The Moon's Lore and Meaning in Astrology

Full Moon
NASA/Wikimedia Commons

The Moon is a timekeeper and the luminary that takes over when the Sun sets. In ancient Egypt, this Sun-Moon switch over was embodied by the Sun god Ra and the Moon-god Thoth. When the Sun god Ra journeyed into the underworld at night, Thoth took over until Sunrise.

In even earlier, prehistoric times, the count of lunar months and a lunar calendar was in use across many cultures. The oldest artifacts show lunar markings on animal bone and carved into cave walls. The Native American elder might say he’s been around for Many Moons. In Japan, there’s a Moon-god called Tsuki-Yomi, which comes from Japanese words that mean moon and counter (Cornelius, Geoffrey and Devereaux, Paul, The Secret Language of the Stars and Planets, Chronicle Books, 1996.)

Changing Moon

The Sun is the realm of day and the waking hours Self, and the Moon inhabits the landscapes of the soul, emotions, and dream life. Every culture with an eye to the sky has honored the Moon and been mesmerized by its changing face, and influence on waters and women's cycles.

The Moon is not always feminine in myth, but because of the syncing with women's cycles, Luna is often referred to as a She. She's Grandmother Moon to many indigenous cultures, the reminder to strip away what society puts on you during the day. In ancient Greece and Rome, she was Artemis and Diana (respectively), both archetypes of female strength and creative power. She's also been paired with the Sun, as Moon maiden or Lady of the Night, to the Sun's kingly dominion over daytime.

Some cultures looked to the silvery orb as the heavenly home, where all souls go. The ​​water sign of emotional origins and women, Cancer, is linked to the Moon. And for the Sumerians (in the area of Mesopotamia), this constellation was the gateway through which souls came down from the stars, to find their place on Earth. In contrast to the harsh Sun, the cool reflective Moon is a comforting, seductive presence. It's the fastest moving entity with a pull so strong it creates bulges in the ocean's waters.

In a birth chart, the Moon's nature shows our own instinctive reactions and pulls on the emotions. The Moon is early childhood before we've developed an identity (the Sun). Once we have a social mask, the Moon's traits are revealed in crisis, when we're stressed, or known only to our intimates. It's the embodiment of our personal mysteries, like secret desires, or that which eludes our own conscious awareness. That's when the Moon in her terrifying guise appears, as a reflection of buried fears and instinctual behaviors.

Luna’s Lunacy

There’s the romantic La Bella Luna, the star of cinema, art and poetry. Luna is the Latin name, from which the words lunatic or lunacy evolved. When Luna is close, in Perigee, there are tidal surges called Spring Tides, because the water springs up suddenly.

And there’s the emotional effect, with the Moon’s changes and pull on our own interior waters mysteriously stirring us up.

The Moon's changes stir up erratic emotional effects that seem to overwhelm the rational nature. The sign it rules, Cancer, is known for its rapid mood swings. This lends the Moon its darker reputation, as the entity of hysteria, road rage and clouded perceptions. Under the Moon light, things aren't always as they seem in the bright light of day. That's why following the lunar cycle helps you stay aware of these rhythms and beware, -- as in be aware -- so you don't go off the deep end!

Enchanting Moon

  • The Sun has been the titular character in astrology, with the popularity of Zodiac Sun signs. And it mirrors a cultural emphasis on assertive, masculine traits, over magnetizing, feminine ones.
  • There’s more reverence today for the Moon’s primordial emotion, irrationality and soul, as a rich current to draw from, that gives life meaning and depth.
  • The Moon in our birth chart has clues about how we experience deep intimacy, soul ties.
  • Women are rediscovering the lunar rhythm, with its connection to menstrual cycles, as part of a greater mystery and the creative force of the universe.

Lunar Goddess

  • Women made fertility offerings to the virgin huntress Artemis, later the Roman Diana, to attract the virile male, and to ensure fertility and safety in childbirth.
  • The original virgin moon goddess was self-contained; the marriage of the Sun (divine masculine) and Moon (divine feminine) was the path to knowing the divine Self.
  • The earliest matriarchal traditions, carried on by pagans today, had a lunar trinity of Maiden-Mother-Crone as deities of the sacred mysteries.
  • As Queen of the Night, the Moon invites us to revel in the glow at the full Moon, but also to learn to “see in the dark” at the new moon.

Moon and Mother

  • Some ancient traditional cultures saw the Moon as the source of life, and the Moon was deeply intermingled with women’s cycles and the ability to shape-shift and to create new life.
  • The Moon myths of the Moon convey its influence on all of nature, including the human fertility cycle.
  • The Moon in the birth chart says a lot about how we experienced Mama. Whether she was emotionally absorbing or just not there (or too busy), physically affectionate or reserved, high strung or mellow, etc.
  • The reclaiming of the feminine or Mother Goddess in culture is emerging out of a deep need to reintegrate the mysteries of womb and tomb, back into our lives.

More Lunar Lore

  • The legend of the werewolf (were has etymological roots in Old English and means man) comes from the tales of the beastly side of men coming out at the Full Moon.
  • The Moon is the Queen of the Underworld and a bridge to the shadowy realms of the psyche.
  • The Moon is a passageway to the hidden (occulted) mysteries, including ancestral memory and past lives.
  • The natal Moon in the birth chart can be a symbol of feminine identity for women; for men, it’s the sought-after feminine ideal, and the kind of woman to form a soul-bond with.