Monday, February 11, 2008

Moon Mythology

Moon Day

Monday (from the old english 'monon daeg') is associated with the moon, so it seems like a good day to write about it.

I was going to write about the history of the moon but as often happens, I was distracted into the mythology instead!

Moon Goddess

Although sometimes depicted as a male deity, the moon is more commonly associated with a goddess. See here for an extended list of lunar deities, but here are a few interesting examples:


Phoenician goddess of war and love. The mother goddess, she is usually depicted naked, and is associated with the moon: 'I am the One who is the beauty of the Earth, the green of growing things. I am the white Moon, whose light is full and bright among the stars, soft upon the Earth. From Me all things are born, to Me all things, in their season, return. Let My joyous worship be in your hearts, for all acts of love and pleasures are My rituals. You see Me in the love of man and woman, the love of parent and child, the love of humans to all My creations. When you create with your hands, I am there. I blow the breath of life into the seeds you plant, whether of plant or child. Always I stand beside you, whispering soft words of wisdom and guidance.'


Often depicted as a cat or a woman with the head of a cat, Bastet is associated with the moon, since the moon governs the menstrual cycle and she was the Egyptian goddess of fertility and protection. Because of her all-seeing sacred eye (called the utchat) that magically saw through the dark, Bastet is one of the few sun goddesses also classified as a moon goddess, perhaps because of her glowing cat's eyes reflecting the moon as well as her association with fertility.


The Aztec goddess of flowers, love, and craftsmanships, Xochiquetzal is a fertility goddess. She is also patron of goddess of pregnant women and childbirth, as well as the moon. As the goddess of all artistic endeavours, she is perfect for writers. Xochiquetzal was also associated by the Aztecs, with chocolate!

Heng E

Heng E is the Chinese goddess of the moon, who sacrificed herself to save humanity with the help of an elixir from Guan Yin, the goddess of compassion.


The Japanese moon goddess, Marishi-Ten, predates Zen, but her worship appears to be geared towards a similar meditative mode in order to enable the warrior to achieve a more heightened spiritual level. He lost interest in the issues of victory or defeat (or life and death), thus transcending to a level where he became so empowered that he was freed from his own grasp on mortality. The end result was that he became a better warrior. The worship of Marishiten was to provide a way to achieve selflessness and compassion through Buddhist training by incorporating a passion for the mastery of the self.

Perhaps the most well-known moon goddesses are those of Greek and Roman mythology: the Greek trilogy of Artemis, Selene and Hecate (representing three phases of the moon), and the Roman equivalent of Artemis, the goddess Diana.


The Greek virgin goddess, daughter of Zeus and Leto, is sometimes said to be Apollon's twin sister, but some tales tell of her birth several days earlier so she could help her mother with the birth of Apollon.

Goddess of the moon, she often wears the lunar crescent on her brow. She rides her silver chariot across the sky, shooting her arrows of silver Moonlight to the earth below, and is often confused with the Roman goddess, Diana.

Artemis is 'a freedom-loving young woman who likes to roam the forests with her female companions. She doesn't care for city life and keeps to the natural, wild environment.' She smooths life's transitions, like childbirth and death.


Selene is 'a young woman with an extremely white face who travels on a silver chariot drawn by two horses. Selene wears a silver robe, carries a torch, and has a half moon on her head. After her brother Helios (Sun) crosses the sky, she begins her trek. Before Selene's trip across the night sky she bathes in the sea.'

Selene is sometimes confused with Artemis and Hecate, who were also moon-goddesses. The moon is said to be the reflection of her pale body.


Greek goddess of the three paths, guardian of the household, protector of everything newly born, and the goddess of witchcraft, Hecate was once a widely revered and influential goddess. However, the reputation of Hecate has been tarnished over the centuries, and she is now usually depicted as an old hag or witch.

Originally, Hecate was a beautiful and powerful goddess, the only one of the ancient Titans who Zeus allowed to retain their authority once the Olympians seized control. Zeus shared with Hecate (and only with her), the awesome power of giving humanity anything she wished (or withholding it if she pleased).

Usually classified as a 'moon goddess', her power in fact lay in all three worlds: earth, sea, and sky. She had the power to create or withhold storms, and was worshipped as protector of shepherds and sailors.

The Moon Trilogy

The Moon is the 'goddess with three forms: Selene in the sky, Artemis on Earth, and Hecate in the lower world—the world above cloaked in darkness. These forms are reflected in the Moon’s phases. As the new Moon She is the maiden-goddess Artemis, always new and virginal, reborn and ready for the hunt. As the waxing Moon, increasing in fullness, She is the fertile mother-goddess, pregnant with life. And as She wanes to darkness, She is the wise crone or witch Hecate, knowledgeable in the magical arts, with the power to heal or transform. Through Artemis, Diana, Cynthia, Selene, Luna, Phoebe and Hecate, the many faces of woman and of the changing Moon are displayed.'


Diana was the equivalent in Roman mythology of the Greek Artemis. She was the daughter of Jupiter and Latona, and the twin sister of Apollo.

Diana was the perpetual virgin goddess of the hunt, associated with wild animals and forests. She was also a moon goddess, and an emblem of chastity. Oak groves were especially sacred to her. She was praised for her strength, athletic grace, beauty and her hunting skills.

Diana was regarded with great reverence by lower-class citizens and slaves. Slaves could receive asylum in her temples.

In Freemasonry, she is considered a symbol of imagination, sensibility, and the creative insanity of poets and artists. Those who believe that prehistoric peoples lived in matriarchal societies consider Diana to have originated in a mother goddess worshipped at that time, and she is still worshipped today by women practicing the religion known as Dianic Wicca.

Dianic Wicca

The feminist Dianic Wicca was founded by the fab Zsuzsanna Budapest, champion of women everywhere. 'For when women unite, the world is healing.'

Another quote from Zsuzsanna: 'Witches, artists, storytellers, herstory-keepers and common folk are slowly gathering Her Culture out of embroideries and folk dances, out of fairy tales, hidden journals, pottery, cave paintings, and real life revelations. We are awakening!'

Diana is perhaps the most popular goddess of the Wiccan goddesses. Her popularity and her association with feminine power has continued throughout the centuries. She is often considered to embody all three moon phases, which increases her importance as a feminist deity, signifying the power of women in all stages of life.

The Waxing Moon

We are in the phase of the waxing moon, a time of growth, of movement towards goals, of fertility and creation, of increasing power and light.

Zsuzsanna Budapest suggests that if we live in harmony with the natural cycle of the moon, we can balance ourselves and our lives, including moods, weight and fertility.

The following is from the White Goddess website:

Waxing Moon means the moon is getting larger in the sky, moving from the New Moon towards the Full Moon.

This is a time for spells that attract, that bring positive change, spells for love, good luck, growth.
This is a time for new beginnings, to conceptualize ideas, to invoke.

At this time the moon represents the Goddess in her Maiden aspect, give praise to Epona, Artemis or one of the other Maiden Goddesses. The period of the waxing moon lasts about 14 days.

Waxing Crescent /Crescent Moon

"Moon of Regeneration"

Location: Moon is 45 - 90 degrees ahead of the SunSpan. Three and a half days after the new moon to the seventh day. The Moon appears to be partly but less than one-half illuminated by direct sunlight. The fraction of the Moon's disk that is illuminated is increasing.

Positive activities: Gathering information; Making plans; Laying a Foundation; Emotions; Start of change. This is a time of regeneration. Anything you do to strengthen your body, to fortify yourself, is much more effective that when the moon is waxing. The body absorbs more easily...both good and bad.

Goals: Gathering resources / information needed for your goals. Relates to the gathering of food by the seeds, so initial plans and actions, starting small, are now happening.

First Quarter / Waxing Moon

"Moon of Caution"

Location: Moon is 90 - 135 degrees ahead of the SunSpan. Seven to ten and a half days after new moon.

Positive Attributes: Time of Warrior Maiden as represented by Artemis, Minerva, Bridget, Diana and Athena; the Virgin, not sexless but not reliant on sex or partners. The Good Folk; Extra pressure on plans, add that little bit of extra steam; Instinct and intuition; Courage; Motivation; Friends; Luck. Relates to initial germination of seeds the shoots striving to break their seed case and grow through the dark earth. During this time you’re walking the knife edge. Half Light, half Dark, good time for decisions. Balance carefully. Doorway to the Other places. Continue regeneration and renewal.

Waxing Gibbous Moon

"Moon of Endings"

Location: Moon is 135 - 180 degrees ahead of the SunSpan. Ten and a half to fourteen days after the New Moon. The Moon appears to be more than one-half but not fully illuminated by direct sunlight. The fraction of the Moon's disk that is illuminated is increasing.

Positive activities: Patience; Preparation for Full Moon energies.

Goals: Tying off loose ends. Gestation period, may appear as a pause. Relates to the movement of the shoots through the earth. Movement and action may not be visible but it is occurring. Should your new ideas or projects come to an impasse, this might be broken at the Full Moon.


HelenMH said...

Xochiquetzal sounds like the girl for me! Writing and chocolate - can't beat it!

aliqot said...

In spite of my rationality, I love these ancient stories and myths. It's interesting to see how their characters and stories can relate to modern people. Bastet and Xochiquetzal are new to me. Fascinating post.

Moondreamer said...

Helen, she does sound fab, doesn't she?

Writing and chocolate are two of my favourite things too!

I haven't managed to find a picture of her, but will try and do some more research later this week.


Aliqot, I agree!

Ancient culture (and its relation to modern life) fascinates me.

I will definitely write some more on this. I have always been interested in the moon, and in goddesses, but had no idea just how many moon goddesses there are!



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