So since I will be honoring Mani this weekend, it seemed good impetus and good timing for posting part two of my Q&A for Him. I've gotten lots of questions from my readers and as with the questions I receive on devotion and polytheism, I'll be answering them weekly in the order in which I receive them (more or less. I copied them all into a file so it's really more like the order in which I slapped them into a Word doc!).
Today, Rede Seeker asks: "Can you give more insight to Mani's relationship with Unn, the Tide-Maiden? I feel their relationship as a dance - Her surge and ebb, His wax and wane. They fit together like the Yin-Yang icon."
I love the Norse Moon God. There isn't very much information on Him in the surviving lore, and yet slowly but surely over the past decade His cultus has been restoring and rebuilding itself. This is a joy to see and it's an equal joy to be a part of such growing devotion. I've found He is a very hard God not to love. His Presence evokes longing and brings with it aching beauty twinned with the hint of ancient power. He touches the heart like no other Deity, and it often seems He moves with an exquisitely calculated sensuality throughout our world. Mani is mystery and in like fashion evokes the hunger for mystery.
We don't actually have very much concrete information on Him. He's the God of the moon and guides the moon across the night sky, always chased by the wolf Hati. His sisters are Sunna and Sinthgunt and He is of the House of Mundilfari, the Time Turner. He is sometimes said to travel with two children, a boy Hjuki and and girl Bil whom He rescued from neglectful parents. He is the nephew of Nott, or Night. That's what we know from lore. From direct experience of Him, not just by me, but by many of His devotees, we know that He is fascinated by humanity and the process of embodiment. He watches over abused children and notes every tear, every wound, every scar. He is a special protector of those affected by emotional pain and mental illness, and once, He was very fierce.
Litha has passed; Summer is upon us. The Full Thunder Moon is softly waning, and the warm July night is jeweled with the twinkling fairy lights of fireflies. The air is scented with the powdery sweet musk of milkweed blossoms luring the monarchs, frogs offer up their throaty love calls, and my heart trembles with the holy joy of this peaceful night. There’s nothing easier than being a Goddess-loving Pagan at this moment.
When life is lovely, devotion to Her flows like silk, a shimmering thing of weightless beauty. My prayers are poetry, signs and messages abound, and my feet tread lightly on the Earth. Moments of inexplicable bliss catch me unaware, leaving me breathless with gratitude. But inevitably, the sky darkens, the seasons change and one day the world seems encased in ice as freezing rain chills the bones and wind whines and howls. Staring into the void outside the window, I feel alone, made of glass moments from shattering. I feel betrayed, forsaken; I can’t hear Her in this cold sunken place of despair and doubt.
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.
Humanity has been studying and dreaming about and mythologizing the heavens since before the beginning of recorded civilization. No doubt, our ancestors were telling tales about the sun and stars even as they made the long trek out of Africa. Studying the heavens formed the very basis of some civilizations (see Sumer and the Maya, for example), giving rise to calendar systems, festival cycles, and whole arcs of mythology.
For those interested in the origins of the myths of the heavens (as opposed to just the science, which is a fascinating topic in and of itself) a good place to start is Exploring Ancient Skies: A Survey of Ancient and Cultural Astronomy by David H Kelley and Eugene F Milone. Dense -- though never boring -- Kelley and Milone's book offers a solid grounding in the place of "naked eye" astronomy in ancient civilizations, how our ancestors' observations shaped their civilizations, and the myths and legends that arose around celestial phenomena. A useful interdisciplinary reference, which I recommend for older children and adults interested in the history of astronomy.