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Wrote another reply to another interesting question on Tumblr–


What might the cultural and religious emphasis of the Moon for Middle Easterners (Arabs) and the Sun for Europeans suggest about the growth and development of these people? Or does their reverence of one over the other (Sun vs Moon) demonstrate differing psychological growth, a different geographical, evolutionary development?

Historically in the Middle-East, the Moon was closely associated with the female monthly cycles, and pregnancy and fertility. The pre-monotheistic traditions emphasized the Moon’s direct magical role in these things as the astrological agent that caused the female cycles, and the Moon was regarded as a deity. This gave birth to the anthropomorphicized versions of the Moon, and their subsequent cults — Inanna (Sumerian), Ishtar (Assyrian-Babylonian), Ashteroth (Levantine), Anahita (Iranian). These cults became extremely powerful in the Middle-East, until the rise of Abrahamic Monotheism.

The Moon’s “unpredictable” nature, seemingly self-guided movements (relative to the sun and the seasons, at least), and its strange psychological affects on people  during a full moon, was understood as something completely defiant / opposed to the Sun cults that tended to emphasize a male Sun God.

You also had female cults of death that emphasized the Moon — Moloch (male god, Levantine), Ereshkigal (Mesopotamia), Allat (Arabia — part of the pre-Islamic Arabian “trinity”). Sometimes, these deities were invoked during ritual infanticide, usually performed by mothers who couldn’t support the baby.

The whole Moon-Female-Cult religious complex tended to stand opposite to Sun-Male-Cults of Marduk, Ashur, Ahura Mazdah, and Yahweh (Bible), who wanted to impose regularity, patriarchy, legal order, and the establishment of priestly class.

In the Bible and the Qur’an, there is a lot of admonishing of these cults. The Bible curses the cult of Ashteroth (Moon-matriarch-fertility cult), and the Qur’an does the same with Allat (or “Allah’s daughters”) and ritual infanticide.

Actually, Abrahamic-style monotheism, with its emphasis on a male god, law, light, and regularity, can probably be seen in the bigger picture of history as a direct Patriarchal reaction to these female-Matriarchal-dominated “Lunar” spheres of religion.
Patriarchal reactions aside though, there’s tons of Moon imagery across the board in Middle-Eastern mythos, especially in post-Pagan scripture. Judaism’s calendar uses both the Sun and Moon, and the Islamic calendar is purely lunar. Islam also adopted the Crescent as its symbol, but this is actually a much more recent development (~200 years) (Judaism also didn’t really settle on its use of the Star of David/Seal of Solomon until around that time.)
As for evolutionary development peculiar to Middle-Eastern peoples — and I think you and I seem to share similar views on human evolution (mine isn’t really a “view” per se, it’s more of a pretty damn strong hunch) — the fact that there is a Sun vs Moon conflict in Middle-Eastern religious-mythological complex might be demonstrative of something shared bio-psychic among the people. Perhaps, it’s related to an inclination and susceptibility for intense spiritual experiences, vivid imaginations, charisma, prophecy…? But in the Middle-East, historically (and right through to present day), there’s also a great respect for science, precision thinking mathematics, problem solving, wisdom, rational thought, etc., so that the mutual exclusivity between religion and science, mysticism and rationality, doesn’t really exist like it does in the West. Very hard to say on this question of evolution. Perhaps it’s just symptomatic of the holistic embrace of the Sun vs. Moon mythos — being at ease with dichotomies happily co-existing… Just floating this here, though.

^ Not a definitive answer, but worthwhile to consider.


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