Whilst discussing Jung’s Red Book (Liber Novus), Liz Greene reminds us that when interpreting the Moon in an astrological chart, we should keep in mind Jung’s vision of the Moon as a fluid, living principle, always in flux.
To assume the astrological Moon corresponds solely to Jung’s Anima is a mistake. Equally, it is a mistake to assume that she is solely the nurturing mother. Indeed, Jung saw the astrological Moon as both deeply complex and ambivalent – the archetypal core of which equates to the triple-bodied lunar goddess of antiquity, Hecate.
Consider four of the Red Book’s female personages:
- Salome – the daughter of Elijah, the wise old prophet who presides of the ‘temple of the sun’. Salome, with long black hair and dressed in red, is never pictured without her father. She is associated both with (1) the darkened skies of the ‘blood Moon’ (reportedly visible at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion) and (2) the blood-thirsty seductive temptress, the daughter of Herodias, who demanded the severed head of John the Baptist from her besotted lover. In this regard, Salome is associated with the tarot card, The Hanged Man, who although still possesses his head, is unable to use it (i.e. it is no longer above, but below) symbolising loss of the rational intellect when confronted with realm of the unconscious. Salome is associated with the dark moon. She is bloodthirsty and dangerous.
- Old Scholar’s Daughter – imprisoned by her father in an old stone castle in midst of a forest, this pale and ghostly girl is shown with the crescent moon. Like the Greek goddess, Persephone, she is prevented by her parent from developing into a fully-grown woman. Although Jung considers her to thus be unworldly, she informs him that she knows more about ‘real life’ than does he. At the end of their brief chat, Jung has fallen in love with her and she disappears into a shaft of moon light, leaving behind a bunch of red roses. The roses, Liz suggests, links her to Venus, the erotic goddess of the ancient Greeks, who interestingly does not otherwise figure in the Red Book. But unlike with the dangerous eroticism of Salome, Jung had little to fear from this pretty young girl; indeed, she offered him much to learn. Associated with the tarot card, The Moon, the Old Scholar’s Daughter offers a doorway to the unconscious, a scary place in which wisdom resides. It is tempting to equate her solely with the crescent moon, but she shares this ‘honour’ with the Anima.
- The Cook – along with the Old Scholar’s Daughter, the Cook is associated with the tarot card, The Moon, but the Cook takes this proverbial walk on the dark side to a completely new and different level. Large and fat and always pushing food, The Cook seems simple enough, the traditional house-frau. But in reality, she is unashamedly two-faced. After eating the food (nourishment) she provides, Jung falls asleep and wakes up in the underworld (‘the realm of mothers’). In this regard, The Cook is more dangerous than even Salome because what you see with her is never what you get. The Cook is associated with the full moon, also a gateway to the unconscious, but under no circumstances is she to be trusted.
- The Anima – although Jung never meets with the Anima, he does depict her dressed in blue and kneeling in prayer. She is at once the celestial mother, the chalice or Holy Grail (drink of her and attain immortality), the spiritual bride and mother, as well as the daughter of the stars. In his tarot deck, Waite shows her as The High Priestess, the guardian of hidden wisdom and spiritual mediator between the worlds, above and below. Notice that the High Priestess sits with the crescent moon at her feet.
In summary, astrologers ought not to consider the astrological Moon as either this or that, but instead as a fluidity that morphs over time. The imagery of the classical triple-bodied lunar goddess, Hecate, is in keeping with Jung’s complicated (and often contradictory) lunar journeys. In the Red Book, the astrological Moon represents the entire spectrum of the lunar myth and cycle, from the dark of the new moon and back again. Unlike classical astrology that divides the planets into either malefic or benefic, Jung’s astrological Moon at once both and neither. She can be dangerous – even treacherous. Equally, however, she offers the opportunity to plumb the depths for the wisdom that resides in the unconscious- the wisdom each of us must someday tap if we are to further ourselves on that all important path to individuation.
Greene, L. (2018). The Astrological World of Jung’s Liber Novus; Daimons, Gods, and the Planetary Journey. Abingdon: Routledge.
Greene, L. (2018). Jung’s Studies in Astrology: Prophecy, Magic and the Qualities of Time. Abingdon: Routledge.