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Author Topic: Moon Gods and the Lunar Masculine  (Read 4074 times)

mattkaru

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Moon Gods and the Lunar Masculine
« on: October 20, 2015, 09:52:54 pm »
Hey all, like the title suggests, I'm curious as to how people come around to the idea of integrating the masculine/male moon deities of some cultures (Norse and Egyptian are the first that come to mind).

For whatever reason, I have struggled with this when I have looked into Norse/Anglo-Saxon polytheism and to a lesser extent when I've looked into Kemeticism.  The mythology of the ancient Egyptians was much more preserved/developed, so I was able to grasp Djehuty's role as moon god, but I never could grasp the general concept of a moon god rather than moon goddess.

To be honest it makes me feel a little dumb because I've been able to grasp so many different concepts over the years, but the masculine moon/feminine sun paradigm has just never clicked with me in a way.  Which is fine, there's always syncretism for when we can't work out the kinks! (half-joking ;))  I'm mostly just interested in hearing your perspectives and stories, though a little advice wouldn't go unappreciated either.

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Re: Moon Gods and the Lunar Masculine
« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2015, 11:18:27 pm »
Quote from: makaroð;181295
but I never could grasp the general concept of a moon god rather than moon goddess.

I'll admit that I'm more than a little perplexed by the problem.

The moon - that thing up there in the sky - is a large more or less spherical rock.  Rocks do not have primary or secondary sex characteristics; there is nothing about a rock that makes it obviously gendered one way or the other.

As a general concept, entities that are associated with nongendered things are sometimes considered male, sometimes considered female, sometimes considered neutral or nongendered, sometimes considered something else.  It depends on the entity, after all.

So what drives your assumption that 'moon entity' is somehow necessarily gendered female?

Quote
To be honest it makes me feel a little dumb because I've been able to grasp so many different concepts over the years, but the masculine moon/feminine sun paradigm has just never clicked with me in a way.

I suspect from this (and the 'moon god in general' quoted above) that part of your issue is trying to make it into some sort of paradigmatic thing, where the gender of these entities is Deeply Important.  And, well, it's likely important to at least some of the entities, but in my experience very few theologies are really heavily invested in that sort of extrinsic gendering, so trying to make them do that is going to lead to things puttering out.

I know there are a lot of strands of the more popular forms of paganism that are all Very Big On Gendering Large Round Celestial Objects and assigning meaning to that.  With stuff like the lunar cycle and the menstrual cycle matching up or something (taking a break here to laugh my ass off because NOPE) as the Deep Profound Meaning Behind The Femininity Of The Moon.

Djehwty won the moon in a card game.  That's not really genitally based.

The lunar eye of Heru is also the wounded-and-restored eye, because phases.

For something that can be, another Egyptian moon-related thing ties it to Wesir (Osiris).  Because the moon is obviously linked to the tides; the tides are the ebb and flow of water; whether there's fertile flow of fluid looks a whole lot more like a (cis) male orgasm than a female one. :ange:
« Last Edit: October 20, 2015, 11:27:30 pm by Darkhawk »
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Re: Moon Gods and the Lunar Masculine
« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2015, 12:08:52 am »
Quote from: makaroð;181295
Hey all, like the title suggests, I'm curious as to how people come around to the idea of integrating the masculine/male moon deities of some cultures (Norse and Egyptian are the first that come to mind).

For whatever reason, I have struggled with this when I have looked into Norse/Anglo-Saxon polytheism and to a lesser extent when I've looked into Kemeticism.  The mythology of the ancient Egyptians was much more preserved/developed, so I was able to grasp Djehuty's role as moon god, but I never could grasp the general concept of a moon god rather than moon goddess.

To be honest it makes me feel a little dumb because I've been able to grasp so many different concepts over the years, but the masculine moon/feminine sun paradigm has just never clicked with me in a way.  Which is fine, there's always syncretism for when we can't work out the kinks! (half-joking ;))  I'm mostly just interested in hearing your perspectives and stories, though a little advice wouldn't go unappreciated either.

 
Lol! I've honestly had a lot of fun with syncretism. It means my theology is VERY squishy, but I think I like it that way.

So in my case, I predominantly see the sun as female because the deity closest to me is a female sun goddess. It's less that the sun actually IS female, male, bigendered or otherwise gendered (because obviously it's not, lol) and more that I associate my goddess with it. On the other hand, I'll usually see the moon as male, because I associate it with Menuo, who's married to my Goddess, and is himself a moon god.

So honestly, any gendering I do of the celestial bodies has less to do with the celestial bodies and more to do with the genders of the deities closest to me, and what those deities are associated with.

I wonder if it might be the same for you? I don't mean to project my feelings onto you (apologies if I'm doing so), but there might be a pantheon/mythological system that you tend to associate with the world around you.

Or it could just be something that you inherited while growing up, such as if your family had a tendency to refer to the moon as being female.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2015, 12:14:35 am by Lana288 »

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Re: Moon Gods and the Lunar Masculine
« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2015, 02:21:39 am »
Quote from: makaroð;181295
For whatever reason, I have struggled with this...I never could grasp the general concept of a moon god rather than moon goddess.

There is a certain assumption in the general public, and in Neopagan circles in particular, about mythological or folkloric lunar personifications being of a feminine gender. This is driven mainly by enormous influence of Greek and Roman myth, religion, and archaeology. More specifically, it's driven by the assumptions that early anthropologists in the 19th and early 20th centuries made about the applicability of Hellenistic models of myth and religion. They--particularly Frazer--thought that the Greeks and Romans were "model" Indo-European cultures and that their religions were a "model" manifestation of Indo-European religion. While slightly true, it ignored the preponderance of Near Eastern influence on the Greeks and Romans, and the gulf of time between Celtic, Germanic, and Mediterranean societal developments. As a result, these Frazerian scholars assumed that other European polytheistic societies were of such great similarity to the Greeks and Romans that, where a "gap" in our knowledge existed, something Greco-Roman-shaped was probably there. Which, rather than being slightly true, was hilariously wrong.

But regardless of the accuracy of their claims, these anthropologists were super influential on the Pagan revival and the Western Occult revival, which led to Wicca absorbing a lot of these ideas. Which has "trickled down" over the past, like, four decades to Neopaganism in general.

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Re: Moon Gods and the Lunar Masculine
« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2015, 08:01:54 am »
Quote from: Louisvillian;181307
But regardless of the accuracy of their claims, these anthropologists were super influential on the Pagan revival and the Western Occult revival, which led to Wicca absorbing a lot of these ideas. Which has "trickled down" over the past, like, four decades to Neopaganism in general.

This. A lot of Wicca and even some general Neo-Pagan "101" books repeat these claims with the claim that all moon deities in every culture are female. How they can seriously make this claim with the moon deities of two fairly well-known cultures (Egyptian and Japanese) are male amazes me. If the only male moon deities were in small tribal cultures that few people would likely know much about it would be easier to excuse this misinformation in "101" books.
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mattkaru

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Re: Moon Gods and the Lunar Masculine
« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2015, 09:05:12 am »
Quote from: Louisvillian;181307
There is a certain assumption in the general public, and in Neopagan circles in particular, about mythological or folkloric lunar personifications being of a feminine gender. This is driven mainly by enormous influence of Greek and Roman myth, religion, and archaeology.

This is actually the root of the problem for me, I think.  I grew up obsessed with Greek and Roman mythology, culture, and history long before I ever knew that paganism or polytheism were still practiced.  When I first stumbled across neopaganism it was in that framework that I was most comfortable, so I just ran with it.

Quote from: Louisvillian
But regardless of the accuracy of their claims, these anthropologists were super influential on the Pagan revival and the Western Occult revival, which led to Wicca absorbing a lot of these ideas. Which has "trickled down" over the past, like, four decades to Neopaganism in general.

This makes a lot of sense.  I read Hutton's Triumph of the Moon a while back and I think he touches on this quite a bit.

Quote from: Darkhawk
The moon - that thing up there in the sky - is a large more or less spherical rock. Rocks do not have primary or secondary sex characteristics; there is nothing about a rock that makes it obviously gendered one way or the other.

Of course not!  But to answer your question as to what drives my assumption, I think it was the early exposure to Greek and Roman myth which, for whatever reason, has asserted itself as the default (for lack of a better word) and probably subconsciously results in me comparing every system I find to that.  

Quote from: Darkhawk
I know there are a lot of strands of the more popular forms of paganism that are all Very Big On Gendering Large Round Celestial Objects and assigning meaning to that. With stuff like the lunar cycle and the menstrual cycle matching up or something (taking a break here to laugh my ass off because NOPE) as the Deep Profound Meaning Behind The Femininity Of The Moon.

Personally, I think it's less about being deep and profound and more about connecting to celestial object or the deity that rules over it and having that tangible reminder and, perhaps more importantly for the more popular strands of paganism like you say, a natural reminder.  My approach to my spirituality remains very much earth-rooted with all the Wiccan-ish associations that brings along even though I don't consider myself Wiccan.  And say what you will, there is a certain peace/calmness to following the lunar and solar cycles for their own sake.  Gender is another layer on top of that and I find it just helps to associate one or the other with a gender.  The problem here, for me, is that having been exposed to the moon (as a mystical concept) as feminine, which really worked for me, has been a bit of a roadblock when I explore other traditions that regard the opposite.

Quote from: Ian288
I wonder if it might be the same for you? I don't mean to project my feelings onto you (apologies if I'm doing so), but there might be a pantheon/mythological system that you tend to associate with the world around you.

I've got nothing concrete right now but in the past I've leaned heavily toward the Anglo-Saxon and Norse pantheons and I found that to be a good connection.  My experience with the Greek pantheon was less strong.  I considered trying to syncretize some aspects of Anglo-Saxon and Celtic polytheism but I had trouble getting it out of my head and into practice, if that makes sense.

Thanks for all your replies so far!
« Last Edit: October 21, 2015, 09:07:32 am by makaroð »

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Re: Moon Gods and the Lunar Masculine
« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2015, 01:18:39 pm »
Quote from: makaroð;181295

Male lunar deities far outnumber female ones. Just in Europe:

Female lunar deities: Hellenistic Greece and Rome (Selene/Luna).

Male Lunar Deities: Germanic nations (Máni/Moon et cetera), Celtic (Elatha*), Baltic (Meness), Slavic (Jarilo), Rome (Lunus), Greece (Menelaus, Ibis, sometimes Hermes; Selene is sometimes described as "shining with a male light").

In Asia and Africa, the number drops to zero aside from China. In the Americas, it's more ambiguous, but male lunar deities are known from arctic peoples.

In fact, the original proto-indo-european lunar deity is thought to be male. The bull, a classical symbol of masculinity, is lunar in the middle-east and partly so also in Egypt. And the moon god is outrightly the patricarchal figure in most near-eastern religions.

It's downright idiotic to claim that ancient religions viewed the Moon as inherently "feminine".

*There are no celtic deities unambiguous associated with the Moon, but Elatha is the most likely candidate based on his attributes.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2015, 04:21:10 pm by Darkhawk »

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Re: Moon Gods and the Lunar Masculine
« Reply #7 on: November 03, 2015, 04:46:51 am »
Quote from: makaroð;181295
Hey all, like the title suggests, I'm curious as to how people come around to the idea of integrating the masculine/male moon deities of some cultures (Norse and Egyptian are the first that come to mind).

For whatever reason, I have struggled with this when I have looked into Norse/Anglo-Saxon polytheism


IIRC, in PIE religion the moon was seen as a bull that would inseminate the earth (dew). A masculine moon mythology could also easily tie in with the relationship lunar cycles have(had) with menstrual periods.  

But in Norse mythology, Mani specifically becomes associated with the moon as it's guide. Because we also have Hjúki and Bil, who follow Mani and may represent the actual phases of the moon (waxing/waning). Hjúki and Bil are sometimes considered brother and sister, but Bil has also been listed as a goddess and some scholars believe the two even represent female disir.

So the moon, as it's understood in Norse myth, can resonate as male or female, and even gender fluid.
 
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Re: Moon Gods and the Lunar Masculine
« Reply #8 on: November 03, 2015, 08:43:23 am »
Quote from: makaroð;181295
Hey all, like the title suggests, I'm curious as to how people come around to the idea of integrating the masculine/male moon deities of some cultures (Norse and Egyptian are the first that come to mind).

For whatever reason, I have struggled with this when I have looked into Norse/Anglo-Saxon polytheism and to a lesser extent when I've looked into Kemeticism.  The mythology of the ancient Egyptians was much more preserved/developed, so I was able to grasp Djehuty's role as moon god, but I never could grasp the general concept of a moon god rather than moon goddess.

To be honest it makes me feel a little dumb because I've been able to grasp so many different concepts over the years, but the masculine moon/feminine sun paradigm has just never clicked with me in a way.  Which is fine, there's always syncretism for when we can't work out the kinks! (half-joking ;))  I'm mostly just interested in hearing your perspectives and stories, though a little advice wouldn't go unappreciated either.

 
I went through this a bit ago.  I am primarily Norse deity oriented, and making the mental flop from feminine-moon and masculine-sun to the opposite felt very alien for me.  And it definitely was a matter of social conditioning.  Being a book-taught pagan, I had that gender association firmly entrenched with all my initial reading.  And being female in body, there is a ton of lunar associations that I have encountered, especially in regards to menstrual cycles.  Even one of my favorite comic books (Elfquest) has a mythology with the sun being masculine and the moons being feminine.

I was starting to work on becoming more familiar with Norse deities and the idea of a male moon and female sun felt very awkward.  I'm a pretty solid left/right brained mix, so I like to logic things out as well as feel them out.  I did a bit of searching, and honestly I forget where I encountered this thought, but I read someone who suggested this line of thought:

Looking at Vikings and the men leaving home, the constant figure in home life was the feminine.  She was the one that was there every day, just as the sun rises every morning.  The men however may be gone for chunks of time, as the moon is not always visible in the sky.  There was also a swap in the mental perception, with women being more constant and emotionally stable:  the rock of the family (which very much fits into my mental conception of family roles, at least in my family...I am the one who is sort of always 'on' in parenting role).  The men were considered more emotionally volatile (perhaps a reflection on the fierceness they display in battle versus the way they are at home).

I don't know how historically accurate any of that is, but what I did feel is that it had roots in my own truth.  I definitely have my mood swings, but I tend to be much more level emotionally than my husband, who is a huge flash in the pan kind of person (he will rage, then like two seconds later be over it and be kind of confused as to why I am saying he is acting upset).

I haven't made a full swap on my thoughts on lunar/solar deities.  And I don't actually think of the (physical) sun or moon as being gendered in any way.  I kind of like the fact that I have these associations with both genders with these celestial bodies though.  There are a lot of other archetypes that have a well represented duality, and I feel that knowing the solar and lunar energy through the lens of both female and male deities lets me approach it in a way that can fit my needs on any given day.
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Re: Moon Gods and the Lunar Masculine
« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2015, 02:24:45 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;181299
I'll admit that I'm more than a little perplexed by the problem.

The moon - that thing up there in the sky - is a large more or less spherical rock.  Rocks do not have primary or secondary sex characteristics; there is nothing about a rock that makes it obviously gendered one way or the other.

 
While I am not the OP, I would venture to guess that it has less to do with gendering a space rock and more to do with a sense of kinship.  As a cis gender woman, I feel kinship with the moon based on my monthly cycle - however another person may not feel the same way.  The same person may still want to feel a kinship with the moon - thus seeing it in their own view.  I think it has more to do with connecting to the energies - wanting to feel the Moon's energies and interpreting these things into their own sensibility than it does to actually gendering the Moon.

Just my $.02

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Re: Moon Gods and the Lunar Masculine
« Reply #10 on: November 04, 2015, 02:37:23 am »
Quote from: makaroð;181295

...but the masculine moon/feminine sun paradigm has just never clicked with me in a way.


How old are you and where were you raised?
The lessons we were taught when we were little tend to stick with us, at least subconsciously.
And I distinctly remember a show about a bear (who was a puppet) who was friends with the moon, who was female and named Luna...
Wazhazhe

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Re: Moon Gods and the Lunar Masculine
« Reply #11 on: November 04, 2015, 03:17:11 am »
Quote from: Pteranotropi;181777
Male lunar deities far outnumber female ones. Just in Europe:

Female lunar deities: Hellenistic Greece and Rome (Selene/Luna).

Male Lunar Deities: Germanic nations (Máni/Moon et cetera), Celtic (Elatha*), Baltic (Meness), Slavic (Jarilo), Rome (Lunus), Greece (Menelaus, Ibis, sometimes Hermes; Selene is sometimes described as "shining with a male light").
*Goes and edits Wikipedia article on lunar deities*

Quote
In Asia and Africa, the number drops to zero aside from China. In the Americas, it's more ambiguous, but male lunar deities are known from arctic peoples.
First of all, Asia and Africa ARE HUGE. Where do you go saying "drops to zero"? We're talking thousands of tribe's here!
Tell me, do African pygmies see the moon as masculine or feminine? What about the hundreds of Bantu groups?  How about the various indigenous groups from the Middle East? Siberia? Tropical Asia?

I have also noted that you excluded Oceania.


What on Earth do you mean by "ambiguous"? A failed google search?

For the record, my tribe, the Osage, (a great plains tribe that descends from the Ohio River Valley) had a somewhat soft polytheist/pantheistic view.

They viewed the moon (evening star, night, probably stars) as feminine.
Grandmother moon was probably a woman because night was orderly (moon's cycle, star "paths") and bad ("dark", scary). Guess what they thought women were?
It could also have something to do with the woman's cycles too, but eh.
Quote
In fact, the original proto-indo-european lunar deity is thought to be male. The bull, a classical symbol of masculinity, is lunar in the middle-east and partly so also in Egypt. And the moon god is outrightly the patricarchal figure in most near-eastern religions.
Who is included in most, and who are the people's excluded in these beliefs?
Quote
It's downright idiotic to claim that ancient religions viewed the Moon as inherently "feminine"
Excuse me? Why are you insulting the OP and other posters?

It's not "idiotic". At most, it's ignorent and misinformed.
And while many European deities (that you have verified) are masculine, and perhaps African & continental Asian, a prevalence for it doesn't indicate that ancient people "didn't".
« Last Edit: November 04, 2015, 03:23:00 am by Aubren »
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Re: Moon Gods and the Lunar Masculine
« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2015, 07:46:51 am »
Quote from: Aubren;181860
First of all, Asia and Africa ARE HUGE. Where do you go saying "drops to zero"? We're talking thousands of tribe's here!
Tell me, do African pygmies see the moon as masculine or feminine? What about the hundreds of Bantu groups?  How about the various indigenous groups from the Middle East? Siberia? Tropical Asia?


In African nations the moon is [usually] considered male; the only eceptions are syncretic christian-natuve belief amalgamations.

In the middle-east I've already summarised. For further research see Suen, Yarikh, Wadd, Aglibol, and Wadd.

Same with Siberia, which shares the same overall perception of the Moon as Arctic peoples and the Ainu.

In tropical Asia, the male Chandra (and derivatives) are the norm. However, this may be due to hindu influence.[/quote]

Quote
I have also noted that you excluded Oceania.


Inded. In Australia lunar deities are masculine, while in Polynesia they run the gambit depending on the island.


Quote
What on Earth do you mean by "ambiguous"? A failed google search?


Whereas I know the information is genuine or not. For example, some south american cultures (ie the Guarani) adopted female lunar deities but originall had male ones.

Quote
For the record, my tribe, the Osage, (a great plains tribe that descends from the Ohio River Valley) had a somewhat soft polytheist/pantheistic view.

They viewed the moon (evening star, night, probably stars) as feminine.
Grandmother moon was probably a woman because night was orderly (moon's cycle, star "paths") and bad ("dark", scary). Guess what they thought women were?
It could also have something to do with the woman's cycles too, but eh.


Interesting. It's kind of ironic how most cultures that adopted female moons are mroe vividly sexist, while some in which the moon is masculine are comparatively more relaxed.

This hasn't escaped the notice of the romans.

Quote
Who is included in most, and who are the people's excluded in these beliefs?


Virtually every near-eastern religion with the exception of early Zoroastrianism (and even then, there's many reasons to think otherwise)

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Re: Moon Gods and the Lunar Masculine
« Reply #13 on: November 06, 2015, 11:13:07 am »
Quote from: Aubren;181859

And I distinctly remember a show about a bear (who was a puppet) who was friends with the moon, who was female and named Luna...

 
Are you thinking of Bear in the Big Blue House?
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Re: Moon Gods and the Lunar Masculine
« Reply #14 on: November 06, 2015, 11:16:28 am »
Quote from: Pteranotropi;181961


 
A lot of what you just mentioned is very new information to me! Do you have any links for further reading so we can all learn more about your statements?
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Bob, Catja, Emma-Eldritch, Fausta, Jubes, Kelly, LyricFox, Phouka, Sperran, Star, Steve, Tana

Site Administrator:
Randall