From the Oak: Let’s hear it for the God!
Many are those that focus on female divinities, leaving male divinities in the shadows if they get mentioned at all. This is a shame. Here I will share my thoughts, stories and prayers on male divinities.
The Man in the Moon
When I was a child, I would wave to the man in the moon who I imagined peering down at me through the window.
It wasn't until I became a Pagan that the moon came to be associated with the feminine. The phases of the moon just seem like the perfect symbol for the stages of a female and for the menses. So when I first heard about moon gods, I was sure there was some mistake. How could that be? It not only can be, but isn't as unusual as I thought it was.
The word moon comes from Old English “mona”, a masculine noun. Old English gets it from Proto-Germanic *menon from Proto-Indo-European *me(n)ses (courtesy of Online Etymology Dictionary). According to Rev. Timothy Harley in Moon Lore, “Objects of fear and reverence would be usually masculines; and objects of love and desire feminines." The moon was feared for the way it changed and sometimes ate the sun. Some mythologies, however describe eclipses as the moon making love to the sun and at other times chasing the morning star, hungry for her attention. I have not been able to find any clear understand of why the moon is female in some cultures and male in others. Generally the answer is blamed on patriarchy vs. matriarchy but I’m not sure that is a sufficient reason. The true answer is probably a lot more complex than that.
Male moon gods superficially seem to fall in one of two categories: either lustful divinity or a warrior. Below I have listed various moon gods I found information on while researching this topic. Some of the deities have very rich mythologies while there is very little known about others. I encourage you to explore them on your own. Let me know of any I missed!
- Aglibol, the Syrian moon god. He is often depicted with Ba’alshamin and Malakbel (sun god).
- Avatea is the moon god of the Cook Islands. It is said that he is divided vertically. His right side is a man but his left is a fish.
- Chandra (also known as Soma) is the Vedic moon god whose name means “the shining one”. He is connected to antelopes, rabbits and dew. The moon was consider to be a cup of the gods filled with the drink, soma. When it was waning, the gods were drinking. When it was waxing, the god was re-creating himself.
- Coniraya, the Incan moon god, who fashioned his sperm into fruit which the virgin goddess, Cavillaca, mistakenly ate causing her to become pregnant.
- Igaluk is the Inuit god of the moon, brother of the sun. Myths say that he had sexual relations (rape or a simple mistaken identity in the dark of an igloo) with his horrified sister who tore off her breasts and ran away with a torch, becoming the sun. While chasing her with his own torch, he tripped causing his torch to only glow dimly.
- Ixbalanque is the Mayan god of the moon, twin to Hunahpu, the sun (or in some tales the morning star). They were called the Hero Twins, for together they outwitted the lords of the Mayan underworld.
- Jarilo is the Slavic moon god, son of the god of storms. He is very much tied to the agricultural year in that he is killed in the fall by his wife , the daughter of the sun, for cheating on her. Her mourning causes the winter and then she dies. They are both reborn on the first night of the new year and he returns to earth in the spring.
- Kaskuh, a winged Hittite god who wears a hat with the crescent moon upon it.
- Khonsu is the ancient Egyptian god of the moon and time. He is said to have healing powers and can affect fertility. He was considered by some to be either a form of Thoth or his assistant.
- Kusuh, the Hurrian moon god whose sacred number is 30.
- Mani is the Norse god of the moon. He steers the moon on its course while being pursued by the wolf, Hati. He is accompanied by a pair of siblings, Bil and Hjuki, who he stole from an abusive father.
- Marama, the Polynesian and Maori moon god, married to his feminine counterpart(s) whose name changes depending on the area and the moon phase. It is also said that he is the husband of all women as shown by the way he affects them every month.
- Men, the Phrygian moon god, is identified with Dionysos and Attis. He was called Lunus by the ancient Romans. Bulls pull his chariot across the sky. The ancients honored him as a healer, god of death and rebirth, and as a ruler of water.
- Meness is the Baltic moon god. He was married to the sun goddess but seduced her daughter (variously described as sun maiden or morning star). In anger, the storm god tears him apart but the forgiving maiden gathered up the pieces and put him back together but the experience leaves him scarred.
- Sin (also known as Nanna and Suen) is the Mesopotamian moon god, whose symbol was the bull and was considered to be a cowherd. Ancient texts connect him to fertility.
- Ta’lab is the pre-Islamic moon and oracular god.
- Tecciztecatl (also known as Metztli) is the Aztec moon god. He became a moon god after his fear kept him from a bonfire that would have made him the fifth sun. When he finally overcame his fear, the other gods threw a rabbit at him to mark his cowardice which caused him to dim and left an imprint of the rabbit on his face.
- Tsukuyomi, the Shinto moon god and ruler of night, slew the agricultural goddess and scattered her remains over the earth. Amaterasu was so offended that she banished him from her sight. This is why the sun and moon rise and set at different times.
- Wadd whose name means “love, friendship” in Arabic. He is the moon god in southern Arabia. His animal is the snake.
- Yarikh (or Yerah) is the Canaanite moon god married to an orchard goddess named Nikkal and provider of the nightly dew.
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