The Unicorn, a Mythological Investigation, by Robert Brown, , at sacred-texts.com
LIGHT being pleasant to man and Darkness more or less awful, the original aspect of the Moon is a friendly and favourable one as the head of nocturnal kosmic order, the beneficent Unicorn, the 'Righteous' Ass of the Bundahis, who is hated and warred against by the powers of evil. But the Moon may be the friend as well as the enemy of Night, and as such becomes Gorgonian and terrific, connected with witchcraft, evil demons, 'wicked apparitions,' 1 and all the power and horror of great darkness; whilst its changing form admits of monstrous concrete representation in art and fancy.
With reference to the Sun; the Moon may with almost equal propriety appear as the sire, mother, brother, sister, husband, bride or nurse of the mighty star; friendly to the Sun, as Inô or Sin; hostile as the Unicorn; pursued by or pursuing the Sun.
When civilization progresses sufficiently to possess a Calendar, the Moon, as time-measurer, lends invaluable assistance, and marks the months.
As lord of moisture and humidity, the Moon is
connected with growth and the nurturing power of the peaceful night.
The Moon too, like the Sun, speaks of a future life, so that even the rude Congo Negro claps his hands and cries, 'So may I renew my life as thou art renewed;' 1 and in the famous Namaqua-myth 'the Moon once sent the Hare to Men to give this message, "Like as I die and rise to life again, so you also shall die and rise to life again."' 2
According to the anthropomorphic principle the Moon appears in male or female form, and is symbolically connected with the Bull or Cow, Unicorn or Horse, Serpent, Dog and Cat, with the latter animal probably on account of phenomena of periodicity, cats eyes shining in the dark, etc. 3 It is also at times a pearl or a good fairy. 4
Regarded as a locality, it often appears as the abode of departed souls. So in the Kamic Book of the Respirations, which is probably of the epoch of the Ptolemies, the wish is expressed respecting the deceased,
Such are some of the principal mythological lunar aspects. If the savage at times regards her
as cleft in sunder by the angry sun, the poet at times also has his mere fanciesfancies as distinguished from the ordinary growths of mythologyand compares her to a lunatic and dying lady, tottering forth
But in health we do not speak thus, and so to this same great singer in a nobler moment she is an orbed maiden with white fire [white gold] laden.'
More grandly did Milton see her, in his stately vision, throwing 'her silver mantle oer the dark,' even as Homer and Tennyson saw
I append two Figures 1 illustrating the origin of the terms Caput and Cauda Draconis as applied to the moon's nodes (knots), or the two points in the heavens where the moon's orbit intersects the plane of the ecliptic.
The circling path of the sun becomes similarly the
[paragraph continues] Time-serpent, Kampê ('Caterpillar'), a monster slain by the solar Dionysos. 2 These two lunar serpents, twin crescents, the increasing and decreasing moon, and whose combination makes the full moon, are the two bulls which draw the moon-car on its path through space. 3
69:1 Akkadian Hymn (W.A.I. iv. 17).
70:1 Tylor, P.C. ii. 272.
70:2 Ibid. i. 320.
70:3 Vide Dr. Hyde Clarke, On the Relations between Pasht, the Moon, and the Cat, in Egypt, in T.S.B.A. vi. 316 et seq.
70:4 Vide Gubernatis, Zoological Mythology, i. 54, 56.
70:5 Ap. M. de Horrack (R.P. iv. 121). On this subject vide Plutarch, De Facie in Orbe Lunae; Tylor, P.C. ii. 64; R. B. Jr., The Archaic Solar Cult, of Egypt, 37.
71:1 Shelley, The Waning Moon.
72:1 Vide Maurice, Indian Antiquities, ii. 201.
72:2 Apollod. I. ii. 2; Diod. iii. 72.
72:3 Vide P. 68, Note 1.