What does the Moon symbolize to you?
To answer this question, it may be useful to have a more comprehensive insight into Moon symbolism around the world and across time.
… Because the Moon, along with her fascinating symbolism has captivated the human imagination for centuries!
Across countless cultures, religions, and mythologies our celestial companion embodies a myriad of meanings.
In addition to Her enchanting beauty, the mysterious presence of the Moon in our night sky continues to be a neverending source of inspiration and awe.
From sacred femininity to the cyclical nature of the universe, the menstrual cycles of women, and the many Gods and Goddesses that have come to be associated with her, the Moon’s influence extends to emotions, balance, and even the subconscious mind.
This celestial body’s significance goes far beyond its captivating glow in the sky!
So to begin weaving your own tapestry of meaning, I invite you to take the time to appreciate – for yourself – the richness of the Moon’s meanings and the lessons she offers.
If you let her, the Moon will also serve as a guiding light in your own life…
Moon symbolism in different cultures
Across time and space, each culture has its own beliefs and values that shape its interpretation of the Moon and its symbolism.
Some of these overlap and cross-pollinate (such as the Greek and Roman empires) while others have more unique features. Here we’ll begin by taking a look at a handful of different cultures and their versions of lunar symbolism.
The Moon in Greek mythology
In Greek mythology, the Moon was personified as the goddess Selene. She was often depicted as a beautiful woman who drove a luminous chariot across the sky every night.
To the ancient Greeks, the image of a shining Moon conveyed a sense of wonder, inspiration, and beauty, and they associated it with feminine energy and divine wisdom.
The Moon in Roman mythology
In Roman mythology, the Moon was associated with the goddess Luna, the Roman equivalent of the Greek Selene. Luna was also considered the celestial embodiment of feminine energy, representing change, growth, and renewal.
Romans believed that Luna exerted a powerful influence over nature and human behavior. She was also linked to the god of sleep, Somnus, due to the Moon’s connection with nighttime and dreams.
The Moon in Christianity
Unlike the polytheistic religions of Greek and Roman traditions, Christianity does not associate the moon with a specific deity.
However, it still holds symbolic values in Christian teachings and artwork. The Moon may symbolize the Virgin Mary’s purity and her role as a guiding light for those in darkness.
Moreover, in Christian art, the Moon commonly represents the passage of time and the cyclical nature of life, resonating with the themes of birth, death, and resurrection that form the core beliefs in Christianity.
The Moon in japanese culture
In Japanese culture, the Moon is often associated with the god Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto, the deity of the Moon, the night, beauty, and order. As it’s written in Japanese characters, the name ‘Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto’ directly translates to “moon-reading”. In the courts of pre-modern Japan, it’s said the nobility would stay up all night moon gazing and reading poetry.
However, in Shinto and Japanese folklore, Tsukuyomi is perceived as a negative figure, though this Moon is still revered.
Native American cultures
In Native American cultures, each clan, tribe, and family tends to have its own specific symbolism and beliefs around the Moon. However, the Moon tends to be associated with the cycles of nature and the seasons and is agreed to be a protective, benevolent and generous Spirit.
In Hindu culture, the Moon is associated with the god Chandra, who was the god of the Moon and the mind. La Luna is also associated with the feminine energy of the goddess Parvati, who is often depicted with a crescent moon on her forehead.
In Islamic culture, the moon is associated with the lunar calendar and the cycles of time. The crescent moon is also a symbol of the Islamic faith and is often used on flags and other symbols of the religion.
In Islamic culture, the Moon is often used as a symbol of the religion itself.
The Islamic calendar is based on the cycles of the moon, and the crescent moon is a symbol of the faith. The crescent moon is often used on flags and buildings, as it’s associated with the concept and passage of time. Muslims use the phases of the Moon to determine the timing of important religious events, such as Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr.
By understanding the symbolism of the moon in these diverse cultures, you may be able to gain a deeper appreciation for the powerful meanings and significance carried by this celestial entity across human history.
The Moon as a symbol of time
Throughout history, the Moon has been an important symbol of time. Yet its phases and cycles have also been used as a timekeeping device, tracking the passage of time, the changing of the seasons, and the ebb and flow of natural processes.
In various cultures, the Moon has been used to track time via lunar calendars, lunar phases, lunar cycles, lunar eclipses and also lunar tides.
Many cultures, such as the Islamic, Jewish, and Hindu cultures, use lunar calendars to track time. These calendars are based on the cycles of the Moon, with each month beginning on the day of the new Noon or the first sighting of the crescent Moon.
In addition to lunar calendars, many cultures have also used the phases of the moon to track time. For example, the ancient Greeks used the phases of the Moon to mark the four-week intervals between their festivals.
The Moon’s cycles have also been used to track time in some cultures. For example, the Mesoamerican cultures used a 260-day calendar that was based on the moon’s cycles, with each day being associated with a specific deity.
Lunar eclipses have been used to track time in some cultures as well. For example, the ancient Chinese used lunar eclipses to predict the future and to determine the health and longevity of the emperor.
Finally, some cultures have used the tides, which are influenced by the Moon, to track time. For example, the ancient Polynesians used the tides to navigate the ocean and to determine their location.
Moon Symbolism in Art
As a symbol of such beauty, mystery and allure, it’s no surprise that throughout history the Moon has inspired many artists.
From the ancient to the modern, and everything else in between, our beautiful Moon is one of our greatest muses…
The Moon in ancient art
Ancient Greek culture: For the Greeks, la Luna was personified by Selene, who was often portrayed as a silver disc.
Ancient Egyptian culture: In ancient Egyptian art, the Moon was often depicted as a symbol of the god Thoth, the god of wisdom, writing, and the Moon.
Thoth was portrayed with the head of an ibis, and was associated with the cycles of the Moon and the passage of time.
Mayan culture: In Mayan art, the Moon was often portrayed as a symbol of the god Ix Chel, the goddess of the Moon, childbirth, and weaving. Ix Chel was described with a crescent moon on her forehead.
Chinese culture: La Luna manifested in ancient Chinese art and culture, as the goddess Chang’e, female deity Moon and wife of the archer Hou Yi.
Chang’e was often depicted with a rabbit, which was said to live on the Moon, and was associated with beauty, femininity, and the sacred cycles of the Moon.
Inca culture: In Inca art, the Moon was depicted as a symbol of the goddess Mama Killa, who was the goddess of the Moon and fertility.
Mama Killa often appeared with a crescent moon on her forehead, and she was associated with the cycles of nature and the passage of time.
The Moon in modern art
Moving on to modern art, our celestial companion continues to appear as a recurring theme, reflecting the human fascination with the night sky and that spinning orb above our heads. Artists have found inspiration in the moon’s phases, its mysterious allure, and its connection to human emotions.
Here are some well-known modern art pieces that feature symbols of the Moon:
Living on the Moon by Salvador Dali: This surrealist painting features a crescent Moon formed from many buildings. The moon is a recurring symbol in Dali’s work, representing the passage of time and the subconscious mind.
Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh: This iconic painting depicts a night sky filled with stars and a large, bright moon. The Moon is a symbol of hope and light in the darkness, and is often interpreted as a symbol of the artist’s own struggles with mental illness.
Ladder to the Moon by Georgia O’Keeffe: This painting features a ladder pointing up towards a half Moon. Some believe the work is a self-portrait, others think it may be a spiritual piece.
Various works by Yayoi Kusama: The Moon is a recurring symbol in the Japanese artist’s work. Kusama uses the motif of the Moon to represent infinity, the cosmos, and the human desire for connection.
Moon Mirror by Anish Kapoor: This sculpture features a large, concave mirror that reflects the sky and the moon. The moon is a symbol of reflection and self-discovery in Kapoor’s work.
Both ancient and modern art have given the Moon a prominent role as a symbol of power, influence, and inspiration. If you feel called, delve deeper into the world of art, and you’ll discover countless examples of how the Moon has shaped and inspired creative expressions across time and cultures.
Moon symbolism, water, and the tides
One fascinating aspect of the Moon’s symbolic significance is its connection to the tides, water, and natural cycles.
You likely know how water levels on the shorelines are influenced by the movements of the Moon – this is because of the gravitational pull between Earth and Moon, that causes the tides.
The ebb and flow of the tides are a perfect representation of the natural rhythms and cycles that la Luna is so often associated with.
The Moon affects not only the ocean tides but also other tide cycles in nature. The most obvious is the female menstrual tide – the ebb and flow of menstrual blood and also of other fluids, within the bodies of women.
Additionally, many cultures see the Moon as a symbol of water itself. As a nurturing and life-giving element, water is essential for our survival. The Moon’s clear and strong relationship with water deepens its symbolism of nourishment and sustenance for humanity.
More metaphorically, the Moon’s influence on tides also represents the ebb and flow of our emotions.
Just as the tides rise and fall, your emotions can fluctuate, so the Moon serves as a reminder that change is a constant part of life. In fact, embracing the tides of emotional change can lead to personal growth and self-discovery.
Moon symbolism and our emotions
The Moon has long been associated with the realm of emotions.
Not only are the changing phases of the Moon seen as a metaphor for the ebb and flow of human emotions, but many people experience an actual rise and fall of emotional energy during a lunar month.
Just like the menstrual flow of women, our emotional tides also rise and fall with the ebb and flow of the lunar phases (these are described below).
The moon is also used as a symbolic tool in poetry and literature as a symbol of love, longing, and the mysteries of the human heart.
In astrology, the Moon is associated with the emotional realm and is said to influence our moods, instincts, and intuition.
Moon symbolism, the unconscious, and the shadow self
The Moon has long been considered a symbol of mystery, parallelling the unseen and largely unknown landscape of the unconscious mind. This is the part of your psyche that operates without your conscious awareness, also known as the shadow self.
When the full Moon shines brightly, it is seen by some as a symbol of illumination, clarity and renewed perspective that results from exploring the unconscious mind through shadow work.
We all have a shadow, and we all have shadow traits and qualities that live there, that we have no conscious awareness of.
The symbolic illumination offered by the full Moon can help you explore the unseen depths of your psyche. This can help you to achieve self-actualization, emotional health and balance, and wholeness.
Moon symbolism in astrology
The Moon plays a really significant role in astrology, symbolizing our deepest feelings and instincts. La Luna represents our spiritual nature, subconscious mind, and the unseen factors that influence our actions.
In comparison to the Sun, whose influence aligns more with the rational, conscious side of the psyche, the Moon reflects the intuitive, deep, and more instinctive aspects of humanity.
What’s your natal Moon sign?
The Moon’s position in your birth chart affects your emotional expression and how you process your feelings. As the ruler of the zodiac sign of Cancer, the Moon’s connection to mothering, nurturing, and caring qualities is also emphasized.
It’s essential to pay attention to both your natal Sun and Moon in astrology to achieve a balanced understanding of your personality.
While the Sun represents your external identity and outward expression, the Moon offers insights into your internal world and emotional experiences.
You can find your natal Moon HERE with this free birth chart calculator.
Then find out what your natal Moon symbolises in your astrology chart in the relevant article:
What’s today’s Moon sign?
Yet the influence of the Moon is also more immediate than any other celestial body. Not only is it closer than any planet, but its phases and transits through the signs continually change, impacting daily life.
Astrologically, the different zodiac signs that the Moon transits through every few days are believed to influence the ’emotional weather’ down here on Earth.
You can find out more about the Moon’s daily transits by following these links –
- Moon in Aries
- Moon in Taurus
- Moon in Gemini
- Moon in Cancer
- Moon in Leo
- Moon in Virgo
- Moon in Libra
- Moon in Scorpio
- Moon in Sagittarius
- Moon in Capricorn
- Moon in Aquarius
- Moon in Pisces
Because of the almost constant fluctuation of lunar energy transmitted to earth, knowing which phase and zodiac sign the Moon is currently in can be invaluable.
It can provide insights into your emotional needs and also indicate the best times for initiating new projects or making important decisions.
The symbolism of the Moon phases
Perhaps the most iconic symbol of the Moon is the glowing orb of completion, which symbolizes the full Moon phase.
Yet la Luna goes through many phases in her monthly orbit around the earth, and each of these has its own symbolic value.
This Moon begins the cycle. The new lunar phase arrives when old Grandmother Moon has just become visible. She is a sliver of light, an emerging crescent Moon in the daytime sky.
This is the perfect time for you to set your intentions and initiate new projects or habits. Take this opportunity to go inward and reflect on what you want to achieve during the coming lunar cycle.
Waxing Crescent Moon
Rising during the daytime and setting in the western evening sky, the Moon in this phase has a more obvious waxing crescent shape.
During this phase, you can tap into your creative energy and begin to make progress towards your goals.
Forming an astrological square with the Sun, this phase is revealed as a clear “half Moon” shape. Light will expand, overtaking the dark quarter.
Read more: Spiritual Meaning of the First Quarter Moon
Waxing gibbous Moon
Here, the Moon is closer to her Full Moon phase, than the New. In this waxing gibbous phase, she’s a more bulbous, blossoming disc of light. With increased motivation, you’re likely to experience accelerated growth in your projects and personal life.
Everybody looks up into the sky and knows this phase! She’s fully illuminated. At the Full Moon phase, la Luna rises with the Sunset, and sets herself, when the Sun rises.
Symbolically, the Full Moon can represent the culmination of your efforts or the peak of a situation. You might feel a surge of energy and heightened emotions. It’s an ideal time for you to focus on harvesting the rewards of your hard work.
Waning gibbous Moon
Past the cycle’s climax, the Moon here, is almost a mirror image of her waxing gibbous phase – still a swollen round disc but ebbing away (retreating) from one edge.
The waning Moon phases signifiy release and letting go. As the moon’s illumination decreases, you’ll find it easier to release any emotional baggage and prepare for the next New Moon.
Check out: Spiritual Meaning of the Waning Gibbous Moon
Forming another astrological square with our solar king, this phase – also known as the third quarter – is also a clear “half Moon” shape. This time, though, dark will overtake the light.
Discover more: Spiritual Meaning of the Last Quarter Moon
Waning crescent Moon (or balsamic Moon)
Closer now to the next New Moon, than to this cycle’s full Moon phase, this Moon appears more fragile-looking and weak.
This is an excellent time for you to recognize and discard habits, patterns, or beliefs that no longer serve your interests. She appears again, as a daytime companion.
Discover more: Spiritual Meaning of the Waning Crescent Moon
Between one and three days (and nights) where the Moon is invisible. She is actually rising with the Sun. So she is there in the sky with us during the day, awake when we are… But bleached out by sunlight, not visible. And absent completely from the night sky.
Read more: What’s the Meaning of the Dark Moon Phase?
Understanding the symbolism of the different Moon phases can really open you up to the possibilities of life! It can help you align your actions and intentions with the natural rhythms of the lunar cycle, synching up with Mother nature herself.
By paying attention to these phases, you can harness their energies and enhance your personal growth and well-being.
The Moon and feminine symbolism
The Moon holds a really special position in relation to the feminine and therefore has long been a symbol of the feminine mysteries.
Goddesses associated with the Moon
For example, in ancient Egypt, the Moon Goddess Isis, symbolized motherhood and protection. Similarly, in Greek mythology, Artemis, the goddess of the hunt, was associated with moonlight and the protection of young women.
Want to read more about the Lunar Deities?
Read this post next – A List of Moon Goddesses From Around the World
Moon as a symbol of the feminine
The Moon’s phases mirror the natural cycle of a woman’s fertility, making it symbolic of birth, growth, and motherhood.
The moon’s waxing and waning closely mimic the menstrual cycle, empowering the connection between women and the lunar cycles. This also emphasizes the potent symbolism of fertility and the cycles of birth, life, and death, all held within the Moon.
With her ancient feminine personification, the Moon also serves as a reminder of the feminine side in all of us, both male and female. This includes embracing the qualities of intuition, creativity, emotion, darkness, and magic.
By connecting with the energy of la Luna, you can tap into the inner depths of your feminine essence, allowing it to flourish and illuminate your life.
The Moon and masculine symbolism
You might be surprised to learn that the Moon also has strong ties to masculine symbolism as well.
In various cultures and belief systems, the Moon is seen as representing the balance between masculine and feminine energies. One example of this is in ancient Chinese philosophy, where the half-moon represents the concept of yin and yang, two opposing forces that complement one another in the natural world.
Gods associate with the Moon
Sin: In ancient Mesopotamian mythology, Sin was the god of the Moon. He was often depicted as an old man with a long beard and a crescent moon on his forehead.
Mani: In Norse mythology, Mani was the god of the Moon. A man with a pale, glowing face, he was believed to ride a chariot pulled by two horses.
Overall, the moon has been associated with many different gods and goddesses in various cultures throughout history, often representing the cycles of nature, the passage of time, and the power of the universe.
The Moon as a symbol of protection
When it comes to masculine symbolism, the Moon often represents guidance and protection. For instance, the Moon’s cyclical nature is seen as a guiding force that helps navigate through life’s changes. In this sense, the Moon can be seen as embodying the strength and resilience often associated with more masculine energy.
The Moon as a symbol of the hero’s journey
There are many myths and legends that feature the Moon as a symbol of the hero’s journey and personal transformation.
Representing the cycles of birth, death and renewal, The Moon’s phases make it a powerful icon for the concept of growth and becoming.
This association with personal growth can inspire you to embrace new opportunities and challenges, and to strengthen your resolve.