The Moon, both historically in Western astrology and currently in Indian astrology, has been considered the most important planet in the horoscope. The Romans, for instance, considered Emperor Claudius to be a Capricorn because his Moon was in that sign, although he was born in early August, and we would have called him a Leo.
The Moon represents the soul, including the pre-natal phase, as well as that part of consciousness which begins at birth and continues throughout life. The term pre-natal can refer not only to the nine month period spent in utero, but includes those past lives which have a bearing on this particular lifetime.
In Yogic texts the ingrained emotional habit patterns are called samskaras, variously translated as subliminal activators or latent emotional impressions from prior thoughts and actions, therefore, deep habits, even genetically determined habit patterns.
These deep, lunar impressions are triggered by planetary transits. When that happens, situations arise in our lives, which offer the opportunity to clear them out, reprogram them by choosing a different course of thought or action from the pattern of the past. Or we may remain unconscious and continue to repeat old patterns, thereby reinforcing them and impressing them in our Moon memory even more powerfully and deeply.
For example, a transit of Uranus over the Moon offers the opportunity to observe one’s own emotional responses in an impartial, detached way, and to respond intelligently to challenges. It can bring emotionally upsetting shocks which wake us up to the reality of circumstances or relationships we did not want to deal with.
The Moon is a slippery and complex symbol. The fundamental level, among its many correspondences, seems to relate to certain facets of the soul as described by esoterists. Soul is mediator between matter and spirit, between the forms of time and space and the life that pervades them. It is the consciousness that results when spirit or life interacts with matter. Thus, the Moon is the indicator of how we integrate the Sun (Spirit) in our natal chart with the ascendant (matter) and with Saturn’s forms of time and space. In Eastern astrology a well-placed Moon is considered a pre-requisite for the achievement of higher states of consciousness and, ultimately, liberation or enlightenment.
In psychological astrology, the Moon is the basic planet of love. It shows what kind of nurturing we received as infants and children and how we perceived the mother or the nurturing parent in our early life. It is our myth about our mother. It represents our ability to nurture and care for others in the adult role of parent, as well as how we ‘parent’ or ‘mother’ ourselves.
Much of our conditioning is laid down in the early, pre-verbal months of life. Lunar tapes or earliest programming governs how and what we perceive as love. These are the sources of our emotional attitudes and reactive psychological responses, including our deepest, most persistent addictions. They are very inaccessible to the conscious thinking mind, and can be so powerful as to control us when we cannot control ourselves in certain areas of life. Depth psychology and good hypnotherapy are effective means of accessing lunar tapes. Spiritual practices, which include deep meditation, breathing and bodywork, can effectively release much of this material. Occasionally, stress situations trigger spontaneous total recall of early events.
The Moon represents the public, the people, the masses, mobs and the lowest common denominator of the species’ consciousness. It represents women and children in general. In everyone’s chart, the Moon by sign and house symbolically describes ‘Mother.’ Siblings may describe their mother quite differently. It may sound like they are talking about entirely different women if their Moon signs and aspects are quite different. On the other hand, there are three sisters who all have Moon in aspect with Mars, Saturn and Pluto. They are in total agreement that Mom was the Dragon Lady.
The Moon is the inner child who never grows up, as well as our own internalized mother, our own nurturing capabilities. It, along with Venus, forms the anima, or inner idealized female, in a man’s chart. Many men tend to seek out relationships with women who can act out their own inner feminine qualities for them. For instance, a man with a Sun-Moon-Pluto configuration seeks a powerful, seductive, manipulating woman. His brother, on the other hand, has a bright, happy, funny wife, and his chart shows a Moon-Mercury-Jupiter configuration. Women tend to play their Moon as either helpless little girl, or as Big Mother, “Our Lady of Perpetual Responsibility.”
The element in which the Moon is placed shows the natural tendencies and needs for nurturing, and it describes what feels like love to us. Earth Moons like physical demonstrativeness: holding, touching, food, sex, material things, including money. Air Moons need communication: someone to talk to and to listen to them, to really hear them. They need the space to be alone from time to time. Water Moons need to share feelings and suffering. They tend to equate loving with hurting. “If you love me, cry with me.” They may even try to inflict emotional pain to draw the other into their emotional vortex. They can give sympathy and compassion. Fire Moons want to share the joy of fun. Playing and creating together equates with loving. They need to be free and have their freedom and individuality honored.
The Moon in personal signs is more concerned with “me and mine;” how “I” feel. In social signs, the person may seem only to know what he feels in the context of another person. A universal sign Moon may want to take care of everybody and expects nurturing to come from the universe, the collective. Frequently, people with Moon in a universal sign or house, project “mother” onto the Church or Government, and they may work for or in some capacity with those very institutions.
The Moon configured with one or more of the outer planets is problematic, for the person tends to seek a magical mother or anima figure or attempts to be one. These combinations also tend to correlate with deep-seated abandonment fears. The person will often leave the lover or partner first because he is deeply, radically terrified that the other will leave him. Love and fear are intertwined. The feeling is, “If I let myself love and be loved, I’ll die, but if I am not loved, I’m dead (inside anyway).” Moon with Mars and/or Saturn has difficulties, too. Moon/Mars feels it is only safe to love a person he can fight with; he can only trust a person who will confront him. Moon/Saturn has a perfection complex; he must be perfect to be loved, or his loved one can never be quite good enough for him to love completely.
When you know a person’s Moon sign, you know what gifts to give and how to give them so they will feel you really do love, care and understand them. We are not surprised that their emotional responses and reactions are different from our own, and we do not expect them to be otherwise. You write sentimental poems to your water sign Moon lover, or take her to the beach, or to a concert featuring music by the romantic composers; you give theater tickets, ski lift passes, or a day at an amusement park to your fire sign Moon friend. Give books, tapes, videos, CDs and magazine subscriptions to your air sign Moon relatives. To please the earth Moon in your life, give clothes, perfume, a beautiful plant or flowers, quality chocolates, good wine, a big check, diamonds, gold and blue chip stock certificates.
*Picture by Christina Balit
About the author:
Eleanor Buckwalter has studied, practiced and taught astrology in Los Altos, CA for more than twenty-five years, including three years with the late Richard Idemon, a psychological astrologer. Her primary astrological focus of interest is parent-child relationships and family dynamics.