The Moon: Ruler of the Night
“And God made two great lights, the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also” (Genesis 1:16) The Sun rules the day, the Moon, the night. This may sound strange to western scientific ears. After all, the Moon does not have its own light. It merely reflects the light of the Sun – imperfectly at that. The Moon is not an ideal mirror with its cratered, pockmarked face. Surely it is just a dead satellite of the Earth, incomparable to the brilliant glory of the Sun. Why then does the Bible elevate the Moon to the position of ruler of the night? Does this reflect the views of uneducated people who lived in ignorance of our solar system? It would be unwise to make such an assumption. Humanity inhabits a world imbued with meaning on multiple levels. Modern science and technology does not have a monopoly on either truth or wisdom. There are many ways of seeing.
So why does the Moon rule the night?
Firstly, because the geocentric perspective is that of every single human being on the face of the Earth. When people look up they see the Moon. Humanity is earthbound and so the Earth is the vantage point of its perceptions. This is one of the valid reasons why astrology is geocentric. Astrology is about reference points in relation to the human condition. It is a different sciencetophysics or astronomy. To the earthbound observer, the Moon is the most obvious light in the night sky except when it is in its dark phase. It is also the most changeable. With its changes, people came to recognise and identify times and cycles in both the natural world and human affairs.
Secondly, the majority of people are diurnal. They sleep at night. In esoteric thought, a person has a number of different bodies. At the lowest level is the physical body, obviously ruled by the Earth. Another body is the astral. The astral plane is a world of illusions, dreaming and the unconscious mind. According to Greek mythology, Selene is the goddess of the Moon. She fell in love with a beautiful, mortal, Endymion, who was a shepherd. Accounts differ as to the details, but either Zeus or Selene herself put Endymion in a state of endless sleep so that he could be her lover forever. It is not difficult to deduce that the only plane upon which Selene could conduct her love affair with Endymion was the astral and for this he had to be asleep which is why she wanted him never to awaken. The Moon rules the astral plane. At night, in the clutches of sleep, people become unconscious. The Moon takes over from the Sun. The astral body can separate from the physical body during this time and engage in activities on the astral level. These may be recalled as dreams by the waking mind. But they can be more than just dreams. How many times do people say, when they have an important decision to make, or a problem to solve – I’ll sleep on it? Research by scientists has shown that REM sleep in particular enhances creative problem solvingi. An issue that the rational mind could not deal with can sometimes almost miraculously be resolved by “sleeping on it”. So the Moon is the Queen of the Night because she rules sleep and the unconscious rhythms of human life.
The Moon in astrology represents emotions. In the sense that spiritually underdeveloped people are ruled by their emotions – quite literally their feelings motivate their actions– they are ruled by the Moon. They live unconsciously in the same way that the seas and oceans of the Earth react automatically to the tidal influences of the Moon. They are Sleepers by night and by day. Like Endymion, they are in thrall to the Moon. Their lives are a mechanical, unquestioned sequence of emotional reactions to people and events. Emotions are changeable like the Moon.
The Moon also represents our deepest, longings and needs– the darkest parts of our being. She is primal, mysterious, and secretive. There is a side to the Moon that she never shows to the Earth. In the moonlight we can delude ourselves because there are so many shadows. However, by considering the Moon in our natal charts we can also find ourselves because no-one can look at the Sun directly without being blinded. If we are wise, we can use the Moon to better understand our Sun, our essential self and life force. The Moon in our natal chart represents an area that we have to deal with on an emotional level but also an area that we need to fully explore in order to know and confront our shadow selves. The different phases of the Moon are all about light and shadow whereas the Sun is pure light.
At a certain level, the Moon can be seen both as a ruler of memes and as a grand meme herself representing humanity’s total fascination with the Moon in all her forms and phases. Memes do not exist in the physical plane so much as the mental world. A meme is an idea, behaviour, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture and becomes a part of the collective subconscious. It is a product of the imagination and the Moon rules imagination. Religious beliefs have been described as persistent memes. Werewolves and vampires are very old and persistent memes. Note their strong associations with the Moon. A meme can be a word, an image or a set of beliefs. The noteworthy thing about memes is that they seem take on a life of their own. They can reproduce themselves or die out just like genes. The Moon has been and still is not merely a physical satellite of the Earth to many cultures. She exists on multiple levels of meaning ranging from the timing of holy days and religious festivals to a symbol on the flags of nations. In the West, the power of the Moon and imagination is largely discredited due to the obsession with the Saturnian functions of cold logic and reason, the constraints of the laws of physics and of cause and effect. Ironically, this has only increased the hold of the Moon on the unawakened and they slumber on in the sure and certain knowledge that the material world is all there is.
The Moon rules many natural cycles apart from the tides, the most obvious being menstrual periods during which, significantly, women tend to be a lot more emotional than at other times. But it goes deeper than this. In 2000, a team of investigators from the University of Basel, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and the Switzerland Centre for Sleep Medicine, recruited 33 volunteers and studied them in a sleep lab on and off over the course of three years. The investigators gathered a range of data—brain wave activity during sleep as measured by electroencephalograms (EEG); levels of melatonin, a sleep-related hormone; the amount of time it took subjects to fall asleep and the amount of time they spent in deep sleep; and their subjective reports of how rested they felt the next day. A decade later the investigators realized that they may be able to re-crunch the data to learn about the moon. They discovered that on average, the subjects in the study took five minutes longer to fall asleep on the three or four nights surrounding a full moon and they slept for 20 fewer minutes. In addition, EEG activity related to deep sleep fell 30%, melatonin levels were lower and the subjects reported feeling less refreshed the next day. The subjects slept in a completely darkened lab with no sight of the moon, and none of them appeared to have given any thought at all to lunar cycles. And since the moon was not an experimental variable in the original study, it was never mentioned either to the subjects or even among the investigatorsii.
The problem with scientists is that they search for connections and correlations only on the physical level. Astrologers know that the Moon is an extremely powerful factor in the life of each person. Human beings are still driven largely by emotions and unconscious behaviours. Crowds turn into mobs, men turn into murderers, and rulers become dictators all on the strength of human emotions. The challenge is to bring the Moon into the light of consciousness, face our shadow and decide the future of our species from a place of Higher Wisdom.