Psychle: Lunar Eclipse
This portal was curated by:

LUNAR ECLIPSE

Marauding demons, murderous pets, and ravenous jaguars are just some of the culprits that cultures around the world have blamed for the moon's disappearance during lunar eclipses.

Many ancient cultures saw solar or lunar eclipses as a challenge to the normal order of things, says E. C. Krupp, director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, California. "Things that shouldn't be happening are happening." (See "Solar Eclipse Myths From Around the World.")

"[The Inca] didn't see eclipses as being anything at all good," says David Dearborn, a researcher at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, who has written extensively on how the Inca viewed astronomy. Accounts written by Spanish settlers in the New World record the Incan practices surrounding eclipses, he says.

Among the collected myths is a story about a jaguar that attacked and ate the moon. The big cat's assault explained the rusty or blood-red color that the moon often turned during a total lunar eclipse. (See "Lunar Eclipse Pictures: When the Moon Goes Red.")

The Inca feared that after it attacked the moon, the jaguar would crash to Earth to eat people, Dearborn says. To prevent that, they would try to drive the predator away by shaking spears at the moon and making a lot of noise, including beating their dogs to make them howl and bark. (Read about the Inca Empire in National Geographic magazine.)
DATABASES
Marauding demons, murderous pets, and ravenous jaguars are just some of the culprits that cultures around the world have blamed for the moon's disappearance during lunar eclipses.

Many ancient cultures saw solar or lunar eclipses as a challenge to the normal order of things, says E. C. Krupp, director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, California. "Things that shouldn't be happening are happening." (See "Solar Eclipse Myths From Around the World.")

"[The Inca] didn't see eclipses as being anything at all good," says David Dearborn, a researcher at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, who has written extensively on how the Inca viewed astronomy. Accounts written by Spanish settlers in the New World record the Incan practices surrounding eclipses, he says.

Among the collected myths is a story about a jaguar that attacked and ate the moon. The big cat's assault explained the rusty or blood-red color that the moon often turned during a total lunar eclipse. (See "Lunar Eclipse Pictures: When the Moon Goes Red.")

The Inca feared that after it attacked the moon, the jaguar would crash to Earth to eat people, Dearborn says. To prevent that, they would try to drive the predator away by shaking spears at the moon and making a lot of noise, including beating their dogs to make them howl and bark. (Read about the Inca Empire in National Geographic magazine.)
1. Banging of Pots And Pans: Around the world people used to believe that during a solar or lunar eclipse, the Sun or the Moon was being consumed by mythical animals or demons. To chase away the supposed animal or demon, people would bang pots and pans or even beat drums to make a lot of noise and scare them away.

2. No Eating or Drinking: It was believed that during a lunar eclipse, strong ultraviolet rays are emitted and that food cooked with water, which attracts emissions, becomes poisonous. So people usually do not eat cooked food during an eclipse as it would be harmful for health. Some to this day continue that belief and do not even drink water during that time.

3. Healing or Bleeding: Most people believe that during a lunar eclipse a simple cut will not heal properly and a scar will be left forever. The belief is that bleeding persists for a long time during an eclipse and the wound keeps festering for a long time.

4. Washing Away Your Sins: Though there are many bad things associated with a lunar eclipse, it is however seen as a good time to wash away your sins. The belief that it is a dark time seems to make it the best time to take a bath and wash away any negativity that you might have.

5. How it Affects Pregnant Women: The belief that the harmful rays during a lunar eclipse can harm a baby, still persists and pregnant women are told not to venture out of the house so nothing bad happens to the foetus. Along with that, women are advised not to touch any sharp objects as it might lead to the baby being born with a cleft lip.
 "There's nothing quite so elaborate and colorful and entertaining," he said, as the eclipse myth from the Hindu text known as the Mahabharata.

The very simplified version of the story goes like this: A group of gods wish to create an elixir of immortality, so they enlist a few demons to help them churn the cosmic ocean (using a mountain for a churning stick). The ambrosia eventually emerges like curds in milk. This process also leads to the creation of the moon and the sun, among other enchanted things. The gods promise to share the elixir with the demons, but when the task is done, the god Vishnu disguises himself as a woman, enchants the demons and steals their portion of the elixir.

The demon Rahu then sneaks into the camp of the gods and manages to steal a swig of the elixir, but the sun and the moon spot him and blow the whistle on him. Vishnu cuts off Rahu's head, but because the demon is immortal, this doesn't kill him. He's angry at the sun and the moon for ratting him out, so he chases the two objects through the sky. Every once in a while, he catches up with one of his betrayers and swallows it, but because he's just a severed head, the sun or the moon slips back out through his disconnected neck. Nonetheless, the demon continues his pursuit indefinitely.
A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon moves into the Earth's shadow.[1] This can occur only when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are exactly or very closely aligned (in syzygy) with Earth between the other two, and only on the night of a full moon. The type and length of a lunar eclipse depend on the Moon's proximity to either node of its orbit.

A totally eclipsed Moon is sometimes called a blood moon due to its reddish color, which is caused by Earth completely blocking direct sunlight from reaching the Moon. The only light reflected from the lunar surface has been refracted by Earth's atmosphere. This light appears reddish for the same reason that a sunset or sunrise does: the Rayleigh scattering of bluer light.

Unlike a solar eclipse, which can only be viewed from a relatively small area of the world, a lunar eclipse may be viewed from anywhere on the night side of Earth. A total lunar eclipse can last up to nearly 2 hours, while a total solar eclipse lasts only up to a few minutes at any given place, due to the smaller size of the Moon's shadow. Also unlike solar eclipses, lunar eclipses are safe to view without any eye protection or special precautions, as they are dimmer than the full Moon.
 The Native American Hupa and Luiseño tribes from California believed that the moon was wounded or ill. After the eclipse, the moon would then need healing, either by the moon’s wives or by tribesmen. The Luiseño, for example, would sing and chant healing songs towards the darkened moon.

Altogether more uplifting is the legend of the Batammaliba people in Togo and Benin in Africa. Traditionally, they view a lunar eclipse as a conflict between sun and moon – a conflict that the people must encourage them to resolve. It is therefore a time for old feuds to be laid to rest, a practice that has remained until this day.

In Islamic cultures, eclipses tend to be interpreted without superstition. In Islam, the sun and moon represent deep respect for Allah, so during an eclipse special prayers are chanted including a Salat-al-khusuf, a “prayer on a lunar eclipse”. It both asks Allah’s forgiveness, and reaffirms Allah’s greatness.
Visit our special guest curator
Related Portals:
 
Related Portals: