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From Imagination to Delusion

March 1, 2014

The Power of Illusion

By Madeline Montalban

In the Tarot trumps, No. 18 is the Moon. As a descriptive medium for the mystery of this trump, the pictorial symbolism of two dogs baying and a crayfish climbing out of a pond is inadequate, but who can convey, in one picture, the power of illusion?

Let us consider the Queen of Heaven, the Moon, extolled by poets and shot at by scientists. If you have never dallied in the moonlight with a handsome youth or a beautiful girl, this article is not for you. For in the Tarot, No. 18, the Moon, deals with illusion. The spotty-faced, ordinary young man may seem like Prince Charming under the Moon’s rays; and the ordinary little girl like a fairy princess to her adoring swain. The man who believes that he alone is called to spread God’s word to the world, and the poor lunatic who raises Cain on the night of the Full Moon – both are victims of illusion.

MM18The message behind this card is that things can look larger than life at Full Moon. We each have, within us, a Moon that goes through all its phases. This is called imagination – a word which should not be used contemptuously. Without imagination, no pictures would be painted, no books written, no buildings planned and erected; in fact, nothing would be created at all – not even you! If your parents had not fallen in love and succumbed to the illusion called love by some and sexual attraction by others, you would not have been here.

Not all love is illusion, but illusion plays a great part in it. Most people fall in love not with a person but with their own ideas of that person. This is illusion and, as time strips off the moonlit glamour, the better and unrealized qualities of the person show through. Or, sometimes, the worst qualities, and then there is a falling out of love.

There is a great difference between illusion, which can be creative, and delusion, which is wholly destructive. Illusions lend themselves to creations of all kinds, if only temporarily. Delusions can only destroy. The dog bays the Moon because he is supposed to have an inbuilt sensory perception which warns him of evil. Delusions were once believed to have been caused by evil spirits.

The crayfish, in its love life, experiences a wonderful illusion. It can fall in love with itself, until some other crayfish comes along and teaches it better ways! The narcissistic, or self-admiring, crayfish is like a lot of people who exist in the world today. They are so much in love with themselves that they can never wholly love another. They may marry and mate, but they still carry on a wonderful love affair with themselves, based on self-admiration.

Other people are like the dog who bays at the Moon. They think they are warning others of evil or demons or devils (and history is full of these, from Torquemada and his associates down to the witch-burners), when all they are really doing is letting out their own inner fears under the illusory guise of giving warning, doing good, doing the Lord’s work, or whatever the cant of the day happens to be. Every person with an ounce of imagination comes under the rule of the Moon, for she is the Mistress of Illusion, or Maya, whose many-coloured veils can make life beautiful and tolerable.

As an example, a woman I knew lived out her married life quite happily and serenely with a man who was idle,. dishonest and worthless. But she never saw him that way. Hers was the happiness of illusion. For her, the moonlight always shone upon him and transformed him into a fairy prince. She construed his idleness as deep-thinking philosophy, his dishonesty as inability to bother about such a vulgar thing as money, and his worthlessness was, to her, most dear, since she felt that she alone, of all women in the world, understood this man.

For her, the moonlight of illusion experienced in her courting days lasted all her lifetime. She lived and died a happy woman. Nobody could disillusion her, though many tried (quite wrongly, to my mind) for she was wrapped around firmly by the veils of Maya, the rosy tints of illusion or self-deception.

That is a case where no harm came of a woman’s illusion, for illusions can bring happiness. Usually they are only temporary but, when permanent, they are a great solace.

Don’t be one of those people who are keen to disillusion others, for the power of Maya is great. She does not allow outsiders to disillusion the lovers, or even the self-lovers. She awakens them herself, when the time is ripe, by removing her rosy veils and letting the person, or illusory factor, be seen in its own grey light. Then suffering of an acute, personal nature can come.

But do not have any part in bringing this suffering to those under the spell of illusion. They will only hate you if you do.

Illusion, like the mists of the moon, must pass away. Illusions can bring happiness, if only temporarily, and one should not try to destroy that happiness. When it vanishes by itself, as when the song of the Lorelei dies away, the ship of illusion founders on the rocks.

Illusion and delusion are difficult to deal with, for they rule the mind through the imagination – the same imagination as can inspire poets, painters, writers, architects and musicians.

The Moon has moods, and can bring some very inspiring ones. Illusion can be grand, but its reverse is delusion and both are powerful. You can’t argue with a lunatic who thinks he is Napoleon. Either he relinquishes this delusion or he doesn’t. The same with illusions. They end or they don’t, but there is little that outsiders can do about it.

Love can be an illusion, but who are we to say that it is? Time will prove whether it is or not.

The ambitious person may be under the delusion that he has the power to achieve great success, but if he hasn’t, nothing you can say or do will make him act any differently.

Be gentle with illusions, for they will yield to time. Be sympathetic with delusions, for they are very strong. But don’t try to make people see things as they are, for the power of Maya does not intend that they shall do so until they have gone through the given experience and found it out for themselves. Illusions are like mist. They cannot be fought, but time dissolves them.
[First published in Prediction, May 1967.]

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