Luna and Mar - a story

from Martin Maudsley

Many cultures across the world have mythical stories about the influence of the moon on the tide. This one from South East Asia, explains why the tide is high at full moon and new moon.

Long ago, before any humans had ever stepped foot on the land or sailed across the oceans, the Earth, the skies and the seas were ruled by three powerful gods. The sun god, who governed the skies, had a beautiful, pale-faced daughter called Luna who loved more than anything else to ride in her father’s golden chariot far and wide across the heavens. One day she travelled further than before, out of her father’s kingdom, to a place where the sky meets the sea. There she marvelled at the reflection of the water, the sound of the waves and the tang of the salty air…

Suddenly a handsome young man appeared out of the foam-flecked waves. Luna was startled and self-conscious and was about to leave but his warm and welcoming smile delayed her. He spoke softly, like waves on the shore, and told her that he was Mar, the son of the sea god, and led her to a green island where they sat together on the shore and shared stories of sky and sea. With love kindling in their hearts they met on the island more and more often, keeping their tryst secret from their fathers. But one of Luna’s many sisters, a twinkling star in the sky, watched Luna leaving the heavens and riding down to the sea to meet Mar and in her jealousy told the sun god.

Her father was angry at her faithlessness and forbade her to ever ride the golden chariot, and also told the sea god of their lovers’ liaison, who agreed to keep his son imprisoned in an underwater cave. Eventually, her father’s heart softened and Luna was allowed to ride the chariot once more. Down to the sea she travelled, to the island, calling out Mar’s name. Below the watery waves Mar could hear her and see her silver light reflected on the under-surface of the sea. Inside his cave he struggled and strained to get free, sending up a surge of rising water. But when Mar didn’t appear, Luna returned sadly to the heavens, heartbroken.

From that day then on, every few weeks Luna returns to the sea, sometimes bright and filled with hope, sometimes dark and despairing. Each time under the sea Mar struggles to be free and the water swells and reaches out towards her. When humans first appeared, sailors and fishermen, noticed that the tide is high at full moon and again at the new moon, and they told themselves that Mar is trying to escape his underwater cave to reach his beloved Luna.

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