Astronomy

Legends about the Moon



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The Fates, Triple-Moon Goddess.

The moon has always been a magical force upon the human imagination. She gives light to the dark nights and moves in cyclical and measured patterns. Females were probably the first people to notice the strange harmony between their own biology and the moon's moods. Round and round the seasons changed and the moon and the women grew to know each other's habits intimately. Surely, the primitive Men of the species must have been terrified by the magic that women possessed. Women bled when they weren't wounded, and they even gave birth to babies. To the males, the female otherness must have seemed horrific at times. And eventually they too would notice the strange parallels between the cycles of the moon and the temperament and bodily alterations of their female counterparts.

Myths about the moon come from human invention. We try and explain the unexplainable, we turn the natural into supernatural, and we create stories that get passed down through the generations. Ancient Greece was a place where the storytelling became intricately woven into the daily lives if its citizens. They enhanced the art of myth-making to epic proportions, and they did not forget to include the seductive and strange, and decidedly feminine object of their fascination, the moon.

They gave the moon many names, but the ones I want to talk about are the Fates: Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos. They were called the Triple-Moon Goddess, and they held the fate of each human in their weaving. Clotho provided the thread of life, while Lachesis spun the experiences and choices that we made, and Atropos waited impatiently to cut the string and thus end the life.

These three Goddesses in one became for the Greeks the personification of being born, of living life, and of eventually dying. The phases of the moon were appropriately assigned to each Goddess. The New Moon (the time when it is hidden by the earth's shadow and it can't be seen) became Clotho, a time for rebirth. When the moon is waxing (growing larger), Lachesis spins the fabric of life. And lastly, when the moon is full and then it starts to wane (get smaller), Atropos is poised with her scissors ready to put an end to the cycle.

Each of us creates a quilt while we are alive. It starts with a single sperm and a single egg, it grows into complicated patterns that tell the stories of our lives. But inevitably, the work of art that makes up our being comes to an end. All of those nights when our primitive ancestors stared up at the moon, when the males puzzled over the otherness of the females and the strange correlation between the celestial and the earth-bound became even stranger and more mystical, our own existence deepened. The Ancient Greeks added to the mystery when they created their mythologies. They gave us an enduring legacy about the Triple-Goddess that is the moon, and they tied our fates to the cycles of our nearest celestial neighbor. They provided more magic and fire to light the human imagination. Round and round we go, generations and generations of musing, and The Fates, they go with us.

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