The Moon reveals the Sun’s energy on a different plane as a manifestation of the colour spectrum of light underlying the changing forms of reality.
Many authors consider the fast motion of the Moon along the zodiac when examining the lunar symbolism. In fact, the Moon develops a perceptual intensity with all the consequent meanings because it counterbalances the fixity the solar disk expresses. Rudhyar plays on the combination of the Saturn-Moon dyad, the form or structure that contains the energy of representation of the psyche. Lunar symbolism is, in fact, full of suggestions and references to the neonatal state, sensitivity, receptivity, femininity, and all those values that somehow open us to the world. We could also trace back the Jungian association of the animus-anima with the Saturn-Moon couple. However, we cannot fully understand the lunar symbolism without considering its astronomical location.
The Sun-Moon dyad
The Sun is light of consciousness, a physical representation of the Logos – the origin of the Self – which becomes individual potential once placed at the centre of the incarnation cross – at the intersection of the cardinal axes of domification. The Moon, the most explicit image of the reflecting potential of matter, allows us to distinguish the Self from what is apparently other than the Self. It shows the archetype of the birth of the ego, the light of the Logos that takes shape in revealing itself through the reflection, which is resistance to the advancement of light: but it is also the way to universal self-awareness. At this point, we understand the primordial nature represented by the Sun-Moon dyad, where the Moon is cloaked in the solar vision, returning it indirectly. It is the supreme receptacle of the power of the Sun, the archetype of welcoming and restitution in the ever-changing forms of nature; moreover, it is the female function that, regardless of biological sex, gives birth to the fruit of her creative seed. Among the many symbolisms brought by the Moon, we mention the sensitivity, emotion, perception, representation and intimate elaboration of the contents of consciousness provided by the senses.
The Moon and memory
Regarding the Moon’s association with memory, one of the traits of the lunar sensitivity reveals itself as an impression, or rather as intimate modelling of the sensible form, which thus preserves the imprint of the objects of perception. After that, the memory becomes recollection only in the presence of a catalyst ego.
The Moon as a satellite
One might wonder why the Moon has such overwhelming importance as a symbolic signifier of the values just mentioned; the astronomical reason lies in its position as a satellite of the Earth, almost guarding our planet. The Earth-Moon system locally repeats the larger Sun-Earth pattern. The difference here is that the Earth acts as a central system, with the Moon playing the role of nocturnal remembrance, which, in the absence of direct sunlight, becomes the reflection of that same light, testifying to the presence of the Logos in the matter. It is now interesting to delve into the binomial night light – reflected light. In the absence of daylight, the night is the natural moment in which the waking consciousness gives way to sleep, to a state in which we live in two phases: dreamless sleep and the dream condition. In dreamless sleep, consciousness unites with the mother of reality, an undifferentiated basis free from space-time categories.
On the other hand, the dream world presents itself as the power of the image, reproduction or representation of the alert experience. It is a middle ground between the unconscious and awake activity, a reflection of both that focuses on the imaginary formation of the contents of reality before they are actualised. It is a middle world where logic creates unusual bonds and forms because they lack space-time categories. However, it reveals the Moon’s potential, which acts as a mediator between the waking state of daytime consciousness – where reality appears in the sunlight – and the dream state that follows dreamless sleep when the silence of the sleeping senses allows us to explore the realm of the unreal.
The brain organ exercises its mirror function, returning the understanding of the Logos otherwise incomprehensible and consuming in its intensity. Like the brain, thus the Moon, in its role as a satellite, acts as a screen for the direct action of light, processing its monochromatic content into a spectrum of symbolic representations: the variety of natural forms. The Earth, in turn, becomes the focal point where each individuality holds within itself a seed of awareness that echoes the primordial unity.
Ultimately the root meaning of the lunar symbolism refers to the vicarious function of reflection, that in the human and natural microcosm assumes multiple purposes: sensitivity, as a receptive potential of the contents that come from the experience offered by the senses; emotionality, the response or reaction to impressions received; memory, as an imprint of the sensible form; femininity, the attractive side of nature, manifested biologically in the female sex; motherhood, the biological counterpart of emotion, the strong reaction that unites spirit and matter; water, as a means that nourishes and adapts the living substance, as well as a symbol of abandonment to gravity with its descending flow (thus representing the falling state of matter, its thickening which causes the loss of spiritual lightness).
The Moon phases
In its revolution around the Earth, the Moon always shows the same face: due to the tidal influence of the Earth’s gravity, its rotation is synchronous. The lunar phases do not generate Sun’s or Moon’s eclipse every month because the lunar plane of revolution is inclined to the Earth’s plane of revolution by about 5 degrees. Therefore, eclipses only occur when the new Moon and the full Moon phases coincide with the crossing of the two axes. The apparent diameter of the Moon and the Sun coincide, so it is possible to have a Sun’s total eclipse (during the phenomenon, the lunar disk completely covers the Sun’s, except for the solar corona).
There are four main moon phases: New Moon, first quarter, Full Moon and last quarter. They are formed when the geocentric ecliptic longitude of the Moon and that of the Sun differ by an angle of 0, 90, 180 and 270 degrees, respectively forming the aspects of conjunction, square and opposition – in astrological terms. During the intervals of the main phases, the apparent shape of the Moon is both increasing and decreasing. We call intermediate phases those placed in the centre of the respective quarters (growing crescent, growing gibbous, waning gibbous and waning crescent), thus bringing their total number to eight. The four main phases last about seven days (7.4), varying due to the ellipticity of the lunar orbit.
The phenomenon of the moon phases is inscribed on an astrological level in the Sun-Moon aspects of the chart. We have already seen that the dyad, understood in its entirety, performs the function of emitter-detector. We now have two more elements to consider symbolically. The first is the relative speed of the lunar revolution compared to other planets. It conveys a symbolic representation based on changing rhythms, connecting to the manifestations that return, such as tides in the terrestrial context, menstruation or other biological rhythms – and emotional changes on a periodical basis. In all these cases, it is the ordinary meaning of the element of Water. Its physical manifestation, being the element that falls downwards and fills the forms, offers the image of the inner psychic representations of objective perceptions. At the same time, its state of rest – of minimal energy – represents the spirit becoming form.
The Sun-Moon aspects
From an astrological perspective, we mainly consider the main phase aspects (conjunction, square and opposition) plus sextile and trine. The intermediate phases, whose angles of ecliptic longitude are 35, 135, 225 and 315 degrees, fit the minor aspects of semi-quintile or decile (with the difference of 1 degree) and sesquisquare. During the phase of the new moon, which corresponds to the conjunction aspect, the lunar disk is aligned with the solar one on the same degree of ecliptic longitude. In this circumstance, the dark side of lunar symbolism, the non-reflective, non-manifest one, dominates. This temporary invisibility is expressed symbolically on a human level in the non-differentiation between the conscious principle – the Sun as Logos, the creative word – and its representations in the mutable and changing forms of visible reality – the Moon, which reveals itself only when illuminated.
Interpretatively, this aspect offers a variety of meanings. At the base is the supremacy of the ego principle: the Moon – invisible – becomes the unexpressed unconscious potential. Consequently, consciousness has no way of dealing intimately with the objective experience, which constitutes the testing ground for realising an existence capable of expressing one’s interiority with balance. Thus, the individual tends to be self-referential, do without an “educational” relationship with the surrounding reality, and be emotionally self-sufficient. The behaviour appears to lack sensitivity; the relationship with the outside world is limited to one’s expressive methods, and there is no tendency to learn from others or one’s mistakes. But there are also some strengths, such as originality and the propensity to fill this missing link thanks to the encounter with the soul mate. This aspect favours the realisation of a harmoniously integrated consciousness with the different parts of reality in spiritually elevated personalities.
Moon’s separating aspects
In the separating sextile, the Moon approaches the first quarter; one’s nature begins to perceive the sensitivities of others in a relationship of profitable even if not excessively demanding exchanges. We make ourselves open to things that interest us, that do not cause problems and reduce the opportunities for tension.
In the separating square, the Moon performs a work of emancipation from the solar constraint. But since the aspect is an index of effort and tension aimed at realising something, the relationship is hindered by a spirit of rebellion attempting to acquire autonomy at the cost of denying one’s origins. From the human perspective, this aspect is often an indication of a critical relationship with the female component of one’s being, as if to say that the perception of things causes difficulties in recognition and, therefore, problems of adjustment and unresolved emotions. Contact with reality induces inner self-defence reactions that manifest as a refusal to recognise the value of an experience or escape from situations intimately perceived as overwhelming, depending on which of the two planetary poles prevails. Let’s say that the phase of the first contact expressed in the sextile here turns into a struggle for the dominance of one individuality over the others, as one does not want to give up independence.
In the separating trine, 2/3 of the lunar disk are illuminated. The reflected light prevails; however, the not manifested side is still present, albeit not predominantly. Here there is an opening towards the sensitive world. It is a perception, and emotional experimentation felt as free, but with the intimate certainty of an inner core that provides the basis for anchoring to one’s not manifested self, thus avoiding excessive getting lost in the suggestions offered by the senses. There is also a particular experimental enthusiasm, given by the aspect’s separating nature.
The opposition aspect (full moon) contrasts the light source that is consciousness with its reflection. Here the receptive part of the personality is strongly affected by the reality principle, which impacts the individual’s sensitivity in an engaging but traumatising way, up to altering the delicate inner fabric. This facilitates emotional conflicts caused by intense projection work, which tends to weaken individual sensitivity or arouse rebellious reactions towards people and circumstances. Unconscious struggles are experienced externally through responses to events and to others seen as adversaries. To resolve these conflicts, it is necessary to recognise the nature of things as they really are and see in them an opportunity to realise the ideal goals of existence.
Moon’s applying aspects
Now let’s move on to define the difference between separating and applying aspects. Separating aspects represent the phase in which the individual’s independence from the process of creation comes true according to various degrees of tension and relationship. In other words, they emphasise the expression of the original creative vitality and the accent put on the autonomy of the manifestation process. The detachment between the Logos and its appearance is symbolically achieved in the opposition aspect or full moon. After the critical phase of separation, the applying aspects establish a relationship with the causal principle, based on the maturity acquired in the previous half-phase.
The applying trine expresses a disenthralled sensitivity, a soft and enveloping emotional understanding, cloaked in wisdom, a bit crepuscular, a calm and observant character. The new moon phase is yet to come, but there is the feeling that something is hidden behind appearances.
The applying square represents the crisis occurring in situations of abandonment, here referred to the difficulty of reconciling with the Sun’s directive that binds the world of inner impressions to the reality principle. What ensue are contrasted feelings, rejected emotions, visceral reactions to impositions arising from objective responsibilities.
The applying sextile is an adaptation of one’s perspectives to a broader vision. We will notice participation in others’ feelings, emotional stability given by intimate tranquillity, perception of the meaning of things behind appearances.