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Learning about the Moon's Role in Western Astrology
The moon is one of two celestial bodies in Western Astrology that isn't named directly after a Roman god. Those two celestial bodies are considered ruling planets, even though they're not planets. That would be the moon, which orbits around a planet, and the Sun, a star.
The moon represents our deepest feelings and needs, as well as our intuition. It is associated with the night and darkness. The moon represents our unconscious mind, the place where dreams dwell. It is everything that is unseen and what drives our actions.
The moon rules just one astrological sign: Cancer. The moon rules the feminine, our moods, and our charms. It has the characteristics of water feng shui and yin: roundness, darkness, femininity, submission, the colors black and blue, and coolness.
The moon card in tarot belongs to the element of water. It relates to our moods, our unconsciousness, and the ideas of transformation (think about the lore of werewolves).
Some astrologers consider Cancer the mother of the zodiac. She is pregnant throughout the cycle and gives birth to Aries, the first born child. Cancer types are fiercely loyal and crave a familial connection. They're motivated by matters of the home rather than by career or outside interests.
- Cancer is the first water sign of the zodiac.
- Cancer's modality is cardinal. The sign begins summer.
- Cancer is represented by the crab. Nautical images are often associated with this sign.
The Moon in Astrology
The unconsciousness, feelings, emotions, intuition, femininity, moods, creativity.
Month, mood, period, menstruation.
What the Moon Rules
Our sun sign is the most revealing part of who we are in Western astrology. Our sun sign relates to our identity. It is about how we take actions in the world. The sun represents the energy of Leo.
The moon represents our instinctual reasons. It deals with our responses that weren't born in analytical thinking. What the sun shines, the moon reflects. The moon reveals our more passive, contemplative aspects.
The moon rules the tides of earth. The word moon can be traced to the word mona, an Old English word from medieval times. Mona connects to the Latin words metri, which means measure, and mensis, which means month. The word moon came about because the spacial object is used to measure the months.
The moon takes about 29.5 days to go through all of its phases. It takes about 27 days to orbit Earth.
The moon and women are often associated together in part because women's monthly period cycles in about the same time frame. In fact, the word menstruation has the same / similar root words as moon.
Since the moon influences the tides, it is often compared to our emotions and the ups and downs we all go through. Dating back to ancient times, people have compared emotions to the sea, whether the waters give us gentle, calming waves or a torrential flood.
The moon relates to the soul. It is unexplained energy; it can symbolize the electricity inside us or our gut reactions. Sometimes the sun's energy blocks those visceral reactions, and we have a hard time getting in tune with ourselves.
The moon tells us how we feel. The sun tells us how to deal with our feelings.
- The moon relates to femininity. The sun relates to masculinity.
- The moon represents wives, mothers, adolescence, and the inner child.
- The moon is meant to be nurturing and receptive.
Facts about the Moon
The moon is Earth's only natural satellite. It is one-quarter the diameter of Earth. It is the largest natural satellite in the Solar System relative to the size of its planet.
- It is the 5th largest satellite in the Solar System.
- It is the easiest celestial object to find at night from Earth.
- The moon always shows us the same face.
- The moon is bigger than Pluto.
- Scientists think the moon has a very small core, approximately 1-2% of the moon's mass.
- The moon is pockmarked with craters from asteroid impacts. The moon has protected us from asteroids.
- Traces of water have been found on the lunar surface.
- Water is more abundant on slopes facing the lunar south pole.
- Water quantity is comparable to a very dry desert.
- The moon has a thin atmosphere. A footprint can sit undisturbed for centuries.
- Temperatures vary wildly from 273 degrees F to -243 degrees F.
- Average distance from Earth: 238,855 miles.
- The moon's gravity pulls at the Earth, causing tides in the sea, and to a smaller extent, tides in lakes, the atmosphere, and within the Earth's crust.
- The moon gets further away from Earth each year. It moves about 1.5 inches away annually.
Roman Mythology: Luna
The moon isn't named after a Roman god, but we often use the term lunar which does come from Luna. She was considered the divine embodiment of the moon in Rome.
The goddess appeared as the counterpart of the sun, Sol. Luna is part of the Roman triple goddesses, diva triformis, along with Proserpina and Hecate.
Diana and Juno are also considered moon goddesses.
Luna's symbols are the chariot and crescent moon. Her temples were at Aventine Hill and Palatine Hill. Her siblings: Sol and Aurora. In Greek mythology, she is named Selene.
In the Carmen Saeculare, performed in 17 BCE, Horace invoked her as the "two-horned queen of the stars." She would listen to the girls singing as Apollo listened to the boys.
Marcobius named her as one of the deities of the secret tutelary of Rome. In Imperial Rome, Sol and Luna represented the extent of Rome's rule over the world.
Luna, like many of the most important Roman gods, was vital to agriculture. Luna and Sol were the world's clearest sources of light, which of course is necessary for growing crops. The Romans believed in Luna dating back to the days of the kings. The anniversary of her temple founding was celebrated on March 31st.
The oldest mention of Luna's temple is 182 BCE. A windstorm had blown off its doors. The debris crashed into the Temple of Ceres. In 84 BCE, Luna's temple was hit by lightning. It was the same day the leader Cinna was killed by his troops. The Aventine temple may have been destroyed by the Great Fire of Rome. You can complain to Nero for that.
Little is known about the Luna temple at Palatine Hill.
- The Kalends of every month were sacred to Juno. The Kalends were essentially when the new moon occurred. The Ides were sacred to Jupiter.
- In art, Luna is often depicted driving a chariot called a biga. It was drawn by either horses or oxen.
- Luna in art was often paired with Sol.
- Luna could be seen by day or night, so her chariot was drawn by a black horse and a white horse.
- A biga of oxen was often drawn by Hecate. Hecate was the chthonic aspect of the triple goddesses. Hecate ruled the underworld like Hades. Proserpina ruled earth.
Borrowed from Greek Mythology
The Romans borrowed and adapted gods from Greek myths. Luna's equivalent in Greek mythology is Selene. She was the daughter of the Titans Hyperion and Theia and sister of the sun god Helios and Eos, goddess of the dawn.
Like Luna, Selene would drive her chariot across the heavens. Selene had several lovers in myths including: Zeus, Pan, and Endymion. Selene had a special connection with Artemis, as did Luna with Diana.
Selene has similar symbols to Luna: the crescent moon, chariot, torches, billowing cloak, and the bull. She had 50 children attributed to her through Endymion. She was the mother of Pandia and Ersa to Zeus.
- The Hinduism equivalent to Selene is Chandra or Soma.
- The Japanese equivalent to Selene is Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto.
Etymology & Myths
Selene's etymology likely comes from the word selas, meaning light. Selene was also called Mene. The word men (feminine mene), meant the moon, and the lunar month.
The most well known myth about Selene is her affair with the mortal Endymion. The late 7th century to early 6th century BC poet Sappho mentioned Selene's relationship to Endymion.
Selene is described as having mad desire for the beautiful Endymion who slept in a cave on Mount Latmus. While Endymion slept in the cave besides his cattle, Selene watched him from the sky. She would go to earth to be with him. Her fifty daughters from Endymion likely represented the 50 lunar months of the Olympiad.
In some accounts, Selene and Endymion were the parents of Narcissus.
In another tale, the giant monster Typhon decided to attack the heavens. He went into a battle with Selene. He hurled bulls at her. She managed to stay on course. The monster then hurled itself at her. She fought back and locked horns with Typhon, afterwards she carried the scars on her orb. The tale explains why the moon has so many craters.
Selene in several legends is the mother of different characters. She had multiple lovers, but the most famous one was Endymion.
The earliest known depiction of Selene driving a chariot is from a cup dating back to the early 5th century BC.
Descriptions of Selene
- Selene was described as having a long and beautiful hair.
- Other descriptions note long wings and a golden diadem.
- She was considered beautiful altogether and benevolent.
- She was described as the eye of the night.
- She was also considered a guardian or fan of horses.
Selene wasn't worshiped to the level of Ares or Zeus. Moon figures are found on Cretan rings and gems. The moon did play a part in magic, folklore, and poetry.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2021 Andrea Lawrence