A “Yin-and-Yang” Monthly Pattern

My efforts to apply the Yin and Yang principles of Chinese philosophy to the monthly cycle of the Moon via the Major Arcana of the tarot proved to be more difficult than anticipated. I suspect this is due mostly to the fact that the Moon is a quintessential symbol of the feminine Yin, and the only fleeting aspect of its character that partakes of Yang energy occurs after it departs the First Quarter phase and before it arrives at the Third Quarter, during which time its “bright” surface area is larger than its “dark” region. This fact made it challenging to come up with a set of decidedly feminine cards that have a sufficient “Yang” presence to embody the emerging masculine emphasis during this period of effulgence. To do this I often had to choose a passive Water or Earth card that captures the female nature of Yin, but that also has a male component to express the rising “Yang” influence. I tried to find archetypes that exhibit varying degrees of movement and ended up with a blend of Moon, Neptune, Saturn and Jupiter planetary energies, all of which have a lunar connection, along with one minor nod to a transitional Mercury. Note that I had to turn the Taijii on its side to place the “Utmost Yin” at the customary location of the New Moon with the rest of the pattern evolving in the counter-clockwise direction of the Moon’s monthly progress through the zodiac. The titles of the secondary phases in this model come from astrologer Dane Rudhyar’s book The Lunation Cycle and are not consistent with modern astronomical designations.

For the New Moon (“Utmost Yin”) and Full Moon (“Utmost Yang”) I selected the two cards that best represent the “dark” and “bright” extremes of lunar flux: The Moon and the Priestess. In the Golden Dawn system, the Moon corresponds to the tenuous and tractable sign of Pisces and the Priestess to the “higher” (or more virtuous) metaphysical connotations of the Moon itself.

The gradual decrease in Yin energy at the Crescent Moon (“Yin within Yin”) and First Quarter (“Yin” declining) phases I portrayed with Water and Earth cards that have an ambivalent male presence in the Hanged Man and the Devil. Although the Hanged Man was traditionally assigned to the element of Primal Water, current esoteric thinking places it under Neptune, the nebulous modern ruler of Pisces; this makes it a fitting declension of the Piscean Moon – he looks like he’s still “hiding his light under a bushel.” The Devil is pictured as an hermaphrodite in older decks, with both male and female organs, so it seemed appropriate to situate it at the “waxing hand-off” point between the powers of Yin and Yang. The Devil corresponds to the Moon’s zodiacal opposite, Capricorn, and its ruler Saturn, which has a close astrological connection to the progressed Moon.

For the Gibbous Moon (“Yang within Yin”) that falls between the First Quarter and Full Moon I picked the lantern-bearing Hermit of Virgo to suggest the “path-finding” clarity of Mercury within a dwindling fog of lunar equivocation. The Earth sign provides the “token Yin” in an increasingly Yang environment.

The Full Moon has already been described. As it leaves the “Full” phase, the lunar light sheds some of its “Yang” brightness at the Disseminating Moon. Although the Wheel of Fortune is a nominal “Fire” card, it conceals a “Watery” quality in its correspondence to Jupiter, exalted in the Moon’s sign of Cancer and also the traditional ruler of Pisces, which ties it back to the Moon card. This makes the Wheel of Fortune a temperate “Yang within Yang” card suitable for this position.

The Third Quarter (“Yang” declining) marks the “waning hand-off” between the Yang and Yin forces, with the latter beginning to increase in potency after this exchange. The Chariot is connected to the sign of Cancer and its ruler, the Moon; the male figure of the Charioteer might be construed as signifying Jupiter’s exaltation in Cancer, thereby implying an elaboration of the Jupiterian influence of the Wheel of Fortune. The Chariot is the polar opposite of the Devil by astrological sign; the Moon and Saturn have an affinity as mentioned above but Jupiter and Saturn are contrasting planets, one “bright” and the other “dark.”

The Balsamic Moon (“Yin within Yang”) which begins around 3-1/2 days before the “Dark of the Moon” denotes the near-exhaustion of the brightness of Yang and the ascendance of Yin darkness. With the lunar light reduced to a thin, fading crescent, the stars dominate the night sky. So I chose the female image of the Star and its correspondence to Aquarius to represent this phase; the traditional ruler of Aquarius is Saturn, which along with the sign provides the “token Yang” influence.

I can’t claim this arrangement to be without flaws, but each choice is supported by a rationale that attempts to tie everything together according to the original premise that the Moon is a passive, feminine Yin symbol and only its transitions between dark and light and back again display the active qualities of Yang. For practical use I already have an eight-position “Lunar Month Look-Ahead” spread that I can plug this model into for the purpose of adding more archetypal depth to the reading.

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