Thursday, October 05, 2006
October's Loony Luna
During October, we can see the most beautiful moons. There a no other moons throughout the year that compare to the diverse coloring of this satilite in this month.
The Moon has figured in many mythologies, often paired or contrasted with the Sun. Many of the most well-known mythologies feature female lunar deities, such as the Greek goddesses Selene and Phoebe and their Olympian successor Artemis, their Roman equivalents Luna and Diana, or the Thracian Bendis. These cultures almost invariably featured a male sun god.
It is worth mentioning the cult that appeared in the Medieval Milan at the end of the 14th century. Two women from higher society, Sibillia Zanni and Pietrina de' Bugatis, were brought in 1384 and again in 1390 before the Inquisition for having claimed that, together with others - both living and dead, they worshipped the goddess Madonna Oriente. Madonna Oriente is the Italian translation of the Latin words "Domina Oriens." It has been demonstrated that this name was used to denote the Moon. Those who worshipped her were the first Inquisition victims to be burned as witches, though not the first victims of persecution as witches nor the first victims of the Inquisiton.
A feminine lunar connection is easily overstated, however, for male lunar gods are also frequent, such as Nanna or Sin of the Mesopotamians, Mani of the Germanic tribes, Thoth of the Egyptians, the Japanese god Tsukiyomi, Rahko of Finns and Tecciztecatl of the Aztecs. These cultures usually featured female Sun goddesses.
While many Neopagan authors and feminist scholars claim that there was an original Great Goddess in prehistoric cultures that was linked to the moon and formed the basis of later religions, the Great Goddess figure is highly speculative and not a proven concept. It is important to note that most of the oldest civilizations mentioned above had male lunar deities, and it was only later cultures — the classical ones most people are familiar with — that featured strong female moon goddesses.
The bull was lunar in Mesopotamia (its horns representing the crescent). In the Hellenistic-Roman rites of Mithras, the bull is prominent, with astral significance, but with no explicit connection to the moon.
The words 'lunacy," "lunatic," and "loony" are derived from Luna because of the folk belief in the moon as a cause of periodic insanity. It is a feature of modern belief that shapeshifters such as werewolves drew their power from the moon and would change into their bestial form during the full moon, but this feature is largely absent from older folklore.
The purported influence of the moon in human affairs remains a feature of astrology.