Selene – Titan Goddess of the Moon
Selene is a Titan goddess. Titan gods and goddesses were actually the divine beings that preceded the Olympian gods and goddesses. The first of these divine beings emerged from the primordial and originally called Gaea mother and Uranus father.
Titan Gods and Goddesses and Cross-Cultural Origins
Among the first generation of the Titans were Phoebe, Themis, and Crius. Some of the stories about these gods and goddesses may have been borrowed from cultures like Mesopotamia, ancient Egypt, and Persia. (This area was known as the Ancient Near East.)
Selene, however, was not directly related to Uranus and Gaia. Rather was the child of Titan goddess and god, Theia and Hyperion. Eos, goddess of the dawn, and Helios, god of the sun, were Selene’s siblings.
Selene’s Distinction Among Moon Goddesses
Additionally, although the ancients considered Hecate and Artemis counted as lunar goddesses, only Selene was the moon itself. She is said to have driven the moon chariot. This heavenly vehicle got its power from white horses. It drove across the sky, providing the night with its light.
The moon goddess love a mortal man named Endymion. It is said that Selene watched him while he slept beside his cattle. According to some legends, the pair had 50 daughters. One account even makes Endymion and Selene as the parents of Narcissus, the hunter of the ancient world who felt infatuated by his own beauty.
An Affair With Zeus
Although most often associated with Endymion, some accounts tell of Selene’s affair with Zeus. This pair also had quite a few children, according to some retellings of the legend. In other stories, it is said that it was Zeus himself who gave Endymion immortality.
This divine magic trick made Endymion forever young. However, it came with a cost. Endymion was given the choice (by Zeus) of when he would die. The mortal opted for eternal sleep, thus granting him his youth, but it was a youth he could not enjoy. Selene visited Endymion each night in his place of rest near Mount Latmos.
Titans, Shamans, and Mystery Religions
Scholars who study the Titans say that some of the rituals and stories associated with gods and goddesses like Selene existed to support ancient shamanistic practices.
As Selene’s Greek identity morphed into its Roman one, Selene became Luna. Although some legends say that she as well as Hecate and Proserpina were triune goddesses, that wasn’t necessarily the case. Rather, the identities of these goddesses became one over the course of time.
Luna/ Selene was the moon goddess. As such, she was revered as on of the most important deities for agriculture. Luna/ Selene was given a temple on Palatine Hill. A mystery cult revering Luna/ Selene rose up. This would support the assumption that the stories of goddesses like Luna/ Selene were part of ancient shamanistic rituals in daily life.
The Purpose of Mystery Cults
Mystery cults in the ancient world have an air of secrecy to them. According to some scholars, these religious cults existed so that people could perform birth and death rituals.
It should additionally be noted that Selene sometimes merges with Diana/Artemis as the same goddesses. In this form, she then also becomes the goddesses of the hunt. However, even as the goddess of the hunt, she is ever and always still a moon goddess.
Selene (and her counterparts) are depicted in ancient art wearing a moon symbol (usually crescent.) While she is most often shown as riding horses, some portrayals have her driving an oxen team. When this happens, her crescent moon is formed from the bull’s horns.
The Greek goddess of the moon was Selene. She was often depicted as a beautiful woman with a crescent moon on her forehead, riding a chariot pulled by two horses or oxen.
In Greek mythology, Selene was the daughter of the Titans Hyperion and Theia, and the sister of Helios (the sun) and Eos (the dawn).
Selene was also associated with the goddess Artemis, who was sometimes referred to as the “Mistress of Animals” and was known to hunt by moonlight.
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