Illusion (Moon) XVIII
This image so gripplingly depicts the world of illusion and dreams, with its eerie moonlike luminescence and obscure symbols. The obscurity is the experience of the uninitiated only (like me!). The image is replete with symbols, replicating in some ways the chaos of dreams.
The Egyptian Goddess, Nut kneels over a scene comprising some of the usual elements of Moon cards – water, crustacean, and only one dog. A man and a woman stand in the waters, the man hiding his face in his hands whilst the woman reaches upwards to the Goddess, emphasizing perhaps, the feminine nature of this card. The image of the Goddess is reflected in the waters, tears falling from one eye. The three-ringed symbol of the triple Goddess floats just above Nut’s reflection in the water. The stars of the heavens show in Nut's exquisite and translucent body.
Who is Nut? To the ancient Egyptians Nut (Nuit) was the personification of the sky (originally she was a goddess of just the sky at day, where the clouds formed) and the heavens. She was believed to be the daughter of the gods Shu and Tefnut, the granddaughter of the sun god Ra. Her husband was also her brother, Geb, God of the Earth She was shown in Egyptian artwork as a dark, star-covered naked woman, holding her body up in an arch, facing downwards. Her arms and legs were imagined to be the pillars of the sky, and hands and feet were thought to touch the four cardinal points at the horizon. Far underneath her lay the earth god, Geb, sometimes ithyphallic, looking up at his sister-wife. This image thus becomes quite sexually symbolic if one follows this mythology. Somehow it is congruent with the dream world of the unconscious, even without reference to the innocent figures of the man and woman. Nut holds the image of the double Moon in her womb. Again the association between Moon, Woman and mystery is present.
There is so much in this image that one almost overlooks the usual presence of plants but they are here. . To one side is twining Honeysuckle... to the other side twines Bramble... we are looking at the Lovers who wrap themselves together so tightly as not to be parted. You cannot have one without the other! One has a heady perfume, the other sharp thorns... Heaven & Hell, Inner/Outer, Yin/Yang, sexual union of male and female. (Dan Elder)
And the meaning…where does one begin? The Goddess Nut weeps to cleanse the murkiness of the unconscious. The ugliness and sharpness of the crayfish pincers alert us to the pain of illusion. The joy, sorrow and enmeshment of relationships with the ultimate reality of separation are clearly proposed. Relationships are implicit between Goodess Nut and Earthgod Geb. the naked couple standing in the rippling water, the Moon in the womb of the Goddess and the plants clinging to the borders of the image. Are relationships are ultimately illusionary simply because they seem distorted sometimes? If we are fortunate they can be an integral part of our journey but we are ultimately responsible for ourselves?
The double moon image in the womb of the Goddess is in itself, fascinating. The full moon represents the gift of wisdom, but this full moon is half in shadow. The crescent moon is symbolic of the glimmer of light which rests in the unconscious of every human. In this image the crescent is glowing, which gives hope that meaning can arise out of the luminescent chaos.
It is interesting to consider Illusion XVIII with Star XVII. The colours in Illusion are much more pale, almost ephemeral, as though the image could easily float away whereas the colours and form in Star are much more solid and strong. This effect demonstrates the thought and attention to detail represented in beautiful artwork and symbolism that distinguish this deck for its owners.
Much more could be said but perhaps others can pick up the themes?