Avid moon watcher that I am, I must confess that I never could recognize the face of the man in the moon. How could anyone conceivably mistake that face -- that round, profoundly gentle face, jolly and eternally indulgent, that unconditionally comforting countenance -- for male?
The dark marks that define her features are in reality the bodies of water on her surface: the sea of tranquility, the ocean of storms and the sea of fertility. Sounds like a woman to me! My version of the ma'am in the moon will always be Aunt Jemima. The ultimate maternal perfection fantasy figure: purveyor of affection, protection and pancakes.
Women are inextricably connected to the moon, to her rhythms and waves. A woman's blood waxes and wanes with the moon. Her urges and juices ebb and flow. And the moon, as she grows from crescent to full every month, mimics the pregnant swell of a woman's belly, or a bunny's, or a dog's.
The moon as mother is a prevalent, primal mythological theme. The West African Nigeriens believe that the great moon mother sends the moon bird to Earth to deliver babies. The Baganda of Central Africa bathe their newborns by the light of the first full moon following birth. In Ashanti tradition, the moon Akua'ba, is a fertility figure. Women carry effigies of her tucked into their skirts at the small of their backs as an aid to conception and a guarantee of sturdy children.
Moon, O Mother Moon, O Mother Moon,
Mother of living things,
Hear our voice, O Mother Moon!
O Mother Moon! O Mother Moon!
- Gabon Pygmy Song
Women in Europe did the same. During the Renaissance, long after the mass acceptance of Christianity, it was understood that if a woman wanted anything, she should pray not to God, but to the moon mother for succor. Saint Augustine denounced women for dancing "impudently and filthily all the day long upon the days of the new moon," even as their Hebrew sisters were scorned for wearing lunar amulets by the biblical prophets in Isaiah 3:18.
In Italy, even now, while engaged in the act of giving birth, women clutch crescent-shaped charms and pray to Mary, Mother of God, for help. The Virgin Mary is frequently displayed standing upon a crescent moon. The Greek had Hera, Demeter, Artemis, Thetis, Phoebe and Selene; the Roman had Luna, Mana and Diana; Gaelic and Gaulish tribes had Gala or Galata; All goddesses, they were associated with the moon, and as her hand maidens, they aided women in labor.
... I standing on your crescent, madonna, moon,
Old woman that never dies, being perpetually
Renewed, made nothing again, made small again,
Waxing again, going through it all over again,
I would lift up my song, bark, howl, bay to you;
I would say to you, remember me, beloved 3-headed nurse,
I have swallowed your milk, you wiped me and wrapped me;
Beautiful motherly monster, watch over me still.
-- Constance Urdang
The Egyptian hieroglyph, mena, means both "moon" and "breast." Hathor, the sky goddess, is the celestial cow, and is depicted as carrying the moon disk between her horns. From her breasts flow the stars and Milky Way. Britain was originally called Albion after the milk-white moon goddess, until the monk Gilas succeeded in converting her into a fictitious male Saint Alban. The European continent is named after the goddess Europa, who was also known as Hera and Io, the white moon cow.
The first woman of Polynesia was the moon, Hina, and each woman thereafter is a wahine, created in her image. The Finnish creatrix was known as Luonnotar, Luna the moon. It was she who gave forth the great world egg from which hatched the entire universe. The Peruvian moon was mama quilla. She, too, bore an egg.
Mama Ogllo, the moon maiden, along with her brother, the sun, founded the royal Inca dynasty. The Zuni of the American Southwest venerate the moon our mother, who is the younger sister of the sun. To the Apache and the Navaho, she is "changing woman." The Sioux call her the old woman who never dies. To the Iroquois, she is the mother who created the Earth and the surface people.
The moon, as queen of heaven, reigned in the Near East: Babylonia, Persia, Syria, Sumeria, Arkadia and Canaan. She from whom all life issues, was known as Anath, Asherath, Anahita, Qadesh, Lilith, Ishtar, Inanna and Astarte, which means "womb." As Ishtar, she sings, "I the mother have begotten my people and like the young of the fishes they fill the seas." In pre-Islamic Arabia, the moon was feminine and her cult prevailed. She was Manat, the moon mother of Mecca and her shrines are still holy, although women are constrained from entering them. Another of her names, Al-Lat, was altered at the advent of the patriarchy to become, Allah. By Mohammed's order, all religious amulets must be made with silver, her special metal.
The glow and beauty of the stars
are nothing near the splendid moon
when in her roundness she burns silver
about the world.
- Sappho of Lesbos
The moon was impaled by an American flag four decades ago. Those bright stars and bold stripes lend mute testimony to the all-time-hands-down most outrageous stud challenge ever. That is: Who could mount her first?
So now in this era of global mass media consciousness, mother moon, queen of the cosmos, lady luna, bella luna has been replaced -- far surpassed -- by that vastly impressive, permanently indelible collective image of the man walking on the moon.
Please join Mama Donna Henes, Urban Shaman for an exciting Lunar Event:
NEW HARVEST MOON DRUMMING CIRCLE
Sunday 7:00 PM
As we enter the harvest season, we will gather to invoke the energy of the new moon. We will offer blessings of gratitude for the great gift of life and drum up our best intentions to
honor and protect it.
PLEASE WEAR WHITE AND BRING WHITE SCARVES.
A family friendly event. Feel free to bring kids, drums and lots of positive spirit.
Mama Donna Plaza (AKA Grand Army Plaza)
Park Slope, Exotic Brooklyn, NY
2/3 train to Grand Army Plaza
For info: 718-857-1343
RAIN OR SHINE!
PLEASE NOTE: Our spirited gathering will be filmed as part of a Canadian documentary. The filmmakers are focusing on how we Earthlings have always had a fascination and spiritual connection with the moon. I will be featured in the film discussing multicultural rituals
centered on the moon.
The director is eager to include a real lunar ritual in the film and asked if I and my community would be willing to open our ceremony to them. I have had many discussions with him and trust that he and his crew love the moon and are sincerely appreciative and respectful of ritual. So I felt quite comfortable inviting them to film this drumming circle.
This is a REAL ceremony that is being filmed, and NOT a choreographed-for-the-camera event. If you do not want to be on camera, just let me know, as there will be a special no cameras allowed section.
This is a fabulous opportunity to spread the spirit of reverence and respect for Mother Moon, Mother Earth and Mother Nature, all of whom we hold so dear. Our sincere honoring energy will be broadcast internationally.
The term "broadcast" comes from the native agricultural technique of throwing seeds far and wide so that they can take root where they will.
PLEASE PLAN TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS BROADCAST OF SPIRIT!
With lunar blessings,
xx Mama Donna
Follow Donna Henes on Twitter: www.twitter.com/queenmamadonna