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Join Date: 29 Oct 2003
Location: Boston, MA
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More on Moon, Devil and Sexuality


Sorry so much happened in this thread since last I checked (Labor Day weekend got in the way)! This also stands as an apology (excuse) for this long-ish reply.

My association of hedonism with the Tarot Devil card does indeed resonate with the pre-Christian associations of Pan, the nymph-chasing, ithyphallic god of the forest; representing the animalistic appetites of human beings (and specifically, pardon the implicit sexism, of the human male). The connection of sexuality with the Devil card of the RWS deck can also be seen by comparing it to the Lovers, in which Adam and Eve occupy the same positions in both cards, but in the Lovers their union is overseen by an angel, while in the Devil card it is overseen by... well, a devil....

It is true that the Devil in most Tarot decks is portrayed as sinister (to say the least) and even frightening. But in practice, I have found that one way the appearance of the Devil in a spread can send a reading off in the wrong direction is by forgetting that the Devil is a seducer... the Seducer, in fact... and most often enters our lives by appealing to the reflexes of our pleasure principle... drawing us in without regard for the consequences, until it is too late.

In a Gay Tarot deck, I think this theme would be particularly a propos since gay life in America (at least urban America) has often been (and sometimes rightly) characterized as a life of hedonistic excess (viz., sex and drugs), especially (though certainly not exclusively) in the wake of AIDS and its relation to unprotected sex and drug use. (The association of gay sexuality with hedonism goes at least back to the Greeks and Romans, long before AIDS or the Catholic church; I'd love to elaborate if anyone is interested!)

However, in the spirit of just the imagery in the RWS Devil (and others), the theme seems to be "imprisonment, enslavement" (Adam and Eve in chains); and for a Gay Tarot, representing this as the imprisonment of self-hatred-- and the potential bitterness from seeing "normal" straight society all around us, attempting to define where we fit in-- is equally, if not more, a propos. To many people I know whom I would consider "spiritually advanced," all worldly evil can ultimately be reduced to fear and hatred.

As far as the Moon goes, my interpretation of this card is always in the context of its contrast to the Sun. Under the Sun, everything is illuminated, bright, and exposed for all to see. Often when the Moon appears in a reading, I reference the experience of trying to see by the light of a full moon: the colors become shades of grey, and it is difficult to tell where shadows end and solid objects begin. This tends to give a somewhat sinister feeling to the Moon, which in all fairness should also symbolize the importance of dreams and the unconscious (sometimes but certainly not always sinister). This is nicely synthesized by a somewhat psychological interpretation, in which the Moon's light represents our feelings (i.e., our irrational instincts) as they illuminate (i.e., are "projected" onto) the world around us.

My impression of Lee's Moon card, with it's embracing lovers (OK, that's a euphemism), thus combines the "dreaminess" of sex with the misleading (or at least the mysterious and non-rational) perception associated with looking at things "by the light of the Moon." The association of the Moon with sexuality has never, somehow, really occurred to me, and seeing it in Lee's deck has not only called my attention to it, but also deepened my overall understanding of this card and allowed it to take on a less sinister meaning (though still mysterious and potentially confusing).

OK, I'll stop holding forth now. Sorry, I do tend to go on and on; I'm afraid I'm a natural-born lecturer, cast out of the ivory tower (hmm, never associated that with the Tarot Tower card before....interesting). Thanks for indulging me!
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