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Moon Lore

    Folk belief has always held the moon as a prominent subject. In Mythology, the moon is thought of as the counterpart of the Sun.
    Long ago, ancient people believed that the moon was chasing the sun and that each night the sun descended into the Underworld as the moon reigned the night sky.

    Moon Mythology – Lunar Deities – Moon Phases – 5 Famous Moon Poems & Quotes

    Lunar Deities

    Moon mythology includes lunar deities such as the Greek Selene, or Selena, and Artemis who evolved into the Roman Luna and Diana or the Thracian Bendis. Interestingly, moon mythology also includes the male lunar deity Nanna or Sin from the Mesopotamian culture. African mythology brings us Thoth, who ruled the Egyptians as their lunar deity and is many times depicted wearing a lunar crescent upon his head. Other male lunar deities include Tsukuyomi or Tsukiyomi representing the Shinto and Japanese god. Polynesian mythology includes the male lunar deities Fati and Marama but also has at least 3 female lunar deities named Hina, Lona and Mahina.

    Moon Gods and Goddesses

    There have been hundreds of Lunar and Moon related deities recorded throughout history. Their role in the lives of the people that recognized them as part of their belief system could be anywhere from slight to life changing. In most cultures, the sexual polarity of male/female remained intact between their chosen sun and moon deities. And while we usually tend to think of lunar deities as female, there were actually quite a few male moon gods who served their function not only for what we today call Mythology but for what they then called the Gods.

    Here are just 7 of the lesser known Moon Gods and Moon Goddesses from all over the world:

    7 Moon Gods and Goddesses

    • Pah – North American Pawnee tribe. Her counterpart, Shakuru the Sun god, was also created by the Creator god, Atius Tirawa. The Pawnee used celestial observation to coordinate their rituals and harvest dates.
    • Kuu – Moon god of Finnish mythology. According to the epic poetry of The Kalevala or The Kalewala, an egg fell from the abyss and formed the Universe. The yolk became the Sun while the white of the egg became the moon.
    • Lona – possibly another name for Hawaiian moon goddess Hina. She fell in love with a mortal named Aikanaka and married him.
    • Iah – Ancient Egyptian god of the moon, Iah forms somewhat of a triple-god union with fellow lunar deities, Thoth and Khonsu, having similar strengths and duties. Iah simply means “moon”.
    • Anamati – This ancient Hindi word means, “to grant permission”. As the overseer of all of Nature’s “permissions”, the goddess Anamati governs Peace and Spirituality and is considered to be worshiped when one worships Lord Shiva.
    • Máni – Moon god of Norse mythology. Brother of shining sister Sól, son of mortal Mundilfari. Seen by the gods as arrogant after Mundilfari named his children “moon” and “sun”, they were banished to the heavens where Máni guided the moon and looked after its’ waxing and waning. As told in the Alvíssmál from the Norse epic Poetic Edda, god of thunder, Thor, asks the dwarf Alvíss what the moon is called in each of the worlds. He is told that for mankind it is “moon”, for the gods, “fiery one”, in Hel, the “whirling wheel”, by dwarves, “the shiner”, elves, “the counter of years”, and “the hastener” by the jötnar.
    • Arianrhod – Lunar goddess of Welsh mythology. Famous in the Mabinogion for laying out curses, she gave birth to two boys by magical means. Arianrhod’s home turf, Caer Arianrhod, is said to be visible to this day, during low-tide, off the coast of Gwynedd. The name, Arianrhod, comes from the welsh words, “silver” and “wheel”.

    Interpreting the Lunar Cycle and Phases

    Lunar Rotation

    As the moon rotates, it reflects varying degrees of light from the Sun. While it reveals different parts of it’s surface, due to it’s rotational pattern we can only ever see one side of the moon from Earth. This situation has long given rise to speculation about the dark side of the moon and what, or whom, may reside there.

    “Every one is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.”

    — Mark Twain

    Interpreting the Lunar Cycle and Phases

    see also: 10 Astrology & Numerology Tips

    One complete cycle of the moon moving through each of it’s four phases takes between 29 or 30 days.

    The New Moon phase takes place while the sun’s light is not reflected from the moon’s surface. This monthly event appears to make the moon temporarily disappear hence the phrase, “the dark of the moon”. This period of the lunar cycle has long been used for spell-craft as it is thought to be the optimum time for initiating spells. The new moon is also the preferred or a “ripe time” to plant seeds–of any kind, be they in the ground or in friendship, love or business.
    The Crescent Moon takes shape during the time just after the new moon and just before the quarter moon phase. It is aptly named for it’s “C” shape. Moon mythology often portrays the moon goddess with a crescent on her head. This period of time is best used quietly tending the affairs of whatever took place during the new moon.
    The Quarter Moon lunar phase occurs when just half of the moon is visible. When the moon is waxing, (on it’s cycle to becoming full)it is called the first quarter. When the moon is waning, (just after the full moon)it is called the last quarter. A waxing moon is a time to use natural momentum and creative energy to build or cause an outcome. A waning moon is a time to naturally recede, regroup and recharge.
    The Gibbous Moon falls between the quarter and full moon phases. More than half of the moon is visible. As each day the gibbous phase continues, more of the moon is seen in the sky as it nears the full moon phase. This is a time of perceived acceleration as people, animals, things and energy can magnify in their intensity.
    The Full Moon is when the moon is seen as a full circle of light. As the sun’s light aligns to create this bright mirror we may choose to think of the full moon as the sun’s child or companion as did the ancients so long ago. The pull of the power of the full moon can be readily felt a day or two on either side of the actual calendar time. The full moon period is historically associated with endings and the release of energy and the unveiling of mysteries as the light of the full moon increases.

    Q: What are the Full Moons called?

    Native Americans called the January moon the Wolf Moon, the Old Moon, or the Moon After Yule.

    The Wolf Moon

    A: The Native Americans used these names, as did the early European settlers.

    1. January – “Full Wolf Moon”
    2. February – “Full Snow Moon”
    3. March – “Full Worm Moon”
    4. April – “Full Pink Moon”
    5. May – “Full Flower Moon”
    6. June – “Full Strawberry Moon”
    7. July – “Full Buck Moon”
    8. August – “Full Sturgeon Moon”
    9. September – “Full Corn Moon” or “Full Harvest Moon”
    10. October – “Full Hunter’s Moon” or “Full Harvest Moon”
    11. November – “Full Beaver Moon”
    12. December – “Full Cold Moon” or “Full Long Night’s Moon”

    Q: What is a Blue Moon?

    Answer: There are 4 Seasons in every year: Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. Each of these Seasons lasts 3 months and usually has 3 full moons but every now and again there are 4 full moons during a Season in which the additional full moon is called a Blue Moon.

    The Blue Moon and Lunar Year

    Blue Moon is rather rare but does happen on average about every 2 to 3 years. The old saying, “Once in a blue moon” refers to this very phenomenon. As there are about eleven more days in each Solar calendar year(365 days) than the Lunar year(354 days), those extra eleven days add up over time (approx. every 2.7 years) to bringing about an “extra” full moon during a month’s time.

    Photo by Ganapathy Kumar

    Lunacy and the Full Moon

    Lunacy and the Full Moon

    We’re made up of approx. 77% water. It seems safe to say that the cycles of the moon may have a role to play in the tides of our minds as well.

    Photo by Mihail Tregubov

    The ancient observation that the full moon and strange behavior are somehow connected eventually became part of many belief systems as large groups of people incorporated the lunar cycle into their daily lives. The words loony, lunatic, and lunacy, all come from the full moon’s association with mental behavior. Odd, strange behavior and violent acts rise in number during the full moon. It’s no wonder that law enforcement agencies around the world take special notice of the full moon period.

    Folklore around the world tells of strange shifts in energy around the time of the full moon that creates monsters of men. The Greek Werewolf (lycanthrope) legend tells of a man bitten by beast and subject to a lunar curse repeating itself on each full moon. Native American mythology has many tales of shape-shifters, where humans turn into various animals.

    Most of these ancient myths and old legends share an association with the full moon. There is something about the full moon’s gravitational pull that effects the human chemistry is such a way as to cause many of us to experience varied levels of anxiety and other uncomfortable mental related issues.

    Bide by the moon, follow her glow,
    By the light of the new we renew and grow.
    By the waxing quarter our determination shows,
    By the full moon’s light our desires we know.
    By the waning quarter we ebb and flow,
    By the dark moon’s presence we return what we’ve sown.
    Bide by the moon,
    Follow her glow.

    – Unknown

    5 Famous Moon Poems

    The Moon

    by Emily Dickinson (1830 – 1886)

    The moon was but a chin of gold
    A night or two ago,
    And now she turns her perfect face
    Upon the world below.
    Her forehead is of amplest blond;
    Her cheek like beryl stone;
    Her eye unto the summer dew
    The likest I have known.
    Her lips of amber never part;
    But what must be the smile
    Upon her friend she could bestow
    Were such her silver will!
    And what a privilege to be
    But the remotest star!
    For certainly her way might pass
    Beside your twinkling door.
    Her bonnet is the firmament,
    The universe her shoe,
    The stars the trinkets at her belt,
    Her dimities of blue.

    To the Moon

    by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792 – 1822)

    Art thou pale for weariness
    Of climbing heaven and gazing on the earth,
    Wandering companionless
    Among the stars that have a different birth,
    And ever-changing like a joyless eye
    That finds no object worth its constancy?

    Quiet Night Thoughts

    by Li Bai (701 -762 CE)

    I wake, and moonbeams play around my bed,

    Glittering like hoar-frost to my wandering eyes;

    Up towards the glorious moon I raised my head,

    Then lay me down — and thoughts of home arise.

    The Wind and the Moon

    by George MacDonald (1825 – 1905)

    Said the Wind to the Moon, “I will blow you out;
    You stare
    In the air
    Like a ghost in a chair,
    Always looking what I am about —
    I hate to be watched; I’ll blow you out.”

    The Wind blew hard, and out went the Moon.
    So, deep
    On a heap
    Of clouds to sleep,
    Down lay the Wind, and slumbered soon,
    Muttering low, “I’ve done for that Moon.”

    He turned in his bed; she was there again!
    On high
    In the sky,
    With her one ghost eye,
    The Moon shone white and alive and plain.
    Said the Wind, “I will blow you out again.”

    The Wind blew hard, and the Moon grew dim.
    “With my sledge,
    And my wedge,
    I have knocked off her edge!
    If only I blow right fierce and grim,
    The creature will soon be dimmer than dim.”

    He blew and he blew, and she thinned to a thread.
    “One puff
    More’s enough
    To blow her to snuff!
    One good puff more where the last was bred,
    And glimmer, glimmer, glum will go the thread.”

    He blew a great blast, and the thread was gone.
    In the air
    Was a moonbeam bare;
    Far off and harmless the shy stars shone —
    Sure and certain the Moon was gone!

    The Wind he took to his revels once more;
    On down,
    In town,
    Like a merry—mad clown,
    He leaped and halloed with whistle and roar —
    “What’s that?” The glimmering thread once more!

    He flew in a rage — he danced and blew;
    But in vain
    Was the pain
    Of his bursting brain;
    For still the broader the Moon—scrap grew,
    The broader he swelled his big cheeks and blew.

    Slowly she grew — till she filled the night,
    And shone
    On her throne
    In the sky alone,
    A matchless, wonderful silvery light,
    Radiant and lovely, the queen of the night.

    Said the Wind: “What a marvel of power am I!
    With my breath,
    Good faith!
    I blew her to death —
    First blew her away right out of the sky —
    Then blew her in; what strength have I!

    But the Moon she knew nothing about the affair;
    For high
    In the sky,
    With her one white eye,
    Motionless, miles above the air,
    She had never heard the great Wind blare.

    The Harvest Moon

    by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 – 1882)

    It is the Harvest Moon! On gilded vanes
    And roofs of villages, on woodland crests
    And their aerial neighborhoods of nests
    Deserted, on the curtained window-panes
    Of rooms where children sleep, on country lanes
    And harvest-fields, its mystic splendor rests!
    Gone are the birds that were our summer guests,
    With the last sheaves return the laboring wains!
    All things are symbols: the external shows
    Of Nature have their image in the mind,
    As flowers and fruits and falling of the leaves;
    The song-birds leave us at the summer’s close,
    Only the empty nests are left behind,
    And pipings of the quail among the sheaves.