Moon, goddess of the night

  • The Moon has always held a place of particular fascination in our lives. Myths, as Carl Jung has described, bring us back in touch with ourselves and, to that effect, can never be replaced by science. The mythological images of the moon mirror our fascination. 
  • If we think about Mars, Venus and Mercury then those mythological figures of sexy Aphrodite, of the brute warrior Mars or the swift herald Mercury are rushing in, but nowadays, what comes to mind for most of us in association with the Moon, is not a mythological figure but an idyllic image of the ever-changing illuminator of the night itself. The image might be enchanting, romantic or melancholic, as there are many different moods attached to this satellite, but those mythological figures like Diana, Phoebe or Selene, Artemis or Hecate, Ishtar or Astarte are no household names, and thus not easily associated with the moon. Even Luna, the Latin word for moon, does not evoke for the common folk an image of a goddess but it leads us rather to the word lunacy, a well known moon sickness.
    • Like a moonwalker, a lunatic is a person that at night in its nightie is balancing on the roof-top, with eyes closed and arms stretched out towards the full moon, obviously not knowing what it is doing; someone not in command of its mind and thus not aware about the danger one is in. Early psychologists had no doubt about the Moon's effect on our mental states. The lunatic was separated from the chronically insane, and extra staff were called into the asylums on the occasion of a full Moon. Special allowances were often made before the full Moon. The English labourer Charles Hyde was acquitted on murder charges on the grounds that he was under the spell of the full moon. The American Institute for Climatology concluded, “Crimes with a strong psychotic motivation, such as arson, kleptomania, destructive driving, and homicidal alcoholism, all showed peaks when the Moon was full and that cloudy nights offered no protection against this trend.” 
    • We might call a person a loony who believes in werewolves, so called shape-shifters, another well-known image associated with the full 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 shape-shifters such as werewolves drew their power from the moon and would change into their bestial form during the full moon.
  • Cicero, a Roman rhetorician wrote in the 1st century BC: “The name Apollo is Greek; they say that he is the Sun, and Diana they identify with the Moon . . . the name Luna is derived from lucere 'to shine’; for it is the same word as Lucina, and therefore in our country Juno Lucina is invoked in childbirth, as is Diana in her manifestation as Lucifera (the light-bringer) among the Greeks. She is also called Diana Omnivaga (wide-wandering), not from her hunting, but because she is counted as one of the seven planets or ‘wanderers’ (vagary). She was called Diana because she made a sort of Day (Dia) in the night-time. She is invoked to assist at the birth of children, because the period of gestation is either occasionally seven, or more usually nine, lunar revolutions, and these are called menses (months), because they cover measured (mensa) spaces.”Luna
    • Although in our modern days those mythological connections are not common knowledge anymore, the moon in the night-sky is a very familiar image. It seems to be as big and as important as the sun. In many cultures they are seen as a couple, like father and mother. Sun and moon are called the illuminators; in antiquity they were known as the eyes of the sky, one for the day and one for the night. But in contrast to the eternal roundness of the sun the moon is always changing its appearance. It’s a cycle that reflects the nature of life. The cycles of the moon were called the Great Round, indicating the repetitive pattern of birth, fruition, disintegration, and death. Life goes on changing and yet the continuous pattern of change, the waxing and waning of the moon always remains the same.
      • Existence is based upon these continuous changing patterns. If electrons or planets would stop to circle around a core and instead just wildly fly around, randomly bumping into each other, there would be no solid earth; there would be no existence and no cosmos; without these patterns there would be chaos. These patterns are the basic logistic of existence; they are needed to keep it going. The solidity of our existence is based on cyclic movements. Life is movement, a continuous flow of an energetic pattern; and although these patterns don’t change, life is always new, always moving forward. Life always learns to adapt to new conditions.


  • ................................................................picture above: Roman sculpture of the torch-bearing moon goddess Luna, or Diana Lucifera; Diana Bringer of Light
    • All our societies have changed considerably in the last 100 years or so, in which the technical advances were changing so thick and fast that for an individual it was getting harder and harder to keep up with it, especially for the older ones. But while our world keeps on changing and advancing, nature appears to be the same as ever. Or at least it would be if we the human race would not meddle and interfere with the natural course of things. However, the point is that because of the advances in our technical capabilities, we are able to express our instinctual (barbaric) nature with much greater force than ever before. We are getting smarter and far more destructive in defending our territory and economical stability. We can throw atom bombs on each other’s head. Yet as the human nature, like the nature of Mother Earth, seems to be the same since thousands of years, it seems that the cave-dwellers of the Stone-Age are now able to throw smart bombs instead of rocks.
      • Our world is built upon our technical advances, on growing knowledge and skills. Our world and our nature are two different realms of our existence. Nature could be said to be selfish, as it is only concerned to maintain its existence (as a whole). Living life with moony eyes the togetherness, the family, the specie is important, not the individual. The humanly created world reflects this selfish nature. The world is the mechanised embodiment of the instinctual pattern of life, but contrary to the nature of Mother Earth that is interested to maintain the totality of life, our world represents only the interest of the human specie. That means the technical advances have created an imbalance in Mother Nature, with the human specie becoming so dangerously powerful that in the wake of its selfish actions other species have to die. In fact, the whole harmony of life or eco-system is in danger because of our lunacy.
      • The moon and its unconscious pattern inside the human mind have a deep influence in our relationship to life.
      • The effect the Moon has on us, on our moods, as well as on the ocean, is well known. And because of the Moon’s effect on fluids, it is also well known that the flow of women's menstrual cycles are in tune with the phases of the Moon, with the period usually occurring at the Full or New Moon. The word menstrual derived from Greek mēn, meaning month, which is also the base of Mene, another name for the Goddess Luna. Thus the moon has ancient associations like fertility and motherhood.
        • Moon’s associations of fertility and motherhood, as well as Venus’ associations of attraction and desire are specific expressions of the feminine; hence we connect the moon with mother and Venus with the lover, which means that the moon is not an indicator of femineity as a whole. Astrological indicators of the feminine are the elements of earth and water and not the moon. The other two elements, air and fire, indicate masculinity
    • Let us first have a look at the complete elementary make-up of the zodiac, as it will greatly help to understand Moon’s astrological associations. Each element has three different vibrational modalities -cardinal, fixed and mutual- which are also illustrated by the three signs belonging to one element. For example, the water signs are cardinal Cancer, ruled by the Moon, fixed Scorpio, ruled by Pluto and Mars, and mutual Pisces, ruled by Neptune and Jupiter.
    • Furthermore, each element is represented by one quarter of the astrological circle. Each quarter contains three modalities of the other three elements. For example, the water quarter contains cardinal fire, fixed earth and mutual air. The four quarters are known as watery Soul, airy Mind, earthy Body and fiery Spirit, counting anti-clockwise starting in the East.
  • The two elements of water and earth somewhat illustrate the dark and light nature of the feminine. The watery soul, which Christians call the inner of a thing, is the dark origin below the horizon. Out here, above the horizon, we find the illuminated thing -the outcome- we call the body or existence. The outer body is the embodiment of the inner soul; they are essentially the same yet express two very different realms of existence -in fact, the inner soul is the non-existent, metaphysically speaking.
    • If we take the dark soul as the origin, as the source of existence then the element of water describes the original femineity. It contains the modalities of war, love and intelligence, which is why Venus’ ancestors like Inanna are often illustrated as warriors, as well as wise, besides being beautiful. As Venus is placed at the core of the Soul, Venus/ Inanna are mythological representations of the original goddess, the Soul.
    • The body above the horizon represents the embodiment of this original femineity, which is usually portrayed in a motherly way –as for example Gaia, the Greek Mother Earth. This feminine body quadrant contains the modalities of harmony, power and growth. According to astrology harmony is at the base of Mother Earth, indicating that without balance, without right measure, it would collapse back into chaos. By the same token power is a necessity, especially in case of an imbalance, and growth is only meaningful if it doesn’t create an imbalance in nature.
      • Therefore, the way we perceive economical growth ought to be understood rather than habitually being aimed-for, as it creates periodically a lot of imbalance in the world.  
The feminine Soul is symbolised by a circle as the Primordial Goddess, which I call for simplifying reasons Mother Goddess (with the main focus on goddess), while the feminine Body -a circle with a cross within- is known as Mother Earth (with the main feature being the mother). However, the astrological Moon –which, by ruling the cardinal water, represents the motherly side of the feminine-, is not placed in a feminine quadrant, neither in the Soul nor in the Body. The Moon is found at the base of the Mind, and the watery realm it rules inside of air is a wing of the Soul.
    • This placement creates some confusion with the gender of the moon, which we can observe in its mythological background. We could say that the feminine Moon represents the sensitivity of the mind, which, by definition of its element, is masculine. We could also say that the mental detachment that comes along with the air-element, detaches itself from the feminine gender, if not from gender at all, because the element air, although belonging to the masculine axis, is rather neutral in its nature. It means foremost that mothering has nothing to do with gender; it’s a kind of empathetic caring. It’s a mental feature, deep-seated in the mind, which we commonly associate with femineity.
    • Like the moon reflects the sun-light that took some time to get there, so does the mind mirror what happened a long time ago, in the past. And similarly to the sunlight that seems to be stuck on the moon, one function of the mind is to hold onto the past; we call it memorising. And because the moon is holding onto the light-spending spirit, the realm it rules (the 4th field Cancer) is associated with the father. In astrology the memory faculty is also called the critic, the one who owns the criterions on which bases our judgements are made.
      • I use the word critic here in its literal meaning, it derived from Greek kritikos, able to make judgments, from krinein, to separate, decide. Deciding literally means to cut off, to abscise, in the sense is of resolving difficulties at a stroke. As a faculty of the mind, the moon’s main job is to criticise, to make up one’s mind. It’s critical in a crisis to reflect on things; a crisis makes you think in order to pass censure of what is faulty, or in comparison, what is useful or useless, with the useful being integrated into the genetic of the human brain. This is very similar to the digestion of food (the stomach is also related to the moon), where the useful gets separated from the useless and the useful nourishment integrated into the blood and bones.
      • Talking about the critic is a very sensitive matter. No one wants to be criticised yet we all do it to each other. What we call constructive critic is probably nature's intent to learn from our mistakes and faults. Faultfinding is a natural ability, as well as a need, but simply hammering oneself or others, being overly self-critical or judicial, usually indicates that a self-destructive mechanism has set in. Women (men alike) that personify these natural qualities may be judged as nagging and bitching, who always point the finger to the hair in the soup. Naturally, it also means that the critic has to be very sensitive or observant to find it., which is a characteristic of the moon.
      • "A perfect judge will read each work of wit with the same spirit that its author writ." Pope, "An Essay on Criticism," 1709.
    • The other two faculties of the mind are focus and measure. The Sun is placed at the core of the mind and Herald Mercury connects with the upper realm of existence.
If we see the mind as a genderless and unconscious mechanism, as a reflective tool for example, a mirror, then the Moon illustrates astrologically the feminine cycle of mothering, which is the basic logistic to hold up existence. Naturally every baby needs a mother, needs to be mothered, and needs to learn how to mother one self, and in case of becoming a parent then of others too. The essence or nature of mothering we could see reflected in the mirror of the soul, but that depends on our inner awareness, and on a clean mirror, with both often not available. If we use instead the astrological mirror then the warrior Mars, the lover Venus and the herald Mercury reflect the instinctual nature of the Moon. It shows how mothering is done instinctively: with intent, strength and intelligence. This is how nature functions, or thinks. The moon describes the mothering pattern that is ingrained at the bottom of each mind.
      •  Just to elaborate a bit more on the cleanliness of the mirror and one’s awareness: simply put, it is femme fatale Venus at the heart of the soul that holds the mirror. But as an infant baby soul she is not asking this famous question ‘mirror, mirror at the wall, who is the fairest of them all?’ it is rather so that she has no clue of whom or what she is observing, she has no clue of who is looking. The mind mechanism of an infant is moony, that means unconscious to itself. First we, as a baby soul, sense the body and its motions; then we sense the reflections of the mind between the ears, but without realising to be the witness of this stream of thoughts. As it is the Soul or witness that receives the image in the mirror of the mind, it is the soul that identifies itself with the image (the I or ego) in the mind-mirror. As everything relates to this I between the ears, we all conclude it must be me, the individual body that is doing the thinking. An immature child that is not aware of this misidentification cannot clearly see itself. We could say that the knowledge of the mind -the past it holds onto- is like dust on the mirror and thus distorts its view, or, the watery element, the flow of thoughts, has not come to standstill to allow a clear vision; a damp mirror can easily blur Venus’ perception and cloud her mind. Either way, for an immature child the I of the body is manifested before the I of the soul is realised.
      • But before any I appears, the baby-soul receives only comfort or discomfort. Later, when the mind mechanism functions, it naturally ought to perceive a caring Moon Mother that helps in discomfort and fosters comfort- and thus ‘mother’, which at first was the caring Mother Earth, is now perceived as a goddess! Naturally, one falls in love with one’s mother, the goddess; at first at least. In case the mother is not received as helpful, this goddess becomes the dark mother from whom we don’t get what we need. The way one feels about oneself has a lot to do with how one perceived or experienced one’s mother during one’s epitaxial growth.
      • If in any case a mature Venus is holding a clean mirror, what she would see is what she owns. Venus owns Mars aggression and Mercurean intelligence -and herself, of course. The mind mirror doesn’t own the image in the mirror, it is just mirroring. However, as it is a living mirror it is embodying the nature of the triple-faced Soul in a mechanical way, it is mechanising the nature of the soul at the base of each mind. Here the metaphysics ends and the mythology begins.

      The mythology and metaphysics of the Moon is very complex, if not confusing. It took some considerable time in human history to connect the Moon with the mother image. Naturally, the great earth mothers, strong and powerful, were the first human images of the feminine before beautiful mother goddesses appeared. We are born first of all as bodies. Even though the astrological sequence, as well as metaphysical, puts the soul before the body –seen as the origin of the body- to us humans (or baby-souls), the body with all its needs and necessities is experienced before the realisation that there is a soul.

        • Phrygian Cybele was probably one of the first deification of the Earth Mother that later got associated with the moon. She was worshipped in Anatolia from Neolithic times. As with Gaia (Earth), or her Minoan equivalent Rhea, Cybele embodies the fertile Earth, a goddess of caverns and mountains, walls and fortresses, nature, wild animals (especially lions and bees). She has been identified with the Hurrian goddess Heba, the mother of all living. It has been suggested that the phonetic shift of b to v, made Heba to Eva or Eve, the first woman.
        • Great Mothercybele with lionsCybele was later known among the Greeks as Meter or Meter oreie (‘Mountain-Mother’), or Idaea, inasmuch as she was supposed to have been born on Mount Ida in Anatolia. In Roman mythology, her equivalent was Magna Mater or ‘Great Mother’. Her Ancient Greek title, Potnia Theron, also associated with the Minoan Great Mother, alludes to her Neolithic roots as the Mistress of the Animals. The legend tells that her son and consort Attis incurred her jealousy. He, in an ecstasy, castrated himself, and subsequently died. Grieving, Cybele resurrected him. Originally a Hittite and Phrygian goddess, she becomes a life-death-rebirth deity in connection with her resurrection of her son and consort, Attis. She is associated with her lion throne and her chariot drawn by lions.
          • Various aspects of Cybele's Anatolian attributes probably predate the Bronze Age in origin. A figurine found at Çatalhöyük, dating about 6000 BC, depicts a corpulent and fertile Mother Goddess in the process of giving birth while seated on her throne, which has two hand-rests in the form of female lion's heads. No direct connection with the later matar goddesses is documented, but the similarity to some of the later iconography is striking.
          • Naturaly this 8000 year old figure of the Great Mother represents the Earth rather than the Soul or the Moon. Interesting is that the primordial mother goddesses, like Inanna, and the Great Earth Mothers like Cybele, have the lion as a symbol of power.
      • The Sumerian Innana, which has been invoked in hymns as a lion, who shines in the sky, great brightness, celestial lion, and was frequently depicted as a beautiful woman (i.e. attractive to males, as opposed to the earth fertility goddesses of pre-history) standing on the backs of two lionesses, is associated with the moon by her mythological birth and with the planet Venus. Thus she might be considered to be one of the first human refelections of the triple faced soul, the primordial mother goddess of all living.
        • Inanna provides a many-faceted symbolic image, a wholeness pattern, of the feminine beyond the merely maternal. She combined earth and sky, matter and spirit, vessel and light, earthly bounty and heavenly guidance. She was Queen of Heaven, goddess of gentle rains and terrible floods, goddess of the morning and evening star, queen of the land and its fertility, bestowing kingship on chosen mortals. She was the goddess of war (more powerful than Athena and Artemis combined), and equally passionately, the goddess of sexual love. Eventually, she was known by many names (Ishtar, Isis, Metis, Astarte, Cybele, etc.), although those in later times were often described as having much less power or less all-encompassing.
        • The goddess of love and war, who was seen swaggering around the streets of her home town, dragging young men out of the taverns to have sex with her. Despite her association with mating and fertility of humans and animals, Inanna was not a mother goddess, which means, she does not symbolise the Earth Mother; she is rarely associated with childbirth and always depicted with a shaved pubic region.
      • Inanna is the daughter of the moon god Nanna and sister to the sun god Utu and the rain god Ishkur. Her sister is Ereshkigal, Queen of the Underworld. As the goddess of the planet Venus, Inanna was identified by the Akkadians with their own Venus deity, who may have been male. Although the Akkadian name for the goddess was Ishtar, the Akkadians used Sumerian as a religious language; so their hymns, written in Sumerian, use the name Inanna.
        • As early as the Uruk period (ca. 4000 to 3100 BCE) it would appear Inanna was associated with the city of Uruk. A famous Uruk vase, found in a deposit of cult objects of the Uruk III period, depicts a row of naked men carrying various objects, bowls, vessels, and baskets of farm produce, and bringing sheep and goats, to a female figure facing the ruler, ornately dressed for a divine marriage, and attended by a servant. The female figure holds the symbol of the two twisted reeds of the doorpost signifying Inanna behind her, whilst the male figure holds a box and stack of bowls, the later cuneiform sign signifying En, or high priest of the temple.
        • Inanna figures prominently in one of the earliest legends, Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta, in something like a kingmaker role, transferring her personal abode and favour, and thus hegemony, from the court of Aratta's king to that of Uruk.
          • Inanna's name is commonly derived from Nin-anna "Queen of Heaven" (from Sumerian NIN ‘lady’, AN ‘sky’), although the cuneiform sign for her name is not historically a ligature of the two. Inanna's symbol is an eight-pointed star or rosette and her cuneiform ideogram was a hook… her evolution into a hooker unavoidable. In some traditions Inanna was said to be a granddaughter of the creator goddess Namma. These difficulties have led some early Assyriologists to suggest that Inanna may have been originally a Proto-Euphratean goddess, possibly related to the Hurrian mother goddess Hannahannah, accepted only latterly into the Sumerian pantheon, an idea supported by her youthfulness, and that, unlike the other Sumerian divinities, she at first had no sphere of responsibilities.
      Along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers were many shrines and temples dedicated to Inanna. The temple of Eanna, meaning ‘house of heaven’ or ‘house of An’ in Uruk was the greatest of these. The god of this fourth-millennium city was probably originally An. After its dedication to Inanna the temple seems to have housed priestesses of the goddess. The high priestess would choose for her bed a young man who represented the shepherd Dumuzid, consort of Inanna, in a hieros gamos or sacred marriage, celebrated during the annual Akitu (New Year) ceremony, at the spring Equinox. Which makes Inanna somewhat to an ancient brothel mother.
      • Most curious is perhaps the story of Inanna's descent to the underworld. In Sumer the Underworld was a dreary, dark place; a home to deceased heroes and ordinary people alike. Based on their behavior they could be afforded better treatment or positions in the underworld.
        • Inanna dresses elaborately for the visit, with a turban, a wig, a lapis lazuli necklace, beads upon her breast, the 'pala dress' (the ladyship garment), mascara, pectoral, a golden ring on her hand, and she held a lapis lazuli measuring rod. Following Ereshkigal's instructions, the gatekeeper tells Inanna she may enter the first gate of the underworld, but she must hand over her lapis lazuli measuring rod. She asks why and is told 'It is just the ways of the Underworld'. She obliges and passes through.
        • Inanna passes through a total of seven gates, each removing a piece of clothing or jewelry she had been wearing at the start of her journey. In Sumerian mythology some forms of burials included burying the deceased with gifts for the gatekeepers and judges of the Underworld to win their favor. Items could also be used as an amulet or protective device so stripping Inanna of each item would leave her more vulnerable to any type of attack. When she arrives in front of her sister she is naked. Anna, the seven judges, rendered their decision against Inanna and turned her into a corpse, which was hung on a hook.
        • Three days and three nights passed and Nincurba following instructions went to Enlil, Nanna, and Enki's temples and demanded they save the Goddess of Love. The first two gods refused saying it was her own mess but Enki was deeply troubled and agreed to help. He created two sexless figures (neither male nor female) named gala-tura and the kur-jara. He instructed they were to appease Ereškigal and when asked what they wanted they were to ask for Inanna's corpse and sprinkle it with the food and water of life. Things went as Enki said and the gala-tura and the kur-jara were able to revive Inanna. Demons of Ereškigal's followed Inanna out of the underworld and demanded she wasn’t free to go until someone took her place. They first came upon Nincurba and asked to take her. Inanna refused saying she had helped her as she had asked. They next came upon Cara, Inanna's beautician, still in mourning. The demons said they would take them but Inanna refused for he had been there for her. They next came upon Lulal also in mourning. The demons offered to take him but Inanna refused. They next came upon Dumuzi, Inanna's husband. He was sitting in nice clothing and enjoying himself despite his wife supposedly still being missing in the underworld. Inanna wasn't happy and said they could take him. Dumuzi tried to escape his fate but a fly told Inanna and the demons where he was. It was then decreed that Dumuzi spent half the year in the underworld and his sister take the other half.
        • Inanna's three-day disappearance in the underworld may point to her origin as a new moon goddess, since this moon is dark for three days. The early date of the Inanna descent myth is shown by the fact that it was linked to the Akitu New Year ceremony, at a time when the sun's light obscures the constellation Taurus, in this case known as Gugalanna (The Great Bull of Heaven).
      • Inanna symbolized life, love, and fertility. When she went to the underworld the crops ceased to grow and the animals ceased to procreate. Her death was similar to ‘winter’ when the crops had not grown yet. They were in essence ‘dead’. We could also say the Moon goddess stopped mothering.

      The Inanna and Dumuzi story prefigures those of Cybele and Attis, of Aphrodite and Adonis, of Demeter and Persephone, of Hadad and Anat, of Osiris and Isis and is similar to the story of Nanna and Ninlil -all of them tales of a young god or goddess who dies, and a mother or spouse goddess who mourns him/her. While the story of her descent into the underworld and the relationship that she has with Dumuzi is similar to some of the aforementioned mythological pairs (especially the Cybele-Attis cycle), her story is unique in that she is not primarily a mother-figure. Inanna's attributes (such as her capricious, war-like ways) are particularly at odds with Isis, the cult of which shared many similarities with the Virgin Mary in Hellenized Alexandria and in other places of political import in the early Roman Empire. Inanna as envisioned by the ancient Mesopotamians did not stand for the feminine or woman as she existed as a domestic partner; other goddesses embodied these qualities. Tikva Frymer-Kenskey, in her book "In the Wake of the Goddesses", explores Inanna in detail. Talking about the courtship and marriage of Inanna to Dumuzi, she says, “It is significant that the prime figure of this drama is not a ‘fertility’ or ‘mother-goddess’ (with the main focus on mother). Instead the ritual (of sacred marriage) involves sexual union with the goddess who represents that lust which allows for sexual union.” While some texts name her as the mother to a pair named Shara and Lulal, her identity in most of the extant mythology is not dependent on her ability as a mother. She remains essentially childless. Inanna was the powerful, all-consuming force of attraction, essential for the continuation of the world. The Akkadian priestess Enheduanna says that Inanna is mightiest among the great gods, because she makes their verdicts final. Other gods and goddesses may outrank her in the Mesopotamian pantheon, but it is Inanna who has the final word for it is she who makes their divine will manifest on Earth. She is the force of action and change, a dynamic current running through the affairs of mankind (-the Moon reflects that Venus /Inanna owns Mars). While the mythology concerning Inanna’s marriage to Dumuzi shows the sensual side of this cosmic force, she is often a terrifying goddess full of wrath and vengeance. Enheduanna says that those who dare to reject her are destroyed, their lands cursed and infertile, the rivers running thick with blood. Gilgamesh experiences her wrath after he rejects her advances and humiliates her, calling her, among other insulting things, a shoe that mangles its owner’s foot. He details the undeserved things that she has done to half a dozen of her lovers (citing some myths that are lost to us and some that are known)– she leaves one to die when she is tired of him, changes the gardener into a toad, turned the shepherd into a wolf, etc. “Your price is too high,” Gilgamesh says hoping to avoid a similar fate, only to pay later for his rejection with the death of his soul mate, Enkidu. Even Dumuzi /Tammuz feels her wrath when he is ‘elected’ to take her place in the underworld. Horrible things repeatedly happen to her lovers and those who refuse to worship her meet with nasty deaths under the strain of war and famine. As much as she is sexual attraction, she is rage, strength and raw power.

      • Because Inanna represents the New-Moon and is the daughter of the Moon-God Nanna, her famous descent to the underworld is usually seen under the umbrella of the astrological moon despite her very strong connotations with modern Venus. The reason I throw in is that the Moon as the ruler of the 4th house at the bottom of the Mind-quarter reflects on the origin of existence in the same way the Sumerer reflected on Inanna. Representing the dark side of the Moon –a side we will never face with the exception of few astronauts that went there-, to the Sumerer, Inanna mythologically illustrates the unknowable feminine soul, with mysterious planet Venus at its core, as illustrated by the astrological zodiac. Nowadays both planets, Moon and Venus, are simple but distinctive symbols of the feminine, like mother and lover illustrate very distinct characteristics.
        • However, what may come as a surprise is that the earliest representations of the moon were male, not female deities. In Arabic, for example, as well as in German, the moon has a masculine and the sun a feminine gender. This might be understood in the context that cave-dwellers of the Stone-Age associated the feminine with the earth long before the Babylonians invented the astrological zodiac, long before heavenly objects were made to deities.And to those ancient people it might have been an easy step to associate the warmth and life-giving aspect of the sun with the femineity of Mother Nature.
      • The mythology of the moon is very complex like the psychology of the feminine. In the cradle of civilization, in Mesopotamia, the Sumerians worshipped the moon-god Nanna at the city-state Ur. The Assyrians later had the moon-god Sin. Sin was the chief god in the astral triad, which included his daughter Ishtar (Inanna) and his son Shamash, the sun-God. This ought to indicate that light (the star and the sun) was born from the dark, or emerged in the dark. Every evening Sin got into his barque -which to mortals appeared in the form of a brilliant crescent moon- and navigated the vast spaces of the night-sky. Some people, however, believed that the luminous crescent was Sin’s weapon. But one day the crescent gave way to a disk which stood out in the sky like a gleaming crown. There could be no doubt that this was the god’s own crown; and then Sin was called Lord of the Diadem. These successive and regular transformations lent Sin a certain mystery. For this reason he was considered to be He whose deep heart no god can penetrate... Sin was also full of wisdom. At the end of every month the gods came to consult them and he made decisions for them...His wife was Ningal, the great Lady. He was the father not only of Shamash and Ishtar but also of a son Nusku, the god of fire (Mars). Illuminator Nanna, an old man with a flowing beard made of lapis-lazuli, a beautiful blue gem sprinkled with specks of gold, gave birth to Inanna, goddess of the dark night.
      • Mesopotamia was not the only region were the Moon was represented by a male deity. The most famous one in Egypt is Thoth. Similar to God speaking the words to create the heavens and Earth in Judeo-Christian mythology, Thoth, being the god who always speaks the words that fulfill the wishes of Ra, spoke the words that created the heavens and Earth in Egyptian mythology. This mythology also credits him with the creation of the 365 day calendar. Originally, according to the myth, the year was only 360 days long and Nut was sterile during these days, unable to bear children. Thoth gambled with Khonsu, the moon, for 1/72nd of its light (360/72 = 5), or 5 days, and won. During these 5 days, she gave birth to Kheru-ur (Horus the Elder, Face of Heaven), Osiris, Set, Isis, and Nepthys.
        • Khonsu’s  name reflects the fact that the Moon travels across the night sky, for it means The Wanderer, and also had the titles Embracer, Pathfinder, and Defender, as he was thought to watch over night travelers. As the god of light in the night, Khonsu was invoked to protect against wild animals, increase male virility, and to aid with healing. It was said that when Khonsu caused the crescent moon to shine, women conceived, cattle became fertile, and all nostrils and every throat was filled with fresh air.
        • Khonsu can also be understood to mean king's placenta, and consequently in early times, he was considered to slay the king's (i.e. the pharaoh's) enemies, and extract their innards for the king's use, metaphorically creating something resembling a placenta for the king. This bloodthirsty aspect leads him to be referred to, in such as the Pyramid texts, as the (one who) lives on hearts. He also became associated with more literal placentas, becoming seen as a deification of the royal placenta, and so a god involved with childbirth.
        • Khonsu gradually replaced the war-god Monthu as the son of Mut in Theban thought during the Middle Kingdom, because the pool at the temple of Mut was in the shape of a crescent moon. The father who had adopted Khonsu was thought to be Amun, who had already been changed into a more significant god by the rise of Thebes, and had had his wife changed to Mut. As these two were both considered extremely benign deities, Menthu gradually lost his more aggressive aspects.
        • In art, Khonsu was depicted as a man with the head of a hawk, wearing the crescent of the new moon subtending the disc of the full moon. His head was shaven except for the side-lock worn by Egyptian children, signifying his role as Khonsu the Child. Occasionally he was depicted as a youth holding the flail of the pharaoh, wearing a menat necklace. He was sometimes pictured on the back of a goose, ram, or two crocodiles. His sacred animal was the baboon, considered a lunar animal by the ancient Egyptians.
      • Thoth was originally the deification of the moon in the Ogdoad belief system. Initially, in that system, the moon had been seen to be the eye of Horus, the sky god, which had been semi-blinded (thus darker) in a fight against Set, the other eye being the sun. However, over time it began to be considered separately, becoming a lunar deity in its own right, and was said to have been another son of Ra. As the crescent moon strongly resembles the curved beak of the ibis, this separate deity was named Djehuty (i.e. Thoth), meaning ibis.
      • It is believed that Thoth became associated with the Moon, due to the Ancient Egyptians observation that Baboons (sacred to Thoth) sang to the moon at night. The Moon not only provides light at night, allowing the time to still be measured without the sun, but its phases and prominence gave it a significant importance in early astrology/astronomy. The cycles of the moon also organized much of Egyptian society's civil, and religious, rituals, and events. Consequently, Thoth gradually became seen as a god of wisdom, magic, and the measurement, and regulation, of events, and of time. He was thus said to be the secretary and counsellor of Ra, and with Ma'at (truth/order) stood next to Ra on the nightly voyage across the sky, Ra being a sun god.
      • The change from Thoth into Mercury is similar to the change Inanna underwent to become Venus. In a way, both, Venus and Mercury, lost their association to the Moon.
      • The Egyptian mythology of origin has strong resemblances with those of Mesopotamia. From the primeval waters represented by Nun, a mound appeared. Upon the mound sat Ra, the Sun-god, who had begotten himself. Bored and alone, he masturbated or, according to other stories, spat, producing air, Shu, and moisture, Tefnut. Shu and Tefnut in turn mated and she gave birth to the earth, Geb, and the sky, Nut. Because of their initial closeness, Geb and Nut engaged in continuous copulation until Shu separated them, lifting Nut into her place in the sky. The children of Geb and Nut were Isis, Nephthys, Osiris, and Seth.
        • Geb (Keb >Sumerian Ki) was the Egyptian god of the earth (a chtonic deity) In later times he could also be depicted as a ram, a bull or a crocodile. Frequently described mythologically as father of snakes and depicted sometimes (partly) as such. In mythology he also often occurs as a primeval ruler/king of Egypt. Geb could be seen as earth containing the dead, or imprisoning those not worthy to go to the heavenly Field of Iaru-reeds.
      • It’s easy to get confused with the images of the feminine. Father of snakes Geb, the Greeks later identified as Gaia, Mother Earth (Geb> Ge > Gai > Gaia). In Egyptian mythology, Amunet  and Amun were the female and male aspects of the primordial abstract concept of air and invisibility. Air itself was without gender. The name for primordial air meaning, (one who) is hidden. As Amunet  became more significant, eventually both aspects of the abstract concept were depicted as independent deities and identified as a pair. As with all goddesses in the Ogdoad, Amunet was depicted either as an Egyptian cobra snake, or as a snake-headed woman. The male deities in the Ogdoad generally were depicted with the head of a frog.
        • Amaunet was said to be the mother who is father, implying that she was a creator who needed no male to procreate, reproducing asexually through parthenogenesis. The Egyptians thought that animals without sexual dimorphism, such as snakes, were all female. As Amunet continued to be identified as the goddess of air, she sometimes was depicted as a winged goddess, or as a woman with a hawk, or ostrich feather, on her head. Her name means She of the West, as she is regarded as a personification of the direction West.

      We might begin to fathom a link in this complexity of associations of the moon and its changing gender. Let us not forget that we speak of a period of about 4 -5 thousand years where astrologers and poets alike were trying to make sense out of all this. It may help to remember the metaphysics of the moon, which places it in this masculine air-quadrant that has the tendency to remove any gender and thus makes the moon to a function or mechanism of mothering, reflecting the three faced soul’s qualities (for example: Ares, Inanna, Thoth).


      • Hekate, three faced Greek goddess is probably the most obvious to illustrate the feminine soul with its three compartments with the three faces of the moon. triple moon symbol
        • The Triple Moon Goddess symbol represents the innocent and young maiden or little girl, the fertile and loving mother, yet a fierce protector of her young, and the old and wise crone, also the gateway to death. The Maiden archetype embodies the qualities of youth, vitality, physical attractiveness, and new beginnings. The Mother archetype embodies the qualities of fertility, stability, and strength. The Crone is the third phase of the Pagan Triple Goddess and refers to the third era of a woman's life, namely after menopause. Whilst the word is often used in a general sense to refer to a woman of advanced age, in the Pagan usage it is a term of respect and honour. The Crone archetype embodies wisdom, maturity, and spiritual transformation.
        • The triad of the moon goddess, however, usually reflects the three phases of full, new and crescent -which represents both waxing and waning- and therefore this triad, which includes death because of the new or dark moon, represents the continuous change in between birth and death. And change is a very obvious and constant characteristic of the moon. The moon never stops changing.
      • Not surprisingly the image and mythological associations of the moon are changing too. Hekate meaning ‘far-shooting’ was originally a goddess of the wilderness and childbirth free from the dark and unsavoury ties to the underworld and to witchcraft held by the Hekate of classical Athens. Hekate remained a Great Goddess -which means much closer related to earth than water- into historical times. Popular cults venerating her as a mother goddess integrated her persona into Greek culture as Hekate. In Ptolemaic Alexandria she ultimately achieved her connotations as a goddess of sorcery and her role as the ‘Queen of Ghosts’, in which triplicate guise she was transmitted to post-Renaissance culture. Today she is a goddess of witches and some neo-pagans refer to her as a ‘crone goddess’, which some say is incorrect because of her original virginal image in ancient Greece. However, associating her with the feminine Soul, the virgin mother goddess ‘Who Gives Birth, But Was Herself Not Born of Any’ probably makes both true, as we could say that the soul as the crone represents the very wise and oldest aspect of the feminine.
        • Ancient illustrations of this goddess are also very insightful. The earliest known monument is a small terracotta found in Athens, with a dedication to Hekate, in writing of the style of the sixth century, which proves the single shape to be her earlier from, and her recognition at Athens to be earlier than the Persian invasion. A votive sculpture from Attica of the third century BC shows three single images against a column; round the column of Hekate dance the Charites. Some classical portrayals show her as a triplicate goddess holding a torch, a key, and a serpent. In Late Antiquity she is described as having three heads: one dog, one serpent, and one horse.
      • Hekate was not originally a Greek goddess. The roots of Hekate seem to be in the Carians of Asia Minor. The place of origin of her cult is uncertain, but it is thought that she had popular cult followings in Thrace (designating a region spread over southern Bulgaria,  north-eastern Greece and European Turkey) whose mythical ancestor, Thrax, was the son of the war-god Ares (the Roman Mars). Hekate’s most important sanctuary was Lagina, in which the goddess was served by eunuchs, (which connects her to Cybele).
        • In Theogony Hesiod ascribed to Hekate such wide-ranging and fundamental powers, that it is hard to resist seeing such a deity as a figuration of the Great Goddess, though as a good Olympian Hesiod ascribes her powers as the ‘gift’ of Zeus: “Hecate whom Zeus the son of Cronos honoured above all. He gave her splendid gifts, to have a share of the earth and the unfruitful sea. She received honour also in starry heaven, and is honoured exceedingly by the deathless gods.... The son of Cronos did her no wrong nor took anything away of all that was her portion among the former Titan gods: but she holds, as the division was at the first from the beginning, privilege both in earth, and in heaven, and in sea”.
        • Hesiod emphasizes that Hekate was an only child, the daughter of Asteria, a star-goddess who was the sister of Leto, the mother of Artemis and Apollo. Grandmother of the three cousins was Phoebe the ancient Titaness who personified the moon. Hecate was a reappearance of Phoebe, a moon goddess herself, who appeared in the dark of the moon.
      Dark moon Hekate is said to be a chothonic goddess like Persephone. Chthonic from Greek khthonios ‘of the earth’, designates, or pertains to deities or spirits of the underworld, especially in relation to Greek religion. Greek khthon is one of several words for ‘earth’; it typically refers to the interior of the soil, rather than the living surface of the land (as Gaia, Ge or Ki does) or the land as territory (as khora does). It evokes at once abundance and the grave. This is again a reference that chothonic and triple faced Hekate represents the interior of a body (which is the Christian definition of the Soul -the first astrological quarter) which is the silent source of all. Gaia represents the third quarter, the Mother Earth or exterior Body above the horizon.
          • The Chthonic Moon is an occult and fearful manifestation of Moon, as goddess of ghosts and nightmares.
      • As Hekate’s cult spread into areas of Greece it presented a conflict, as her role was already filled by other more prominent deities in the Greek pantheon, above all by Artemis, and by more archaic figures, such as Nemesis.
        • In the so-called ‘Chaldean Oracles’ that were edited in Alexandria, she was also associated with a serpentine maze around a spiral, known as Hekate's wheel. The symbolism referred to the serpent's power of rebirth, to the labyrinth of knowledge through which Hecate could lead mankind, and to the flame of life itself: ‘The life-producing bosom of Hekate, that Living Flame which clothes itself in Matter to manifest Existence’.
        • This is another way of describing the three faced origin, the soul and mother of all.
      • Considering grandmother Phoebe, the golden-wreathed Hekate’s origin is linked with the Earth Mother Gaia. Phoebe was one of the original Titans, one set of sons and daughters of Uranus and Gaia, the deities of sky and earth. Gaia (the Roman Terra) is a primordial and chthonic deity in the Ancient Greek pantheon and considered a Mother Goddess or Great Goddess. As sky-god Uranus is the father of Phoebe, this relates to the Egyptian concept of moon, Phoebe, and sun, Phoebus, being the eyes of the sky; as well as to the Sumerian sky-god Anu and his consort Ki. Gaia, Gea or Gê meaning land or earth, is phonetically related to Ki the Sumerian word for earth.
      • Phoebe, the Moon represented the evening and the night, and was depicted carrying a torch and wearing long robes and a veil on the back of her head. Similar to the roman Dio and Diana, Phoebe’s counterpart was Phoebus, the sun god. To the Greeks the moon became represented by the Titan goddess Selene, also called Mene, or Latin Luna, and the Sun was personified by her brother Helios. (From Selene we get the metal Selenium, the electrical conductivity of which The Lady of Ephesusvaries with the intensity of the light, like the changing Moon.) Selene, daughter of Hyperion and Theia, was depicted as a woman either riding side saddle on a horse or in a chariot drawn by a pair of winged steeds, and she was also the sister of Eos the Dawn. Her lunar sphere or crescent was represented as either a crown set upon her head or as the fold of a raised, shining cloak. Sometimes she was said to drive a team of oxen and her lunar crescent was likened to the horns of a bull.
        • Unlike Diana, Selene was not known for her chastity. She bore three daughters to Zeus, and was seduced by Pan for a piece of fleece. According to legend, when Selene saw Endymion, a beautiful young shepherd, She fell deeply in love with him and seduced him. Each night She kissed him to sleep, a lovely metaphor for moonlight falling on the fertile land. Wanting to embrace him forever, She begged Zeus to grant Endymion eternal life. In another version the handsome Endymion wanted to keep his good looks forever, and asked Zeus to let him sleep forever without aging. In either case, Zeus agreed and placed him in eternal sleep. Every night Selene is said to visit Endymion on Mt. Latmus in Asia Minor, where the ancient Greeks believed he was buried. Selene and Endymion had 50 daughters together.
        • The number 50, by the way, relates to the old Greek 4 Olympian years that were made of 50 month. But considering her Titan origin, of which some were called ‘the one hundred handed ones’ with 50 heads, and having the Lady of Ephesus in mind with her very fertile chest that enabled her to feed 50 offsprings, the connection to Selene, the moon mother, which the Greek associated with Hekate and Artemis are striking.


      Sieghart Rohr

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