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In mythology, a lunar deity is a god or goddess associated with or symbolizing the moon. These deities can have a variety of functions and traditions depending upon the culture, but they are often related to or an enemy of the solar deity. Lunar deities can be both male and female, and are usually held to be of the opposite sex of the corresponding solar deity. Male lunar deities are somewhat more common worldwide, although female deities are better known in modern times due to the influence of classical Greek and Roman mythology, which held the moon to be female.

Moon in mythology

The monthly cycle of the moon, in contrast to the annual cycle of the sun's path, has been implicitly linked to women's menstrual cycles by many cultures, as evident in the links between the words for menstruation and for moon in many resultant languages.[1] Many of the most well-known mythologies feature female lunar deities, such as the Greek goddesses Selene and Phoebe and their Olympian successor Artemis, their Roman equivalents Luna and Diana, Isis of the Egyptians, or the Thracian Bendis. These cultures also almost invariably featured a male Sun god.

Male lunar gods are also frequent, such as Nanna or Sin of the Mesopotamians, Mani of the Germanic tribes, the Japanese god Tsukuyomi, Rahko of Finns and Tecciztecatl of the Aztecs. These cultures usually featured female Sun goddesses.

The bull was a lunar symbol in Mesopotamia (its horns representing the crescent). In the Hellenistic-Roman rites of Mithras, the bull is prominent, with astral significance, but with no explicit connection to the moon.

Also of significance is that many ancient pagan religions and societies are orientated chronologically by the Moon as opposed to the sun. One common example is Hinduism in which the word Chandra means Moon and has religious significance particularly during the Hindu festival Karwa-Chouth.

The moon is also worshipped in witchcraft, both in its modern form, and in Medieval times, for example, in the cult of Madonna Oriente.

While many Neopagan authors and feminist scholars claim that there was an original Great Goddess in prehistoric cultures that was linked to the moon and formed the basis of later religions,[2] the Great Goddess figure is highly speculative and not a proven concept. It is more likely that, if existent, the Great Goddess is based upon earth goddesses, such as Gaea of the Greeks. It may be noted that most of the oldest civilizations mentioned above had male lunar deities, and it was only later cultures — the classical ones most people are familiar with — that featured strong female moon goddesses.

The words "lunacy", "lunatic", and "loony" are derived from Luna because of the folk belief in the moon as a cause of periodic insanity. It is a feature of modern belief that shapeshifters such as werewolves drew their power from the moon and would change into their bestial form during the full moon, but this feature is largely absent from older folklore.

List of lunar deities

Ancient Near East


East Asia

South and Southeast Asia


  • Kidili (Mandjindja mythology)
  • Papare (Orokolo mythology)
  • Avatea (Polynesian mythology)
  • Fati (Polynesian mythology)
  • Ina (Polynesian mythology)
  • Hina-Kega (Polynesian mythology)
  • Hina-Uri (Polynesian mythology)
  • Lona (Polynesian mythology)
  • Mahina (Polynesian mythology)
  • Marama (Polynesian mythology)
  • Sina (Polynesian mythology)
  • Ul (Polynesian mythology)


  • Ngalindi (Yolngu mythology)


  • Gleti (Dahomean mythology)
  • Chons (Egyptian mythology)
  • Thoth (Egyptian mythology)
  • Arebati (Pygmy mythology)
  • Kalfu (Vodun)



  1. Harding, Esther M., 'Woman's Mysteries: Ancient and Modern', London: Rider, 1971, p. 24.
  2. Walker, Barbara G., The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, San Francisco: Harper, 1983, p. 669.
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Lunar deity. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.