Updated: 7 days ago
The Titaness Selene, the goddess of the moon and the very personification of the moon was said to be so enamoured by a mortal Endymion that she could resist him. She especially so loved how he looked while he was asleep that she asked Zeus to have him remain in the eternal sleep. Every night, Selene would visit her beloved Endymion and watch him sleep. Her pleasure was in simply observing the beauty of her devotion's object.
The moon is quite an enchantress. When she appears in the sky, young, old or full, she will make at least one soul point at her, saying: "Look! The moon!". She is said to cause sleeplessness, to have vampires, werewolves come away from the hiding, countless rituals and festivals were determined by her seasons. Today, she has asked me to speak of her.
Devotion and Attachment
Whether a reader believes in astrology as a tool of divination is not important for what follows. This is a journey through a story of the moon, see it as symbols and language humans have used to describe patterns they observed, see it as a way for our minds to relate to the great metaphysical reality. To tell this story of the Moon, for a moment, we shall go farther East from Greece, even farther from Mesopotamia and Persia, and all the way to India. In Vedic astrology, each of the signs has within it degrees that are ruled by a different nakshatra. Nakshatras are lunar constellations. One of the exaltation points for the Moon is the Rohini nakshatra. Rohini nakshatra is located in the constellation of Taurus, a sign considered to be ruled by the planet Venus. Venus is considered to rule another sign, Libra, but Libra is airy - it is the intellect, the abstraction, the balance, in Taurus, Venus takes an earthy form, and here it represents fertility, values, abundance, speech, and creativity that is rooted in the erotic and sensual.
In the Rohini nakshatra, the Moon and the Venus unite. Moon symbolises the unconscious, the emotional, the subjective, the receptive, and as such, also symbolises devotion. Moon however, is also deception and illusion. Venus symbolises beauty, values, refinement, abundance, love, sensuality, wealth but also attachment and intoxication.
Rohini is "the blushing bride", in the West we know her as Aldebaran, the red, shiny star. She is the favourite bride of the Moon and, he, Chandra spends more time with her than any other of his twenty-five wives, which often makes them jealous and aggressive. This points at the extremely lunar theme of the archetype. This is Moon's extreme receptivity, where it takes into itself almost without discriminating, whatever is given to it. It will take inside both the good and the bad. Everything is edible, as the extreme subjectivity of the moon, and its deep roots in the unconscious, cannot tell a difference between the nectar and the poison. The whole world appears like a nectar. Everything is sweet and nothing is bitter. Moon, because of this can "deceive" herself by simply projecting her own subjective world onto the external reality. But Rohini also takes the Venus qualities of creativity and refinement. In this star, the extreme receptivity is joined with creativity, refinement, nourishment, abundance and beauty. It is not difficult to imagine what happens when the two come together - one receives and takes in, the other refines and creates. A simple thing will become a piece of art, seeds will become forests, forests will become food for animals, some animals food for other animals and humans and some animals will become clothes for humans. It is the abundance and creativity that multiplies everything it receives.
This beautifying and refining characteristic is not just taken as a creative mode. It is also a mode of perception. Rohini will see beauty even in the ugliest, she will shed her light onto that part which is beautiful and build an entire poem about it. Rohini takes in the beautiful sight before her and with Venus, makes it divine.
After this story from the Vedas, we shall slowly return to the goddess Selene and the beautiful shepherd she could not resist. Selene, just like the Rohini nakshatra, shows a magic that is born from the interaction between Venusian and Lunar archetypes. The beautiful goddess was consumed by her desire for her beloved. His beauty intoxicated her, and created a great Venusian attachment that she was not able to give up. The story strongly echoes the one of the goddess Venus (Aphrodite) and her own shepherd, Adonis, who she also could not resist. Selene, like Venus, was taken and seduced by beauty. In both of the stories, the men were the objects of their affections, and the goddesses were the ones who took action in pursuing the one they so strongly desired. Although Selene is a lunar goddess, here the Venusian pattern can be observed - she is attached, seduced, intoxicated by someone or something simply because they are beautiful. The other lunar goddess, Artemis, is a sworn virgin, and she represents a wild, undomesticated, elusive lunar archetype. Artemis has no Venusian attachment that is present in Selene.
Selene is a lunar goddess, and unlike Venus who's attachments happen but are soon replaced with new attachments, Selene has only one - she forever remains with her Endymion, and with him she has fifty daughters. In some sources, Selene is also related to Zeus and Pan, but generally, her devotion is to Endymion. The most famous depictions of Selene, in art are the ones in which her veil forms a crescent over her head, as she leaves from her chariot to see her lover.
When Selene finally arrives - she is a devotee, looking at her lover in his sleep, never getting enough of him no matter how many times she sees him. He becomes the source of her sustenance. He is where she, the Moon, finds her energy, her renewal. There, hidden in the darkness of the night, she can be devoted and shed her own light onto her lover. For what matters if everyone else thinks her mad? Or if everyone else told her that her lover is yet one of the many shepherds, that many are like him? The moon is madness. The moon does not care what exists outside of the introverted microcosm she creates.
Shhhh.... Go to Sleep
In some versions of the myth, Selene simply asks for Zeus to make Endymion eternally young and eternally living. Yet the version in which Selene asks for Zeus to put him in eternal sleep so that she could gaze upon him has been the one that has taken over Western art over centuries. Perhaps there is a reason why this image has been imprinted so deeply in a human mind. For there she is, a beautiful, lunar goddess known for her thick hair, her long wings, her golden diadem, so majestic and divine in her silver chariot and who, despite all that majesty, departs from her chariot, only to look at a simple mortal she so deeply loves. Not a king, not a hero, but a shepherd.
But it is not just that a great goddess, a Titaness loves a simple mortal, she puts him to sleep. Moon is visible during the night, moon is said to cause strong dreams, moon causes waters to do as she wills, moon makes some the moonwalkers. Moon is not just the symbol of unconscious, she invites into unconscious. She calls into her subjectivity in which natural laws do not matter, in which truly there are no serpents and everything is truly edible. In this subjectivity, everything is possible and there is no need for the crushing, exhausting demands of the objective reality. She invites into a dream. Seeing those artistic depictions of the two, it is almost that we hear Selene say to her Endymion: "My sweet, my beautiful, my of unmatched beauty, there is nothing to be, there is nobody to become. There are no sheep to be lost, there are no wolves to protect them from, there is none of it. There is no father who expects you to be a certain way. There is no mother who has her hopes for you. There is no big and large world. There is only you and I. There is vastness that is safe. There is possibility that does not threaten with fear. There is possibility that does not threaten with limits and boundaries. Here while you rest beneath my feet, you are fine just the way you are. You do not have to prove anything. You do not have to become anything. You can just be. You can dream, and I shall watch over your dream.", and who of us, even the most content with our lives, does not want to hear it whispered? Who of us, does not want to fall into the sweet, sweet, sweet slumber of self-oblivion, of a dream?