The moon has been the Earth’s nocturnal companion for around 4.5 billion years. There are a few theories about how the moon was formed. The most convincing one to date is the Theia impact theory. Around 4.5 billion years ago the new earth collided with an astronomical body the size of Mars. This impact was so great that a lot of debris flew off and formed the current moon. In contrast to the earth, the moon has a lower density than the earth and a relatively small iron core.
Today the moon is responsible to keep the earth axes to a stable, 23.4 degrees. This provides us with a fairly mild weather pattern throughout the year and a temperate climate. Mars, for example, has no stabilizing moon and the weather is totally unpredictable. One day could be very hot and the next very cold. Without the moon, there would be no seasons and regulated day and night. In short, the moon’s stabilizing influence makes life on earth possible.
Lunar gravitation is greater on the side facing the moon and that creates the tides. The moon rotates around the earth and the gravitational pull travels with it forming on average 2 high and 2 low tides per day.
Additionally, this tidal friction slows the earth rotation down and keeps it to a 24-hour rhythm.
Here is a time-line and some interesting facts about this fascinating celestial body:
- 4.5 billion years ago the moon was formed
- The similar time scale of the human fertility cycle and moon cycle did not go unnoticed. The first primitive moon calendars appeared around 30,000 B.C. usually carved into wooden pieces and animal bones.
- The horn (symbolizing the lunar crescent) has always been a fertility symbol.
- Most cultures portrayed the moon as ‘female’ as it is connected to water (the tides), night and fertility.
People carved little statues of a moon goddess and prayed to it. The most commonly known ones were Isis (Egypt), Selene, Artemis, Hekate (Greece) and Luna in Rome.
The goddess Luna was celebrated on the night of a Full Moon. Then predominately women got together and ate moon-shaped cakes.
Statues of moon goddesses were found the world over. From Central Africa, Egypt, Ancient Greece, the Roman Empire and finally they came to Europe. Many churches, especially those dedicated to Mary, are usually built on ancient pagan shrines, all honoring the moon goddess – Artemis, Diana, Luna, Isis, Kybele and whatever else she was called.
In the Middle Ages, herb women still practiced pagan health care rituals and herbal lore. Many providing basic healthcare and delivered babies.