Titan Goddess of the Moon
Selene, goddess of the moon, truly represented the moon itself to the Greeks. Although she counts as a goddess in her own right, Selene often gets associated with archer goddess, Artemis, who is also a moon goddess. These two goddesses have additional association with Hecate.
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 personification of 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 loved 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.
These rituals started first in families and clans, according to the Met, and then were adopted by society itself until they were celebrated nationwide within the city-states of the ancient world.
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.
Symbols, Items and Sacred Animals Associated With Selene
- Crescent Moon: The most recognizable symbol of Selene is the crescent moon. Often depicted in art, it represents her connection and control over the lunar sphere.
- Moon Chariot: Selene is frequently portrayed driving a chariot across the night sky. This chariot, drawn by two horses (sometimes winged), symbolizes her role in guiding the moon’s path.
- Torch: A torch is another common attribute of Selene, representing the light she brings to the night.
- Billowing Cloak: In many artistic representations, Selene is shown with a billowing cloak that sometimes forms a halo around her, symbolizing the night sky.
- Horses: The horses that pull her chariot are sacred to Selene. They are often depicted as magnificent and powerful, embodying the force that drives the moon across the sky.
- Bulls and Oxen: In certain myths and artistic depictions, Selene’s chariot is drawn by bulls or oxen, animals associated with fertility and agricultural prosperity.
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.
Selene’s role in various myths, including her participation in the Gigantomachy (the battle with the Giants), showcases her as an active participant in the cosmic order of Greek mythology.
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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