Counting: 1, 2, 3 . . . 29

We may assume that since people’s attention was now fixed on the stars (see yesterday’s blog), at least a few figured that while they were gazing all about the sky, it might also be a good idea to take a closer look at the moon.

And then should they have observed the moon, say, late some afternoon way over on the western horizon, they would have found it emerging from the gathering dusk as little more than a thin, pale crescent—a shape that neatly fit the arc of their right thumb and forefinger, and that would accordingly lead many people around the world to refer to it as ‘the right-handed moon’.

And of course, moving westward as all things did up there, the moon would have barely had time to gain a little color before it followed the sun over the edge of the earth.

But then the next evening, it would have come out a little later—and a little further east—than the night before.

And the next evening, even further; and then the next—and meanwhile, its crescent would have gradually filled out, until after awhile, they’d have found the moon coming out about dark all full and spectacular just above the eastern horizon, and taking all night to reach the western!

After which, it would have come over the eastern horizon after dark—later and later—while gradually becoming reduced again to a thin crescent; except now, it would have fit the arc of their left thumb and forefinger, and hence would come to be called ‘the left-handed moon’. While in the end, it would have just risen before dawn and quickly become lost in the growing daylight.

Where it would unfortunately have remained —ever so deathly pale—until after a few dark, moonless nights, it would have re-appeared in the west again just before sundown, back in its right-handed configuration, and started the whole thing over again!

And of course, all of that would have happened on a steadily recurring, twenty-nine day cycle from one full moon to the next—or about the same amount of time that it took a woman to pass from one of her ever so mysterious vaginal hemorrhages to the next!

Exactly how long ago people might have come to that conclusion isn’t known—especially since while a woman’s average menstrual cycle is twenty-eight days, it can actually range anywhere from twenty-one to thirty-five—but a few Stone Age ‘tally sticks’ turned up by archaeologists in Europe look suspiciously as though someone may have been at least on the trail back then.

Whatever the case, as people grew aware of this strange similarity between woman’s cycle and the moon’s, it soon became plain enough to them that Our Lady of the Moon was the one who’d really started everything—and had even made women in her own divine image, of course, so that they might carry on with her creation!

Also, in light of the lunar cycle, people now came up with a new, more sophisticated calendar that divided the year into distinct moon-periods, or ‘months’—as in moon and menses.

In their lunar calendar, the first new moon after the arrival of the rain-constellation was deemed the first month; which we shall call February—from an old root denoting smoke, as in the ancient, traditional springtime purification of the world on New Year’s Day by throwing all of the previous year’s waste into a giant ‘bonfire’. (Mind you, this would have been back in the day when people first named the seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth months of the year Septem-ber, Octo-ber, Novem-ber, and Decem-ber.)

And then three months later, would come May—just an old word for mother—thus marking the beginning of summer: as in the ‘sum of it all’; whence many European peoples still celebrate the first day of that month, or ‘May Day’, as a traditionally important holiday marking their entry into that glorious season.

Whereas six months after that—precisely on the last day of summer, or the eve of fall—they’d probably tell their children some wild story about how they’d actually seen the Earth-mother departing in her new, fall guise as the Hag: oh yes, appropriately clad in deathly black, and all hatted up in this triangular symbol of the World Mountain as she’d finally ridden her old, worn broom off into the west—accompanied by her black house cat—squarely against the final moon of her greatest season.

Greatest because originally, summer lasted twice as long as either of the other two seasons—people at first recognizing only three—or from the first day of May all the way to the end of October!

It wasn’t a bad start—but of course, they eventually discovered that they were going to have a few problems with that calendar.

For instance, it wasn’t long before they discovered that the lunar cycle really lasted twenty-nine and a half days; hence in order to keep up with everything, they found themselves forced to settle for alternating ‘months’ of twenty-nine and thirty days.

And then, inasmuch as the visible moon was divided into three main phases—the right-handed moon, full moon, and left-handed moon—they sought to divide the month itself into three periods, or weeks: a word simply meaning ‘to change’.

But while the thirty-day months readily submitted to that, of course the twenty-nine proved less cooperative!

And so they finally decided on three nine-day weeks, plus a short, two or three day end-of-the-month intercalary period that they declared would be associated with the Moon-woman’s death and passage through the underworld.

But the problem that really threatened to ruin them was the fact that while the traditional New Year’s Day—based as it was on the arrival of the rain-constellation—indeed came around every three hundred sixty-five days, that number wasn’t even remotely divisible by twenty-nine or thirty, or twenty-nine and a half either; meaning that as things stood now, to the dismay of most farmers who by then had grown accustomed to organizing their entire agricultural year around the stars, there was little chance of the lunar New Year ever coinciding with the stellar one.

Or to put it another way, since twenty-nine and a half went into three hundred sixty-five twelve times with eleven left over, even the best case scenario would leave an awkward partial month—an unfortunately incomplete, i.e. ‘unlucky’ thirteenth if you will—at the end of the lunar year.

And so they had to come up with some new formula—howsoever exotic—that would keep their new calendar from falling out of step with the seasons!

It occurred to some that they might try alternating twelve- and thirteen-month years; but in time, that promised to become very messy—and in the end, hardly more accurate.

And so finally, they came up with the idea of inserting seven extra months at various points over every nineteen years—which is the system that’s still used for almost all lunar calendars.

And well, by the end of all this, people had even come up with a wide variety of entertaining stories purporting to explain the moon’s intriguing shadows.

For instance, some said that even after Our Lady of the Moon had been unmistakably identified as the real Ultimate One, at least one man refused to believe that she was greater than Our Lady of the Stars.

And so she decided to teach him a lesson by allowing that he could indeed continue to worship the latter—if only he might first uproot the Tree of Life from the moon, so that he might give it back to the Star-lady.

Whence, the story goes, you can still see him struggling with that up there—since no matter how much he manages to loosen it during the weaker, waning part of the month, of course he always finds it returning to full strength with the waxing of the next.

Actually, down the ages up to and including the present, the Great Mother’s aspect as the moon has been more widely beheld and worshipped than almost any other—indeed, save only that of the common earth; witness the following hundred or so examples . . .

  • Achelois: an early Greek moon goddess
  • Aega: another early Greek moon goddess
  • Aialila’axa: an early Mexican moon goddess
  • Aine of Knockaine: an ancient Irish moon goddess
  • Anatis: an early Egyptian moon goddess
  • Anchimayén: the Mapuche Chilean moon goddess
  • Andromeda: originally a Greek moon goddess
  • Anumati: a Hindu moon goddess
  • Anunit: a Mesopotamian moon goddess
  • Aponibolinayen: a Philippine moon goddess
  • Arava: an early Roman moon goddess
  • Arawa: the moon goddess of Kenya’s Suk people and Uganda’s Pokot
  • Arianrhod: an ancient Celtic moon goddess whose name means ‘Silver Wheel’
  • Asherali: a Cannaannite moon goddess
  • Ashima: an ancient Semitic moon goddess
  • Ashtaroth: a Phoenecian moon goddess
  • Astarte: an ancient Syrian moon goddess
  • Ategina: an ancient Iberian moon goddess
  • Athenesic: the moon goddess of several Native North American peoples
  • Auchimalgen: a Chilean moon goddess
  • Ayauhteot: an Aztec moon goddess
  • Belili: a Mesopotamian moon goddess
  • Bendis: an early Greek moon goddess
  • Bomo Rambi: the Zimbabwean moon goddess
  • Borghild: a Norse moon goddess
  • Brigantis: a Celtic moon goddess
  • Britomartis: an ancient Cretan moon goddess
  • Bulan: an Indonesian moon goddess
  • Caelestis: a Carthaginean moon goddess
  • Candi: a Hindu moon goddess
  • Cerridwen: an ancient Celtic goddess of waning moon
  • Chang-o: a Chinese moon goddess
  • Chang Xi: a Chinese moon goddess
  • Chía: Chibcha moon goddess
  • Chuh Kamuy: a Chinese moon goddess
  • Coyolxauhqui: an Aztec moon goddess
  • Dae-Soon: a Korean moon goddess
  • Derketo: a Chaldean moon goddess
  • Dewi Ratih: a Balinese moon goddess
  • Diana: originally a Roman goddess of the hunt, she later took over for Luna as the goddess of the moon
  • Duan Luteh: an ancient Irish moon goddess
  • Electryone: an ancient Greek moon goddess
  • Fatima: an ancient Syrian moon goddess
  • Gleti: the Fon Benin moon goddess
  • Gnatoo: a Japanese moon goddess
  • Gungu: a Persian goddess of the new moon
  • Hanwi: the Ogala Sioux moon goddess
  • Hecate: an ancient Greek moon goddess specially associated with its waning and dark phases
  • Hina: a Polynesian moon goddess
  • Hov Ava: a Russian moon goddess
  • Huitaca: a Colombian moon goddess
  • Hunthaca: a Guatamalan moon goddess
  • Ilargi: the Basque moon goddess
  • iNyanga: the Zulu moon goddess
  • Isis: an Egyptian goddess of the moon as well as many other things
  • Ix Ahau: a Mayan moon goddess
  • Ix Chel: a Mayan moon goddess
  • Ix Ch’up: a Mayan moon goddess
  • Ix Chebel Yax: a Mayan moon goddess
  • Jezanna: a Central African moon goddess
  • Juno: a Roman goddess of the new moon and much more
  • Jyotsna: the Hindu goddess of the autumn moons
  • Ka Ata Killa: a Peruvian moon goddess
  • Komorkis: the Blackfoot moon goddess
  • Kovava: the Morvin moon goddess
  • Kueyen: the Mapuche Chilean moon goddess
  • Kuutar: a Finnish moon goddess
  • Lasya: a Tibetan moon goddess
  • Losna: an Etruscan moon goddess associated with the ocean tides
  • Lucina: a Roman moon goddess
  • Luna: a Roman moon goddess
  • Manna: the Sami Finnland moon goddess
  • Marama: the Maori moon goddess
  • Marina: a Slavic moon goddess
  • Mawu: a Dahomean moon goddess
  • Mayari: a Philippine moon goddess
  • Metsaka: the Huichol Mexican moon goddess
  • Nanna: a Norse moon goddess
  • Nikkal: a Syrian moon goddess
  • Nsongo: a Congolese moon goddess
  • Pah: the Pawnee moon goddess
  • Periboriwa: the Yanomami Brazilian moon goddess
  • Perimb: a Brazilian moon goddess
  • Quillamama: the Incan moon goddess
  • Rhiannon: a Celtic moon goddess whose name means ‘Queen of the Night
  • Sadarnuna: a Sumerian goddess of the new moon
  • Sarpandit: a Sumerian goddess of the rising moon
  • Selardi: the Uratu moon goddess
  • Selene: an ancient Greek goddess of the full moon
  • Sina: a Samoan moon goddess
  • Taio: the Lakalai moon goddess
  • Tamparawa: the Tapirapé Brazilian moon goddess
  • Tanit: a Carthaginian moon goddess
  • Teczistecatl: an Aztec goddess of the moon and sex
  • Trivia: a Roman goddess of the full moon
  • Varahi: a Hindu new moon goddess
  • Xochhiquetzal: an Aztec goddess originally associated with the moon but who eventually came to be associated with love, marriage, fertility, sex, sensual pleasure, pregnancy, childbirth, and happiness; specially invoked by Aztec women to make their marriage fruitful
  • Ya’china’ut: Koryak Siberian moon goddess
  • Yolkai Estsan: the Navajo moon goddess
  • Zirna: an Etruscan goddess of the waxing moon

_________________________

Sources

Funk & Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology, and Legend, 2 vol., ed. Maria Leach, 1949

Wikipedia, List of Lunar Deities https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_lunar_deities

Goddess Guide https://www.goddess-guide.com/moon-goddess.html

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s