The moon influences our lives more than we can imagine. Since the dawn of time, man has tried to observe it and understand its mysterious and fascinating nature.
“I like to think the moon is there even if I am not looking at it”
Man and moon observation
When we talk about observing the moon, we are certainly not referring to astronomers or scientists but everyday people. Farmers have always based their sowing activities on the moon’s phases, waiting for the waxing moon to sow vegetables growing above ground and the waning moon for those growing below ground and head vegetables. And how can you tell if the moon is waxing or waning? Basically, if the rounded (or illuminated) part looks towards the west, then the moon is waxing, while if it is towards the east, the moon is waning. Of course, the explanation for all this does not lie in mere popular belief but on precise scientific grounds.
The Moon, Earth’s only natural satellite
The Moon is the only natural satellite of planet Earth and, as such, has gravitational force on it, which gives rise to the phenomenon of tides causing periodic changes in sea level. In addition, it does not shine with its light but reflects the sun’s light. Even before landing on the Moon, man has always understood the importance of this celestial body in his existence. Always represented in antithesis to the sun, which symbolises light, the Moon is synonymous with night, the sun’s death.
The Moon amongst ancient civilisations
A source of inspiration for poets and artists, there are no people on the entire globe who have not worshipped the Moon since ancient times. Its cult is present in all civilisations, and there are about 1000 names for this marvellous celestial body.
Among the Egyptians, for example, the moon cult was one of the most important religious manifestations. Although marginal to the Sun, the Moon, and its associated deities (Iah, Thot and Khonsu) were widely worshipped in Ancient Egypt. Apollo and Diana represented the Sun and the Moon in the classical world, respectively. In Greece, her cult was imported from the Near East, so Selene, the Moon in the form of a woman, was also worshipped. For the Romans, the Moon, with the name Selene, was identified with the goddess of hunting. Selene identifies the full Moon, Artemis the new Moon and, finally, Hecate the waning Moon.
Throughout the ancient world, numerous temples of all sizes were built in her honour, including the temple of the Goddess Caelestis in Carthage and the temple of Diana in Rome, on the Aventine Hill.