It's not possible to talk about the powers of the Greek moon goddess Selene without discussing the powers associated with the goddess of the moon in many ancient cultures. Many moon goddesses have characteristics in common, revealing a fascination with the endless waxing and waning of the moon that translates to goddess figures such as Selene and counterparts in contemporary spiritual practices.
Selene was the ancient Greek goddess of the moon. Though there are many mentions of Selene in poetry from the Athenian era, her worship was mostly confined to common folk by the time writers like Hesiod and Aristophanes talked about her. She is said to be one of the Titans, the gods who came before the Olympians. Her father was was Hyperion and her mother Theia. She was the sister of Helios, the Etruscan sun god, and Eos, the goddess of the dawn. The Romans called her Luna; there are at least two temples to Luna in Ancient Rome. In later years, Selene became associated with Artemis just as her counterpart Luna became associated with Diana, both hunter goddesses.
Powers of the Goddess
The powers of the moon goddess Selene were derived from her association with the moon. In ancient times, the sun and the moon were often equally powerful deities. The moon was most often depicted as a goddess because the moon appeared to become pregnant and give birth to a new moon each month. As the goddess of the moon, Selene was the patron of the feminine. She was believed to have the power to ease childbirth and inspire love. Selene also was believed to have the power to mask reality and, conversely, to pierce illusion.
Dreams and Intuition
Among other powers of the moon goddess Selene is to awaken intuition and spark psychic visions. This most likely stems from the association of night and the moon with dreams. That association may also be why Selene is often considered to be the patron of solutions, which often come to people in dreams when the subconscious mind has a chance to process information that has not been consciously acknowledged.
Selene is often depicted as a young woman with a pale face and a shining halo in the shape of a crescent moon. She is nearly always clothed in a flowing white robe, and sometimes has long white wings. She sometimes drives a chariot pulled by pale white or silver horses, or by a pair of white bulls. Other times, she is depicted riding a white bull through the night sky. She can be distinguished from depictions of the other moon goddesses because her face and form are usually depicted as rounder and more feminine.
Three Faces of the Moon
Selene is sometimes thought to be just another name for Artemis, but this is not true. She is one of three faces of the triple goddess who is seen in the waxing and waning moon. The powers of the moon goddess Selene are at their fullest during the full moon, the symbolic mother phase, with its potential for ripeness and reproduction. Artemis was the goddess of the new moon and Hecate, the crone, was the goddess associated with the dark moon.
Wiccan Moon Rituals
The worship of Selene has been considered extinct for over two millennia, but the rise of pagan and Wiccan worship has brought many of the old goddesses back into the public consciousness. Most of the beliefs and rituals associated with the worship of the Moon and its goddesses have been lost to history. A great deal of the old beliefs about the powers of the moon goddess Selene is hidden beneath the veneer of more accepted beliefs and religions. Those who truly want to learn about the powers that were once attributed to the goddess of the moon Selene will have to learn to interpret and dig beneath accepted legends.
- Drawing Down the Moon; Margot Adler
- Gargolas/iStock/Getty Images