The Road was lit with Moon and star
The Trees were bright and still --
Descried I -- by the distant Light
A Traveller on a Hill --
To magic Perpendiculars
Ascending, though Terrene --
Unknown his shimmering ultimate --
But he indorsed the sheen --
The moon was bright against the sky last night as I topped the ridge. I stopped in the the road to take pictures only to discover I had the wrong camera. I snapped a few anyway--and then my phone rang so I was scrambling to find the phone, close the car door, and turn off the camera. It was one of my sons, who asked what I was doing.
Did you ever consider how many words we use about the moon in everyday conversation?
"Then the gentleman went on his travels again; and he came to a village, and outside the village there was a pond, and round the pond was a crowd of people. And they had got rakes, and brooms, and pikels (pitchforks), reaching into the pond; and the gentleman asked what was the matter. "Why," they says, "matter enough! Moon's tumbled into the pond, and we can't get her out anyhow!" So the gentleman burst out a-laughing, and told them to look up into the sky, and that it was only the shadow in the water. But they wouldn't listen to him, and abused him shamefully, and he got away as quick as he could."
In Warwickshire, England, countrymen used to ensure good luck by bowing nine times to the first new moon of the year. (Oops, we missed it!)There are many other superstitions about the moon. From the Farmer's Almanac comes this wisdom:
Seeing the new moon over your left shoulder is unlucky, but seeing it straight ahead is considered to be very lucky. Pointing at the moon is supposed to be unlucky, as is seeing a new moon through closed windows. But a crescent moon that is waxing is good luck for lovers and travelers.It is lucky to see the first sliver of a new moon "clear of the brush," or unencumbered by foliage.
It is also lucky to move into a new house during the new moon; prosperity will increase as the moon grows full. But if you see the first sliver of a new moon through a window, you'll break a dish.
It is unlucky to have a full Moon on Sunday, although how that can be avoided I'm not sure.
The moon is often blamed or praised for the weather:
From Robert Service's poem, Moon Song:
Two lovers watched the new moon hold
The old moon in her bright embrace.
Said she: "There's mother, pale and old,
And drawing near her resting place."
Said he: "Be mine, and with me wed,"
Moon-high she stared . . . she shook her head.
Perhaps her reasoning is the same as that of the sailors in the ballad of Sir Patrick Spens:
"I saw the new moon late yestreen
With the old moon in her arm;
And if we go to sea, master,
I fear we'll come to harm."
If the crescent moon appears with her points turned up it will be dry; it turned down, wet.
There are many stories connected with the moon, but while browsing online I came upon this one:
Vampire Melons (From Experience Festival website)
The belief in vampire watermelons is similar to the belief that any inanimate object left outside during the night of a full moon will become a vampire. According to tradition, virtually any kind of melon or pumpkin kept more than ten days or after Christmas will become a vampire, rolling around on the ground and growling to pester the living.
We often talk about the man in the moon in our culture, but other cultures see other creatures, like the Hare in the Moon in India. This is a brief version of the story:
A monkey a fox and a hare were out walking. They encountered a beggar in very bad shape."Please," said the beggar, "I have not eaten in days. Have you any food to share?"
It happened to be a holy day, when the rich fasted and gave food to the poor. The three friends decided they would find something for the beggar to eat. The monkey went high in the trees and found some mangoes; the fox rummaged in a hedge and came out with a bird's nest with a few eggs in it. "Thank you, my friends!" said the beggar.
The hare was not a hunter and he could find nothing to give to the beggar.
'I have only myself to give," said the hare. He lit a fire and jumped tight into the hot flames.
However, the hare was protected because of his goodness and he did not burn. The beggar revealed that he was actually Indra, God of the Storm.
'Because of your generosity and willingness to sacrifice yourself,' said Indra, "you shall live forever in the moon, where all will see you and remember your bravery."
More "rabbit in the moon" stories from other cultures are listed in Wikipedia.
From Theoi Greek Mythology:
SELENE was the Titan goddess of the moon. She was depicted as a woman either riding side saddle on a horse or in a chariot drawn by a pair of winged steeds. Her lunar sphere or crescent was represented as either a crown set upon her head or as the fold of a raised, shining cloak. Sometimes she was said to drive a team of oxen and her lunar crescent was likened to the horns of a bull.
Selene inspired Homer to write these lines to her (excerpted from translation by Evelyn White, public domain):
(ll. 17-20) Hail, white-armed goddess, bright Selene, mild, bright-tressed queen! And now I will leave you and sing the glories of men half-divine, whose deeds minstrels, the servants of the Muses, celebrate with lovely lips.
Selene's Roman counterpart was Luna ( source of lunar, lunacy, lunatic...).
In the traditional pre-Olympian divine genealogy, Helios, the sun, is Selene's brother: after Helios finishes his journey across the sky, Selene, freshly washed in the waters of Earth-circling Oceanus, begins her own journey as night falls upon the earth, which becomes lit from the radiance of her immortal head and golden crown. When she is increasing after mid-month, it is a "sure token and a sign to mortal men".
You can find much more information about the moon on these sites:
Moon phases for the current month--keep current on your moon!
The Big Moon Hoax
Lesson plans and links to many folktales and other interesting things ht
Watch a video telling of the Hare in the Moon
Moon myths and more from National Geographic
Moon Myths in the public domain.
Myths about the man in the moon and more
Moon gods and goddesses: who knew there were so many?