Beliefnet
The Queen of My Self

 

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, which 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.

Moon, O Mother Moon, O Mother Moon,

              Mother of living things,

              Hear our voice, O Mother Moon!

              O Mother Moon, O Mother Moon,

              Keep away the spirits of the dead,

              Hear our voice, O Mother Moon,

              O Mother Moon! O Mother Moon!

– Gabon Pygmy Song

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 Niger 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.

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, 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, Hera, Demeter, Artemis, Thetis, Phoebe and Selene; the Roman, Luna, Mana and Diana; Gala or Galata of the Gaelic and Gaulish tribes, Goddesses all, 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, that is, 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, the dear moon — was impaled by an American flag four decades ago. That proud standard, those bright stars and bold stripes hang forever limp in a windless atmosphere. Lifeless, they lend mute testimony to the all-time-hands-down most outrageous stud challenge ever. That is: who could mount her first?

And so, Mother Moon, Moon Maid, Queen of the cosmos, Lady Luna, Bella Luna, has now, in this era of global mass media consciousness, been replaced, far surpassed, by that vastly impressive, permanently indelible collective image which we share of the Man Walking on the Moon.

 

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Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

 

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