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The Moon's Journey Stage Two--The Golden Path Inward

Thread originally posted on the Aeclectic Tarot Forum on 16 Jun 2003, and now archived in the Forum Library.

Khatruman  16 Jun 2003 
This is part two of an alternate major arcana journey inspired by an idea in Rachel Pollack's The Forest of Souls . Part one was posted as the following thread: The Moon's Journey Part One The main character, Selene, is represented by the Moon trump. Her first stage, the first seven guides, can be found in this thread. In that stage, Selene journeyed out of her illusory fearful reality, which had paralyzed her within a night world of inaction, into the world of the Fool, with her eyes now lifted upward and ready to leap into the unknown. This is the mid-stage which will turn her in towards her soul and prepare her for the transformation of the final stage. I begin it with a snippet of a lyric from a song by the progressive rock group Yes (my gurus :D):

So if we choose to realize
All existence is a dream
This perfect resume to you from me

Just had a tough time with magic
The death of ego
The moon
It was just coming through.

Send me such a good time
In a letter form, tell me
The pleasure, no pressure
Pure imagination in a metaphoric dream
--Jon Anderson "In the Presence of" 

Khatruman  16 Jun 2003 
Selene has completed the readiness stage of her journey now, guided by the Fool on to the deeper stages of this journey out of fear and deceptive reality. Where does the Fool then lead her next? It is to XVII The Star. She is back in the night, but this is not the same night of her terror. It is a night, but the light to the journey is a light of hope, a wishing star promising joy and fulfillment at the end.

The Coleman Waite Star shows a woman, naked, pouring water into a pool and on the ground, as stars glow brightly above her, one yellow as a miniature sun. Hope, calm fluid emotions breathe in this card. The Moon card is often seen as an opposing card to this one. The images are quite different in feel. As with all good opposites, there are basic similarities that make the differences stand out even more starkly. Both are night images, both flow deep with water. However, where the Moon gave us the terror coming out of the water into the howling night, the star sits us by the waters, pours them softly to the earth. Water is an element associated deeply with emotion. The implication of emotion originally in the Moon card was one of frightening depths; the emotion of the Star card is one of dreamy calm.

The Portal Star is, in my mind, one of the most beautiful of the Portal card. I have even considered getting a print of this card to put on my bedroom wall to remind me of the beauty of dream before I go to sleep. Stars dot the sky behind silvered structure. Notice that there are no stars in the sky on the Portal Moon card. Selene's night reality included no promise of stars; it offered only the cold barren orb of the moon. The Star card's Portal is twisting and beautiful. It is a silver structure with a tinge of gold, a golden sphere resting in its heart, the promise of the coming day. The eye in its head, placed exactly where the moon before loomed. Instead now having the red engulfing beast, there is the amphitheater of sea and stars set into the green mountainous horizon, through the gates of the portal to the distant shine of the star, or could that be the sun? Crystalline spheres peacefully float along the river path to the marbled sea. This is the same dark sea of the Moon card, but more promise lies in this floating into the ocean of the stars. And even more stars await Selene.

I imagine floating in this sea being like a scene towards the end of the movie Immortal Beloved. In case you are unfamiliar with the movie, it is a bio-fantasy on the life of Beethoven. In a scene where the Ninth Symphony is being performed, we go inside Beethoven's head as he pictures scenes of his childhood, of the abuse by his father, the beatings that lead eventually to his deafness. He escapes one night, as his father comes home drunk and bent on beating him, and runs to the sanctuary of the woods. He finds a spot that he obviously has retreated to many times before. He removes his clothes and steps in the shallow pond. He lays in the water as the Ode to Joy Chorus of the final movement rises to the finale. The camera begins with his serene face in the water, and, with the rise of the camera, young Beethoven floats in a calm sea, bathed in the reflection of stars, but it is as if he flies in the very heavens themselves, water and the heavens mixed perfectly and beautifully, as beautiful as the heavenly chorus. A boy who lives a nightmare of beatings and harshness escapes literally to the wash of the heavens. This is the value of hope.

Yet, as all know who wish upon stars, the symphony must end, and the dream cannot become reality, unless one is willing to make it so. One must be willing to transform the body to gain the spirit of the dream. Without the change, Selene will float, however serenely, into another unreal nothingness. 

Khatruman  16 Jun 2003 
Anyone who uses tarot cards knows the complications of the Death card. Too many non-initiates take it too literally, meaning that it is an ending. The very fact that it appears in position XIII in Major Arcana is a signal that it doesn?t signal the end, but perhaps a movement towards transforming to something else. Of course, to metamorphose into something new, something old must be stripped away.

Selene's float through the Star Portal lands her on the crags of the ninth card: Death. The card is taken from the perspective of the rocky bank of the river that leads to the sea, showing it as if, instead of the soft float into the Star's sea, she must take a more painful path. To go through this portal, Selene must walk across the sharp rocks and climb through the wheel of the Death Portal, which, on first look, gives the hint of a coiled spine of chalky dried bones. Look more closely, and one discerns an almost paper quality to the cones that comprise the front of the Portal. Brown markings are reminiscent of markings on the wings of a moth. As the moth must shed its larval form, so must Selene desert her larval fear. As Traci Darin puts it in the accompanying book to the Portal Tarot: "Death symbolizes what can emerge from the pruning of imposed (from self and others) limitations and perceptions. Old ideas, expectations, activities, views, and beliefs are examined and shed..." This shedding will not necessarily come easily. It is a sharp and rocky path to climb through this portal. On the other side, the hills are lush and green, a silver portal embedded in the bank, and the flat pale silhouette of the disk of the sun is behind a veil of grey clouds, promising a lighter sky, but not the end of a journey. It is the shedding of the old skin and preparation for the new beginning. The coming challenge leaves her cold and raw. 

Khatruman  16 Jun 2003 
Selene's outer shell of emotion has been stripped away for the good, but it is not an immediate happy revelation like perhaps one wishes from seeing a movie, a psychological drama, where the disturbed patient is brought out her darkness by the dedicated psychiatrist, breaking through to shining happy people. It is emotion itself that is torn away, which doesn't leave happiness, but cold truth. In this place, appropriately, falls XI Justice. The middle section of the stage outlines the work that must be done at this stage. The work here to be done is to coldly look back and judge, balance her past against her future goal. In the Portal Justice, the immediate world is very angular, symmetrical, metallic. Nothing here is warmly natural or emotional. The checkerboard of golden squares remind me of a chessboard, representative of a game of cold analysis, pure mental judgment. The portal is a tall columned frame. Semi-transparent green walls open out to the outer world. At the center of the opening an orange, laser perfect spire shoots to the sky, piercing the center of a perfectly balanced floating scale. Exit in cold balance, it seems to say. Consider your future path, a golden path as all before her is tinted in gold. Make your decision.

It is important to note the origin of the word decision. It is from the Latin. cidere=to cut, de=from. So literally, a true decision should cut one off from all other possibilities, to follow this Golden Path.

I am reminded of the Golden Path of Frank Herbert's Dune series. Leto decides to choose a path his father refused. It was a path that placed him at the center of balance in a turbulent politically charged universe, harmonizing everything, but changing his very nature, sacrificing his very human desires, emotions, to transform him literally into the Maker himself, the sandworm who creates the spice, the essential commodity that runs the very universe. It is a tough and uncompromising decision, a sacrifice of self to the whole. The sky in the Portal Justice card is golden, yet still overcast as the sky in the Death card. Barren mountains loom on either side of this path. Selene takes the challenge, moving to the critical midpoint of this stage: 

Khatruman  16 Jun 2003 
Walking through this Portal puts Selene at the very center of consciousness. In the middle of stage two falls XXI The World. With the deck taking mainly the assignations of the Thoth deck, it becomes The Universe Initially, it was difficult for me to come to terms with this card at this juncture of the journey, being accustomed to feeling this card to be one of completion. If this is the Universe, the culmination, the whole, then how is it there is still half of the second stage, and then the third stage to go? And how is this the crisis point of this stage? Crisis? Seems like this is resolution.

But this is Selene's inward journey, Justice asked her to weigh coldly, look inward and balance her past to her future. Her disabling emotional nightmare has been stripped from her, put her in motion to heal, but going back to the very catalyst of her journey, the Temperance card, the waters must be balanced. The past is not to be disregarded, it is to be incorporated. At this critical stage, she has a sense of fullness and satisfaction, and it is a crisis of stasis. In the Portal Universe, she is in a position literally atop the world. Golden stars center her, fall in perfect alignment to her right. The Portal beckons like a throne, to sit in contentment. There is a peace she hasn't known before as the screaming monster of emotion has been quelled and left her stilled. Why should she move on? Why does she need to leave this peace?

The Osho Zen Tarot calls Trump XXI Completion. In the new book Tarot in the Spirit of Zen, Osho talks about "right living," which is completion of all things. He discusses how our minds seek out to complete everything, but many times we leave things incomplete, which create a monologue in our minds of what is left incomplete. These monologues build up and create a cacophony in our heads of incomplete stuff. Though Selene feels quieted of her fears, there are still things left to complete, she still hears things in her head that must be addressed, completed. Her fears had stopped her, frozen her in her nightmare reality. She has broken out of this, a jubilant relief for her.

But fear stopped her from many things. Too much fear paralyzes. Too many things we do not risk for fear of failure. Yet not to do them is failure itself. Now Selene knows this, and is ready to risk and try, but still the questions remain of those things she failed to risk. Would she have succeeded if not for her fear? She cannot know since she hasn't completed them. And left incomplete, they haunt her without an answer. She has conquered the feeling of fear, but she has not addressed fear head on. She has not learned how to handle it. She must step off her perch on top of the world, and go back to face that which she has not yet faced. 

Khatruman  16 Jun 2003 
As I am deciding what to put here, a song has popped into my head. It is not a deeply brilliant song, but a simple, unforgettable tune from an old Rankin-Bass Christmas show. I cannot recall the title of this one, other than to remember that it had Mr. Snow Miser and Mr. Heat Miser, and Rudolph trying to save Christmas. Most anyone who has watched American Christmas programming will recall the tune:

Put on foot in front of the other
And soon you'll be walking 'cross the floor
Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you'll be walking out the door

Though it is a simple little tune, it holds a great philosophy. I believe it is Mr. Snow Miser who is prompted to turn from his evil ways by this ditty. He is the snow miser, frozen and caught in his old ways. He shakily takes the first step and soon he is jaunting along, ready to save Christmas. He had to make that first shaky step though. An old Chinese proverb states, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step." Selene must make now this step away from the peace she thought was the goal of her journey, the final quieting of her fears, but she must make reckoning.

Trump XX Judgement is historically associated with the Day of Judgment, when, according to Christian belief, the dead will rise to make reckoning for their past. They must be called to account for the decisions that they made on their paths in this world. To look at the dead as the past actions themselves, the card signifies that there will come a day when past actions will have to be accounted for. This is what Selene must face. She is gaining a new philosophy that does not include illusion, but it does not in itself wipe away the reality of her past decisions.

Look at the Portal Aeon. In the central portal spot is a shiny object that could be an egg. In this way, it is similar to the Haindl Aeon card with the growing baby in the egg. The suggestion of that new birth is also in the Thoth Aeon card, from which both of these tarots derive inspiration. It is the idea of new birth, a new life. There is promise here.

But also look what creeps into the picture, molten red lava and the sea of red threatening to engulf. The egg hovers over this red sea, a blue egg emerges from it, feeds Selene's egg portal. A perfect shaft of blue connects to the higher light source. Swirls of an olive and brown mass seem to be receding right, the blue light above and below uncovering the egg from its amniotic mass. It emerges shining, and reflecting an archway that leads into a calm blue sea and a shining sun in a pale pink sky. But this reflection is inward. Looking at the outer sky on the left of the card, one sees a dull gray sea and an equally blackened and dead sky. The way out is the way in. If the egg reflects, then it reflects back, and that way takes it across the fiery mass of molten red. It is even a more sinister seeming mass than that which surrounded her in the Portal Moon.

Has the death of her fearful nature prepared her? Has cold balanced golden Justice prepared her? With the emotion of paralyzing fear gone, what emotion does she need to brave forward? 

Khatruman  16 Jun 2003 
One of the great challenges of this journey, I have found, is to look at the archetypes in a fresh way. What Selene is given as a guide past the Aeon, the judgment and inward rebirth, is XI The Lovers. One often looks at the Lovers as something sensual, the joining of the forces of male and female. I know for myself, considering decks of cards, I look for the Lovers card to be sensual. One of my favorite decks, the Sacred Circle, has, to me, what is an unsatisfying Lovers card. The two ?lovers? seem to dance blissfully to their own music, they don?t even seem to notice each other. To me, the lovers should be intent on each other, in a passionate dance of Union. Rachel Pollack's Lovers card in her Shining Tribe Tarot offers a clearly physical union between man and angel.

It is important to note that the original card in the Marseilles deck is The Lover and shows a man and two women, a younger and an older one. Is this man making a choice? Is this man breaking from the comfort of the motherly female to the wife as main feminine force in his life? He is making a choice, if this is the case: abandoning the security of the mother for the desire of the wife, for a deeper, closer union and the promise of the future. The mother is the past, the womb where he came from. The wife is the womb in which he will plant his seed and grow the future.

In the Portal Lovers card, we see a twisting union, almost like a DNA double helix. Blue and gold entwine each other, surrounded by a wreath of yellow and red, vaguely reminiscent of Death's wreath. Behind this are two projecting paths of blue below, and gold above. At the bottom are two spheres, blue to the left, gold to the right, with two smaller spheres farther away on their respective sides. Blue is on the left, and below, two positions which often signify the past, and gold to the right and above, significant of the future, the golden path to take. The choices for the future must be considered, but they are married to the decisions of the past. All twists together. Love unites these things. The message that Selene gets from the Lovers is that the choices one makes for the future must take into account those of the past.

Another way to look at the original Marseilles image is to see them as letting the past inform the future choice. Using the popular Grimaud coloring, where coloring takes on symbolic meaning (which you will see works the same as the Portal coloring on this card), the central man on the card stands with the golden-haired young woman who stands on his right (the future), but he looks back at the blue-haired older woman who stands to his left (the past). Her hand is on his shoulder, which seems to me archetypal of the giving of advice. If I have heartfelt advice for someone, I find myself sometimes placing my hand on the shoulder in this way, somehow it seems right and the advice taker understands. And her left hand pushes the man gently closer to the golden haired woman. The message to me is that the consultation of the past gives the blessing to the future. The blue winged, golden haired angel shoots the white arrow towards the union of the two lovers. Selene's progress will be blessed by her harmonizing of her past and future.

So who is the culminating guide on this second inward stage of Selene's journey? 

Khatruman  16 Jun 2003 
Again Selene is urged on to the next stage by a wanderer card. This time, it is a solitary wandering. The traditional Marseilles image of the IX Hermit gives him two tools, the walking staff and the lantern. The Waite Smith Hermit places him additionally at the edge of a cliff, reminiscent of The Fool. But where the Fool steps blissfully over the edge, eyes turned upward and unaware of the void, the Hermit, stands at the threshold and shines his lantern into the darkness.

This guide shows Selene where she has come on her journey. Her first stage prepared her to move forward, to be able to walk off the edge without the paralyzing fear of the abyss. This stage now adds an element of introspection to her journey. Having conquered her fear in the middle of this stage, it is safe for her again to turn inward and face that reality which before had crippled her, to be able to see what it is and come out the other side of it.

Look at the Portal Hermit. It is one of the only cards of the Portal Tarot that shows a human figure (the Fool is another). He stands at the center of the Portal in an obelisk. He is calm and centered, almost priest-like with his golden crown. The frame of his face is nearly heart shaped, and though hands aren't evident, one gets the sense that they touch finger to finger, thumb to thumb and frame his very heart. It is time for Selene to get to the very heart of the matter. The golden sun rises beyond the mountains. The way to find out what is her outer reality is to go inward and find the true voice inside that will guide her. The screaming howl of fear must now be replaced by the still whisper of conscience.

It is now up to Selene to travel the final stage of this journey, the one that will resolve her both inwardly and outwardly and find her true place in reality.
The third and final stage continues here: The Moon's Journey Stage Three 

Khatruman  16 Jun 2003 
As I have said with the first stage of my post, I greatly welcome comments to this thread. It tells me that people are reading it, and it is worth my time to complete it, plus it keeps the thread up near the top so perhaps others will read it.

You can also PM me any comments if you don't want to openly do so. Thank you for reading this far! :D 

Mimers  16 Jun 2003 
I am so excited to finally see Part 2. Now we all know that Khat is a teacher and teachers have off during the summer, so that means we might see the final stage of Selene's journey soon!:)

Right off the bat I can say that I found myself going back and forth between the Portal Tarot web site and your story. The way you describe the deck is so beautiful and brought the deck to life for me. Though I agree with you that the Star card is one of the most beautiful, the Hermit to me gave me such a wonderful sence of being 'home' and welcome. I am really wishing I had this deck right now. Now see what you have done!

I will be back tomorrow after I have had a chance to read this again from start to finish, well almost finish. Until then, I wait for part 3 with baited breath.

Thanks for sharing with us Khat!


Khatruman  16 Jun 2003 
Ahhh, I wish I had the summer off, but you might know also about teachers that they are underpaid and have to take night jobs and summer jobs to sustain themselves, and assure others that they don't have a life...:P...

Thank you again, with people like you encouraging me, I will get the third stage done... *s* 

Hedera  17 Jun 2003 
Yes, please keep going, I love Selene's story!

This is more or less the perfect way to use tarot, IMHO.

Also, it's just a darn good read! :) 

skytwig  17 Jun 2003 

I craved this thread. It was torture, Khat, but wellllllll worth the wait!!!! ;)

Beautiful, absolutely beautiful. and to do so with the Portal Deck is soooo appropriate. I felt like I was going through the portals as i read your words (I printed them so I could look at the cards as you moved us through them!).

There are so many profound statements in your writing, for instance:

One must be willing to transform the body to gain the spirit of the dream.

or this:

... a true decision must cut one off from all other possibilities, to follow the Golden Path.

and I love this one:

The way out is the way in.

You are a gifted writer, Khat. I hope you are writing a book, the first of . I will certainly buy it/THEM!!!

And the creators/publishers of Portal should be very happy you are doing this - I, for one, want to purchase the deck now!

Can't wait for the last stage, but I will.......


azuremariposa  17 Jun 2003 
amazing...simply amazing, hon...i think it's even better than the first's to the next installment!!! :D yay!!

much love,


skytwig  18 Jun 2003 
Being a little pushy here..... posting to keep this "in view". AThis thread is a marvelous contribution to the energy here... I encourage readers to check out the first stage also......

Wonderful, Khat! :) 

Mimers  18 Jun 2003 
It seems to me that Selene faced the most difficult part of her journey in the begining. It was so appropriate that the preparation for her journey ended with the Fool. She had to face her demonds first and come to terms with herself before the leap of faith into the abys.

With Star being the first card of the second part of her journey I started thinking about how deserving Selene was for a little break. Then I started reflecting on my own life, and is it not true that as we trudge through life's trials, every time we feel we can no longer face it, God sends us the star that heals and gives us hope. Don't we look at the stars at night and make wishes? I know I do. I kind of imagined Selane plopping herself in the glowing river, lying her head on one of those floating balls and sighing, 'I think I'll just take a little rest'.

And then BAM death. I looked at the card and thought, ' I sure hope Selene has a good pair of hiking boots on'. It was perfect for Selene that Justice followed Death. Isn't it when we get rid of the garbage, or as Khat put it, 'shed our skin' that we finally are able to see truthfully and therefore make your decision more wisely?

An interesting twist on the Universe, perhaps this is a temptation for Selene. She got past her transformation in the Death portal and made her choice in Justice, now she is being tested by being offered a throne on top of the world. Wouldn't it be nice to just stay right there and not complete the journey. Don't we all get rapped up in 'ok, I'm done now. I will just stay here complacent and happy for the rest of my life.' Some people do, but some people say, 'I know there is more' and move on.

I smiled from ear to ear when I saw the song that popped into your head. I loved that show! Watch it every year! There is good in everyone and if you believe in yourself you can do it! Self confidence, courage. It was as if she made it through the groundwork and now she was really starting to actually change.

The lovers in the end was perfect, because although we all change as we go through life, our past is always a part of who we become.

I love the Hermit card in this deck. It is so beautiful to me. It made me feel all safe and secure. Is it that Selene is finally learning how to listen to her heart?

Khat this journey has been awsome. I cant wait for the ending. Thanks for sharing it with all of us.


The The Moon's Journey Stage Two--The Golden Path Inward thread was originally posted on 16 Jun 2003 in the Using Tarot Cards board, and is now archived in the Forum Library. Read the threads in Using Tarot Cards, or read more archived threads.

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