Because the first New Moon of the season occurs Monday evening, March 27th, we get to watch its beautiful crescent adorn the western horizon most of this week.
Up until very recently, the planet Venus brilliantly dominated the western horizon, casting her veil of love and beauty over the sunset world. But Venus has disappeared into the arms Sun, who is escorting her to her morning star position, where she’ll remain there for the rest of this year.
But in the wake of Venus as evening star, the Moon takes the stage, gathering up the love and beauty that Venus left behind; but what for?
The Moon is oftentimes associated through myth and story with dramatic emotions and deep feelings, the kind that are stirred by passionate desire. And when this kind of passionate desire is stirred up by love and beauty, we get stories like “The Sleeping Beauty”, where beauty only fully awakens through the physical encounter of a kiss.
But let’s consider the story of Cymon and Iphigenia, from the Renaissance humanist Giovanni Boccaccio. In the story, Iphigenia is asleep in a rather sensual position when Cymon happens upon her. As the oldest son of a noble family, Cymon has the reputation for being strong and handsome but also rather brutish, so it’s easy to imagine that he might take advantage of the sleeping maid. However, rather than give over to base desire when he sees Iphigenia, Cymon realizes that he’s looking on the most beautiful thing in the world, and he’s transformed by it to his highest greatest good. He becomes an ideal citizen, as though virtue itself had been slumbering in him, only waiting for the right inspiration to be awakened.
Frederic Lord Leighton painted this scene in the late 1800s, complete with richly draped fabrics, deep colors, and the Moon! In the painting we see Cymon looking on the sleeping Iphigenia, with the first hint of a Full Moon rising in the background, and with it rises Cymon’s higher, greater self.
As you watch the Moon growing greater and greater this week, consider Cymon and how love and beauty can inspire us to realizing our highest ideals.
About Boccaccio's Decameron: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Decameron