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The awaited return of the most obvious seasonal signal
The "brilliant" sectors of the sky
An assembly of sacred images



Figures portrayed
by stars in the night,
by nature "dramatic" figures



Why make reference to
seasonal stars.
Measuring time in "moons"



When lunar imagery is combined
with stellar imagery to compose a "mythical cinema"



The human condition
and its development
in the collective memory



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French version

 

The roundness of the Full Moon

A face that observes: the Moon is the eye of regulatory celestial powers that observe terrestrial creatures. This is a concept of primordial importance, particularly well illustrated in Egypt in the ideographic form of an eye: following its movement in respect to the Zodiac, the Moon is portrayed as "the eye that moves to the left"

Escalier d'Edfou

When the Moon represents an Eye, we find myths built on characters with one eye: Gwukub Kakish, the Maya; the Graeae, "gray witches" (GR = KR), the "old moons" who only had one tooth and one eye between the three of them; and the famous Cyclops.
This concept also implies that the monthly disappearance of the moon (the black circle on our calendars) can be considered as…

- a blinding: the three moonless nights that announce the beginning of a new lunar cycle (i.e. the "new moon") make this blind period the signal for ceremonies of the Passage into a new Cycle. Resurgent memories of these impressive sacrificial rites - including cannibalistic practices - inspire many dramatic sequences in which a mythical nocturnal hero is blinded: Maya: Gwukub Kakish, Palestine: Samson, Egypt: Horus (particularly significant myth because the Moon is the eye of Horus; Greece: Orion, of course, holds the Moon aloft, the Three Graeae blinded by Perseus, the Cyclops blinded by Ulysses, Oedipus, etc).

Lune regard

Mosaïque d'Antioche

Plat de Camiros

It seems that this concept of a "Lunar regard" periodically blinded and then restored is connected with the names for Ceremonies that "Open a New Cycle". This is illustrated in Egypt by the name of the ostentatious "New Year" ceremonies that mark the transtion into a new period of time, namely:

WP,
Woupou, Wopa, Opa, Opè


By evoking the idea of "seeing", which is a corollary of the "eye" (Ophtalmos, Oculus) and the image of "an opening that enables one to see" (Met-ope), this theme is unambiguously associated with the lunar Artemis Opis. This image holds an important place in mythology as Opè, Ops, in the names of very ancient figures honored in the eastern Mediterranean: Pel-Ops, Mer-Ops, Cecr-Ops, Cycl-Ops. The distant past recalled by these founding figures is often marked by ritual cannibalism.

The very resonance of "Wopa!", which is a call to the divine regard of the Moon and a signal for opening of the festivities, appears to have been handed down with its ancestral integrity intact. It still vibrates in the cry launched by the leader of the Pontic Khorus, the traditional circle dance that came to Greece from the shores of the Black Sea.

When the image of the Moon’s roundness combines with the idea that lunar powers govern the tides, regulate liquids, water, sap and blood, and that they control the distribution of fertile rains, the Moon is seen as the luminous celestial calabash, gourd or pumpkin and myths, tales and rites follow: for instance, Halloween. Just as Egypt maintained the lunar eye more or less intact as its hieroglyph for the measure of volume, the pre-Columbian cultures used a more or less full calabash as their glyph for measurement.

The invention of pottery led to the image of the spherical vessel, an endlessly flowing pitcher (Maya: Ish Mukane, Greece: the Danaides).

Amphore d'Eleusis                     Ish Mukanè

The decoration of this large votive recipient of Eleusis (142 cm) depicts the Blinding of the Cyclops with the appearance of Canis Major at its top, and on the bulge a parade of Gorgones with globular jars surrounded by lightening-like serpents. The same ideogrammatic language is found in Mexico: the theme of the inexhaustible jar in the hands of the lunar Power, Ish Mukane (Dresde codex).


Dispenser of the fluid of life, of the nectar of immortality, the Moon is a brilliant goblet (India: Soma, which is both the Prince-Moon in love with the beautiful Rohini - the red star Aldebaran - and the sacred fluid of immortality).

In the time of agriculture the combination of a round, white Moon and the concept of fecundity, abundance and food makes the lunar power the protector invoked when working with flour (Pierrot and the Baker) and making ritual seasonal dishes (Crepes that "fly" through the air during the Candelaria, etc):
a round shield, image from the age of metal (Goblet of Cadmos and the myth of Perseus).

At the same time, this Shield is…
a round mirror (myth of Perseus, the Aztec Tezcatlipoca and the magic mirror in fairy tales). For a long time now, we have abandoned the idea that only highly evolved cultures understood that the Moon reflects the light of the Sun. For instance, in Egypt:

Khonsou-Ioh (Moon) light of the night,
flows from the Left Eye of Amon,
when Aton (the Sun) is setting,
The Thebes is flooded with their light, because
the Left Eye receives light from the Right Eye…" 

Urkunden,VIII, cited by Dorchain in "La lune: mythes et rites" (Seuil)

     
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