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Tales beyond belief

Discover the legends and myths and religious beliefs surrounding Luna, the Roman goddess of the moon. She was a minor Roman goddess who was recognized in three aspects as part of a triad of goddesses consisting of Luna, Hekate, the underworld goddess of magic and witchcraft  and as Diana the goddess of the hunt. Her name is derived from the Latin word 'lucere' meaning to shine.

Her temple in Rome was situated on the Aventine Hill and was erected in the 6th century BC but was destroyed by the great fire during the reign of the Emperor Nero. The Greek counterpart of the ancient Roman goddess Luna was Selene.

Facts about Luna
Luna features in the Creation myth of the ancients. Just as Helios personified the sun, so his sister Selene represented the moon, and was supposed to drive her chariot across the sky whilst her brother was resting after the toils of the day.

  • Name: Luna

  • Alternate Names: Roman counterpart Selene

  • Role & Function: Luna is described as being the goddess of the moon

  • Symbols: The crescent moon and the two-yoke chariot (biga). She was often depicted with the crescent of the moon above her forehead

  • Patron: She is often depicted as a pale woman riding in a silver chariot, and was a patroness of charioteers

  • Status: A goddess in the second dynasty of Titans

  • Gender: Female

  • Name of Consorts: Endymion and Jupiter

  • Name of Father: Hyperion

  • Name of Mother: Theia

  • Names of Brothers: Sol

  • Names of Sisters: Aurora

  • Names of Children: Pandeia, Herse, and Nemeia by Jupiter. The Menae by Endymion (50 goddesses of the lunar months and the phases of the moon

Luna and Endymion
Luna greatly admired a beautiful young shepherd named Endymion, to whom Jupiter had accorded the privilege of eternal youth, combined with the faculty of sleeping whenever he desired, and as long as he wished. Seeing this lovely youth fast asleep on Mount Latmus, Luna was so struck with his beauty, that she came down every night from heaven to watch over and protect him.

The Worship of Luna, the Roman goddess of the moon
The Romans were highly practical and believed that their gods and goddesses controlled everything in their lives and therefore every occupation and task had its presiding Roman goddess or god. Luna the Roman goddess of the moon was worshipped in the same way as any other Roman divinity with prayers and making vows, dedicating altars, sacrificing animals, birds and offerings of milk, honey, grain, fruit, cakes, flowers,  perfumes and wine. White animals were sacrificed to the goddesses of the upper world whereas black victims to the deities of the Underworld. The sex of a sacrificial animal had to correspond to the sex of the goddess to whom it was offered. The blood sacrifices made to Luna, the goddess of the moon, would therefore have been a white ewe, cow or heifer, sow, hen or other female birds and conducted outside her temple on the Aventine Hill in Rome.

Gods and Deities
Roman Goddesses
Roman Gods and Deities

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