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Moon Lore, by Timothy Harley, [1885], at


We have already in part pointed out that the moon has been considered as of the masculine gender; and have therefore but to travel a little farther afield to show that in the Aryan of India, in Egyptian, Arabian, Slavonian, Latin, Lithuanian, Gothic, Teutonic, Swedish, Anglo-Saxon, and South American, the moon is a male god. To do this, in addition to former quotations, it will be sufficient to adduce a few authorities. "Moon," says Max Müller, is a very old word. It was móna in Anglo-Saxon, and was used there, not as a feminine, but as a masculine for the moon was originally a masculine, and the sun a feminine, in all Teutonic languages; and it is only through the influence of classical models that in English moon has been changed into a feminine, and sun into a masculine. It was a most unlucky assertion which Mr. Harris made in his Hermes, that all nations ascribe to the sun a masculine, and to the moon a feminine gender." 109 Grimm says, "Down to recent times, our people were fond of calling the sun and moon frau sonne and herr mond."  110 Sir Gardner Wilkinson writes: "Another reason that the moon in the Egyptian mythology could not be related to[paragraph continues]

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Bubastis is, that it was a male and not a female deity, personified in the god Thoth. This was also the case in some religions of the West. The Romans recognised the god Lunus; and the Germans, like the Arabs, to this day, consider the moon masculine, and not feminine, as were the Selênê and Luna of the Greeks and Latins." 111 Again, "The Egyptians represented their moon as a male deity, like the German mond and monat, or the Lunus of the Latins; and it is worthy of remark, that the same custom of calling it male is retained in the East to the present day, while the sun is considered female, as in the language of the Germans." 112 "In Slavonic," Sir George Cox tells us, "as in the Teutonic mythology, the moon is male. His wedding with the sun brings on him the wrath of Perkunas [the thunder-god], as the song tells us

'The moon wedded the sun
In the first spring.
The sun rose early
The moon departed from her.
The moon wandered alone;
Courted the morning star.
Perkunas, greatly wroth,
Cleft him with a sword.
'Wherefore dost thou depart from the sun,
Wandering by night alone,
Courting the morning star?'"

'In a Servian song a girl cries to the sun--

'O brilliant sun! I am fairer than thou
Than thy brother, the bright moon.'

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"In South Slavonian poetry the sun often figures as a radiant youth. But among the northern Slavonians, as well as the Lithuanians, the sun was regarded as a female being, the bride of the moon. 'Thou askest me of what race, of what family I am,' says the fair maiden of a song preserved in the Tambof Government--

'My mother is--the beauteous Sun,
And my father--the bright Moon.'"

"Among the Mbocobis of South America the moon is a man and the sun his wife." 115 The Ahts of North America take the same view; and we know that in Sanskrit and in Hebrew the word for moon is masculine.

This may seem to many a matter of no importance; but if mythology throws much light upon ancient history and religion, its importance may be considerable, especially as it lies at the root of that sexuality which has been the most prolific parent of both good and evil in human life. The sexual relation has existed from the very birth of animated nature; and it is remarkable that a man of learning and piety in Germany has made the strange if not absurd statement that in the beginning "Adam was externally sexless." 116 Another idea, more excusable, but equally preposterous, is, that grammatical gender has been the cause of the male and female personation of deities, when really it has been the result. The cause, no doubt, was inherent in man's constitution; and was

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the inevitable effect of thought and expression. The same necessity of natural language which led the Hebrew prophets to speak of their land as married, of their nation as a wife in prosperity and a widow in calamity, of their Maker as their husband, who rejoices over them as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride: 117 this same necessity, becoming a habit like that of our own country folks in Hampshire, of whom Cobbett speaks, who call almost everything he or she; led the sensuous and imaginative ancients, as it leads simple and poetical peoples still, to call the moon a man and to worship him as a god. Objects of fear and reverence would be usually masculines; and objects of love and desire feminines. We may thus find light thrown upon the honours paid to such goddesses as Astarte and Aphrodite: which will also help us to understand the deification by a celibate priesthood of the Virgin Mary. We may, moreover, account partly for the fact that to the sailor his ship is always she; to the swain the flowers which resemble his idol, as the lily and the rose, are always feminine, and used as female names; while to the patriot the mother country is nearly always of the tender sex. 118 Prof. Max Müller thinks that the distinction between males and females began, "not with the introduction of masculine nouns, but with the introduction of feminines, i.e. with the setting apart of certain derivative suffixes for females. By this all other words became masculine." 119 Thus the sexual emotions of men created that grammatical gender which has contributed so powerfully to our

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later mythology, and has therefore been mistaken for the author of our male and female personations. What beside sexuality suggested the thought of the Chevalier Marini? "He introduces the god Pan, who boasts that the spots which are seen in the moon are impressions of the kisses he gave it." 120 That grammar is very much younger than sexual relations is proven by the curious fact mentioned by Max Müller that pater is not a masculine, nor mater a feminine. Gender, we must not forget, is from genus, a kind or class; and that the classification in various languages has been arranged on no fixed plan. We in our modern English, with much still to do, have improved in this respect, since, in Anglo-Saxon, wif = wife, was neuter, and wif-mann = woman, was masculine. In German still die frau, the woman, is feminine; but das weib, the wife, is neuter. 121 Dr. Farrar finds the root of gender in the imagination: which we admit if associated with sex. Otherwise, we cannot understand how an unfelt distinction of this sort could be mentally seen. But Dr. Farrar means more than imagination, for he says, "from this source is derived the whole system of genders for inanimate things, which was perhaps inevitable at that early childish stage of the human intelligence, when the actively working soul attributed to everything around it some portion of its own life. Hence, well-nigh everything is spoken of as masculine or feminine." 122 We are surprised that Dr. Farrar seems to think German an exception, in making a masculine noun of

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the moon. He has failed to apply to this point his usual learned and laborious investigation. 123

Diogenes Laertius describes the theology of the Jews as an offshoot from that of the Chaldees, and says that the former affirm of the latter "that they condemn images, and especially those persons who say that the gods are male and female." 124 Which condemnation implies the prevalence of this sexual distinction between their deities.

In concluding this chapter we think that it will be granted that gender in the personification of inanimate objects was the result of sex in the animate subject: that primitive men saw the moon as a most conspicuous object, whose spots at periods had the semblance of a man's face, whose waxing and waning increased their wonder: whose coming and going amid the still and solemn night added to the mystery: until from being viewed as a man, it was feared, especially when apparently angry in a mist or an eclipse, and so reverenced and worshipped as the heaven-man, the monthly god.

Next: III. The Moon a World-Wide Deity