The Moon and its Lore


Urban shaman, eco-ceremonialist, ritual expert and consultant

 The Moon: Our Cosmic Mother

Posted: 8/23/11 11:25 AM ET

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.

Mary Magdalene

Why She Matters So

In Metahistory Quest we regard Mary Magdalene as the “patron saint” of our enterprise, although “patron heretic” would perhaps be a better term. We do so for a number of reasons:

First, Magdalene commands unique power in the popular imagination, equalling that of her male counterpart, Jesus. As the central figure in the missing part of the story upon which Christianity is based, she is the key to a revision of history and the cue to a future story through which human spirituality might be developed in an entirely different way than traditional religions propose. Although Magdalene emerged within the received script of Christianity, she leads away from it. She connects us to all that the founders of Christian religion denied and destroyed.

Second, she is the human reflection of the Divine Sophia, the feminine principle of wisdom central to the teachings of the Western Mysteries. With the Gaia-Sophia Principle as its main guideline for evaluating beliefs, gives unique importance to the woman traditionally seen as reflecting the Sophia principle. If Jesus in some sense represents the divinity innate to humans (a debatable point, however), Mary Magdalene represents the innate wisdom that wells up from indwelling divinity, and the loving recognition that embraces it. In the sense of indigenous wisdom, she is a reflection of the Earth Goddess.

Third, Magdalene is almost the sole surviving example of Pagan spirituality in which women played the role of initiator with sexuality as a sacrament. This aspect of Magdalene is highlighted in the review of Karen King’s book, The Gospel of Mary of Magdala, and elsewhere throughout the site. Liberated from the racial and historical assumptions of the Jesus story, Magdalene emerges as the woman who can best represent to the modern world the lost legacy of Pagan, pre-Christian spirituality, and the moral code of Pagan ethics.

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