Art by the Light of the Moon – Myths And Legends
Only a handful of weeks ago, I finished a new piece of art that included a female silhouette and the blazing sun. As you’ll read there, it was kind of an accidental piece of art which started as a backdrop for the Desiderata poem. Ironically or not, the Desiderata print has proved to be much more popular! I guess a strong image always helps tell a story! Nonetheless, as soon as I finished that “Child Of The Universe” image with the blazing sun, I thought I should have a yin and a yang and do the moon as well.
After all the sun and moon probably inhabit some of our oldest mythologies. They are our nearest cosmic neighbors that we can see clearly with the naked eye after all. Humanity has been birthing myths and legends around the cycles of the moon and the sun for as long as we’ve had the ability to question why the cosmos works as it does. Even though I knew the moon would feature prominently I wasn’t clear on the rest until a bit over a week ago when I finally had enough building blocks of inspiration to piece it all together. And that’s when my “Daughter Of The Moon” was born.
That was the title I was working with from the very beginning. And I have to say that my titles are a lot like those of movies. There more for my identification until I get to the point to share them with the world. Even then I waffle on what I call them left and right. That’s why sometimes you’ll find them uploaded with different names at difference print on demand companies. Their names are generally fluid. But that was not the case with this one. Before it had a solid form, I was calling it Daughter Of The Moon. After all, the second element that I knew would be there was a woman in silhouette. This goes back to the yin and yang of the Child Of The Universe. I guess to be entirely Yang it would need to be male, but the moon almost always seems to be feminine in mythology doesn’t it? There are male examples, but because of its cyclic nature, the moon seems to be heavily linked to women in folklore and myths. I didn’t feel the need to go fully opposite here. It was always a woman in my mind dancing by the light of the moon.
And yes, she’s clearly dancing isn’t she? One some grassy hill sometime and someplace. I guess I feel this image is celebratory in some sense. Celebrating a new moon perhaps? A season? Some half-forgotten rituals our ancestors practiced? I’m honestly not sure. I leave that to your imagination.
It’s funny that it was after I shared this online that I had a couple of different people draw connections between my work and music and literature. One I feel fairly certain was unknown to me. These are lyrics from a song written by Arthur J Lamb in 1894. It’s funny how well this fits even though I’m nearly certain this was nothing I ever heard or read before.
My raven hair and flushing eyes should tell the tale to you,
Although it causes you surprise, the statement is still true:
Upon one glorious summer night, in sweet delicious June,
My birth took place in bursts of light, a daughter of the moon.
“A Daughter Of the Moon’ Goes on from there and I love how the symbolism aligns with my own art but I believe it was a happy coincidence. I can’t say the same for the second connection that was made and that was to The Song of Hiawatha, the epic poem Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote in the mid 19th century. It was based on the tales and folklore of the native tribes near the Great Lakes. When I read a few lines from it, I suspected there was a subconscious connection to my work. Although I didn’t remember the poem named the Daughter of The Moon, it does. And her name is Nokomis as seen in this excerpt:
By the shores of Gitche Gumee,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
Stood the wigwam of Nokomis,
Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis.
Dark behind it rose the forest,
Rose the black and gloomy pine-trees,
Rose the firs with cones upon them;
Bright before it beat the water,
Beat the clear and sunny water,
Beat the shining Big-Sea-Water.
There the wrinkled old Nokomis
Nursed the little Hiawatha,
Rocked him in his linden cradle,
Bedded soft in moss and rushes.
Safely bound with reindeer sinews;
Stilled his fretful wail by saying,
“Hush! the Naked Bear will hear thee!”
Lulled him into slumber, singing,
“Ewa-yea! my little owlet!
Who is this, that lights the wigwam?
With his great eyes lights the wigwam?
Ewa-yea! my little owlet!”
These words rushed back to me from across the years as I read them. There’s still a magic to them for me even today. I still can’t pin a specific age to it but it feels long ago. At any rate, as soon as I read it I strongly suspected that was the source for my “Daughter Of The Moon” title and some elements of this image as well. It’s amazing what memories lay tucked away in the dusty corners of our brains sometimes!
What I’m less certain about is whether this is Nokomis or a modern day counterpart or descendant? It leaves me wanting to explore the latter in my art a little as I have at least some Native American ancestry. It’s a branch of the tree I’ve never had much success with, but my great, great grandmother was according to our family lore “half-Indian” – some versions of the tale she’s half Creek others it’s half Cherokee. But based on a handful of photos of her, she does appear to have some native ancestry, whatever tribe it may have been. I thought I had a scan of an old photo of her handy but it appears to be on a backup drive somewhere. So for now I’ll suffice to say I’m sure she had some native heritage whether it was one generation back or further.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my magical moon art and the myths and legends that surround it including my tale of how it came to be! I leave the rest of the story for the Daughter of the Moon to you! I’d love to hear what she says to you down in the comments below or via email!
You can see print options for the Daughter Of The Moon on my print site.