt.
Paul Foster Case called The Moon, the "Corporeal Intelligence" which means the "body consciousness". Also in Hebrew the word "corporeal" means "to rain upon", which is why we see the symbols of Yods raining down from the central orb of both the Ryder-Waite and Thoth Moon card. Since this is a Watery Card, some of a more poetic bent, say that these Yod symbols are "tears of the Moon- Goddess" raining down and filling the Nile. What all Qabalistic scholars agree on is that something descends from the Moon to the Earth on the Path of Qoph, which is represented as raining Yods.
The path of Qoph is that of primitive instincts, of nature red in "both tooth and claw" which emerges uncontrolled by moral or ethical reasoning. The traveler of this Path will face aspects of themselves that our culture forces them to repress but are indeed integral and undeniable parts of our predatory human form. This is the Survival Mind, where the "law of the jungle" resides in the dark pools of violence and conquest. This can be a very cruel path to endure, until the student is able to fear not these internal demons which removes the veils of darkness, allowing in the Bright Intellect of the Son who applies beautiful reason to our consciousness.This is not implying that there is anything intrinsically evil about the Path of Qoph, as we are only experiencing the phantoms related to the density, sensuality of the Human body. The Survival portion of the animal mind, that fears pain, death and loss; fears that make nightmares in our imagination. Since, we are I-Magi-Nation, our reality is "will-ity", as the Divine Creatrix is the Power of Imagination, id est, the "Will to Form".
The simple Hebrew letter of Qoph, translates into the English word, sleep .Thus we have a conscious relationship with the Moon; the bright Sun reflecting side, our waking consciousness and the dark sunless side of the "sleeping" subconsciousness. As the Moon has cycles, so does our consciousness , as during the cyclic phase of conscious withdrawal from the physical (Sleep) many of us still act upon the fantasies and information closely related to the bodies survival based experiences. Their dreaming is filled with phantoms produced by the bodies fear of pain and/or death which once consciously transcended, is the successful completion of the Path of The Moon.
The initiate, finds that birth, death, and resurrection are pivotal concepts on the Path of the Moon. These biological processes occur in the light and dark of our sensual perceptions. The two figures of Anubis, the jackal -headed gate keepers,in the Thoth Deck card, symbolize this cyclic process life, death and resurrection, as the god Anubis was the Egyptian god of light and darkness, death and resurrection. The "As above, so below" is shown as a pattern of curved lines of energy, both above and below on the Thoth card, also reinforces this meaning.
The Two Dogs (one dog and one wolf) on the Ryder-Waite-Smith Moon card, represent the same concept, as it is understood that eventually the Crayfish must pass between the two dogs along the path and between the two desolate towers that are under the personalized Moon. Thus, the death of the body is akin to the weighing of the soul that is depicted in the Judgment or Adjustment Card.
The Moon, symbolizes the process that consciousness goes through, when energy proceeds from order to disorder (2nd law of Thermodynamics), from organized flesh to the degraded flesh of death. To understand the Path of Qoph-The Moon, is to understand the partnership of our personality-consciousness to the physical vehicle, which the Soul Personality inhabits for each manifestation. Since most people perceive themselves as having existence only through their bodies, this is often a most difficult undertaking. It pays to remember we all are a copy of the Supernal Triangle; That being, "I Will Be", "I Will Force" and "I Will Form" and/or I -AM -ME. "I"=Spirit. "AM"= Mind. "Me"=self-consciousness.
The Moon was often seen as a Goddess of Life (White Goddess of Light) and a Goddess of Death ( Dark Goddess) at once praised and then feared. It is the physical vehicles fear of dying that hounds our consciousness in many subtle ways , producing phantoms who manifest as phobias, obsessions, and mental -emotional disorders. Our consciousness, a measurement of self awareness, comes from the immortal and therefore, immeasurable Soul, and is unused to such thoughts of fear filled ending. We recycle, our consciousness, which is a "reflection" of the Soul Conscious-Personality. Bodies forget, that they are a recycled part of the Whole-Intelligent- Organic Organism, that we know as "Organic matter", represented as the subconscious of bodies. Like I have often said to my own brain (we are all a trinity of awareness)," You came from cranberries and to cranberries you shall return..." which is a slightly dark humor, that I, the psyche, uses to give the brain pause from its attempts at survival thinking. We are not a physical brain. We are Spiritual Self Awareness (souls), who are supposed to program the brain with our own soft-ware, for the purpose of experiencing the discernment of being a "living thing". Hence, thoughts, the first material of creation, can no longer be indiscriminate mental ramblings of an fear sodden imagination. They now must support life, and expand and liberate the "living" from oppressive- fear of death- based thoughts. Survival thinking is the foundation of all wars, hideous acts of violence and genocide and we, as Spirit are on founded on Self- Love based thinking where all things are of Spirit, and we are the Divine Child, produced by the marriage of Spirit and the Mind, i.e., the I AM. It is time for the Will that we are, to become the operating intelligence of the body under Love. As the I AM, we are greater than fear, hate, and the judgmental madness of survival thinking.
The Immortals, the Spiritual I AM, are here to redesign the "survival mind" of the animal body; the Me. We are the Sun's of Living Creative Conscious Energy, who must reflect upon a world of Matter, which for generations was symbolized by the Moon. For as we all know, this is the realm of "Reflected light" which is less than one percent of the total electromagnetic spectrum; a spectrum that is the medium of our " personality-consciousness". One could say, that on the Path of the Moon, the Soul learns to run the physical vehicle by expanding the brain's perspectives beyond that of life and death, into the knowledge of the Life cycles of personality construction, which include deconstruction to eliminate errors and then-resurrection to enact the Wisdom learned as evolutionary Identity.
When the Moon card is thrown during a reading the querent is experiencing:
- Dissatisfaction and voluntary change is on the horizon.
- The querent is experiencing choice and authenticity over old illusions and delusions.
- A call to enter into the darkness of the unconscious and to come to grips with one's fantasy made demons.
- Within 18 weeks or 18 months the querent must take control of the survival mind and expand it beyond its fear based perspectives.
- One must remember, that they are a Spirit who owns a body, not a body who owns a spirit; an Immortal Conscious that owns a mortal consciousness.
The Moon is about the Illusion of death, so there will be moments of lying, falsity, deception, if the card is ill dignified.
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