Calendar, Moon Facts, Part 6 of 6

(an important symbol for many people)

The many influences of the moon

The Ecliptic

  • In astronomy, the ecliptic is literally the line of the eclipses, "the great circle on the celestial sphere" which forms the apparent path of the sun in the course of a year.
  • The twelve constellations or signs of the zodiac are arranged along the ecliptic. The plane of the ecliptic is the plane of the earth's orbit, or more strictly the plane in which the combined center of gravity of the earth and the moon revolves around the sun; it meets the celestial sphere in the great circle which forms the apparent path of the sun in the course of the year.

The Moon, an Important Symbol for Many Societies, Past and Present

The moon is considered the most important symbol in the heavens, next to the sun, for many humans.

  • The moon has been thought of as "female", primarily because of its passivity as the receiver of the sun's light, but also because of the similarity of the lunar month and the menstrual cycle.
  • The waxing and waning of the moon and its regular return of the same lunar form, make a striking symbol for all philosophies combining death and rebirth.
  • Sometimes the moon is considered, and is personified as masculine (as in German: der Mond, from the Germanic Mani, whose sister is Sol, or in a Southern variant Sunna, the sun; or, in English, the man in the moon).
  • For most languages and cultures the moon is feminine, e.g., the Latin Luna, the Greek Selene or Artemis, the East Asian Kuanyin or Kwannon, or the Mayan Ixchel.
  • There has "always" been a belief that the phases of the moon influenced events on earth; not only the ebb and flow of the tides but also the rising, and falling of sap in plants; haircuts and bloodletting were scheduled with reference to the lunar cycle.
  • "Moon-herbs" (plants which bloom at night) were prescribed for gynecological disorders.
  • Christian iconography shows the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, is often likened to the moon or portrayed as standing or enthroned on a lunar crescent, which in Austria was readily seen as a symbol for their victory over the Turks (whose military emblem was the half-moon), but the reference goes back to Revelation 12:1 (in the New Testament of the Bible): "A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet," which symbolized victory over hostile forces.
  • In the Jewish world, the moon is linked not only with the nocturnal or the other worldly but also, as in other traditions, with femineity (an association suggested by the temporal similarity of the lunar and menstrual cycles) and fertility (in multiple senses).
  • Women and domesticated animals wore moon-like necklaces.
  • The Greek apologist Theophilus of Antioch (second century after Christ) saw the sun and the moon as dualistic symbols, "images bearing a great mystery: for the sun is the symbol of God; the moon, of humanity," whose light is a reflection of God's.
  • Origen (a.d. 184-254) interpreted the moon as a symbol of the Roman Church, which receives illumination and then transmits it to all believers.
  • Every month, moreover, the moon is "reborn" which is a symbol for the Resurrection.
  • In astrology the moon is still considered a planet, as in the geocentric system of the ancient world; the moon and the sun together are the "principal lights" of the astrologer' s universe.
  • The moon is the closest heavenly body to the earth, always showing the same face, a face whose lines and shadows are the stuff of legend.
  • Modern astrologers view the moon as influencing a woman's superficial personality, but a man's deeper being, his soul.
  • In ancient Rome the moon was spoken of as a liar, luna mendax, in part because its form resembled a "C" when it was waning and a "D" when it was waxing.
  • Because of their traditional symbolic associations, mother-of pearl, opal, pearls, and selenite were spoken of as "moon-stones."
  • In iconography the moon is usually portrayed as a crescent, its profile turned to the left.
  • Lunar crescents appear in the coats of arms and flags of many Islamic countries.
  • Speaking of lunar images in heraldry, the hundred senators of Romulus wore a C-shaped half-moon on their shoes as an indication "that they trampled under foot as vain and worldly everything under the moon," or simply to distinguish themselves as senators.
  • Noblemen whose arms included the moon, which meant "growth" or "prosperity," apparently took this symbol from the Turks long ago (1688?).
  • In the Basque language, the words for "deity" and "moon" were the same.
  • Sioux Indians called the moon "The Old Woman Who Never Dies".
  • Ancient rulers of the Tutsi tribe were named Mwezi, "Moon".
  • The Gaelic name of the moon, gealach, came from Gala or Galata, original Moon-mother of Gaelic and Gaulish tribes.
  • The Moon-goddess created time, with all its cycles of creation, growth, decline, and destruction, which is why ancient calendars were based on phases of the moon and menstrual cycles.
  • Greeks often located the Elysian Fields, home of the blessed dead, in the moon.
  • The shoes of Roman senators were decorated with ivory lunules (crescents) to show that after death they would inhabit the moon.
  • Some superstitious people refused to sleep where moonlight might touch them. According to Roger Bacon, "many have died from not protecting themselves from the rays of the moon".
  • Believers in prophetic dreams said if a man dreamed of his own image in the moon, he would have a son; if a woman dreamed of her own image in the moon, she would give birth to a daughter.
  • At one time, Scottish girls refused to schedule a wedding day for any time other than the full moon, the "most fortunate time" for women.
  • In Gaul, the crescent moon stood for the druidic Diana.
  • Crescere meant "to grow, a form of Latin creare, to produce, to create—hence the crescent.
  • Since crescent means "to grow" or "increase," it would be safe to say that the term "waning crescent" is an obvious oxymoron.
  • Gauls made communion cakes in the form of a crescent. Modern France still makes them, and calls them croissants, "crescents," also known as "moon teeth."
  • One old almanac is quoted as saying, "Kill fat swine for bacon about the full moon. . . . Shear sheep at the moon's increase: fell hand timber from the full moon. . . .; horses and mares must be put together in the increase of the moon, for foals got in the wane are not accounted strong. . .; fruit should be gathered, and cattle gelded, in the wane of the moon."
  • In a March 13, 1995, the Associated Press wrote about a professed "witch" who had three foster children removed from her home because of her religious beliefs. Members of "Our Lady of the Roses Wiccan Church in East Providence, RI . . . meet during the new moon, the full moon and on eight ‘sabbats' a year." There was also a statement that, "Witches are contemporary followers of a pre-Christian religion that flourished in Europe before being driven underground."
  • In another Associated Press/Cox News Service article on March 11, 1995, there was an article about the temperature contributions made by the full and new phases of the moon, based on information gathered by "Earth-orbiting satellites," according to two Arizona State University climatologists.
  • "The warmest day of every month occurs when the moon is full. The difference appears to be caused by the subtle warming effect on the Earth's atmosphere by the sunlight and heat reflected from the lunar surface".
  • The full moon is said to reflect heat of 200 degrees Fahrenheit across 220,000 miles with an increase over the "entire globe. . . to about two-hundredths of a degree".
  • The coldest day occurs during the new moon. The climatologists say the temperature changes are not significant to over heat or to chill anyone, but such temperature influences are "statistically significant."

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

—Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, Old Testament part of the Bible

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