How the moon got its phases: Flickr photo of the day

Michael Clemmer

Isis, the Egyptian goddess of nature and magic, is usually depicted as a fecund young woman, with a nice caboose, wearing a tight-fitting red dress. She was married to her brother, Osiris, god of the afterlife (green skin with a mummy-wrapped body) who had a brother named Set, god of the desert and disorder. He was jealous of Osiris and killed him, tearing his body into 14 pieces. He threw one very important piece into the Nile, where a catfish ate it. Isis reassembled Osiris’ pieces, making the missing one out of solid gold. Then she brought zombie-Osiris back to life and got pregnant, giving birth to a son named Horus.

Horus (usually depicted as a falcon) became god of the sky. His right eye was the sun and his left was the moon. He and Set got into a fight and Set tore out Horus’s left eye, an event that reoccurred every month. Set never bothered with Horus’ right eye so it didn’t go through phases – eye torn out, eye healing, eye healed – like the moon.

Alan Tsai photographed a waxing first quarter moon above the Luxor Temple in Egypt.

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