The Roman Goddes Luna4 min read
Originally written on March 31, 2021 – updated 2023
Today, March 31, in ancient Rome, the foundation of Luna’s temple, the moon goddess, on the Aventine Hill, was remembered.
It was destroyed by the Great Fire of Rome in the year 64 C.E.
Luna, was Roman goddess of the Moon, animals, and hunting. Varro and Virgilius describe her as one of the twelve fundamental divinity for agriculture.
The Romans recognized three aspects of her, also called the triad. As the Moon-goddess, they called her not by chance Luna, italian for Moon while, as an underworld deity of magic Hekate, and as the huntress-goddess, Diana.
Diana is described as guiding her silvery chariot over the sky at night. She was Roman Goddess of Light, Moon Goddess, Queen of Heaven, Lunar Virgin (to the Romans, “virgin” meant a woman who had never been married or pregnant, not a woman who had never had sex), Goddess of Wildwood, Divine Huntress, Protector of Animals, Lady of Beasts.
Moreover, Luna gives us the term “lunar” from Latin lucere, to shine.
Together with Diana and Hekate, Luna formed a triad with Luna as the Goddess in Heaven, Diana as the Goddess on Earth, and Hekate as the Goddess in the Underworld.
The Triple Goddess is a symbol representing the feminine polarity as well as the three phases of a womankind: maiden, mother and crone. It is similar to the Trinity in Christianity in that it is an embodiment of 3 in one, even if it is different in that the triple aspect in the Goddess comes in phases, in short not all three things at the same time but rather goes through these phases throughout her existence.
The number three itself has great significance in Wicca and Paganism in that it is a powerful number.
There is also the so-called “Rule of Three” in which it states that what you do to a person comes back three-fold, a sort of code for practicing to not do harm to others.
The Triple Goddess is represented by 3 moons, the waxing crescent moon, the full moon, and the waning crescent, a symbol often found in tattoos, jewelry, T-shirts, artwork and other decorations.
The Waxing Moon is a symbol of the maiden: a woman is a maiden up until the time that she marries and/or bears children.
The Full Moon is a symbol of the mother, and often this phase starts when a woman marries or bears children, while the Waning Moon is a symbol of the crone. For many women it is a sad time, but in Wicca practice this is not so, it is a time to celebrate, as a woman is powerful in this time because she has reached full maturity, and is filled with wisdom that she can share with mothers and maidens. This phase also signifies death, repose and endings.
The Goddess was called Luna by the Romans, Selene and Artemis by the Greeks, and many other names in other mythologies.
She is often depicted as a pale woman riding in a silver chariot, and was thus also a patroness of charioteers.
As often happens in ancient Rome, myths about Hellenic gods are rephrased with Roman names. In this case, Selene and Endymion’s love story features Luna instead of her Greek counterpart.
As story goes, Endymion was a mortal prince, in love with the moon and watching her in ecstasy every night, until he fell asleep. She was in love too, but she was immortal, while he would eventually grow old and perish.
Anguished, while watching him sleep, the lunar goddess wished Endymion would remain forever as it was. Her desire was granted: Endymion always remained young, always beautiful, but also constantly asleep.
It is said Endymion sleeps with his eyes open, so he can look at the goddess he loves.
Images from web – Google Research