The mysteries associated with the tarot and the moon can be understood as being cyclical patterns representing basic contrasting patterns between light and darkness. The fundamental relationship between these two polarities, which define each other, can illuminate the principles which underly all of reality.
Using the solar cycle, the lunar cycle, and the first four major arcana of the tarot as the starting point, we can see how a framework of understanding can emerge from the fundamental relationship between darkness and light, and maybe, how to use it to create systems of awareness, both emergent and repeatable.
If we start with the ‘no moon’ phase, we may see that as a beginning. Even though in cyclic time there really is no beginning, we have to start somewhere. So here we are at the spring equinox and the celestial pattern representing this time-phase in the solar cycle is Aries (fire). We can start with that as a beginning of a new growth phase in the northern hemisphere, and correlate that with the new growth period of the new moon towards the first quarter, in a lunar cycle.
The first major Arcana card, the symbol of The Magician, and the number 1, would represent the entire solar season of spring, new growth, warmth (fire) and a renewal of nature after a fallowing period of rest, cold, darkness and decay (winter). This is a period of time that is emerging, not from nothing, but from the decayed remains of a previous solar cycle’s maturity and death.
At the first quarter, the summer solstice, the symbol of the moon in it’s ‘half full” growing phase (waxing), takes the form of the second major Arcana card, the symbol of the High Priestess, the number 2. Here there is clear definition of light and dark in equal parts and the relationship between them is observed by the astrological sign of Cancer (water). There is separation between light and darkness. There is promise. There is fluidity, softness, and awareness of the invisible.
The full moon phase, which lasts at most a few days, is represented by third major Arcana card, the symbol of The Empress, and the number 3. The astrological time period astrologically is marked by the autumn equinox and the astrological sign of Libra (air). Growth has reached its peak and the waning period begins. It is a time for letting go, for completion, for gratitude of the harvest. It’s also a time for knowing, defining and acceptance of limits.
The third quarter (waning) moon is represented by growing darkness and receding outward expression. The accumulated wisdom of the cycle is stored in an inner embodied awareness. The astrological time period is represented by the winter solstice and the astrological sign of Capricorn (earth). The fourth major arcana card, the symbol of The Emperor, and the number 4. It begins with the awareness of fallow times to come. There is a need to protect and remember the family, the home and the hearth. It’s a time for cutting away everything unable to respond to the endurance of darker, colder, drier times.
Each of the first four major arcana transcend and include the previous symbols and create the stable foundation of nature. The High Priestess contains both the symbol of the number 1 and the Magician, as well as the awareness of the number 2, the duality of separation, of past and present. The Empress contains the symbol of The Magician’s fire, newness, and uniqueness or oneness, the High Priestess’s awareness of duality, and the fecund fullness of connection all of nature, it’s oneness, it’s duality, and it’s regenerative capacity in both inner and outer realms. The Emperor, contains all the symbols of the previous 3, as well as having the capacity to transcend and include the full understanding of death as part of the regenerative cycle.