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Tarot Stories: The Moon and the Writer's Triad Mind

Psychiatrist Carl Jung posited a human collective unconscious informed by complex psychological phenomena such as instincts, feelings, repressed memories, and other internalized cognitive processes. In that regard, I believe the writer’s mind is a collective, more specifically a trinity of thought centers—the conscious, the subconscious, and the shadow—each with its own voice.

The conscious mind is what we know, what’s in front of us. Details and tasks. It holds us accountable to the work of actually sitting down to write. Fiction writers, for example, are conscious of outlines, plotting (or “pantsing”), character development, and world building. Many of us are directly connected to and affected by our writer’s workspaces, rituals, and schedules. All of these details inform our conscious voice, which sounds like this, “Mandy, you know you really should be writing and not scrolling through Instagram.”

The writer’s subconscious mind is more mysterious, but (thankfully) it has a voice that provides us with warnings. It’s intuitive, providing nudges around decisions to make, things to be on the lookout for, darlings to murder, and feelings about certain people and situations. Our subconscious mind is that little voice that guides us. It’s our Higher Self, Inner Voice, Spirit, the Universe, God, whatever you connect with most. In regard to the Tarot, I think it’s safe to say our subconscious mind is The Fool inside our brains.

Lastly, every writer I know has struggled once or a thousand times with what I refer to as “the shadow.” The shadow is a voice that can plague a writer’s thoughts, taking up more space than necessary and causing more harm than should be reasonably possible. Our shadow can be our inner critic, that nagging voice of self-doubt. Shadow can invoke imposter syndrome, causing us to question whether we even have the right to write. Shadow can be a liar, a cheat, and a thief. It uncovers shame, doubt, and vulnerability around bad reviews or other critical feedback, keeping harmful words and feelings reeling over and over again and ultimately stealing our joy.

In the Tarot, The Moon is one of those cards that folks either love or loath. Personally, I love The Moon because it not only features beautiful imagery, but the scene is rich with symbolism and story. The Moon is just as mysterious and wondrous as the writer’s mind, and its components align perfectly to the trinity of the conscious, subconscious, and the shadow. Let’s consider this card’s details and then dive deeper into its esoteric meaning.

What's happening in The Moon card?

The most obvious aspect of the Smith-Waite Moon card is the moon, its combination of phases—full, crescent, and eclipse (that even includes the pareidolic “man in the moon”)—positioned against a rich night sky. Radiating down from the moon are several yod, which as we learned in The Tower card profile is the Hebrew letter that represents a divine point of energy and God’s presence among us. Prominently featured beneath the moon and erected at the top of a hilly range is a set of twin pillars; these are believed to be the same herms present in the background of the Death card. A path trudges between the herms, and an expanse of lawn stretches down to a body of water. On opposite sides of the path a domesticated dog and a wolf howl at the moon, while a crawfish or lobster, or some sort of crustaceous creature, emerges from the water.

The Moon: A Deep Dive

When The Moon presents itself to you, you can bet that self-reflection and/or subconscious decision-making are on the rise. Whether The Moon’s energy represents you, the writer, or your characters, someone is on the brink of internal revelation or struggle. Considering the latter, the Moon can illuminate misperceptions, veiling the truth and obscuring understanding. Similar to how The Hermit’s lantern lights his path of wisdom and knowledge, the light of The Moon illuminates our triad of inner consciousness.

From a writer’s perspective, The Moon card might imply the need to pay attention to the distinct voices at work as you venture along your path: your thoughts, fears, or energy reflected by outward sources. Whichever the case, you are encouraged to listen to those voices. For which will you allow the most space? Which voice is the most practical? Which is guiding you in the direction of what’s best for you and your craft? Which is misleading you? Which is provoking fear? Additionally, is your intuition telling you to be on alert? Is it warning of vanity presses? An aloof editor? Being ill-prepared to format your book for a specific self-publishing platform? As you move forward on your writer’s journey, take a mental inventory of your intuitive concerns and fears, but also look outwardly. Glance around, to the left and right, yes, but also behind you. What needs your attention along your way?

The Moon Reversed: The Shadow

When The Moon shows up in the reversed position, the path is clear. Your writer’s brain can find rest on a clear decision; there is no trickery at play. Your characters are liberated, shaking off those pesky shoulder-surfing angel wolves and devil dogs and discovering for themselves exactly how they feel about a situation, the best way to respond, and they can look forward to truth and understanding of interactions with other characters. There is no mystery, deceit, delusion, drama, haters, or smoke and mirrors. A reversed Moon indicates nothing but clear night skies and cloudless days.

Notable Symbols for The Moon Card


Major Arcana


Spirit / Water


In Numerology, the number 18 is formed by the numbers one and eight, one representing new beginnings and new ideas and eight representing achievement and manifestation. When adding 1 + 8, we get 9, reduces to 9 which means completions and endings. See also The Hermit.

Other Symbols

Crayfish—emotions, water, shadow voice

Dog—loyalty, friendship, confidence, conscious voice

Water—clarity, fluidity, healing, intuition

Wolf—wild nature, feral feelings, solitude, subconscious voice

Yod—The sparks of light shining down from the moon are shaped like the Hebrew letter yod, which represents a divine point of energy, God’s presence. See also The Tower.

Pillars—herms, a gate, welcoming or beckoning, choice, decision. See also Death.

The Moon, Characterized

Overall characteristics of The Moon include the proverbial dark night of the soul, deception, dreams, fear, good vs. evil, illusion, imagination, initiation, intuition, mystery, night owls, reflection, the subconscious, and the unknown.

If The Moon represents the theme or attitudes of your character(s), there could be some sneaky, underhandedness on the horizon for your protagonist, while your antagonist slinks along in the cut, rearing on their haunches, and raring to strike. The Moon might signify the internal struggles and fears of your antagonist. Could your story benefit from humanizing that character so the reader sees a glimpse of their vulnerabilities? Is it time to provide some backstory around why your antagonist has become such a jerk and the internal battles fueling their messiness? And what about your sweet, innocent, naïve protagonist? Has The Moon shone a side of them that has become ruthless as they face their fears?

Notable characters, people, or personas

A writer, a pack of dogs, a wolfpack, a zoo, a farm, two siblings, twins, triplets, two siblings and their irritating cousin; George Bailey of It’s a Wonderful Life; Professor Lupin, Scott Howard, Scott McCall, Jacob Black, and Sirius Black; Mr. Malcolm; Mr. Wickham.


On Writer Wednesday, I will continue my Tarot Stories series with my thoughts around The Sun and Redefining Happiness.

In her more than thirty years as a storyteller and visual designer, Amanda “Mandy” Hughes has written and designed over a dozen works of upmarket, literary, and women’s fiction under pen names A. Lee Hughes and Mandy Lee.

Mandy is the founder of Haint Blue Creative, a space for readers and storytellers to explore, learn, and create. Although she earned a Bachelor and Master of Science in Psychology, she has yet to figure out her family, much less herself. And that's a good thing!

When she’s not writing, Mandy loves going to the movies, theater, traveling, nature walks, birdwatching, margarita-making, and binge-watching The Office. She is a tarot enthusiast who uses the cards to promote wellness and enhance creativity. She lives in Georgia with her husband and four boys, two of whom are furrier than the others (but not by much). Visit her website at and follow her on Instagram @haintbluecreative.

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