Posted by: aediculaantinoi | August 19, 2013

Magic and the “Children of the Moon”

We are about to have three days of lion-related holidays/rituals in various manners, as the dog-days of summer (hopefull!) wind to a close and the last lion of them is slain…but, in the meantime, let’s return to another topic that is near and dear to my heart, both in relation to Antinous and more widely: the moon.

A few weeks ago, I read a post by Jack Faust that discussed goetia, traveling magicians, and the “children of the moon” (briefly), and the connection of the goes to Orphic and other mystery initiation traditions, further connected to Epimenides. I asked some questions, and got some answers that I had already known…but, I suspected there was “more”…and, there was!

A short while later, Sannion made a post which mentioned a quote from Plato’s Republic which indicates that Musaeus and Orpheus were originators of various traditions, and that apparently Musaeus was a descendant of the Moon whereas Orpheus was a descendant of the Muses. This, apparently, was the connection that I was looking for in the discussion which Jack Faust had on traveling magicians and the goes being “children of the moon.”

[Musaeus himself is an interesting figure, as you can see by his Wikipedia page (and I'm sorry to only quote that, but I'm short on time, alas...).]

Of course, the more familiar incarnation, you might say, of the “children of the moon” is in Plato’s Symposium, in which Aristophanes tells of the three sexes of the human race, before they were split for rebellion against the gods, as being Children of the Sun (male-male pairings), Children of the Earth (female-female pairings), and Children of the Moon (male-female pairings). I’ve written about this incident before on at least one occasion…, and then another…!?! But here, for the moment, I’ll make a few points about this that I think might deserve further thought.

First off, it is a commonplace in a huge amount of modern paganism to assume that the moon is feminine, due to the connections of the lunar and human menstrual cycles (probably); and yet, in many cultures, as I mentioned recently, the moon is male. (Another one I forgot there is Mani in Norse culture; and, I also recall Lukian of Samosata’s True History, in which there is a society on the moon that is all-male, and is ruled over by Endymion, and the male inhabitants have various ways in which they then reproduce on their own that are, let’s say, novel…!?!) However, here in a Greek cultural context, there is an elegant solution to the “conflict” over whether the moon is male (e.g. Men, Endymion) or female (e.g. Selene, Artemis): it is androgynous, and equally male and female…which then makes it all the more sensible that the lunar goddess, whomever she is, ends up taking a male deity (whether they are already divine or are human and are made divine, as is the case with Selene and both Endymion and Antinous) to be a counterpart. This in essence re-creates the gender-balanced unity of the “original humans” as described by Aristophanes via Plato–and even though some might say that it is a “heterosexual” pairing thus (even though heterosexuality as such didn’t really exist then, just as homosexuality didn’t!), it’s also a gender-variant pairing because it assumes an original androgyny rather than an original gender essentialism, which in this model is a “double dose” of either masculinity or femininity when it is found as a singular gender.

But then this raises a further possibility: does that mean that the “children of the moon” are heterosexually inclined, or does it mean they’re androgynous in gender? Let’s assume, since the concept of “sexual orientation” didn’t exist then, that this status as a child of the moon meant not that a person was searching for the anima for their animus or the animus for their anima, but instead that in themselves, they felt that their own singular gender was not “complete,” and thus no matter what binary gender they may have been born as, they never felt complete just as that gender…or, perhaps more optimistically, they were in a position of being more “gender-balanced” and androgynous in themselves from the beginning and from birth as a result of their lunar parentage/ancestry. Let’s perhaps go with the latter, for the sake of the hypothetical…

It intrigues me that one of the things that has often been said, from the 1800s to the present, about queer people is that they are in some sense “spiritually elevated” or “superior” because they are “more gender-balanced.” Of course, looking at this for five seconds demonstrates that it is not at all true, and there are many gay men who are men first and foremost, and likewise with lesbians–and this is independent of how each might present or enact their particular gender–while, furthermore, trans individuals are not more “gender-balanced” necessarily either, because their main defining characteristic is not that they are more gender-balanced or androgynous, it’s that whatever gender they have been assigned at birth based on visible body characteristics does not fit the gender that they know they actually are mentally, socially, and spiritually…which means that they’re not more gender-balanced, they’re a gender that is generally different from the one they were assigned at birth, which does not equal “gender-balanced” except for the most naive or uninformed of persons. (And sadly, there’s lots of them out there…!?!) While trans-acceptance is still nowhere near at the levels it should be, at the same time, trans-idealization in unrealistic fashions based more on one’s own flawed ideas rather than on the actual lived and defined existences of trans individuals is not helpful either…

[I've also seen quite a bit of appropriation over the years of what would be the equivalent of trans identities in other cultures or premodern European contexts appropriated by gay men as their "spiritual inheritance" and "birthright," as if those roles are synonymous with homosexuality, while at the same time giving short shrift, if any at all, to trans individuals or trans equality and justice issues, which is every kind of wrong...!?!]

So, here’s something that then emerges which is somewhat fascinating. If that “gender-balanced” possibility does indicate a better aptitude for spiritual pursuits, magic, and the like, then that would be something that the “children of the moon” have in spades, right? Okay. (And, apparently, if the terminology is similar across Plato’s writings, then he thought so as well.) And thus, those individuals who are “children of the moon” and are good at magic should be this particularly androgynously-inclined individual, right? Okay, too. But then, would such magically-endowed and evolved “children of the moon” likewise be homosexual? According to the Platonic model, apparently not, they’d be something approaching “heterosexual,” but only in comparison to their “apparent” or “birth” genders; in reality, it is not men being interested in women, it’s androgynes (or alternatively gendered persons) being interested in other androgynes ((or alternatively gendered persons). It only “looks like” heterosexuality if the two people happen to be male and female from the start…but, who says they have to? And even if they are, who cares? ;)

In many respects, I’m enjoying this as a mental exercise because it sort of turns some of these queer theological tropes (that aren’t useful or accurate) on their head by, in essence, making androgynes and “gender-balanced” individuals better at spirituality and magic–thus agreeing with that aspect of the queer theological theoretical framework–and yet sexuality-wise, they’re not gay or lesbian or bisexual, but instead apparently heterosexual. Wacky, innit…!

Paneros and co. from the Tetrad++, however, are pretty much going “Nope–gender identity is gender identity, sexuality is sexuality, love is love, spirituality is spirituality, magic is magic, and it doesn’t take one gender, sexuality, or style of love to be better at either of the latter two matters–there are people who are great at them and there are people who are lousy at them, and that has nothing to do with any of the facts of their gender, sexual orientation, sexual practices, or the number of partners they may have.” Thanks for the reminder, dear gods! :)

So, I find myself concluding that I am a “child of the moon” in a variety of ways, but none of them necessarily fit either the implied gender or sexual orientation schemata from Aristophanes via Plato; and, it is better to not assume that people fall into certain categories or aptitudes for certain things based on any other characteristic in their lives. It’s limiting, it’s false, and it is ultimately less useful than it is needlessly divisive and often triumphalist in its implications.

Bye for now!

Hail Panpsyche! Hail Panhyle! Hail Paneros!
Hail Pancrates! Hail Paneris! Hail Panprosdexia!


  1. […] further moon-related news and thoughts (apart from tomorrow being an “original blue moon,” which you should look up if you […]

  2. “…and the chiiiildren of the moon was like a fork stuck on a spoon/They were part sun, part earth, part daughter, part son.”

    • One of my favorite films, as I’ve mentioned in one of the posts linked to above, and several places elsewhere, too! And, that happens to be my favorite song from the whole thing, too (oddly enough!).

  3. […] you know from the two posts yesterday, the moon has been on my mind of late…tonight, it’s not only full, […]

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