Tarot Spotlight: The Light of the Sun, Star, and Moon

A lot of cards prominently feature light as a Symbolic Element. The Hermit has a lantern. The Sun and Star get their own whole cards. The Tower is being hit by lightning. The Moon borrows light and uses it for its own purposes.

Light can bring clarity, but it behaves differently based on where it’s shining and how gently or harshly.

The Sun is warmth and easy joy for a lot of people, the kind of uncomplicated sincere unselfconscious happiness that a lot of us have drilled out of us as children. This is why there’s a child on a horse on the RWS version. This kid is out here, entirely naked as kids sometimes are determined to be, but contrary to what we’re taught… this happy and sincere and fully embodied kid is getting places. Growing out of who they are wasn’t necessary, nor was hiding anything. The most complete and sincerely-rooted version of themselves can also ride the always-symbolically-relevant horse, just as they are.

There is a caution here sometimes.

The Sun is a very vulnerable card, because sincerity is vulnerable. Being willing to be seen is extremely vulnerable. Being willing to pursue things as yourself allows other people the opportunity to form opinions about it, and other people’s opinions can turn into problems. The Sun is not just carefree and innocent; it’s very brave. The Sun goes unprotected by shade or shelter, choosing to be seen for its whole self rather than hide behind defenses.

Not everyone can be The Sun all the time. Sometimes, there are more important things than being accurately seen and understood. Honesty is a risk, and we can’t always take that risk.

The Star is less glaring, and to me implies an external source of guidance or support, tailored to your circumstances. It’s a glimpse that things are changing for the better, or perhaps most of all that YOU can change them, without the overwhelming detail coming down on you like a load of obligation bricks.

The Sun shows all the details. The world is blasted with the unforgiving glare that shows every part of it for what it is, and so are the people in it. The star is more like, “just wanted to remind you that there is a forward, we’ll talk about specifics later, xoxo”

It comes after Tower for that reason. After lightning has hit something you relied on, the last thing that’ll reassure you is GIANT FLASH OF OVERWHELMING LIGHT! HOPE THAT HELPS!! FOR GOOD MEASURE IT WILL ALSO BE LOUD!

instead it’s “light can be safe, take your time and we’ll hang out soon”

The Moon is a different illumination, in that it sort of…. doesn’t illuminate very much? You can see more, but not necessarily in a way that brings clarity. Moonlight tells you where the deep shadows are but does not dispel them. A lot of the destructive potential of water is there too, in the scorpion sort of sneaking out from the symbolically important river.

Personal discernment and judgment become really important when the Moon shows up in a reading. The Moon paints hazards vaguely, often just shrouding them in a vague dread, and you could avoid the worst of them if you avoid all of them. But can you?

I hope this makes it a little easier to see why it’s not enough to say that light is a symbol for revelation and guidance. There are types of revelation, and times for guidance, and those specifics matter.

Author: generallyCobalt

she/her/hers. Actually autistic. Not even remotely Three Laws Safe.

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