Sunday, June 22, 2008

moon river

John Pfahl. from his

luminous river series

In a childish attempt i'm trying to find trace to the origins of "moon river" ... the moon river song writers , didn't realy gave an explanaion that satisfied me, so i went to antiquity, to try and find out....came up with few clus:

The moon is often an archetypal woman image. In many cultures and religious orders, the moon is identified as a mother figure. This is true in Native American, African (In African legends, the moon (which is often the traditional location of heaven) is interchangeable with a Christian type heaven - this may be due to European influence), Christian, and Eastern literature and lore.

If the Moon has been more identified in our contemporary cultural myths with the passive side of women, it also exerts tremendous power (not unlike women) as it controls the tides in the oceans and the cycles in women's bodies. It waves its magic wand over plant growth and is the comforting night light all over the planet.

Moon \Moon\, v. i.

To act if moonstruck; to wander or gaze about in an abstracted manner.

[1913 Webster]

Elsley was mooning down the river by himself. --C. Kingsley. [1913 Webster]

****** The origin of this babylonian-assyrian main goddess was a semitian vegetation- and moon goddess with lower influence, but when these tribes arrived at the land of the sumerian kingdom, her cult reached the sumerian capital Uruk. The sumerian people identified Ishtar easily with their own goddess Inanna. After some time Ishtar became in the second millenium the highest and widest worshipped goddess of the Babylonians. The myths of Inanna became the myths of Ishtar:

Her consort or husband was Tammuz ( sum.: Dumuzi), River God of Euphrates and Tigris, who was meanwhile also her son and her brother. When the world began, Tammuz (faithful son) came together with Ishtar in the world. She bore him, she made love with him and she remained a virgin. When Tammuz died in the summer and all vegetation died with him, Ishtar was looking for him all over the world. She finally found him in the underworld and brought him back to life. Tammuz was reborn and the vegetation could flourish again. Then the ritual-festival of the "Holy Marriage"(Honey Moon?) was celebrated at the time of the autumn equinox, when in the Near-East the first rain fell again. She taught that the moon was a goddess that went through a 28 day cycle and ovulated when full. She further claimed that she came down from the moon in a giant moon egg that fell into the Euphrates River. This was to have happened at the time of the first full moon after the spring equinox. ******

There is a Chinese legend, in which a hero named Chang Ki'en reached the moon by sailing up the River Huang Ho. When he got there he met the god of love and marriage, Wu Kang and a hare. (via

****** In the 5th century B.C. Herodotus visited Egypt and travelled up the Nile as far as Elephantine. On his journey, he met a priest who claimed to know where the source of the Nile was. There were apparently two mountains called Crophi and Mophi, and in the centre of each was a vast bottomless fountain. These two fountains gave rise to the Nile. Ptolemy (A.D. 90 - A.D. 168) elaborated upon this story, and located the fountains in a range of mountains south of the equator, which he named "The Mountains of the Moon". Why he chose this name is not known for certain.

Arab explorers in the dark ages spoke of the Mountains of Gumr. Gumr was believed to be a corruption of Kama meaning moon.

It is said that those who saw it saw bright snows like white silver gleaming with light. Whoever looked at them became attracted and stuck to them until they died and this science is called human magnetism. It is said that a certain king sent an expedition to discover the Nile sources and they reached copper mountains and when the sun rose the rays reflected were so strong they were burntIt is said that in the days of Am Kaam, one of the kings of Egypt, Idrisi was taken up to heaven and he prophesied the coming of the flood so he remained on the other side of the equator and there built a palace on the slopes of Mount Gumr. He built it out of copper and made 85 statues of copper, the waters of the Nile flowing through the mouths of these statues and then flowing into a great lake and thence to Egypt"

Mountains of the Moon

After this the Mountains of the Moon appeared on many maps, but no one was sure exactly where they were supposed to be. Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar both sent unsuccessful expeditions up the Nile. In 1858 Burton and Speke led an expedition to find the source of the Nile. They reached Lake Tanganyika, and then illness and personal differences caused them to split up, Burton remaining at camp, while Speke headed north. 16 days later Speke reached Lake Victoria, and returning, declared that he had found the source of the Nile. Burton disagreed, insisting that the source was at the Mountains of the Moon, which he suggested lay between Lake Victoria and the most southerly known part of the Nile. Speke suggested that they lay between Lake Tanganyika and Lake Victoria. Speke made a number of further expeditions, and accounts of his explorations were published in 1863 and 1864. but the dispute continued. A public debate between Burton and Speke on the subject was planned, but on the day that it was due to happen, Speke died mysteriously, shot by his own gun while hunting. In 1885, Stanley discovered the Ruwenzori mountains close to Burton's suggested location of the Mountains of the Moon, and after that, the Ruwenzoris were The Mountains of the Moon. Whether they were the same Mountains of the Moon referred to by Herodotus, Ptolemy et al. is anyone's guess. .

Mountains of the Moon:

from the extraordinary book by Bram Dijkstra - IDOLS OF PERVERSITY - Fantasies of Feminine Evil in Fin-de-Siecle Culture : "the seemingly physical bond between women and the moon was used by writers and artist not only to depict her as the moon goddess - which, certainly they did in endless variations - but also to explain the natural origin og her pallor: he rwhite skin, her invalid's condition, her "consumptive" passivity. ..for the artists the link between the moon and women - her weakness, her imitative nature, her passivity and her emotional waxings and wanings - was a subject with far too many attractive symbolic possibilities to ignore...the roundness of the moon seemed also to symbolize the distant, cool, circular self-enclosure of woman-that isolation in solitary self-enjoyment ...while woman was the personification of the circle, the symbol of self-containment, of the uroboros, the snake biting its own tail, she was also represantative of the static, unindividualized, nondifferentiated being expressive of the unthinking condition of brute nature...As earth, earth mother, vulval round, moon and mirror of nature woman was a simple reflaction of the world around her. she was the arable soil of the material world. .she existed in and for what she mirrored, and unless she mirrored the world of man, she mirrored brute nature, the world of woman, herself." and today i found this:here: I've always wondered "where is Moon River"... I'm so glad to find that it is in one of my favorite environments of this world and not too far from my home on the St Johns River in Jacksonville. Needless to say, I'm far from my home. Thanks to Monica Mancini for covering Johnny's work and for her wonderful father's collaboration on Moon River. Also, thanks to Karen Peris for The Innocence Project's cover of Moon River which was the inspiration for me to surf along the river.


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Anonymous said...

I've always thought it referenced the Moon River in Georgia/Bethesda which from what I understand is a mile wide at high tide.

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