Prior to 325 BC, the Greek moon goddess Artemis/Hecate was traditionally feted between August 13 and 15. By 100 BC, her counterpart Diana - the Roman moon goddess - was given a singular day devoted to her divinity. Called the Festival of Torches (since she was traditionally shown holding one), it was held on August 15. Eight centuries later, between the reign of Roman Popes Theodore I (642-649 AD) and Sergius I (687-701), the Catholic Church decided that Diana’s Festival, August 15, would be transformed into the main feast day of the Virgin Mother, celebrating her Assumption into heaven.
compiled from religious/mythology encyclopedias, 1945-1993
“Towards the Moon it is he should look, who is buried in the shadow of sin and iniquity. Having lost divine grace, the day disappears. There is no more Sun for him; but the Moon is still on the horizon... under her influence thousands every day find their way to God.”
Innocent III, 1161-1216
The woman kept pulling at him. She’d been mooning at his elbow for two hours, and now she was making her move... This will not be a happy run. Not even the Sun God wants to watch.
Hunter Stockton Thompson, 1937-2005
This past week’s full moon, with that sphere at its closest to earth in years, and consequently at its brightest, has produced some interesting side effects in my immediate environs. Most notably I have witnessed a serious change in behavior among my female companions and colleagues. There have occurred multiple cases of singular and group confusion, rampant odd mood swings, emotional outbursts, and an even-greater-than-usual preponderance of illogic. I must say that a great deal of this has also come from me, whether originating in my own psyche or as a reaction to those around me.
I wish to know why.
So some completely scientific background on this moon business is necessary here, relevant information, even though it seems damned peculiar when you first run it up the metaphysical flagpole.
Needless to say, not many literal-minded scientists will ever fully appreciate a life that draws resonance from the mythological connection between the earth’s natural satellite, the unplundered female, and the common crawfish.
At this particular moment in history, most have not been exposed to my own unpublished text on the matter: The Astronomer’s Compendium of Randy Metaphors. For instance, they may not realize that the 2160 miles that march in a straight line from moon surface to moon surface directly through the center of that celestial sphere’s roundness are, every one of them, encased in spandex jogging shorts full of wet thigh. This is a scientific fact. The moon is female. And oh so damp.
An explanation is in order. Scientific. Anthropologic.
To this day many primitive societies revere the moon as the source of woman’s power. The women know their tribe’s ability to survive is in every way dependent on their ability to be fertile and procreate. In their world view, that power derives directly from the moon.
The lady Ahts (an ice-bound tribe whose name invites the worst sort of speculation as to its origins) continue to believe that to look the moon in the face or to sleep on one’s back in the moonlight is to invite pregnancy. Men and those occasional rolls on the tundra have nothing to do with fertilization. Child-bearing is completely a girl-and-moon thing. They also prescribe rubbing spittle on the stomach before turning in for the night, if a female wishes to prevent herself from waking up in a family way.
No modern anthropologist (or gynaecologist) has had the courage to educate the Aht to the consequences of non-lunar penetration.
Oddly enough, a man named Moses was called upon to climb up the female-dedicated Mount of the Moon - one Mount Sinai - and bring down a pair of matched concrete lawn ornaments that were guaranteed to slap the guilt cuffs on his predecessors for thousands of years. It was the ultimate guy-sort-of-thing, but there have been volumes of theological speculation written as to the gender -- and sense of humor -- of the master or mistress of the Mount of the Moon ever since.
Ancient Greek philosophers and Jungian psychotherapists both asserted that Luna was and remains Eros, a woman. That she is lust and love. That Eros is powerful, a force well beyond the ken of humankind, has her own mind, and that as a matter of self-preservation the world had best give her her own way. And finally the philosophers, male all, concluded that this “way” of hers is pretty mysterious, if one is not a female.
Jung, unfortunately, was not.
The Greeks also had the sun pegged. Logos, they named him. A male. In his attempt to understand everything, Logos sheds too much light on the whole of existence. For him, reality doesn’t look so good, even though it is factual. This is the result of sunny Logos blatantly exposing every imperfection. The literal-minded male is unable to hide a thing.
Neither could Jung, who as a scientist was a polyester dayglo Hawaiian shirt at the nighttime Viennese opera.
But Chinese scholars did get the sex part right. They called the lunar female and solar male influences yin and yang. Though the two elements sounded like a pair of mice from a second century BC Pixar cartoon, they were still revered, and were very much a part of everyday life. The Chinese added one more characteristic: if the fiery sun is dry, then the moon is always moist, “always humid”.
One sooth any good turn-of-the-millennium Oriental soothsayer could say had to do with how wet the lunar girl got any matters in which she was involved. And the effects of that wetness. Around the year 100 BC, Liu Ngan began making the second connection, noting that the crabs, crawfish and turtles grew bigger and got smaller with the cycles of the moon: “The moon is the source of yin. That is why the brain of the carp shrinks when the moon is empty, and why the oyster is not full of fleshy parts when the moon has disappeared.” Liu may not have been carrying the whole bucket of water on the “fleshy parts” business, but he made his point.
The Greeks picked it up, called the female moon Artemis, the “All Dewy One”, whose poetic name undoubtedly suffered much in the translation. This Greek moon was a bit of a puzzle, because where her predecessor was to become beloved as the goddess of chastity, Artemis was known as the goddess of Unrestrained Sexual Lust. A few modern encyclopedias of mythology have sought in recent years to debunk both the Greek Artemis and the subsequent Roman lunar/sexual connections, but most enlightened scholars find it no wonder that her name was found scribbled so frequently on Hellenic bathhouse walls.
Ancient astronomers, in an attempt to explain the physical effects of the various heavenly bodies on humankind, came up with an interesting connect-the-dots diagram called the Zodiac. Cancer, the sign for the moon prevalent in the hot and humid month of July, was first thought to mainly affect the heart. In the early days, with the chart full of lions and fishes and scorpions and bulls, the Cancer moon was represented by a crawfish. And bare breasts. And more remote female genitalia.
The connection was felt tenuous by the romantic astronomers, though even they claimed that the inner “softness” of Cancer required the protection of the hard crustacean shell. Renaissance crab lobbyists were eventually able to unseat the crawfish from its position as shellfish-of-record for the moon, but the fact is that the crawfish was and remains one of her oldest symbols.
This is the same crawfish which at this very moment is in the height of its harvest season here in South Louisiana. I peeled five pounds of the boiled mudbugs for Monday lunch, sucking the heads and eating the tails, as any Cajun star-gazer will tell you is the proper mode of consumption.
Crawfish sustain life here.
Creators of the tarot deck bucked the crabby trend and drew the crawfish as the moon’s central representative on card XVIII, “The Moon”.
The second card in the entire deck was named “The Priestess”, a (decidedly un-bare-breasted) representation of the Roman moon goddess whose foot sits on its crescent phase. The Greek tramp Artemis had also been awarded a name change when she received her new Roman morality, and put on her clothes.
The chaste moon goddess’ name was now Diana, and besides bearing the seemingly irreconcilable titles Goddess of Chastity and the Goddess of Unrestrained Sexual Lust – and, as a sidebar, the Goddess of the Hunt -- she was awarded an additional honorific as Patroness of Motherhood.
It’s no wonder that the goddess – and her physical representations here on the real planet earth – are just a tad confused with this gigantic, bright full moon of Spring 2012.