A night sky is filled with numerous stars and the moon shining brightly. But a full moon at the night brings a calming and soothing effect to our eyes and our minds. When we look at it, we cannot ignore its intense, magical power. People in ancient times were also unable to deny this magic. And this persistent relationship with the moon led to the rise of several myths, folklores, legends, and tales around the moon.
The Chinese moon goddess is called Chang’e. Every year, her story is celebrated as a part of the annual mid-autumn festival. This myth talks about this woman who is believed to live on the moon. There are multiple variations to the myth.
Chang’e and her husband, Hou Yi, were once immortal beings but because of their bad behavior, they were made mortal. They then again wanted to become immortal with the help of a pill, but the greed of Chang’e caused her to take too much of the pill and she ultimately ended up floating to the moon where she remained stuck forever. Many Chinese poetries revolves around her.
This myth is popular among several cultures. The jade rabbit or moon rabbit is believed to be the companion of Chang’e that was allowed to stay with her on the moon. However, this symbol also shows up its significance in the myths in Japan and Korea.
In Japanese myth, the rabbit present in the moon is called ‘Tsuki no Usagi’. The popular story begins with the Old Man of the Moon visiting the Earth. The Old Man was disguised as a beggar and he met Fox, Monkey, and Rabbit on the Earth. He asked for some food from all of the three. Monkey brought the fruit by climbing up a tree. Fox caught a fix when he went to the stream. But the rabbit could find nothing to eat but only some grass. Rabbit asked the beggar to light a fire and the rabbit jumped in the fire to offer himself as food to the beggar.
The beggar changed to the original identity and pulled the rabbit out of the fire. By seeing how the rabbit was the kindest, he decided to take it back with him to the moon. The Old Man carried rabbit to the moon in his arms and it is believed that till today the rabbit is still there. In Japan, people celebrate the mid-autumn or Jugo-ya festival where people gather to watch the full moon.
Soma is believed to be a Hindu god who is associated with the moon. Many additional symbols can be recognized in God that are commonly associated with the moon. In Hindu art, Soma sometimes takes the form of an embryo, and other times, that of bull. The Association of fertility with the moon is quite common.
Bull, as a symbol, has also been famous across different cultures that talk about the moon. The key element present here is the fact that Soma is linked with the moon as an elixir. Soma is said to be the name of the drink that is used by the Gods. Interestingly, the moon rabbit living with Chang’e on the moon is also believed to be an elixir symbol.
In Roman Mythology, the name of the Moon Goddess is Luna, and in Greek Mythology, it is Selene. The myths that surround these Goddesses pair them up with the Sun God (Sol in Roman Mythology and Helios in Greek Mythology). The Sun God travels throughout the day and the journey is continued at the night by the Moon Goddess. She, in general, is believed to be a passionate goddess and represents the desires related to the moon.
A popular story in the Maori Tribe in New Zealand is about a young woman whose name is Rona. She was responsible for displeasing the moon and because of that the moon seized her and took her away. According to the myth, she grabs onto the tree and drags it to the moon with her. Some believe that tree symbolizes fertility which further links this story to the moon.
For African people, Mawu represents the Moon that brings the night. Mawu is often associated with a partner named Lisa – who is linked with Sun. Together, Mawu and Lisa are believed to be inseparable at the basis of their universal order. Both of them are parents to seven pairs of twins who are gods with different domains. Lisa is the God of strength, heat, and day. Mawu is the goddess of rest, joy, and fertility.
The above stories are just some of the myths and tales around the moon that have been popular throughout different cultures. With the help of various symbolisms, the moon has now become an epitome for love, passion, change, desire, and fertility.