31 March 2011

31 March - Festival of Luna

"Soon as the moon gathers her returning fires, if she encloses a dark mist within dim horns, a heavy rain is awaiting farmers and seamen. But if over her face she spreads a maiden blush, there will be wind; as wind rises, golden Phoebe ever blushes. But if at her fourth rising--for that is our surest guide--she pass through the sky clear and with undimmed horns, then all that day, and the days born of it to the month’s end, shall be free from rain and wind; and the sailors, safe in port." Virgil, Georgics 1. 426 ff.  
Read more about Luna under her Greek name 'Selene' here.
The Romans held their festival in honor of the Moon today.

According to Ovid,
The Moon rules the months: this month’s span ends
With the worship of the Moon on the Aventine Hill.

Luna, on account of her greater influence upon the Roman mode of calculating time, seems to have been revered even more highly than Sol, for there was a considerable temple of her on the Aventine, the building of which was ascribed to Servius Tullius (Ov. Fast. iii. 883 ; Tac Ann. xv. 41 ; P. Vict. Beg. Urb. xiii.).  A second sanctuary of Luna existed on the Capitol, and a third on the Palatine, where she was worshipped under the name of Noctiluca, and where her temple was lighted up every night. (Varro, de Ling. Lot. v. 68 ; Horat. Carm. iv. 6. 38). Further particulars concerning her worship are not known.  Sir William Smith, A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, 1880, p. 839.

So, suspend your fantasies of bacchanalian orgies under a full moon.  Instead, check out EarthSky's page for tonight and then go out and smile back at the big smile in the night sky.

Meanwhile, here is weather lore concerning the moon:
If a new moon falls on a Saturday, there will be twenty days of wind and rain.

If there are two moons in one month, the weather will be unsettled until the next new moon.

The larger the halo around the moon, the nearer the rain clouds, and the sooner the rain may be expected.

The open side of the halo tells the quarter from which the rain may be expected.

If the full moon rises clear, expect fine weather.

If the full moon rises pale, expect rain.

A pale moon indicates rain; a red moon indicates wind.

If the moon rises red and large, with clouds, expect rain within 12 hours.

If the full moon rises large and luminous, there will be fair weather for several days.

If the new moon appears with the horns of the crescent turned up, the month will be dry.  If the horns are turned down, the month will be wet.
A lunatic, or one who had been moonstruck, was periodically insane; his lucid intervals supposedly depended on the phases of the moon.  It does seem suitable to celebrate la luna today, and tomorrow, on the festival of Fools, celebrate those that she touches.