The Cancer Myth- The Myth Of Selene
The myth of Selene – The Moon
Theia was the name that the pre-Hellenic civilisation gave to a Goddess who represented “the light that shines far”. Theia was the daughter of Uranus and of Gaia, two cosmogonic ancestors that, among other children, had given life to Hyperion, a bright God called “the one above” who, in turn, gave light to the Stars that were giving brightness to the Earth. Among them “Helios: God of the Sun; Eos: the Dawn; and Selene: the Moon”.
Selene derives from the Greek Sélas who means brilliance, flame, brilliant element; she had inherited her eyes from her mother Theia, a symbol that in the antiquity was always associated with females and with the moon.
This charcateristic of the myth, in fact reminds us how much in the Greek world the Moon was associated with oxen, that have damp and big eyes, a symbol of intensity and of emotionality; that produce milk, another typically lunar and motherly symbol and that, lastly, have “syckle” horns that symbolise two lunar phases: growing and falling.
In the land of the fertile half moon, the symbol of the horn represents the lunar syckle. Still today in many countries of the Middle East the flags have the Moon syckle.
Selene is described as white, pale and often diaphanous, with soft and clear skin (to demonstrate she is not exposed to the heat of the sun), with so many curls on her head that they flow down but never provoke.
Often she is represented in the middle of the starry sky driving the towed lunar cart of oxen (at times horses) presented by the god Pan as compensation after the heaviest affrontation where he took her and seduced her with deceit. Pan is a symbol of fecundation and of great sexual power, but he is a dark God, Chthonic, a God who without being able to live in the brightness of Olympus, can never appear completely in the light of the sun; Selene did not recognise him as he had covered his goat like and hairy part, when he was hiding under the innocent and soft skin of a white sheep (symbol of innocence).
Obviously this part of the myth reminds us that the Moon does not shine its brightness directly and it might not even come out again after the end of the cycle, if it does not pass through fecundation and insemination of a male, and also the night which is dark and almost hell like, very similar to the “dark” parts of the Black Moon.
In fact this is a typical Selene trait: she cannot show herself during the day, but she must do everything at night, when the solar light is going down and is feeble, and then, she does not let us see things completely.
Robert Graves says that Selene had frequent love games with the solar male part of Helium (her brother) so that when it sets, lying down on the Ocean, Selene could be seen. Two stars would meet, but above all they looked for a relationship that had to be different each time in terms of its situation and duration; and this to satisfy Selene’s variability.
For twenty five days in the month – that represent the time in which the Moon is visible in the sky during the night – a loving brother and sister (Sun and Moon) meet to touch and to be embrace tenderly.
It is obvious that this reference is tied to the cycle of the Moon and of the Sun, when they run after each other day after day in the sky: the fact that they are related seems to recall a kind of androgyny of both as Selene (female) is the mirror of Helium (male), and the latter, as the Sun god reflected completely in the moon while she reflects his light at night.
Their love is not passionate, but they seem more tender, infantile and adolescent, pursuits that only from time to time they manage to consume.
Obviously the moment in which the relationship is consumed is the moment in which an eclipse happens for the Sun or Moon, in which one of two stars is darkened and cannot be seen, because they are united in celestial copulation.
Selene nevertheless had not only Helium as a lover, since each month she disappears cyclically unknown to him to find Endimione, a young shepherd emblem of tenderness with whom she lies for three days and for three nights in a cave on the mountain Latmo, in Asia Minor.
For those three days, obviously, the Moon will not appear in the sky since these are the days of the new moon.
Theirs is an intense love but, at the same time, pure and secret that cannot be seen. Selene asked Zeus to give her the possibility of satisfying one of the wishes of Endimione and he chose to remain a young man in an eternal sleep.
The myths interpreters assert that the secret meetings between Endimione and Selene represent female sexuality that cyclically grows sleepy, or better retires; particularly Kerény says that those three days represent the female menstrual cycle correlated to the cycle of the moon. For a woman it is the phase in which “she finds herself again” becoming secluded and without appearing; for the moon it is the phase in which she is not visible in the sky; the author asserts that it is peculiar “to retire and to be hidden” because the sexuality of the woman remains young eternally because she opens a new fecundation cycle, exactly how, after the new moon, the brilliance of the Moon will find its place again in the sky with the “growth” phase.
Obviously Selene very much recalls the Moon in its Cancer domicile. In her they are drawn to extreme sensitiveness, and also reluctance, supported by great emotion, shyness and purity that drives to not “give visibility” to things, to emotions and feelings. In Cancer womanliness is never paraded, as if it was never “completely mature”; she is rather tender, envelopping and there lets something of an infantile person shine through, which makes us think about a promise of something that must be shown through slow maturation. The womanliness of the Moon in Cancer is very much tied to motherhood and to feeding from the breast; in that phase in which mother and child are very much united but seen by others as companions, in all that they are and representing one unit.
Selene substantially represents the possibility of giving space to life in order to grow and, then shine. Selene does not, of course, have the visibility of Demeter and mature lunar goddesses also embody the symbol of the gods of nature; she is a more moderate, younger, shier goddess and perhaps also a bit insecure, which can symbolise the phase of the waning moon that preludes to the new moon, a symbol of a womanliness not yet completely expressed, but already “fertilised” to be able to be guided so that a new cycle will reappear through her vital support.