The Moon reveals the Sun’s energy on a different level, as a manifestation of the chromatic spectrum of light at the base of the ever-changing forms of reality.
In examining the lunar symbolism, many authors insist mainly on the mobility factor, on the Moon’s speed in travelling the zodiac. Thus, counterbalancing the fixity expressed by the solar disk, the Moon allows the development of perceptual intensity with all the consequent meanings. Rudhyar instead plays on the combination of the Saturn-Moon dyad, the form or structure containing the psyche’s energy of representation. The lunar symbolism is indeed full of suggestions, references to the neonatal state, sensitivity, receptivity, femininity, and all those values that somehow make one permeable to the world. We could also trace back to the Jungian association of the animus-anima with the Saturn-Moon couple. Still, we cannot fully understand the lunar symbolism without considering its astronomical location.
The Sun-Moon dyad
The Sun is light of consciousness, the central star, the physical level of the Logos or origin of the Self, which in turn 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 self, the light of the Logos that takes shape in revealing itself through the reflection, which is resistance to the advance of the 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 cloaks itself in the solar vision, returning it indirectly. It is the supreme receptacle of the Sun’s power, the archetype of welcome and restitution in the ever-changing forms of nature; besides, it is the female function that, regardless of biological sex, gives birth to the fruit of its creative seed. Among the many symbolisms the Moon bears, we cite sensitivity and emotion, perception, representation and intimate elaboration of the contents of consciousness supplied 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 sensitive form, which thus preserves the imprint of the objects of perception. Later on, the memory becomes recollection only in the presence of a catalyst ego.
The Moon as a satellite
One might wonder why the Moon is of 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 repeats the bigger Sun-Earth scheme locally. 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. Here it is interesting to delve into the pair of night and 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 two phases: dreamless sleep and the dream condition. In dreamless sleep, consciousness unites with the mother of reality, the undifferentiated basis free from space-time categories. The dream world comes as a power of the image, a reproduction of the sensitive state or representation of the waking experience. It is a middle ground between unconsciousness and alert activity, a reflection of both which 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 still lack space-time categories. However, it reveals the Moon’s potential, acting as an intermediary between the waking state of daytime consciousness – where reality appears in the sunlight – and the dream state following dreamless sleep, when the silence of the sleeping senses allows us to explore the realm of unreal. But the cerebral organ also exercises its mirror function, restoring the understanding of the Logos otherwise incomprehensible and consuming in its intensity. So the Moon, in its role as satellite, like the brain, acts as a screen for the direct action of light, processing its monochromatic content in a spectrum of symbolic representations that are the variety of natural forms, uniting the content and the structure that represents it. The Earth, in its turn, becomes the focal point where each individuality contains 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, a function that in the human and natural microcosm assumes many 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, biologically manifested in the female sex; motherhood, the biological counterpart of emotion, the vital reaction combining spirit and matter; water, as a medium which nourishes and adapts the living substance, as well as a symbol of surrender to gravity with its downward flow (therefore representing the falling state of matter, its thickening that 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 a Sun’s or Moon’s eclipse every month because the lunar revolution plane is inclined to the terrestrial revolution plane about 5 degrees. Therefore eclipses only occur when the phases of the new moon and full moon coincide with the crossing of the two axes. The apparent diameter of the Moon and the Sun coincide, so it is possible the occurrence of the Sun’s total eclipse (during the phenomenon, the Moon disk completely covers the Sun’s, except for the 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 located in the middle of the respective quarters (waxing crescent, waxing gibbous, waning gibbous and waning crescent), thus bringing their total number to eight. The four main phases last for 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, fulfils 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, linking 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, we deal with the ordinary meaning of the Water element. In its physical manifestation, being the element that falls downwards and fills the forms, it offers the image of the content, of the inner psychic representations of objective perceptions. At the same time, its condition of rest – of minimal energy – represents the spirit becoming form.
The Sun-Moon aspects
From an astrological perspective, we primarily consider the main phase aspects (conjunction, square and opposition) plus sextile and trine. The intermediate phases, whose ecliptic longitude angles are 35, 135, 225 and 315 degrees, fit the minor aspects of semi-quintile or decile (with the difference of 1 degree) and sesquiquadrate. During the new Moon phase, 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 part of the lunar symbolism, the non-reflective, not manifested one, dominates. It does not mean that the satellite loses its characteristic reflectivity, but simply that it becomes temporarily invisible because it is on the opposite side of the Earth’s nocturnal hemisphere. Therefore there is no distinct entity, precisely the meaning of the conjunction aspect. In this case, the non-differentiation between the spiritual inspiration and its representation prevails, which in the human being becomes supremacy of the ego’s principle who dominate over manifestation and sees oneself in all things. In spiritually elevated personalities, this seems to be good support towards the realisation of unity. For others, it appears instead as a lack of sensitivity, of openness to new ideas, expression of a vision circumscribed by one’s expressive modalities, hesitation to access an educational confrontation with reality, even if certain originality is not lacking.
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) finally realises the contrast and resolution of the source-reflection couple, where full recognition of the spirit in the Creation acts: an image that is not easy to manage. In the conjunction aspect, we have the predominance of the self-preservation of an ego bashful to emotional influences. Here, if anything, the receptive element is fully invested by the reality principle. The nature of things impacts the individual’s sensitivity in upsetting ways, to the point of altering its delicate interior plots. That can lead to classic conflicts where the male image aims to operate through an overwhelming work of projection, which tends to weaken the individual’s sensitivity and the resulting emotional reaction towards others or inspire the rebellion’s symptoms.
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.