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Psychle: Lunar Eclipse
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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.)
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