Athena's Web Weekly Column

  Week of April 19th - April 25th,  2002

Diana and Callisto

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   This week we are examining February 11th in Ovid's Fasti, a date which would have equated to February 9th in the older calendar of the Republic. If we continue to examine our lunar correspondence for this day, the Sun would fall in Aquarius, and the Moon would be in Cancer.

Diana and her nymphs

Diana and her nymphs

   The Moon is in its rulership in Cancer. It is a powerful and obvious association that has long linked this silvery lamp of the night with women. In antiquity, this maternal energy was curiously connected with virgin goddesses of childbirth. The association between the length of the lunar cycle and women's menstrual cycle are one and the same. Because Cancer is a water sign and because the Moon rules the tides, this combination has also been thought to rule over the lakes, streams and ponds that represent bodies of pure water.

A modern Callisto

A modern Callisto

   The Moon also rules over the wild things of the Earth: the plants, trees, vegetation and animals of the wood. Diana (the Moon) rules over the hunt, which seeks food from the fleet footed creatures of the forest. While Ceres rules the cultivated crops and grains which have been nurtured as part of the evolution of agriculture, so the Moon, or Diana, Artemis, Cynthia, Selene, or Phoebe (all names for the Moon in the Roman and Greek traditions), rule what must be wildcrafted and harvested in their natural state. In more contemporary mythic terms, she would today be thought of as Mother Nature.

   This week's correlation is immanently obvious. The Moon is in Cancer, and femininity in various forms, is drawn into sharp relief, choreographed by heaven, and recorded by Ovid.

   " Among the Hamadryads in the train of the archeress Diana one of the sacred band was Callisto. Laying her hand on the bow of the goddess, "Thou bow," quoth she, " which thus I touch, bear witness to my virginity." Cynthia approved the vow, and said, "Keep but thy plighted troth and thou shalt be the foremost of my company." Her troth she would have kept if she had not been fair. With mortals she was on her guard; it was with Jove she sinned. Of wild beasts in the forest Phoebe had chased full many a score, and home she was returning at noon or after noon. No sooner had she reached the grove- the grove where the thick holm-oaks cast a gloom and in the midst a deep fountain of cool water rose- than the goddess spake: "Here in the wood," quoth she, "let's bath, thou maid of Arcady." At the false name of maid the other blushed. The goddess spoke to the nymphs as well, and they put off their robes. Callisto was ashamed and bashfully delayed. But when she doffed her tunic, too plainly, self-convicted, her big belly betrayed the weight she bore. To whom the goddess spake: "Daughter of Lycaon forsworn, forsake the company of maids and defile not the pure waters." Ten times the horned moon had filled her orb afresh, when she who had been thought a maid was proved a mother. "

The Moon rules childbirth and pregnancy

The Moon rules childbirth and pregnancy

   Here we are seeing many of the lunar examples laid out in a single myth, like a child's nursery rhyme, providing examples of the artifacts which lie within the realm of the Silvery Goddess. The role of women is laid out, from virginity to big bellied pregnancy, from maid to mother, complete with its cycle of ten horned moons (the Romans used inclusive counting), all in one luminescent package.





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