The Moon is the 18th tarot card of the Major Arcana, and it depicts a nocturnal scene in which creatures of the land and sea seem to be drawn out from their respective habitats by the gravitational pull of the Moon. This card is an invitation to confront and befriend the guardians of the threshold to our subconscious mind and our instinctual nature.

The Moon Tarot Card Upright and Reversed Keywords
The Moon tarot card upright and reversed keywords.

The Moon is associated with the element of water and the zodiac sign of Pisces, which is symbolized by two fish connected by a cord but swimming in opposite directions. In an astrological horoscope, this symbolism speaks to the inherent duality at the heart of this sign: the desire to live in the world and also escape it, the ability to dream and the proneness to illusion, the capacity for deep empathy, and the tendency toward the erosion of personal boundaries.

While The Sun is associated with success, optimism, and the conscious mind, The Moon represents the subconscious mind, introspection, and dreams. A similar comparison can be found in the sun and moon signs of an astrological chart. In western astrology, a person’s sun sign reflects the idealized self they aspire to become, while their moon sign oversees their inner essence and emotional reality.

The Moon Keywords

Upright keywords

Reversed keywords

confronting the shadow, instinctual and intuitive urges, moodiness, secrets or information withheld, illusions

repressed desires, feelings not consciously understood, emotional volatility, uncertainty, instability

Description of The Moon Tarot Card

The Moon follows The Star in the sequence of the Major Arcana cards and builds on the theme of celestial revelations. At nightfall, the light of the full moon reveals shadows that cannot be seen in the light of day (and symbolically by the light of our conscious mind). The Moon’s illumination reveals information about our hidden fears, anxieties, dreams, and illusions that emerge in the darkness of night.

In the classic Rider Waite Smith tarot deck, The Moon card shows a crawfish crawling out from a pool of water while a dog and a fox howl into the night sky. Beyond the animals lie two towers, which were featured in the background of the Death card, suggesting that we are now closer to a rebirth. A golden path weaves from the crayfish pond out far beyond the towers, indicating that in order to cross this threshold, we must encounter and integrate the instinctual and primordial aspects of self, as symbolized by the animals.

The Moon itself looms large between the towers, with a face in profile that hints at its status as a receptacle for so many mythologies throughout time and its direct correlation to nature’s movements on Earth. Its gravitational pull affects the tides, the months of the year, the menstrual cycle, the navigation of birds, and the reproduction of plants. The word lunacy, which is derived from Luna, the Latin word for moon, highlights its association with illusion, disconnection from reality, and unpredictability.

The Moon Upright Meaning

If The Star depicts reconnecting to one’s pure and authentic nature, The Moon depicts a confrontation with the subconscious and revelation of the inner self. It’s now possible to get in touch with inner fears, anxieties, and repressed desires and bring them into the light of your conscious awareness. The tension between what is consciously and unconsciously understood may be causing anxiety, worry, or creating inner confusion.

Strong undercurrents of emotion could surface at this time as you face feelings influencing your present state of consciousness. You may be trying to find clarity as you navigate conflicting states of duality—reality versus projections, dreams versus illusions, and emotions versus facts.

Because of the low visibility conditions at night, this card can also indicate that the path ahead is foggy or that the situation is shrouded in an air of mystery. The best response may be to go within and try to feel your way forward rather than looking externally for clear directives. There could be mysterious forces acting upon the situation or your consciousness that can be revealed when day breaks.

Love and Relationships (Upright Meaning)

An upright Moon can indicate that the unconscious contents of your psyche are bumping up against the unconscious contents of your partner’s psyche and creating a fog of confusion. There could be high emotional reactivity, projections, or perplexing behavior as a result of repressed desires. This card suggests that going within to understand the roots of your own emotional terrain is an important part of this stage.

This card can also indicate that hidden forces are pulling at the relationship and that working in harmony with the changing tides can help you regain your balance. These changes could lead to feelings of vulnerability and the desire to seek comfort and protection from the unknown.

Career and Finance (Upright Meaning)

The Moon can signal that you are in a liminal state of transition with your work and that you are currently trying to feel your way toward what’s next. This card suggests that this time can be best utilized by going within and asking your intuition or your dream self for the answer rather than making concrete plans. If there are repressed desires influencing your feelings, these can be acknowledged and felt in order to move forward.

This card can also represent work that is highly intuitive, emotional, or imaginative. It can speak to developing psychic or intuitive ability, connecting with your intuition through dreams, contacting your subconscious through automatic writing, and spiritual or mystical practices.

Love/relationship upright keywords

Career/finance upright keywords

emotional reactivity, projections, going within, seeking comfort and protection

liminal state of transition, contacting intuition, dream work, mysticism

The Moon Reversed Meaning

The Moon reversed suggests that your inner self is trying to speak to you through dreams, intuitive hunches, or gut feelings, but you may not be listening to or trusting these voices. It can symbolize a need to go within and tune out the external world—your intuition will lead you toward the right path. You may be trying to fight the natural rhythms of your life, and this attempt to swim upstream may be slowing you down.

It takes courage and faith to journey into the night with only the moonlight to guide you. This card is a reminder that what seems so frightening in the dark is often revealed to be harmless in the light of day. Carl Jung described this process by saying, “one does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”

This card can indicate that you’re experiencing tension in the external world in the form of confusion or heightened emotional reactivity. To unravel this tension, you must resolve it from within. If you are feeling overwhelmed by anxieties or worries, this card encourages you to examine how these might be coloring your mental health and perspective on life. Only by diving deep into your own watery depths, where the crayfish live, can you emerge with the pearls of wisdom.

Love and Relationships (Reversed Meaning)

In a love tarot reading, a reversed Moon can indicate that confusion abounds within a relationship. There could potentially be obfuscations of the truth or miscommunications, which are rooted in a lack of compatibility and a misunderstanding of one’s true feelings. There could be heightened emotional outbursts resulting from unresolved inner tensions, hormonal imbalances, or a pattern of intense moodiness that leaves you on edge.

It can also indicate that one or both partners are in denial about an issue and are having trouble resolving it because of an unwillingness to face it. There could be powerful illusions and self-deception at play, which obscure the true nature of the relationship. This card suggests going within to understand and resolve the root causes of these patterns.

Alternatively, this card can suggest that you are emerging from a period of confusion and have dealt with underlying feelings and negative energy that were adversely impacting your relationship. You can approach your relationship with a clearer understanding of your own emotional material and, therefore, with better emotional boundaries.

Career and Finance (Reversed Meaning)

In the reverse position of a tarot card reading, The Moon can indicate that you’re tuning out the urges or instincts of your deeper self. If you feel confused about which path to pursue or what move to make next, this card suggests slowing down and tuning into the wisdom of your inner voice. It cautions against making rash decisions, as misunderstandings, illusions, or a lack of information could be influencing the situation.

You could be getting in touch with fears and anxieties that are rising to the surface of your conscious awareness. This card suggests that these accumulated repressed feelings have been distorting your perspective. It’s important to distinguish between rational and irrational fears to forge a clear path forward.

Alternatively, this card can signal a time when illusions can finally be pierced, projections can be withdrawn, and clarity can emerge. If you’ve been in the process of confronting your fears and working through them, you may find that you are now ready to pursue a career path that is congruent with your deeper desires.

Love/relationship reversed keywords

Money/career reversed keywords

confusion, illusion, heightened emotionality, denial

ignoring instincts, working through fears, emerging from confusion into clarity