As I learn in wonder that several of my favorite public personalities are suddenly, in fact, younger than I am, Time sends an issue broadcasting that the first moon landing occurred 40 years ago. Ouch! I remember watching it on our snowy black-and-white television the size of a washing machine. There is some comfort, however, in knowing at least some people out there are as fond of outer space as I am. I have proudly told younger co-workers that I watched the original airings of the first real Star Trek, and I confess to having been a Lost in Space junkie.
Ancient peoples used a different set of lenses when they looked up into their pre-Galileoan skies. Those tiny dots of light in the sky at night actually move across the sky as any ancient insomniac knew. They had to be alive, that stood to reason — they must be gods. And that “big shiny one, right there,” as Donkey calls it, the moon, presided over them all. In many an ancient divine magisterium the moon reigned supreme. Its light wasn’t reflected, it was self-generated.
At Ugarit one of the deities associated with the moon was Yarikh. Unfortunately tablets relating his exploits are rare, but one such tablet (fancy title KTU 1.114) relates a frat party on Mount Saphon (an ersatz kind of heaven). As the gods are drinking themselves senseless (how else can the latest Bush administration be explained?) Yarikh, the moon-meister, begins crawling under the table like a dog and begging for a joint of meat. His advances are greeted with a divine stick-whacking to send him yowling back home. It is probably a good thing that the moon sobered up before we landed there. The imagination runs wild at what could have been so much worse than landing on a pile of green cheese!