moon worship. Although the moon has not had great prominence in the history of religion, the worship of it has been known since earliest recorded time—in the oldest literatures of Egypt, Babylonia, India, and China—and still exists today in various parts of the world, particularly among certain African and Native American groups. Moon worship is founded on the belief that the phases of the moon and the growth and decline of plant, animal, and human life are related. In some societies food was laid out at night to absorb the rays of the moon, which were thought to have power to cure disease and prolong life. Among the Baganda of central Africa it was customary for a mother to bathe her newborn child by the light of the first full moon. The moon was frequently equated with wisdom and justice, as in the worship of the Egyptian god Thoth and the Mesopotamian god Sin. In general, however, the moon has been the basis for many amorous legends and some superstitions (madmen were once considered to be moonstruck, hence the term lunatic ) and is particularly important in the practice of astrology.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.