Sunday, August 3, 2008

Moon Folklore And Myths

Moon Folklore And Myths Cover Throughout the ages, the Moon, Sun and other Planets were seen by early man as divine objects and eventually Gods to be worshiped. The moon in particular with its monthly changing cycles, symbolised to ancient man the mysteries of birth, growth, decay and death. In the early Sumerian and Semitic cultures (3500 BC - 2300 BC) people called the moon “Sin” and regarded it as a creator god. Sin gave light and life, and drove away nights darkness. As creator and leader of the sky gods, Sin fathered “Shamash” the Sun god.

After the decline of Sumer (approx 2300 BC), worship of the moon spread throughout the Middle East, and gradually Sin became less popular. By the time of the late Babylonian Empire (approx 539 BC) many of the moons attributes were taken over by other deities. In Egypt, the moon god Chons and the moon goddess Nit replaced Sin and played minor roles to Ra the sun god who ruled the sky.

By the 6th century and during the time of Thales (625-546 BC) and Pythagoras (582-500 BC), Greek Philosophers had begun to suggest that the Moon, Sun and Planets were physical objects and not gods. From this emerged the science of Astrology, whereby early Greek astronomers determined how eclipses occurred, discovered that the moon shone by reflected light and even made measurements of the moon’s distance from the earth.

Despite advances in science, people still believed that the moon controlled the growth of crops, the ebb and flow of the oceans, and the flow of blood in the human body. Indeed Aristotle (384-322 BC) contented that the moon resembled the human brain, which changed with the moon’s phases, leading to the idea that the moon affected the mind. Today contemporary expressions such as: lunatic, lunacy and moonstruck reflect these beliefs. So strong was the people’s belief in the moons influences that such beliefs continued to lead agricultural and medical practices until relatively recent times.

There are many myths and folktales that tell of how the New Moon was used to predict bad weather. When a New Moon occurs on a clear night, sometimes a faint golden outline of the Full Moon can be seen as a continuation of its crescent. In folklore this was known as the “Old Moon in the New Moon’s arms”. The outline is actually caused by earthshine, the reflection of light from the Earth back onto the Moon’s surface, however of old, it was taken as an omen indicating the coming of bad weather, storms or some other misfortune.

Commonly today the Moon is considered a feminine deity, however in some ancient societies the Moon was a masculine deity. Folktales continue to speak about the “Man in the Moon”, who is often described as a thief or tramp transported to the Moon in punishment for some criminal or immoral activity. A common folktale claims he was once a beggar, whose crime was to gather firewood on Sunday, and whose punishment therefore was to live a perpetual “Monday” on the Moon.

Most cultures have recognised images in the Moon and have their own folktales to tell. A Chinese legend speaks of the man in the Moon who secures the destiny of lovers by uniting them with an invisible silken cord tied around their waist. When the time arrives for them to meet and fall in love, he draws the cords together and unites them. Today Astrologers maintain that the best form of symmetry between the charts of lovers is to find their respective Moons in a harmonious aspect.

If there are two Moons in the same month, the weather will be unfavourable and unsettled until the next New Moon.

In Wales fishermen avoid the Moon line, or the moonlight shining on the water, it was considered bad luck to cross it when setting out to sea. However in other areas they say to make a wish when crossing the Moon line.

Sailors believed that if the Moon in its first or last quarter, lies in a nearly horizontal position with the horns upward, the weather would be fine. Country people say that the same type of Moon means good weather for twenty-eight days.

The English had a saying: “If a member of the family died at the time of the New Moon, three more deaths will quickly follow”.

Many cultures felt that it was extremely unlucky to point at the Moon, and that curtseys to the Moon would bring a present before the next change of Moon.

Originally, the term Moon-struck or Moon-touched meant chosen by the Goddess, and those people born under a Full Moon were considered blessed. Such people would also have a lucky life.

Country people said that the weather was more likely to change at the four quarters of the Moon than at any other time.

Rain is coming when the Moon has a halo around it or when an outline can be seen between the horns of a waxing or waning Moon.

One old legend says that on the Moon is everything that was wasted on Earth: misspent time, squandered wealth, broken vows, unanswered prayers, fruitless tears, unfulfilled desires and intentions, etc.

The word moonshine has two meanings. In the U.S., it means “illegally distilled liquor”, also known as “white lightning”. An older meaning was “total nonsense”.

In English, French, Italian, Latin and Greek, the Moon is feminine; but in all the Teutonic languages the Moon is masculine. In Sanskrit, the word for the Moon is mas, which is masculine.

To the Chinese, the Old Man in the Moon was Yue-lao. It was his duty to predestine the marriages of mortals. They said he tied the future husband and wife Together With an invisible silk cord that never parted as long as they lived.

Although the Koran expressly forbids worshipping the Sun or Moon, many Moslems still clasp their hands at the sight of a New Moon and offer a prayer.

The Irish say never cut your hair, begin a journey, move into a new house, start a business or sign a contract on a Friday, particularly and especially if a New or Full Moon falls on a Friday.

In Ireland it is said that if you walk nine times around a Fairy Rath or Hill Fort at the Full Moon, you will be able to find the entrance to Fairy Land.

The horseshoe is a symbol of the Lunar Crescent. Certain ancient British coins had the horse and the crescent on them. For the horseshoe and the Crescent Moon to be lucky, the horns must be turned upwards.

Downloadable books (free):

Aristotle - On Dreams
Walter Scott - Demonology And Witchcraft
Emilie Kip Baker - Stories From Northern Myths

Popular Posts