The Two Moons of the Tarot of the Absurd

Friday, May 11th, 2012

Jes Shanahan

Artist: Jessica Rose Shanahan


Strange things happen by the light of the Moon.


The Moon shines light on the inner demons of the unconscious—
giving life to the shadow self’s distorted vision—
a moon-shadow landscape of illusion
where dream and reality swirl— undifferentiated—
where the self wanders bewildered and aimless—
anxious and mad— into the arms of deception.


When illustrating the cards in this deck, I incorporated the meaning of the card with a few traditional symbols together with a few symbols of my own into an illustration that attempts to embody the concept of the card intuitively. The conveyed meaning is based largely on posture and human expression rather than on the basis of occult symbols. What allowed me to do this relatively freely was largely my ignorance of the sacredness of symbols in the occult tarot. However, artists invariably have personal symbols that come through in work. Thus the cards— like any work of art— are not devoid of symbols. The symbols are merely different. My goal was to offer a new way of looking at looking at an old idea.


When illustrating the Moon I thought, What is the most deceptive thing? My conclusion was that the most deceptive thing is a creator who brings something into this world and endows it with the faith that it will be loved and cared for and protected fully— then from within the realm of confidence of its creation, the creator becomes destroyer. I illustrated this as a mad mother consuming her own child: the ultimate deception. It is a disturbing image.


This action can be seen overtly in cases of child abuse. However, it also occurs small-scale in every-day relationships. We let people down. Despite our best efforts, we are imperfect mothers, friends and lovers. We deceive and destroy even our own selves. This inevitability begs the question, Who is more greatly deceived in this relationship: the creator or the destroyed?


Upon becoming a mother myself, I find this image more and more disturbing and have found it necessary to deceive myself anew. Thus, I drew a second Moon. The second Moon contains not only the illusion that my creation will have the ability to wander into the wilds unarmed and sleep with the wolves, unharmed, but that I myself will be the perfect mother, able to produce such a miracle. This comforting illusion occurs when we refuse to take off the veil of deception and witness reality.


Unfortunately, although this is the more comforting image, the refusal to see reality ultimately does more harm than good. Facing the truth of one’s destructiveness allows us to better our actions. Choosing some comforting illusion allows us to be lead blindly by our own inner demons into the deception of dreams.


Which Moon you choose is up to you. I leave them both in the deck.

18. Oisin — Tarocchi dei Celti

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

Antonio LupatelliArtist: Giordano Berti


This is a 22-card art deck produced by Lo Scarebo in 1991 as part of their “Tarocchi d’Arte” series. It was later made into a 78-card deck called “Tarot of the Druids.”


Oisín was regarded in legend as the greatest poet of Ireland. His name means “young deer” or fawn, because his mother was a woman turned into a deer by a druid. When a hunter (his father) caught her but did not kill her, she regained her human form. As soon as the woman was pregnant with Oisín, the druid turned her back into a deer and she returned to the wild. Seven years or many years after Oisín was born, father and son were reunited. Oisín’s mother apparently spent the rest of her life as a deer.


In Oisín’s most famous adventure, he is visited by a fairy woman who announces she loves him and takes him away to “the land of the young.” The have two children in what seems to be three years, then Oisín decides to return to Ireland. In truth, 300 years have passed. there. The fairy woman gives him a white horse and warns him not to dismount, because if his feet touch the ground the years will catch up with him and he will become old and withered. Oisín returns home and finds everything he remembers abandoned and in disrepair. Later, while trying to help some men lift a stone onto a wagon, his girth breaks and he falls to the ground, becoming an old man. The horse returns to fairy land.


I am not certain what this card has to do with the moon, other than I pulled it from the deck at 2:30 in the morning when I could not sleep due to an earache. Although this deck is useful for a random exploration into Celtic mythology and has cute pictures, it is not useful in my endeavor to learn more about reading tarot. I will no longer use it for the purposes of this blog.

18. The Moon — Deviant Moon Tarot

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Artist: Patrick Valenzia


I was going to say, “Tell me something about the moon,” as this is the Deviant Moon Tarot. Then I thought, “That’s too demanding.” As I took the cards out of the box, I thought of asking, “Tell me something about Quebec.” One card stuck in the box: the Four of Blades: solitude. I took this as a hint and changed my question yet again, shuffled, and said “What am I afraid of?” I spread the cards, considered them, and drew The Moon, upright. I was back where I had started.



Upright: Brainwashing. Dark influences. Trickery. Illusion. Subconscious control.

Upwrong: Avoiding reality. Strange forces. Delusional thoughts. Lies and despair.

“The deviant moon casts its powerful influence over the city, controlling minds like a puppeteer.”


The Moon says: Something is not as it appears to be.


The Moon shows itself to a traveler unsure of his destination or the path on which he journeys. This Moon is the light of intuition and of dream that leads to higher understanding of the veiled messages of the unconscious to reveal the way forward.


The Moon illuminates the shadow side in each of us, projecting silhouettes of past fears onto our present body. Repressed images, thoughts and feelings cause inner disturbances that overwhelm us with waves of fear and anxiety.


Vigilance through the dark night shows the edges of that which is hidden. No matter how one feel about a situation, good or bad, the Moon says: Open your eyes. See what it really going on. Illusion causes error in judgment.


Deep memory must be released and the soul dredged to let the shadow side of lingering, hidden truths be pulled to the surface. Let these truths no longer haunt like monsters of the night.


Something is not as it appears to be. Open your eyes. See what it really going on. Illusion causes error in judgment.


What am I afraid of? I am afraid of losing my mind, of being an only soul, alone upon the dark side of the Moon.


18 The Moon — The Enchanted Tarot

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Art (collage, appliqué, direct dye, beading, color image transfer & cloth): Amy Zerner

Author: Monte Farber


Interpretation: “This is the darkness before dawn. You must separate illusion from reality. Even though the path may seem frightening and treacherous, you need not fear the mysterious unknown. Your intuition can guide you to hidden opportunities. Remember to save your energies for the challenges ahead and not to squander them with anxious worrying.”


This girl is me, woken up in a blue-black faraway dream where everything is cold and weary. I am very tired, which is unjustifible, as I have done nothing that should make me feel thus. I am not afraid. There is no anxious worrying. The path does not seem treacherous. The only illusion I held was that I could accomplish more than I am able. That has been smashed. The truth is, I don’t have to take anyone’s advice on how to interpret this image: I asked the deck for a sleepy card.


I look outside.

This night’s sky

bears its waning gibbous moon

for me to sleep beneath.

18. The Moon — Sakki-Sakki Tarot

Sunday, December 25th, 2011

Artist: Monicka Clio Sakki
Author: Monicka Clio Sakki & Carol Anne Buckley
Interpretation: dreams, unconscious, inner-self, confusion, deception, mystery
“The landscape that the Moon’s light reveals is a complex one. Along with its power to fascinate, the Moon arouses disturbing feelings, even madness…. The Moon provokes a psychic awakening, and lights our escape into the domain of our imagination.”
I am driving to Syracuse today. It usually takes me about six hours because I drive 55-60 mph, take the occasional accidental detour, have to pee a few times, and maybe nap. My goal is to leave before noon. Despite my love of the moon, I hope not to drive by its light, lest I succumb to shadows one after another. Confusion leads to deception, letting me be overcome by the mystery of what I see as I drift into the land of the unconscious dreamer where there is nothing left but inner-self.
I will not deceive myself: these blog entries often take quite long to write. I have yet to pack. The truth is, I must leave by the light of day if I am to sleep in my parents’ house tonight. My inner-self is not licensed to drive a car without the full awareness of my outer-self. I would like to arrive at my destination intact.