If you are a night owl then tonight is your night to view a full lunar eclipse. It is the last one of 2010 and should be pretty spectacular. I know, I don’t typically write about celestial occurrences (the closest I come is complaining about the weather!), but this seems like something special. Plus, since lots of people have an irregular work schedule this week, it actually seems feasible that some of you will be able to catch the lunar extravaganza. For more info on viewing the eclipse check this out.
Meanwhile, I have opted to take a much more quixotic look at the moon. Though the science behind the moon in no way detracts from its majesty, it is the mysticism of ancient cultures that adds a level of romance to it. As with all awe inspiring natural elements, there is quite a bit of lore associated with the moon. Here are a few of the best-known legends:
Selene: This is the Greek mythological figure who was a deity during the rule of the Titans. Said to be the daughter of Hyperion and Theia, she was the brother of the sun, Helios. This brother-sister team was said to take turns leading a journey through the heavens. In the Selene story, she took a human lover named Endymion. Endymion, lived in an eternally sleeping state. Allowing him to be with Selene forever. Together, they had fifty daughters. This, along with her countless other affairs, makes Selene the central figure of many love poems.
Chang’e: This is the Chinese moon deity. Unlike Selene, Chang’e was not actually the moon, but a woman who lived on it. There are two versions as to how she got there. In both cases she takes a pill to make her immortal that at the same time causes her to float up to the moon where she is destined to live forever. There she makes friends with a rabbit who lives on the moon. There is a third inhabitant, a woodcutter, spends eternity trying to chop down a tree that is constantly regenerating. The first Chinese lunar probed was named “Chang’e 1” as a tribute to the goddess.
Igaluk: (Warning: this story is much more graphic! My mother read it and said I should say “this is NOT PG!!!”) While Selene and Chang’e are both female, the Inuit’s moon deity is a male named Igaluk. Igaluk, who started as human, had a sister named Malina (who would become the sun goddess). Malina was beautiful and one night, Igaluk (who was clearly a sick person) raped his sister. After the event Malina confronted her attacker by chopping off her breasts and serving them to Igaluk. Malina then took off running, with a torch in hand. Igaluk did the same, however after tripping his torch did not burn as brightly. Eventually the pair ran so quickly that they flew into the sky. Malina, became the sun and Igaluk the moon, destined to chase his sister forever.