The following is the text of a lecture presented at a public meeting of the Theosophical Society (Pasadena) in Melbourne, Australia. The views expressed in all our public meetings are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Theosophical Society (Pasadena).
What if the moon did not exist? Astrophysicist Neil F, Comins of the University of Maine attempted to answer this question recently by examining the close relationship between the earth and the moon and found that the very conditions for life on our beautiful planet are only possible because of the existence of our moon. For example, if the Earth had no moon, our day would be only eight hours long due to the increased speed of its rotation. The rapid rotation of our planet without the moon to slow it down would continually subject us to hurricane-force winds, and because there would be no appreciable tides mixing the building blocks of life in our oceans, life itself might not exist yet, and when life did arrive it would have a very different biology than what we are familiar with today.* [*Comins, Neil F. What if the moon did not exist! Voyages to earth’s that might have been New York: Harper Collins, 1993] If we are so dependent on the moon for our physical environment, how much more so must this dynamic relationship be on the inner levels of being?
Theosophy confirms that indeed this is the case, with one theosophical writer stating: “The relationship of the moon and the earth is so close, so far-reaching, that it affects every atom of the entire body of the earth: more, of every globe of the earth planetary chain as well as of the lunar chain.” [G de Purucker The Fountain-Source of Occultism page 345]. Scientific writers often refer to the earth and moon as ‘companion planets’ as the moon is one quarter the size of the Earth. Most other planets’ moons, with the exception of Pluto’s moon Charon, are only tiny in comparison to their planet. Whereas the contemporary scientific view of the moon’s formation is that it was formed as the result of the earth being hit by a Mars-sized object early in its history, spewing out molten rock as a result of the collision into space which quickly congealed into what we now know as the Moon. Theosophy prefers to call the earth/moon system ‘parent and child’ as it teaches that it is rather the earth that is an outgrowth on many planes of being of the energies once manifest on the moon when it was a vibrant, living world – the former incarnation of our planet. Now the moon is a dead world, a planetary corpse, ghostly ‘kama rupa’, or sinister ‘Dweller on the Threshold’, circling around its child, our earth, once every month gradually transferring its energies and lifewaves including humanity to our home planet. According to theosophy, the physical remains of our once parent planet have long since disintegrated into cosmic dust. What we see as the moon in our sky at night is the astral remains of our parent planet, which we can see as a material body because we now exist on the ‘child’ earth, one cosmic sub-plane higher than we did when we lived on the moon chain of globes. We witness the moon’s immense influence on the physical earth with the regular high tides in our oceans twice each day, the precession of the equinoxes, and the transfer of rotational energy from the earth to the moon meaning that the earth slows down 1.5 milliseconds each century and the moon speeds its rotation and moves 3.8 centimeters inches further away from the earth each year! A series of spacecraft and manned landings since the Soviet Luna 3 spacecraft gave us our first view of the ‘dark side’* [*’dark’ only because unknown until recently. Actually both sides of the moon receive equal amounts of sunlight and darkness, except for the depths of a few craters at the poles which are in permanent darkness] of the moon in 1959, have added immeasurably to our understanding of our moon. The first manned landing to the moon was on July 20th, 1969 [do you remember what you were doing that historic day?] when US astronaut, Neil Armstrong, guided his tiny ‘Eagle’ lander to the desolate surface of the Sea of Tranquility on the nearside of the moon, and the last manned landing was in December 1972. During these manned landings, astronauts collected samples of moon rocks and dust so that the moon is the only extra-terrestrial body from which samples have been successfully collected and returned to the earth. Earthlings now have no less than 382 kilograms of rock and dust samples from the moon dated to 3 to 4.6 billion years old giving invaluable insights into the early history of the earth and the solar system. [‘The Moon’ from The Nine Planets http://www.nineplanets.org/luna.html] In the summer of 1994 the moon was extensively mapped by the US Clementine spacecraft that successfully orbited the moon for 71 days. Clementine made a topographical map of the entire moon for the first time, giving us a more complete such map than we have for the earth! Intriguingly, Clementine included an improvised radar experiment which uncovered evidence that perhaps as much as 10 billion tons of water ice exists in the permanently shadowed areas near the lunar south pole. NASA spacecraft Lunar Prospector went into polar orbit of the moon in 1998 confirming the detection of water ice near the south pole of the moon and additional deposits deep in the craters of the north pole.* [*Spudis, Paul D. ‘The new moon: recent lunar missions have shown there is still much to learn about Earth’s closest neighbour’ Scientific American December 2003 pages 58-65] These potential reservoirs of water may be useful to future manned expeditions for drinking water, production of fuel and insulation of living quarters from harmful radiation from the sun. A final determination of the existence of water ice on the moon will probably come from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter scheduled for launch in 2008. Though water ice may exist on the moon in isolated pockets at the poles, modern science confirms the moon is a desolate environment from a human perspective – truly a dead world. The moon has no atmosphere and no global magnetic field , and unlike the earth, the moon’s interior is no longer active. The pictures from the Apollo landers show a mostly cold, desert-like grey landscape of heavily cratered highlands and relatively smooth and younger ‘maria’, or plains. These are the dark [basaltic maria] and bright areas [highlands] that you can see making up the face of the ‘Man in the Moon’ when you look up at the moon from your backyard. The maria or plains areas, which comprise about 16% of the moon’s surface, are, from a scientific point of view, actually the remains of huge impact craters where meteors have struck the moon with terrific force. Later these craters were flooded with molten rock created by the force of the explosive impacts. For some reason that is unknown, there are more maria, and the moon’s crust is much thinner on the side of the moon facing the earth, but the largest crater in the entire solar system at 2,600 kms diameter and 12 kms deep, the South Pole Aitken Basin, is on the dark side. Most of the surface of the moon is covered with ‘regolith’, a mixture of fine dust and rocky debris resulting from the continuous meteor and meteorite impacts over billions of years as the moon has no atmosphere to absorb the shock of such ‘shooting stars’ as we call them on the earth. Theosophy has a different view of the function of these craters which typify our picture of the surface of the moon. We are taught that the moon is the corpse, ‘kama rupa’, or even the earth’s dread ‘Dweller on the Threshold’, once a living planet, the parent of our earth. Being a dead body, similar on a massive scale to any dead animal body we can think of on earth, the moon has been undergoing decay and disintegration for billions of years. Some of the appearances on the surface, particularly the craters, may be due to the gradual disintegration of the body of the moon with internal decay welling up to the surface through craters like pustules on a decaying animal body, but escaping earthward in the case of the moon. We are further taught that the moon will disintegrate into the ‘blue ether’ by the time of the earth’s seventh planetary round [we are currently just over half way through the fourth] millions of years into the future. Interestingly enough, modern science has found the crust of the moon facing the earth is much thinner than on the dark side, and that the moon’s centre of gravity is displaced 2 kms towards the earth indicating the tremendous gravitational and ‘psychomagnetic’ attraction of the child-earth feeding on the remains of its parent world. Also interesting are statements by theosophical teacher G de Purucker in 1934 indicating his speculation that the surface of the moon would prevent easy travel because it is disintegrating into dust. [Fountain-Source of Occultism page 342] In fact, one of the greatest hazards to past and future manned expeditions to the moon is the ubiquitous finely ground, glassy, sharp-edged moon dust which makes it difficult for astronauts to move around on the surface, penetrates into clothing and habitats, and even has given some astronauts a moon version of hayfever, though apparently according to Gene Cernan, Apollo 17 astronaut, it has a nice taste and a smell not unlike gunpowder!!* [*‘The smell of moondust’ ScienceNASA http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2006/30jan_smellofmoondust.htm?list89034 ]
What is the nature of this influence which streams forth from the moon to the earth every nanosecond? In religious traditions around the world, the moon is called the Lord and Giver of Life, and paradoxically, also the producer of death. In many cultures it is pictured as a nurturing feminine deity governing both birth and growth – the *Queen of the Night in Celtic culture [*Nicmhacha, Sharynne Queen of the night: the Celtic moon goddess in our lives Weiser Books, 2005], Selene, Artemis, Diana, Juna, Hecate or Isis in the Mediterranean. Some cultures, such as the Hindu and Scandinavian, view the lunar influence as masculine, however, all lunar deities have two aspects – supernal and infernal, spiritual and maternal, good and evil. The influences flowing from the moon have ever been known and utilized by magicians and sorcerers, from the familiar Disney portrayal of the ‘sorcerers apprentice’ with stars and moons on his pointed hat, to the witchdoctors or ‘nganga’ of central Africa whose very name means ‘the moon’! Of this dual life-giving/death dealing influence of the moon on the earth and its inhabitants, G de Purucker says: “As the giver of both physical and astral life, the moon is also the transmitter of the lower material and psychical vitality. But it is full of the energies of death as well. It is a decaying body. Every atom that leaves the moon rushes earthwards, impregnated with lunar influences. The effect of the moon in these respects is deleterious and even death-dealing…The lunar vitality not only stimulates the grosser forms of our physical existence, but can likewise by that very action cause decay and disease in other parts of the human constitution.”* [ *Fountain Source of Occultism page 341] The moon is injurious to earthlings because it is the astral dregs of our former home planet which was then at a lower stage of spiritual evolution than we now enjoy. The lunar chain of globes: “…was not a good chain of life; it was a vicious chain, and we humans were amongst those who made it so.” [G de Purucker Fountain Source of Occultism page 343.] Hence the moon is the ‘Dweller on the Threshold’ of the earth, infilled with the, to us now, evil magnetism which both holds the moon together, but is continually attracted to the earth: “…by reason of its affinity it continues to haunt our globe and its inhabitants.” [G de Purucker Fountain Source of Occultism page 342] The moon is therefore the giver/transmitter of life and mind of a lower form to the earth and its inhabitants, whereas the sun is the giver/transmitter of life in general to the solar system and of the higher aspects of mind. In this dual character of the Lord of Life and Death, the moon was/is closely associated with the initiatory cycle, regular occasions when suitable candidates were/are subjected to tests on the inner planes of being to awaken their potentials of mind and spirit. Such initiations were/are only conducted when the moon is waxing or growing in strength. It was/is considered a generally necessary principle only to begin a new major undertaking, journey, marriage, etc. when the moon is waxing as Nature is then expanding, or growing with you, though, of course, there are occasions when this cannot be done and one should act regardless of the phase of the moon. This lunar influence or ‘soma drink’ as it was referred to in India, has a dual influence, one of darkness and decay, and the other of light and life. Of the heady ‘soma drink’ of the genuine initiation ceremonies, HP Blavatsky has to say: “A ‘soma drinker’ attains the power of placing himself in direct rapport with the bright side of the moon, thus deriving inspiration from the concentrated intellectual energy of the blessed ancestors. This ‘concentration’, and the moon being a store-house of the Energy, is the secret, the meaning of which must not be revealed, beyond the mere fact of mentioning the continuous pouring out upon the earth from the bright side of the orb of a certain influence. This which seems to be one stream (to the ignorant) is a dual nature – one giving life and wisdom, the other being lethal. He who can separate the former from the latter, as Kalahamsa separated the milk from the water, which was mixed with it, thus showing great wisdom – will have his reward.” [HP Blavatsky ‘Thoughts on Elementals’ Lucifer May 1890, page 187]
There are times in the solar universe, when humanity generally outside of the context of the initiatory cycle, is subjected to greater concentrations of the moon’s energies. Eclipses of the moon and the sun are such times when we are subject to the combined effect of the sun and moon, or earth and moon pulling together upon the earth or moon. This gravitational and ‘psychomagnetic’ pull, produces great surges of vital energy between the respective bodies at those times. One theosophical writer said of eclipses: “Eclipses can be quite unhealthy for the human race, because at such times there is often an added stimulus to man’s emotional and passional nature.” [L. Gordon Plummer and Charles J. Ryan Star habits and orbits: astronomy for theosophical students page 89] Ancient cultures knew of this connection and used to consider eclipses as a bad omen, a sign of catastrophes to come. For example, in Japan they used to cover wells and potteries thinking that the weather would be poisoned. Indians used to shut down their houses in fear of harmful moonlight. Scandinavians thought that diseases would float in the air during the solar eclipse. Babylonians assumed that catastrophes and diseases would come under a solar or lunar eclipse, so they made sure to lie down with their faces to the ground to avoid foul influences if caught out of doors. Each nation faced this phenomenon in its own way. Eskimos used to sacrifice animals to satisfy their gods. Mexican Aztec Indians sacrificed human beings to convince the moon to return and the sun to appear. In Korea, Japan and China, where they thought that dragons eat the moon during eclipses, people used to gather to make loud noises to scare the dragons and stop them from eating their meal! All these bizarre customs are faint remembrances of actual facts of nature to which theosophical writers refer. [see ‘MrEclipse.com’ at http://www.mreclipse.com/ for more detail on lunar and solar eclipses] The beautiful but desolate landscapes transmitted to earth by spacecraft sweeping over the surface of the moon, bring to mind the teachings of the ancient wisdom regarding the seven or twelve sacred planets. Theosophical writers affirm that the solar system is alive with many more planets, moons and suns than are visible currently to science. The seven planets with which the destiny of our earth is most closely connected are called the seven sacred planets. [See G de Purucker Fountain Source of Occultism ‘The twelve sacred planets’ pages 317 to 325 for more information on the sacred planets] One of these ‘planets’ was said to be the moon symbolically representing an invisible planet standing close to the physical moon we can see. This invisible sacred planet is sometimes called in theosophical literature, the ‘Eighth Sphere’, or ‘Planet of Death’. Orbiting close to the moon, this planet is too dense materially for us to see, it is currently in retrograde motion compared to most of the other bodies in the solar system, and it is in its seventh or final round of planetary life. Its function in the universal economy of the solar system is to serve as a receptacle of negative influences or, in the case of humanity, irretrievably evil individuals from earth who are there given the environment for a new beginning in their spiritual evolutionary journey. Theosophical writer indicate that this world operates for the solar system something like a sewerage or drainage system does for our great cities, removing poisonous influences from the proximity of the general population. [See G de Purucker Fountain Source of Occultism ‘The Planet of Death’ pages 346 to 349 for more information on this subject] The sacred planets, including this, to us, terrible place, are ‘sacred’ to us because they, as conscious entities, cooperate in the building and subsequent evolutionary history of the earth. Curiously enough, theosophical teachers tell us that, although the dread plant of death is more grossly material than the earth, as a conscious entity it oversees the building of Globe ‘G’, or the most spiritually advanced of the seven ‘rupa’ globes of the earth chain of globes, we at present being on Globe D, our beautiful earth. [See G de Purucker Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy page 548] In the far distant future when Globe G is our home, the moon and its influences will have disintegrated into atomic stellar dust, and this secret planet will then become the satellite of the earth in place of the moon, but that planet will not be a true moon, but a mere satellite. [G de Purucker Fountain Source of Occultism page 526] For theosophy confirms that each planet in our solar system has but only one true moon in the inner sense, and those planets with many moons, such as Jupiter with 63 known moons and Saturn with 34, have gravitationally captured the others from the greater environment of the solar system. Walk out into the backyard tonight and stare up in wonder at the great and timeless works of universal nature circling above you. Bathing in the starlight, ponder upon the inner significance of the great orbs shining in the tapestry of the living universe which is the night sky. We can then appreciate what HP Blavatsky says of the brightest of these orbs – the Moon, Queen of the Night: “…the cold chaste moon…stands in closer relations to the Earth than any other sidereal orb. The Sun is the giver of life to the whole planetary system; the moon is the giver of life to our globe; and the early races understood and knew it, even in their infancy. She is the Queen and she is the King, and was King Soma before she became transformed into Phoebe and the chaste Diana.” [HP Blavatsky The Secret Doctrine 1, page 386.]