Marvel Studios’ Egypt-themed superhero show starring Oscar Isaac and Ethan Hawke, “Moon Knight,” just finished its first season on Disney+ last week, and we’re still scratching our heads if it was all or a dream and a waking nightmare.
Created by Marvel writer Doug Moench and artist Don Perlin, Moon Knight first appeared in the “Werewolf by Night #32” pages in 1975. His origin story revealed that Jewish Marine and ex-CIA mercenary Marc Spector was left for dead after a mission ending in a massacre in Sudan. Spector is resurrected by mystical powers derived from a statue of Khonshu, the Egyptian moon god.
“Fist of Khonshu,” reborn as a moon knight encased in a mummy, brings justice to evildoers and struggles with dissociative identity disorder as she copes with her deadly avatar duties.
But Khonshu is not the only moon god in the luminous pantheon of lunar-centric deities. Humanity’s fascination with the moon spawned moon gods and goddesses from Japanese, Hawaiian, Chinese, Aztec, Greek, Indian, Roman, Inuit, and Norse civilizations.
Let’s explore nine more moon-themed pagan idols that represent our pale glowing satellite to see how they measure up…
Hina – Hawaiian
According to ancient Hawaiian legends, Hina is known as the graceful and seductive goddess of the moon. It symbolizes feminine strength and power and is often aligned with white and silver. Hina was famous for making the softest Kapa cloth in all of Hawaii. This premium substance was in such demand that Hina eventually ran out and left the islands to soar to the heavens and light up the rainbow. Deciding that the Sun was too hot for her liking, she jumped into another rainbow and traveled to the moon, where she instantly felt at home with its incredible beauty and stayed there forever.
Change – Chinese
Change is a Chinese moon goddess whose name translates as “pretty young woman” and who once lived in the Moon Palace. Her origin story finds her drinking an elixir of immortality given to her husband, the legendary archer Houyi. Before transforming into a moon goddess, Change was a prized beauty imbued with pale skin, ebony hair, and lips as red as cherry blossoms. The moon has a special meaning in Chinese culture, and its images are found in all their festivals, rituals, and ceremonies. When China launched its first lunar probe in 2007, they named the robotic spacecraft Change 1 in her honor.
Artemis – Greek
Represented as a young hunter with a bow and quiver full of arrows, Artemis is the daughter of Zeus and sister of Apollo. As guardian of wild animals, the hunt, and the moon, she resided in places of nature to fortify herself with its energy and strength. This lunar goddess attracted followers called Amazons, meaning “moon women,” who prayed and were devoted to the deity and worshiped the moon’s new phase. NASA aptly chose Artemis for its lunar program to return humans to the lunar surface by 2025.
Tsukuyomi – Japanese
Tsukuyomi is the main moon god found in Japanese mythology and the Shinto religion. He is a deity of order and beauty and was the estranged husband of the sun goddess Amaterasu, whom he constantly follows across the sky every day. Its name comes from the term “reading the moon,” an activity in the royal courts of ancient Japan where nobles would stay up all night looking at the moon and reading poems. As a god of serene beauty, Tsukuyomi is often seen as a negative figure in Shintoism and Japanese folklore, occupying a unique place among lunar deities as most are associated with the female form.
Diana – Roman
Diana is the Roman equivalent of the Greek moon goddess Artemis. Roman artists often depict Diana as a huntress with a bow and quiver, accompanied by a dog or stag. Her name, which represents wild animals and hunting, is derived from the Latin words for “heaven” and “shining.” Diana was also considered a fertility deity, used by women to aid conception and healthy childbirth. The moon’s phases reflect Diana’s mercurial nature at the heart of her identity.
Chandra – Indian
Chandra is the Hindu moon god, and his name translates as “shining or moon.” He is also known as Soma and is associated with the night, plants, and vegetation. Artists have depicted him as a two-armed, handsome person holding a club and a lotus. Every night he drives his lunar chariot across the sky, pulled by a team of ten white horses or a single magnificent antelope. In addition to being seen with horses and antelope, the rabbit is also a sacred animal to Chandra, leading to her being the protector of all rabbits. Another of his duties is as a member of the fertility gods.