Since ancient times, the lunar goddesses have reigned as the supreme feminine force throughout various civilizations among which, the Moon symbolizes the ultimate power of divine feminine energy.
Queen Moon Goddess Cult
Queen Elizabeth I of England, also known as the Virgin Queen, was depicted as Virgin Moon Goddess Cynthia through various poems and paintings of her time. The most famous poem was written by Sir Walter Ralegh in the late 1580s titled ‘The Ocean’s Love to Cynthia’.
The most visible symbol of feminine energy in the creation is the Moon. As it ruminates the luminescence from the Sun, the pale orb in the night sky has been hailed as a woman’s ruminative nature, and her inner response to the world. Astrologically, the Moon dominates the Fourth House, the House of hearth and family and the energy of Cancer, which is the sign of sustaining and mothering. Even though being distinguished in our modern-day cultural myths with the peaceful side of women, it also exerts enormous power to control the ocean tides and the cycles in women’s bodies. The Moon makes us feel romantically “lunatic” at times, yet its strong influence is dispersed in our lives. Discussed below are such symbolic influences:
Symbolism in Mythologies and Cultures
◐ The Moon, being the symbol of feminine power and dominance, has a presentable weightage in the ancient mythology and cultures. In Greek mythology, Selene is the Titan goddess of the moon, and she is depicted as a woman who is either horseback riding or in a chariot drawn by a pair of winged steeds. Her lunar sphere or crescent is signified either as a crown set upon her head or as the fold of a raised, shining cloak. A number of other goddesses in Greek mythology are associated with the Moon; however, only Selene was honored in the old Greek poet’s representation of the moon incarnation. Other Greek moon goddesses included Pasiphae, the Leukippides, Eileithyia, Hekate, Artemis, Bendis, and Hera (who sometimes doubled for Selene in the Endymion myth).
◑ In Christianity, Virgin Mary is depicted with the new moon where she vibrates with the concepts of purity, peace, illumination, and beau idéal. In Egyptian culture, Thoth is the God of moon and its male attribution; he symbolizes magic, wisdom, writing, and hidden meanings.
◐ Romans revered Diana, the moon goddess, a huntress archetype, and woodland goddess, as the protector of women and animals. The Chinese believed in Kuan Yin, goddess of purity, grace, kindness, selflessness, and benevolence. She is also a matron of childbirth, and is prayed to for aid in conception as well as healing. She also protects souls in the outer realms and travelers.
◑ The Wiccans believe in the triple goddess or the triple moon, which symbolizes the Maiden, Mother, and Crone as the waxing, full, and waning moon. It is also conciliated with feminine energy, mystery, and psychic abilities. These are often symbolized on crowns or headpieces, particularly worn by High Priestesses of Wiccan order. The Maiden corresponds bewitchment, origination, expansion, the female principle, the promise of new beginnings, youth, exhilaration, and a freewheeling erotic aura. The Maiden in Greek Mythology is Persephone, representing purity and a legacy of new beginnings. Other maiden goddesses include Brigid and Nimue, among others. The Mother represents maturity, prolific fulfillment, constancy, and power. The Mother Goddess in Greek mythology is Demeter, representing the fountainhead of life, giving, and pity. Other mother goddesses include Aa, Ambika, Ceres, Astarte, and Lakshmi. The Crone corresponds wisdom, peacefulness, and pity. The Crone in Greek mythology is Hecate―wise, knowing, a climax of a lifetime of experience. Crone goddesses include Hel, Maman Brigitte, Oya, Sedna, Skuld, and others.
◐ The Incas of the South America believed that they originated from a moon maiden and sun man who were the original royal Incas. Native Americans believed in her regenerative properties and referred to it as the Old Woman Who Never Dies and the Eternal One.
◑ People formerly conceived that moonlight had a powerful effect on human behavior. Those who acted oddly were said to be “moonstruck,” and lunacy, a term for in saneness, comes from Luna, the Latin name for the moon goddess. The Japanese thought that the Moon was a god with powers to enunciate the future. Priests would contemplate the moon’s reflection in a mirror, believing that if they gazed forthwith at the Moon, it might drive them mad. Superstitions about the Moon’s malevolent influence caused some people to not sleep in a place where moonbeams could affect them.
Symbolism in Chinese culture
◐ Traditional Chinese culture conceived the Moon as a bearer of human emotions. Ancient Chinese myth and philosophy depict that the waxing and waning of moon greatly influenced the Chinese lunar calendar and Chinese philosophy regarding the quest for immortal life and occult wisdom.
◑ According to an ancient Chinese fable dated around 2170 B.C., the Moon was the abode of the fairy Chang E and a woodcutter named Wu Gang along with their pet jade rabbit. During that time, the Earth had ten suns circling it, each taking turns to light up the Earth. But one fatal day, all ten suns came out together, searing the Earth with their heat. The Earth was redeemed by a strong and despotic archer named Hou Yi, who succeeded in shooting down nine of the suns. Hou Yi in his greed stole the elixir of life from a goddess to continue and spread his despotic rule. However, his beautiful wife Chang E imbibed the elixir of life to save the people from her husband’s oppressive rule. After consuming the elixir, she was transformed into a fairy and she floated all the way to the Moon. Hou Yi was enchanted by his divinely beautiful wife so much that he refused to shoot down the Moon, thus making it her permanent abode.
◐ The Chinese have always been the first nation to treasure the dream of flying to the sky. Everything from the myth of Chang E to the Fly Apsaras of Dunhuang caves, evinces Chinese ancestors’ hopes to explore outer space. Many ancient Chinese poets also showed their orientation for the Moon through marvelous poems. For example, the poetic genius Libai penned more than 320 poems about the Moon in his lifetime.
◑ In Chinese traditions, the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar, which is a full moon, is marked as the Moon Festival, or the Mid-Autumn Festival. The Chinese believe that the celestial round shape symbolizes family reunion, and hence, the day is set as a holiday for family members to get together and revere the full moon―a propitious token of abundance, concordance, and fortune.
◐ It is an important tradition to celebrate the Mid-Autumn festival, where members of the family get together and indulge in various varieties of fragrant moon cakes with piping hot Chinese tea.
◑ To celebrate this sighting of the Moon, red plastic lanterns shaped in conventional fashions and decorated with traditional motifs are prepared for the occasion. This night holds a special place for lovers as there is an old Chinese saying that marriages are made in heaven and prepared on the Moon. It is believed that a heavenly old man of the Moon (Yue Lao) keeps records of everyone’s future partners, and his decision cannot be disregarded; hence, couples hike up on high mountains or hills to wish over the Moon, hoping that Yue Lao will bless and grant their wishes.
◐ As believed in modern times, this festival is not related to harvest, but it’s a way to attune the human spiritual energy with the lunar realm.
Symbolism in Japanese Culture
◐ To the Japanese, the Moon signifies the human core in a state of solitary solitude. According to ancient Japanese mythology and in Shinto beliefs, Tsukuyomi was the moon god and ruler of the night. Japanese believed that Tsukuyomi caused the lunar rhythms that affected their lives.
◑ During the ethnic renaissance period of the Heian era (794-1185 CE), paintings of the Moon erupted into popularity across Japan. Magnificent depictions of a gigantic moon behind blossoms were the toast of the season along with the Moon viewing parties that celebrated the celestial wonder with poetry recitations.
◐ During the Kamakura era (1185-1333 CE) of Zen Buddhism, literary works and art in praise of the Moon sprung up along with Noh drama and the Japanese rock garden.
◑ Tsukimi or Otsukimi is the traditional Mid-Autumn festival celebrated in Japan. During this time, it’s a custom to offer sacrifices to the Moon and celebrate the harvest season in gratitude to the moon god. The delicacies made during this festival include steamed buns, gnocchi (soft dough balls), rice cakes, and bread from newly ripe taro, sweet potatoes, oriental giant radish, and beans, which are decorated on an elaborate table in their yards together with fruits, such as apples, pears, and persimmons. Embellished lanterns adorn the yards, adding splendor to the festival.
Symbolism of Phases of the Moon
◐ New Moon
The New Moon heralds the lunar phases, and hence since ancient times, it symbolizes new beginnings. Historically, New Moon sentinels in Israel watched for the thin crescent to launch the beginning of each month and reported their sightings to the calendar court authorities of the Sanhedrin to plan the lunar calendar. The Dark of the Moon signifies a fresh start, a clean slate, and a new beginning. It’s the time of collecting and calming our thoughts, designing our goals, and getting ready for heralding it at the Crescent Moon.
◑ Crescent Moon
The Crescent Moon is the time to declare our intentions, hopes, and wishes for the Lunar Month. It signifies femininity, growth, and creativity. The word ‘crescent’ originates from the Latin word ‘ceres’ meaning to ‘bring forth, create’ and crescere, which is the Latin word for ‘grow, thrive’.
◑ Waning Crescent
It symbolizes the extrusion of negative energy in your life, getting rid of things, or people/habits, etc., that are causing harm and may create obstacles in daily life.
◑ Waxing Crescent
It symbolizes growth and creative thinking.
◐ First Quarter Moon
It appears roughly a week after the New Moon. It symbolizes that we must give a head-start to the challenges we had not prepared for, and it is a time for on-the-spot decisions and actions.
◑ Gibbous Moon
It symbolizes a time to take a step back and analyze the life that we are living; a time to ponder on the actions and giving it the necessary edit in life without fretting about what has happened earlier. It also symbolizes accommodation and adaption to the current situation.
◐ Full Moon
It symbolizes manifestation of the plans and ideas that we have dreamed or worked about, and it may happen that the results won’t be instantaneous, but eventually everything would fall into place.
◑ Disseminating Moon
It symbolizes a time to be grateful and hopeful for all the intentions that have worked.
◐ Last Quarter Moon
It symbolizes spiritual healing, and it’s the time to let go of the past hurts and feelings regarding people and things.
◐ Balsamic Moon
It symbolizes the time to yield, repose, and recover. No more reckoning, projecting, getting in your own way, or action of any kind; just be at peace. As the Moon tardily enters ‘the dark of the Moon,’ we must allow our optic judgment’s to become dark and still.
Symbolism of the Blood or Red Moon
◐ The Bible specifically prophesies through Joel 2:31: The sun will be turned to darkness, and the Moon to blood before the great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. This explains the mass hysteria caused by Blood Moon or Red Moon. For some Christian believers, it heralds the end of days, and as for some, it means the start of the Great tribulation or the reign of Satan. Through astronomy, the Blood Moon significance depicts a lunar tetrad – four total lunar eclipses in a row, which began on April 15, 2014. The last one of these total lunar eclipses happened on October 8, 2014, and the next is believed to appear on April 4, 2015.
◑ What is a lunar tetrad? It’s four total lunar eclipses in succession without partial lunar eclipses, each of which is separated by six lunar months or six full moons. This very well explains the symbolic prophesy. Sun turns dark = as Moon directly comes between the Earth and Sun in a total solar eclipse. Moon appears blood red = Earth comes directly between the Sun and Moon, making the Earth’s shadow fall on the Moon in a total lunar eclipse.
◐ During the lunar tetrad, the Full Moon virtually incessantly looks coppery red due to the disseminated light from the Earth’s sunrises and sunsets which fall on the face of the Moon at mid-eclipse, thus giving it the name Blood Moon.
◑ Another believed reason for this term is ‘The Hunter’s Moon’; in ancient seasonal folklore, it is called the Blood Moon. As it rises immediately after sun fall during autumn, people see it low in the sky during which time, the extra air in the atmosphere makes the Moon appear reddish, hence, terming it as Blood Moon. So folks, now you very well know that a Red Moon is not a sign of Apocalypse!
Symbolism of Seasonal Moons
◐ In ancient legends and Wiccan traditions, the Moon is signified through different seasons and connote different meanings.
◐ January (The Old Moon): Its also known as Full Wolf Moon, or the Moon After Yule as it falls on the cold snow months when the wolf packs hunt in the woods.
◑ February (The Storm Moon): It is also known as the Full Snow Moon or Full Hunger Moon by the north tribes as during this month, the snowfall is heavy which in turn makes hunting difficult.
◐ March (The Sugar Moon): It is also known as the Lenten Moon, or the last full moon of winter. It heralds the spring season and maple tree tapping season.
◑ April (The Growing Moon): It connotes spring season when seeds begin to grow.
◑ May (The Flower Moon): It is also known by some Algonquin tribes as the Corn Planting Moon or the Milk Moon. It connotes the full-flowering spring season.
◑ June (The Honey Moon): The Algonquin tribes marked this moon as a time to gather ripening strawberries.
◑ July (The Mead Moon): July is commonly the month when the new antlers of buck deer push out of their foreheads in coatings of velvety fur, hence the name.
◐ August (The Lighting Moon): It is also known as the Green Corn Moon or the Grain Moon. It simply means harvesting time.
◑ September (The Fruit Moon): It also known as the Barley Moon due to harvesting and threshing of the ripened barley. It occurs nearest to the autumnal equinox, which can occur in September or October.
◑ October (The Travel Moon): It heralds the long winter season and hunting season.
◑ November (The Frost Moon): It tells you when winter begins.
◑ December (The Winter Moon): It is also known as the Long Nights Moon by some Native American tribes because of the long wintry nights.
Symbolism in Literature
◐ The Moon is presented as an imagery in literature; it could mean various things in various situations of a story or poem. Some writers associate it with loneliness, solitude, or to present a serene night atmosphere.
◑ Because of its beauty, it can be depicted as the comparison for the main female protagonist in the story or represents lunatic madness of the character.
◐ Most popular dominant imagery of the Moon and moonlight are in the writings of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream where the Moon is the symbol of passage of time; like its lunar phases, it also presents a dark dream like atmosphere for the audience in accordance with its mythological references.
Symbolism of Sun and Moon
◐ A Native American legend suggests that the Sun and Moon are a chieftain, and his wife and the stars are their children. The Sun loves to catch and consume his children, so they flee from the sky whenever he appears. The Moon plays with the stars while the Sun is sleeping. But each month, she turns her face to one side in protest and darkens it (as the Moon wanes) to mourn the children that the Sun succeeded in consuming.
◐ Throughout ancient times, the Sun and the Moon have been used to denote opposite signs. They are the perfect examples of everything opposite or Yang (masculine) and Yin (feminine).
◑ The Sun denotes Yang which symbolizes male, dominance, aggressiveness, and light, while the Moon denotes Yin which symbolizes female, submissive, passive, and dark.
◐ According to ancient philosophers and astrologers, the left side of the body depicted the feminine side or the lunar side, and the right side of the body depicted the masculine side or the solar side, which was in perfect accordance of the same duality or ‘pairs of opposites’ as the Universe.
◑ Throughout history, one can find that the male ruler always sits at the right-hand side of the female ruler, and this goes well with the properties of Yang and Yin. The right side is considered as strong, powerful, and superordinate whereas the left side is considered as weak, defensive, and subordinate.
◐ The Sun and Moon symbolism is well depicted in Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet where the combination of the light and dark makes an interesting motif; the evening hours hold all of the substantial moments for Romeo and Juliet. They contact each other in the dark of night; they toast their love; they elope; they commit suicide. Dark exemplifies a time when a person can let go of their forbiddings. The same holds true for our two lovers. They have a hardihood at night that doesn’t show up during the day; this is particularly true for Romeo. The night provides concealment and a place away from the public’s intruding eyes, where Romeo and Juliet’s love can blossom. Romeo signifies the Sun and Juliet as the Moon, as the Sun and Moon never be together; same is the fate of their love.
The Moon universally represents the rhythm of time, immortality and eternity, enlightenment or the dark side of Nature herself. It reflects inner wisdom, or the phases of human circumstances on the Earth, as it controls the tides, the rains, the waters, and the seasons. It is the spiritual realm between the light of the Sun and the darkness of night, and thus, often exemplifies the realm between the conscious and the unconscious.