8. The Moon in Folklore
Lithuanian riddles and fairy talks often associate the Moon with the Horse. In the riddles it is called ‘‘laukř arklys’‘ (horse of the fields), ‘‘kumeliuku aukso pasagom’‘ (a foal with the golden shoes), ‘‘dievo kumeliukas’‘ (the foal of God), occasionally called ‘‘elnias’‘ (a deer), ‘‘jautis’‘ (an ox). In the fairy- tales the Moon turned in the horse rides along the sky and takes the hero to the maiden he is looking for (Greimas 1990, 51-56).
Lithuanian folklore believes that the Moon and the Sun is a wedded pair: the Moon is the husband and the Sun is the wife. In the attempt to explain why they appear in the sky in different periods of the day it is often said that they quarreled and parted. There are two typical explanations of the feud:
1. The Moon and the Sun could not share their daughter, the Earth;
2. The Moon was not loyal to the Sun and started courting the star Auđrinë (Balys 1951,8-9).
In both instances Perkűnas (Thunder) participates in the quarrel between the Sun and the Moon. He separates the quarreled parties or punishes the disloyal Moon by cutting it into two parts. Sometimes it is said that the Sun herself leaves the Moon, hides from it or punishes it by beating or striking (Dundulienë 1988, 70-76).
Analogous relationship between the Sun and the Moon is typical for the Latvian folklore. J.Kletnieks, a Latvian ethnoastronomer, has formed a hypothesis that Latvian song theme where the Sun is striking the Moon with the silver whip may be associated with the appearance of the half Moon in the neighborhood of a bright comet tail. By his calculations the astronomic situation of this character was on 17 May 240 years before Christ when Hale's comet was shining bright in the sky (Kletnieks 1986, 40-47).
In Lithuanian folk songs the Moon is called daddy and the Sun is mummy. It is sung that the Sun is collecting dowry for the girl who marries and the Moon deems her fate or gives her part of his possessions (skiria dalá, dalá turto). It is noteworthy that in Ţemaitija one and the same word ‘‘ryţti’‘ means the waning of the Moon and giving part of the possession for the marital girl (LKŢ XI 775).
A.J.Greimas on having analyzed the role of the Moon in the Lithuanian folklore found a lot of data to prove that the Moon could have been one of the sovereign gods in the Lithuanian triad of gods along with Perkűnas and Kalvelis.
In his words the Moon is responsible for life and death, health and beauty, wealth and poverty. In the comparative Indo-European mythology studies this should respond to the G.Dumezil's defined third divine function of godly sovereignty (Greimas 1990, 244-246).