Mythology Of The Moon
Governing as she does the fundamental rhythms of our lives, the Moon’s changing face is the primary symbol of mystery and cyclical change. Her deep feminine nature is evidenced in the ovulation cycle. She lights the night and smiles on lovers, but her ever-shifting face and her association with bleeding have given her a dark and frightening side.
The Moon In Mythology
In mythology she has a number of parallels, most accurately with Selena of the Titan age, moon goddess, sister of Helius, and a more nature-based goddess than the Olympians with human foibles who succeeded her. In later days, the Moon was often related to Circe, Hecate and perhaps Artemis.
Circe was certainly a representation of awesome feminine power, since she was a much-feared witch, reputed to have poisoned her husband.
Circe was renowned for her vast knowledge of potions and herbs. Through the use of magical potions and a wand or a staff, she transformed her enemies, or those who offended her, into animals. (Wikipedia)
She had the power to change men into animals, and she is famous for turning Odysseus’ men into swine. She could darken the sky at will by hiding the sun and the moon. She could call on Nyx, the fearsome goddess of the night, Chaos, father of Gaia, and Hecate the witch queen of the underworld. She could make the forests move and the earth shake. This dark representation of femininity is still very present in our consciousness.
Yet her life was by no means all dark. She was terrified by the visions and beasts that inhabited the dark hours, yet she spent her days planting and managing a vast herbarium. It was the task of the Nereides and the Nymphs to classify and tend its plants and flowers.
Like Aphrodite, Circe loved. When Odysseus’ band was sent by Zeus to her island for purification. Circe welcomed his men into her home then fed them a potion of forgetfulness and changed them to swine. Odysseus, however, gained immunity to her spells from Hermes. She saw this man as a different wanderer, and mindful of a prediction by Hermes, she took him as a lover. He persuaded her to free his men, and the band stayed comfortably with Circe for more than a year. She subsequently gave Odysseus as he moved on all the advice he needed to travel to Hades’ realm, and also to avoid the Sirens, yet still hear their song.
Hecate was variously associated with crossroads, entrance-ways, dogs, light, the moon, magic, witchcraft, knowledge of herbs and poisonous plants, ghosts, necromancy, and sorcery.
The reflective, elusive nature of the moon’s light is similarly represented by three-headed Hecate, goddess of the crossroads, a benign patron of farmers and agriculture by day, but a fearsome traveller with the dead at night.
Her origin is uncertain. Some say she was descended from the Titans, a grand-daughter of Helius, the Sun god. Others say she was daughter of Nyx, the goddess of night, and others the daughter of Tartarus. This last suggests she was a vestige of the old order lasting into the new.
Either way, she was powerful and independent. When Zeus overthrew the Titans, and the old order fell, Hecate’s power of presence ensured that she retained her dominion of night and the dead. There is little record of her relationship to Hades, but, touched by the plight of Persephone after her capture by Hades, she comforted Demeter with sweet words and adopted Persephone as her companion when mother and daughter were reunited.
Known for her nursing skill and her care of children she represents a complex symbol of womanhood. Her ability to grant or remove wealth at will, and her arbitrary dealings with the fishermen who revered her as their patron gave her the reputation of wilfulness and caprice. She was the mother of witches, and was the power behind the craft of Medea and Circe. She nurtured and bewitched.
In her uneasy juxtaposition of fertility and death she has powerful connections to the dark cycles of the Moon, and perhaps even to the intensity of Pluto.
The virgin huntress. goddess of wild things, was sister of Apollo, and received the mantle of moon in the more sophisticated, less prime-itive Olympian pantheon, just as Apollo received the mantle of sun. She became a different, more refined, aspect of womanhood.
When Apollo was regarded as identical with the sun or Helios, nothing was more natural than that his sister should be regarded as Selene or the moon.
As the goddess of the moon, she wears a long robe which reaches down to her feet, a veil covers her head, and above her forehead rises the crescent of the moon. In her hand she often appears holding a torch.
Her face was assertive virginity. She punished those who swore chastity and then fell. She took no account of the romance or surrender of sexuality and pursued the wild instead. Artemis embodied all that was free and unencumbered, and yet was called upon by those in childbirth to assist in delivery. Her sense of boundaries was such that she changed those men who glimpsed her naked, either into women or into the animals of her realm.
Her pleasure was to lead the dance of the muses, the daughters of Memory who govern all poetry, song and the written word.
As with all representations of the female, she inspired fear. Her pure embrace of the vast kingdom of the wild gave her great power, but her arrows, falling from afar, were tipped with plague and disease. Like her brother Apollo, like all the gods, she brought joy and woe indiscriminately.
Aphrodite never had power over Artemis. The two formed the polar opposites of womanhood, which remain today. They have deep parallels in the biblical madonna-whore representations, and reflect, like so many developing myths, the rise of patriarchy and the ambivalence towards the earlier goddess cultures.
The Moon In Astrology
Astrologically, the Moon represents our responsive self. She is emotion and reaction, mood and change. Her behaviour tends to the instinctive but shows sympathy, care and imagination. She is intuitive and in touch with the cycles of life. Like Venus, she represents femininity, but in a deeper, more basic way. She is the female of the Sun-Moon archetypes in us all.