The word "myth" comes from the Greek "mythos" which originally meant "a short narrative." However, in time myth came to mean "a traditional story popularly regarded as true but which may actually contain fiction as well as fact."
Throughout history the moon has inspired wonder and has naturally encouraged curiosity. She has always been that elusive silvery disc, seemingly just beyond touch, looking down on man's endeavors, yet always changing. What is it about the moon that makes it so intriguing, so mysterious.
The moon in mythology is a labyrinthine study.
From the earliest times the moon has been featured in folk tales, myths, and religious rites. Many early cultures identified the lunar body as that of their Goddess. The Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans worshiped Isis, Diana, and Artemis as the celestial Goddess of the Moon.
The reconstructed religions of Egypt, Greece, and Rome maintain this special lunar Goddess relationship.
From earliest times it has been suspected the moon has an affect on men and women. There is something about the moon that can trigger erratic behaviour as well as deep seated urges. On a full moon, guard dogs may become more passive, or may be more likely to bite. A study at the University of Sydney in Australia found that hospital admissions are lower during a full moon. Most people are aware that the full moon seems to lift the spirits of most people.
In ancient times it was a time of celebration and more carefree behavior, especially in the important area of romance. And of course the full moon does have the sneaky ability to bring out a streak of mischievous behavior is some people, particularly teenagers.
Before modern times, the eclipse was always unwelcomed. There are two types of eclipses:
A lunar eclipse is when the Earth blots out the Sun's light to the Moon, causing the moon to pass through the Earth's shadow. Incidentally, it was during the lunar eclipse that ancient Greek astronomers noticed that the edge of the shadow was always circular. Thus concluding that the Earth must be spherical (and not flat).
A lunar or solar eclipse was especially terrifying to the common people of ancient times, who didn't understand them. So, it's not surprising that eclipses have had an affect on history, as in the following example:
A solar eclipse occurred during a battle in 585 BCE in what is now present-day Turkey. Soldiers of opposing armies, the Medians and the Lydians, were stunned by the eclipse and its incredible timing. They quickly deduced that their gods must be opposed to the war, so both armies put down their weapons and refused to fight. This forced their leaders to declare peace.
Some people are more familiar with the moon's influences on farming. Even more have heard of the Farmers' Almanac, but may not know that many of the almanac's suggested dates for farming are based on Moon phases. It is a matter of fact that for centuries the most successful farmers farmed their their land by the light of the moon.
It's not by accident that in the USA most farmers traditionally plant potatoes near to "potato day." This date is even noted on many gardening and farming calendars. Potato day itself is also known as Good Friday. The date of Good Friday is determined by its position to Easter; and Easter is always calculated according to, you guessed it, its lunar position.
It was discovered long, long ago that potatoes planted close to potato day will be better potatoes. Potatoes planted earlier or later than this period never do as well.
Other "root crops" are planted as close as possible to the dark moon (new moon), while "above the ground crops" are planted as close as possible to the full moon.
Perhaps more than anything else, the moon's influence is an important factor in the timing of planting, cultivating, and harvesting of farm crops. Farmers know that the moon controls crop growth. This is why the Farmer's Almanac is so valued, its dates in farming are determined by the phases of the Moon.
It's no wonder that through the ages man has been fascinated with the moon. It is wondrous and mysterious, and possesses a certain power over mankind that is real, if not always understood. Seemingly with certain powers, the moon reigns over our imagination and facets of the physical world we live in.