Moon Goddesses: Aega

Moon goddesses appear in many different cultures, and have always played an important role in mythology. The moon itself is closely linked to the aspect of “the divine feminine” because of the connections between female cycles and the changing phases of the moon.

Moon cycles helped ancient peoples measure time

To ancient peoples, the moon served as a calendar. Planting seasons were measured and marked by the moon, as were the seasons of harvest. Fertility became one of the central aspects of goddesses associated with the moon. Other key aspects of moon goddesses draw upon “women’s intuition”, and concepts of darkness, mystery, and magic.

When I began exploring moon goddesses, I was surprised to find so many different stories and legends. Rather than present a long list of names and attributes, I’ve decided to introduce one moon goddess each day, taking time to learn about their legends and to know their stories.

Moon goddesses are found in legends and stories from cultures around the world.

AEGA 

Today’s Moon Goddess is Aega, a beautiful moon deity from Greek legend. There are several different stories about Aega. In one, she nurses Zeus as an infant and is later changed by the god into the constellation Capella. In other versions of the story, she is unable to nurse the infant, so the task falls to a goat-like creature who has since become confused with Aega. In other writings, she is portrayed as having a son by Zeus.

The most popular story is that Aega, the daughter of Helios and Perse, possessed such a dazzling beauty and brilliance that when the Titans attacked Olympus, they demanded that their mother, Gaia, hide Aega within the earth. She was confined to a cave in Crete, and it was here that she became the nursemaid to Zeus. Later, Zeus was commanded to cover himself with the flesh of Aega — giving rise to our word aegis, meaning “a shield or breastplate”. He did so, and later, as in other stories, he placed Aega among the stars.

In another variation on this story, Gaia is reputed to be the mother of Aega. She hides her beautiful daughter during the Titan attack in order to prevent her from being carried away.

It appears that there are two distinct legends about Aega which have become intertwined. She is seen by some as a beautiful nymph, by others as a goat. Some say her name, in fact, means “goat”, while others believe is means “a gale of wind”, as the rise of Capella brings storms. Capella — which translates as “little goat” — is the sixth brightest star in the heavens, and the third brightest star in the northern hemisphere. It is sometimes referred to as “the Shepher’s Star”. It is part of the constellation, Auriga, “The Charioteer”.

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