Athena's Web Weekly Column
Week of March 5th - March 11th, 2010
Married to the Moon
There's a distinct difference between Solar and Lunar Archetypes in myth. Solar myths are consistent and steady, like the mathematics of the Sun. The entire group honors one tale, one tradition, centralized and strong. There's both precision and regularity in the rhythms of the year, with their Solstices and Equinoxes. The Sun is bright, clear and bold. Daylight draws us into consciousness and action.
The Ecliptic is the Golden Thread of Sunlight that weaves it's way through the sky, leaving just the faintest trail of Pixie dust in its wake. You'd have to look right at the Golden Orb to see it though, and we're not supposed to do that.
The tale of the birth of the Christ Child is a solar myth. Not only is the child born with the re-birth of the astronomical Sun on December 25th, the date the Sun starts to re-climb the latitude ladder, but it's the only 'birth myth' Christianity acknowledges. It's a centralized theme. One myth fits all. Caesar married this mathematical model (based on a solar calendar) when he established the Julian Timetable in 45 BC.
The Moon, however, is a very Fickle Lady. We watch her wax and wane. As a heavenly body, She's difficult to track and requires a knowledgeable and well-trained priesthood to follow Her monthly motion. Whereas the Sun has a ploughed and well-established furrow, hitting the same track at the same time, year after year, the Moon can climb higher and dip lower than Her more predictable younger brother.
And She shows up when She wants to.
In addition to a wider orbital path, the Moon's Cheshire smile comes and goes, Her soft, silvery light increasing and decreasing in its own rhythm. This satellite's bodily rotation matches Her dance about the Earth, so that the same face is always turned towards us, observing our every move. Her mysteries smile serenely from above, the only face the Earth will ever see.
Some feel what we call today the 'New Moon' is perhaps better referred to as the 'Dark Moon'. The only time this Dark Moon is visible is as it blocks out the Sun during an eclipse. A New Moon was originally thought of as the first thin sliver of a crescent that appears along the western horizon shortly after sunset about two days after the Dark Moon. Because of fading twilight and varying atmospheric conditions, its reappearance is not an exact science. Those watching the ways of Heaven would wait until they saw this Lunar l'enfant in the western sky and then call out to let the community know the new month had begun. The Dark Moon, our astronomical New Moon, is actually still lost to the light, and mythically speaking, to life.
The Moon as a mythological archetype is a slice of the local environment and community. It's the home team; your parents and family members, personal bonds, memories and ethnic traditions. In essence, it's your family roots.
As family, we have strong bonds to these people. We know who they are, how they are, where they are. It's personal, and it's loaded with a life-sized spectrum of water-colored reflections.
But they're only personal to us. People outside of our community and domestic circle see these same individuals as strangers, devoid of the habitual personality quirks that make them so special.
You wouldn't believe what Martha did this week!
During both the Age of Cancer (c. 8600 to 6450 BC) and the Age of Taurus (c. 4300 to 2150 BC), the Moon occupied a special role in the World Pantheon. During these times, Lunar models predominated. Think Matriarch. They carried more weight in the decision-making process. During the Age of Cancer, domestic village life evolved independently in both Central America and the Middle East as people began to exchange nomadic lifestyles of following the herd for growing domesticated foods and sticking around in more established communities to wait while they grew, matured, and were harvested. Agricultural practices during the Age of Taurus eventually evolved into production techniques that outpace even modern yields, returning thirty grains for each grain sown. The Earth, Moon, land and agriculture were all treated very differently, with a far greater respect and reverence.
Not surprisingly, these older traditions, reflecting a more 'Lunar' focus, had multiple Birth (Creation) Myths. The Moon (Mama) rules 'birth'. Many localized areas within Egypt tell the story of Creation from their point of view. Memphis, Thebes, Hermopolis and Heliopolis all competed for how Creation kicked into gear, each 'born' of a different philosophy.
One of these Birth Myths even approximates the Big Bang Theory. For those from Heliopolis, Creation began with a Sneeze.
God bless you.
On a smaller scale, we do the same thing with our regionalized sports, playing off one territory against another. Buccaneers, Vikings and Pirates have their spirited adherents, while Bulls, Rams and Giants compete in regular tests of strength. The home-territories of each team draw their sustenance from the local community. If you leave your region and journey to the realm of another mascot, it all seems so strange.
Theirs is a different phase of the metaphorical Moon.
Over the course of a year, the Sun wears a single golden garment with each passing day. The Moon will come to change her silvery skirt twelve times, each appropriate to the Season and each with a new set of textures, tones and color combinations.
Night and day, day and night.