Wednesday, December 30, 2009

blue moon


I think it's interesting that la luna is considered womanly and fertile, partly because of its alignment with the menstrual cycle, yet we talk about the moon's face as the Man in the Moon. It is the sun that rules supremely and is associated with men - Apollo, Ra, Surya - they ride a chariot of war across the sky. (There is a Norse sun goddess, Sol Sunna, who also rides such a chariot. And the Hittites had Arinna, sun & fertility goddess.)

Quickly after winter solstice and Christmas celebrations - which originated in sun worship called Saturnalia - we have a Blue Moon. My color enhanced version is just a silly literal blue moon. You can read about the origins of the term blue moon at wiki. Whether it's the thirteenth full moon of the year, or the second full moon of the month - like this December with one on the 2nd and another on the 31st - folklore says when the face is blue, he talks to those in his light.

For a long time the way people have listened to Nature is through myths. I am a terrible student of classical mythology - Roman or Greek - let alone Aztec, Ojibwe, Hindu, Arabian or Norse and all those Wagnerian Brünnhildes. First my high school Latin teacher tried to drill Zeus and Aphrodite into my head. Then my university teacher Diane (lunar goddess) Wakoski - who centers her personal story in classical myths when she writes poems - taught me what she could. I would like to know more so that when I read an allusion to mythical characters I can understand the connection without looking it up. Sometimes I think all I do is look things up, and I want to know something without looking it up. Don't get me wrong, I'm devotedly grateful to Google, wiki, imdb and pantheon.

One character I always seem to come across in my readings is Persephone, whose story is a way of imagining the origin of winter. Hades, god of the Underworld, kidnapped her because she was so beautiful. Her mother Demeter, goddess of the harvest - or Earth Mother - wandered the earth looking for her, and the earth ceased to be fertile in her grief. At last Hermes went down to get Persephone back at Zeus' bidding, and he reluctantly let her go, but not before giving Persephone a pomegranate, which she ate seeds from, and it tied her to the Underworld forever for half the year, which is winter in Demeter's grief. She spends half the year with her mother, and that is summer.

Back to the moon. Diana is the moon goddess, or goddess of nature, fertility and childbirth (that menstrual cycle thing). Somehow she managed to protect those realms without getting directly involved in the messy affairs of people. In fact she was so uninvolved she was a virgin. Strange to be the protector of childbirth and fertility as a virgin, no? In myths the male gods may be the supreme rulers most of the time, but goddesses manage to mold and salvage something out of harsh circumstances the guy gods created.

Of course the moon and earth aren't female or the sun male; it's a way to think of the moon as the lesser light that is only reflecting the true source of light, the sun, in terms which have for too long been the parallel for women and men in society. I tend to be earthbound in what I can see, hear and feel and lack imagination and fantasy. We watched "Bridge to Terebithia" the other night, and I didn't much enjoy it. I don't have a desire to see "Avatar." But in spite of my distant quiet "virgin" observation of fantastical creations, it's nice to go out in the moonlight and let something other than facts speak to me. Maybe there really is something not in our heads that the moon says (he or she) when I get up in the night and see that blue light softly falling on the sofa the barn and the maples that isn't spoken in the light of day.

Poems sometimes arrive in the night. And dreams. Fears and worries too. But I don't think I've ever been afraid when the moon shone blue through the window. To me it says, Be still.

I wish you a wonderful New Year.

~Top image is the Sturgeon Moon shot August 28, 2007, processed blue in PhotoScape
~Persephone image by blackeri
~Diana image by Marinshe
~Bottom image shot when I was out in Lesley's kayak before sunrise, October 7, 2006; look closely at the .
.....horizon on the left side for geese in the water


Patricia said...

So glad to read your posting fresh off the press so to speak. I was wondering if you have seen the movie, In July? We watched it last night courtesy of Netflix. It sheds new light on the symbols of Moon and Sun. I hope that you will see it if you haven't yet. Best wishes in the year ahead!

♥ Kathy said...

Happy New Year Ruth!!

Annie said...

What a beautiful post! I really hope that you will go see Avatar despite your "lack of imagination" (yeah right ;-)). Try something new and you might be surprised! It's such a beautiful movie (if you ignore the war mongerers) and it contains such an important message. I think James Cameron has done a fantastic job!

I would love to hear an opinion from someone who isn't a scifi fan! (There's not so much scifi or fantasy in this movie that you couldn't tolerate it.)

Gwen Buchanan said...

Your photograph is so softly soulful, pure magic...

I need to get a laptop so I can read in bed and not always at this desk.. time for a little comfort in this ol' life... have to do some searching...

best to you, Ruth...

Loring Wirbel said...

Blue Moon at decade's end seems to say, let's end the Nasty Naughties with Unlucky 13, and be done with it and them! Actually, I had many good memories of the decade, but I agree with the general consensus that the naughties will not be remembered fondly. So let burn our cares and the decade's, dance under a blue moon, and welcome the teens.


Jeanie said...

"Blue Moon. I saw you standing alone..." I love that song.

Thanks for a most informative and beautifully illustrated post. I think you must have learned SOMETHING from that mythology! Don't you just love considering our cycles of life? Days to weeks to months; birth to adulthood to death? I'm listening to Sting's "Winter Songs" as I write this, and the music is so very fitting for this -- it's almost uncanny!

Anonymous said...

isnt it amazing that we are starting the new year with a full moon? and here, in my part of the world, also a moon eclipse right at midnight. happy new year!

Mama Zen said...

Happy New Year! Enjoy the Blue Moon.

ds said...

Did not know this was a Blue Moon. Hmmm...But the story of Persephone & Demeter fascinates me (and many others). Have you read Louise Glück's collection Averno? It is wonderul. As for Artemis, oh, those are thoughts for another day.

Happy New Year, Ruth. Happy, happy new year!

CottageGirl said...

Be still. Love the simplicity ... but so complicated to actually do.
Is there really a blue moon up there right now? We've been cloudy for soooooooo long i almost forgot that there was a moon at all.
Our neighborhood owl last night kept us awake ... maybe there was a break in the clouds and he was looking at that wonderful moon of which you speak.
Be still. I'm going to try it and see what happens ...

Arti said...


Thanks for a beautiful post and the info on myths and goddesses. That moon is just fantastic. The photo at the end is also mesmerizing... I'm afraid I can't see the geese though.

I've enjoyed your previous post too, idyllic setting for a beautiful Christmas. A country Christmas, a warm fire, cherished traditions, and heritage dishes. Something that I've never experienced. For this, I admire you so!

I'd like to send you and yours the best wishes for a most wonderful New Year. I await more beautiful posts in the coming days!

Ginnie said...

Thomas Moore is another one who is steeped in mythology, Ruth, making sense out of the rest of life. I'm in the same boat with you, wishing I didn't have to look any of it up, to connect the dots.

I have a Blue Moon coming in my TruckPacks, held up by 3 pewter wolves who howl at it all day long. One day I will take a picture of it. "Once in a blue moon" is one of the great phrases of our language, as far as I'm concerned. Astrid says they use the same expression in Dutch. Just think...the next Blue Moon on New Year's Eve will be in 2028...and that IS once in a blue moon!

Ruth said...

Patricia, I have In July on my queue now, thank you. I had not heard of it, and with so much about Istanbul and Turkey, we must watch it. Besides, it sounds like a wonderful film.

I look forward to more of your gorgeous art posts at Abyssal Plain and Reform School Art in 2010. Happy New Year.

Ruth said...

Thank you, ♥ Kathy. May you have more crazy adventures in 2010 - or maybe not. Maybe you should change your blog title - it might be inviting craziness?

Ruth said...

Thank you, Annie. I had read your very good review of Avatar and appreciated your perspective. I have seen many fantasy-adventure movies with my husband and kids who love them. I do try to have an open mind, but I think I am only inching along in enjoyment.

Säkenöivää Uutta Vuotta, Annie!

Ruth said...

Gwen, Peter and many others insist that you should get a Mac. I think you would enjoy one for photo processing. But they are expensive, which has prevented our buying one.

Happy New Year, Gwen.

Ruth said...

Loring, I treasure your priceless observations, and calling the oughts the naughties is one of them. I also admire and embrace your dancing under the moon while you protest and otherwise live out your activist life around the globe. This about you makes you a rarity among curmudgeons.

Bless you in the New Year, my dear friend!

Ruth said...

Thank you, Jeanie. I have picked up a few things, but I had to study even Persephone's story before writing this post. There are so many characters in these tales, and it gets complicated, you know? As for Diana, there is much more to be said about her, but I don't have a handle on her yet.

Thank you for the rec of Sting's If on a Winter Night - I think that is the album you mean? I went and listened to a few of the songs and it's lovely.

Lunch soon please!

Ruth said...

Kamana, it does seem auspicious. The lunar eclipse will not be visible in the Western Hemisphere, I hope you enjoy it if you see it. I took this moon photo with my old Olympus point-and-shoot, and I was surprised. I can't manage a good night shot with my Nikon SLR yet.

Happy New Year and Blue eclipsed Moon, Kamana.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Mama Zen. Too bad our hot tub is broken. That's how we used to watch the sky - in warmth and comfort. :(

Susan said...

I wish I knew a lot more things without having to look them up. Thank you, Internet, for instant knowledge.

My goodness, I went practically my entire life without knowing what a blue moon was even though I had heard the expression "once in a blue moon" most of my life. I only found out a few years ago. Sometimes I amaze myself. ((rolleyes))

Beautiful lesson, Ruthie, and the photo of the moon over the lake is simply gorgeous.

Wishing you an amazing New Year!

Ruth said...

DS, I think you have some things to teach me about Diana/Artemis. I have heard far more from Diane W. about Persephone and Demeter - even though Diane is Diane.

No, I haven't seen that Glück book (I'm a poet and didn't know it). Must have some mythical allusions?

Happy happy New Year to you, my dear friend.

Ruth said...

Oh, CottageGirl, I haven't heard an owl in a while. I have never seen one in person, darn. I hadn't known about the Blue Moon either until just a couple days ago.

I need "Be still" in the coming months at work. It will be my mantra. It is hard work to be still inside when you're surrounded with chaos and busyness.

Happy New Year, my dear friend!

Ruth said...

Thank you, dear Arti. I don't take this setting for granted. This bit of land with its buildings, barn cat, birds, raccoons and deer takes care of us. I try to rest gently here. We are slowly bringing some of ourselves to the place, trying to be respectful.

Thank you for your friendship, I look forward to 2010 with you. Happy happy New Year, Arti.

Ruth said...

Yes yes, Boots, he is, I forgot about that.

Ohh, I did not remember that your sculpture has a Blue Moon. I probably didn't know what a Blue Moon was when I first saw it.

This really is a rare event, and I think you and Astrid can see the eclipse tonight?

I miss you too.

Ruth said...

Dear Susie, I didn't know what a Blue Moon was either until recently. The Internet - especially blogs - have brought new discoveries almost every day.

That day at Hukilau when I spent 2 hours in the kayak was one of the best of my life, Susie. I'll never forget it.

Happy happy New Year to you, David, Aimee and her husband, Jaye and his wife, and Nathan, Gaige, Kaitlyn, Lauren and Matthew. And the chickens!

J.G. said...

Your evocative photo displays next to the Wendell Berry poem--at least on my screen--and that's just perfect.

Thank you for reminding me to look at the sky and wonder tonight. Wishing you a lovely New Year's.

Don said...

This post made me think of that Blue Mpon song and of course, I can't get it out of my head.
The lyrics are Kinda corny, kinda cool, but very true:

Blue Moon

You saw me standing alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own
Blue Moon
You know just what I was there for
You heard me saying a prayer for
Someone I really could care for

And then there suddenly appeared before me
The only one my arms will hold
I heard somebody whisper please adore me
And when I looked to the Moon it turned to gold

margie said...

let us hope this blue moon sees everyone standing together with a love of their own.

Ruth said...

I saw that poem right there, J.G., when I read it too. It made me happy. Happy Blue Moon and Happy New Year to you.

Ruth said...

Don, I had the song in the back of my head too, I'm glad you posted the whole thing. Corny, sweet and true. The moon is always gold now.

Ruth said...

Good New Year's hope, margie. Love to you and Kath.

ellen abbott said...

I loved this post Ruth. I've been a fan of mythologies since I was in the 3rd grade. Maybe that's one of the reasons I feel so close to Nature (that and a few amazing acid trips). The moon is so compelling I think, so much more so than the sun.

Happy New Year, New Decade.

Barry said...

There is a gentleness to the Moon's light and a romance you don't find in the harshness of the sun. Also its rays don't cause cancer and it's accessible, humans having already been there.

Although it's so cloudy here I doubt we'll get to see what colour the moon is tonight.

Happy New Year Ruth!

shoreacres said...

Clouds have been hanging for weeks, obscuring meteor showers and conjunctions and ISS passes, so I'm hoping today's fog will lift away and give us a glimpse of this wonder.

I've lived with blue moons all my life, since the days when my grandparents would take me out to stand in their "lucky" light. I doubt they knew anything of the myths you so beautifully open for us, but they felt their power.

The light of a moon - blue or otherwise - makes the darkness bearable. Your work here is like moonlight, revealing the beauties of a darkened world to us. It's one of the things I'm looking forward to in the year to come.

Ruth said...

Ellen, that's a good way to put it, the moon is more compelling than the sun. My niece in Alaska might argue with you though.

And your sunsets tell a compelling story. So maybe it's just a matter of when we listen to it, and from where.

Ruth said...

Barry, my good friend, you make a good point about the cancer thing. Did I tell you I had a melanoma back in 1991? We are survivors together.

Maybe in Canada you aren't seeing much of the sun these days, but I wish you and Linda lots of romantic moonlight.

May this year bring you great great joy, strength and health.

João said...

Obrigado for the beauty and the knowledge.

Ruth said...

Linda, thank you. I am still in a stupor after reading Eliot's O dark dark dark at your place. This is the light we see, isn't it? This light is why we're here. In such a world as this, this is why we stay. Blue blue blue world in blue moonlight.

Oh it makes me weep!

Ruth said...

You're welcome, João. Happy New Year to you.

Vagabonde said...

When I was a little girl I loved to read a series called “Contes et Légendes” (stories and myths) from Brittany, or Rome, or Ancient Egypt, etc. I learnt a lot this way. One of my favorite name is Cybèle who was a goddess of nature and presided over mountains and fortresses. We gave this as a middle name to our second daughter (luckily she likes it.) About the moon, I don’t know why when people feel how of sort we say they are in a bad moon? My mother often said about my father “il est mal luné aujourd’hui” he is bad mooded today (and that was too often!) As for the movie Avatar my husband saw it while in Columbus – I preferred to stay and babysit the two toddlers. Yesterday we saw Invictus after the recommendation of one of my blogging friend. Morgan Freeman plays Nelson Mandela and he was excellent. I really enjoyed this movie. Thanks for your kind comments on my blog. Have a great 2010.

*jean* said...

wonderful post, ruth! happy new moon year!

Ruth said...

Dear Vagabonde, I have a friend who worked in an emergency room who said the full moon always brought about more emergencies, more accidents, more crazy fights ending in injuries. It really makes me wonder. When I see a full moon, it makes me calmer, quieter. Maybe it all depends on one's basic temperament?

Happy 2010, my friend.

Ruth said...

Thank you, dear Jean. Wishing you many moons and no fear.

Oliag said...

I don't know why but I've always been drawn to the moon...a moonrise will take my breath away sooner than a sunrise will...and last night's moon was one of those that brought tears to my eyes...Not sure if I will see the blue moon tonight as it is cloudy and snowing:)

In high school, all those years ago, mythology was one of my favorite units...and one that I have actually retained a little memory of...

Our family enjoyed the stories of the gods and goddesses enough to name a host of hamsters after them....and they acted like their namesakes in that they had many children and killed each other ruthlessly:)

Have a Happy New Year Ruth!

Ruth said...

Oliag, oh I've missed you, was thinking about you just this morning.

We're connected with all these things - the moon, the world's stories.

So funny what you wrote about the hamsters and their namesakes! Hahaha.

Happy New Year, I wish you health and abundance.

VioletSky said...

I thought I commented earlier... must have been mesmerized by your photo. I actually saw faces in the orangey trees off to the right, the first time. Now I think I see a giant marmalade cat. I had some good wine at lunch.

Now, Happy New Year to you, Ruth, and to Don. (tell him he needs to post more often in the new year!)

oh, and I just scrolled down and see the word verification is 'ingest' - hmmmmm

Christina said...

your post is lovely! i want to learn more about these goddesses.. where to start?
i cried during bridge to terebithia ; (
happy new year, my dear friend.
: )

C.M. Jackson said...


What a beautiful way to start the New Year--thank you! I loved the kayaking photo...Best to you and yours this year--C

Bella Rum said...

I really enjoyed this post, especially the part about Persephone and the connection to winter because my grandson's birthday is Dec. 21.

I hope the new year brings health and happiness to you and your family.

Ruth said...

Sanna, just a minute before 4 and you were ushering in the year with cheer. I like that! Early is more likely than late for me and New Year's Eve. I was in bed by 9:30. :|

I did tell Don you said he should post more, thank you for the support. Let's see if he listens.

So is "ingest" the intention for 2010?

Happy New Year, dear Sanna.

Ruth said...

Christina, I cried too. I cried and cried in fact. It did have that effect.

Happy New Year to you, sweet loving Lady.

big hug

Ruth said...

Thank you, C.M.. Your "One Love" was a beautiful inspiration and encouragement. The best 2010 to you.

Ruth said...

That's a special day, Bella. I think it's hard for Christmas-time birthday people to feel their day is special. I have a feeling you and all the family will make him feel that his birthday is important even if it is so close to another Big Birthday.

All the best to you in 2010, hoping for health for your father and all of you.

Kate said...

I love your blog- You write how I would like to write- coherent and poetic. Please don't ever stop blogging :)

Ruth said...

How wonderful, Kate. I felt that right in the chest.

Are you the Kate at aminus3 in Lincolnshire, UK?

California Girl said...

Nobody I'm reading spins it like you. What a compelling writ of info on the moon, seasons and the mythology. Love it.

I wanted to see the blue moon but we had lovely snow and it lasted all night so I did not see it tho' there was an incredible glow on everything, despite the cloud cover. Strong stuff that blue moon.

Ruth said...

California Girl, I really like how you said that, thank you.

Your New Year's Eve out with friends sounded very satisfying and fun.

Montag said...

Persephone is a very interesting character, especially since her name literally means "destruction-slaughter".

Considerable editing has been done to the stories that come down to us.She seems to have been like Kali in the Hindu pantheon - a goddess of life and increase as well as death.

It seems like Hades wasn't necessary in the story; Persephone could have covered all the bases involved.

Ruth said...

Montag, she sounds like yin and yang.