The moon has been our old crater-faced chum for an eternity, a kind and reliable friend that appears every night in various stages of undress, shining brightly for all to see. As well as being a symbol of hopes, dreams and a lifetime of astronomical achievements, the moon has transitioned into a symbol of romance. Shakespeare often used imagery of the moon to represent the fickle nature of love, and in modern culture we see a representation of the full moon, cyclically complete, bringing lovers together or allowing the protagonist to reconcile with their love interest.
Today is Valentine’s Day and it also happens to be a full moon, I don’t know where I weigh in on the age old Valentine’s debate, so here I am examining the moon as a romantic symbol. Perhaps because there is emphasis on relationships bringing people together in a sense of ‘completeness’ the moon is an appropriate symbol for love and relationships, after all the cringe-worthy slogans peppered in the stacks of cards produced for Valentine’s Day let your loved one know they are your ‘other half’, and they make you ‘whole again’.
I’m fascinated by the myths that perpetuate our culture about the moon, some of my favourite depictions of the moon see it as a signifier of death and insanity, a fitting representation given the word ‘lunatic’ is a derivative of the latin word ‘lunaticus’ which literally means moon-struck. I’ve explored an abundance of representations of the moon in literature, where it’s described as anything from a pale, lonely ghost, half covered in a death shroud, wandering for eternity through eternal darkness to a beautiful glowing pearl, wrapped in a blanket of silk adorned with tiny glittering jewels.
I won’t be escaping mass-produced Valentine’s cards and sentiments that come straight from someone elses mouth, but I will be appreciating the beautiful moon if I catch a glimpse of her on my stroll back from the restaurant with my boyfriend, I’ll be staring at her and thinking of all the romantic moments that have happened under her watchful eye, and all the writers, poets, creators and destroyers who were inspired by her milky hues.
Salomé by Oscar Wilde
The Moon and The Yew Tree by Sylvia Plath
A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
With How Sad Steps, O Moon, Thou Climb’st The Sky by William Wordsworth
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Full Moon and Little Frieda by Ted Hughes