Eco-Human Theory and Practice
ISSN 2713 – 184x
Eco Art Therapy
Ecological Education
The "Green" Arts


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Alexander Kopytin

Doctor of Medical Sciences, Professor, Department of Psychology, St. Petersburg Academy of Postgraduate Pedagogical Studies (St.-Petersburg, Russian Federation)


The article examines the influence of the Moon as a celestial body of the solar system, closely connected with the Earth, on humans. It is shown how, through creative activity in the interaction of humans with this celestial body, new meanings and forms of experience are formed and their renewal in culture takes place. In this case, the Moon acts not only as a physical object, but also as one of the natural archetypes, due to which a complex of human potentials is realized in their connection with the environment. When considering the Moon as a natural phenomenon, special attention is paid to those types of activities when it is perceived through the prism of non-pragmatic, artistic and aesthetic experience, closely related to the sense of beauty. When considering this mode of perception of the Moon, the concepts of poiesis and ecopoiesis are used.

Keywords: Moon, archetypes of nature, eco-humanitarian approach, poiesis, ecopoiesis


The Moon is the only satellite of the Earth in the solar system. In size, it is not so radically different from the Earth, so the Earth and the Moon can be considered as a double planet, thereby recognizing that the Moon forms a single system with the Earth.

The Moon plays a huge role in the life of our planet: it stabilizes the Earth’s rotation axis and its climate, and has a huge amount of natural resources that can be used for the needs of humanity in the future. The explored reserves of gold, diamonds and zinc on Earth remain for 20 years of mining, and the reserves of platinum, copper and nickel will dry up in 40 years. The Earth's resources are exhaustible, while there is a constant replenishment of useful resources due to asteroids falling on its surface on the Moon. Huge quantities of iron, nickel, cobalt, platinum, and platinum group metals can be found in lunar craters. The Moon has reserves of Helium-3 that can provide earthlings with energy for five thousand years to come.

The contribution of the Moon to the development of the Earth's biosphere can hardly be overestimated. It has also been significant for billions of years due to the close relationship between the Earth and the Moon. With its gravitational field it affects the earth's biosphere and causes changes in the Earth's magnetic field. The moon significantly influences the ebb and flow of the tides, air pressure, causes changes in temperature and water level. There is a hypothesis about the stabilizing role of the Moon on the Earth, due to the retention of the Earth's orbit, as well as the tilt of the axis of rotation, which in turn affects the formation of the seasons.

It is no coincidence that for centuries the Moon was perceived by humans as a mysterious force that is capable of controlling many life processes, influencing all four shells of the earth, various living organisms, including humans. The special location of the Moon relative to the Earth provides suitable conditions for life. The presence of a natural satellite near the Earth leads to approximately the same time of day and night throughout the day.

The moon has a strong effect on the body and psyche of people, especially before the full moon and new moon. Considering the enormous influence of the moon on the biosphere of the Earth and humans, it is not surprising that, since ancient times, people have paid increased attention to this celestial body and attracted various natural scientific and mythological explanations of the role of the Moon in their lives.

The moon as one of the archetypes of nature. Archetypes of nature from the viewpoint of the eco-human approach

The concept of archetype was introduced by K.G. Jung to designate the universal foundations of human mental experience, manifested in the images and motifs of dreams and fantasies, myths, works of literature and art, and in the perception of external reality. Phenomenologically, the existence of a significant number of archetypes is confirmed, that cover certain classes of mental phenomena that do not have a clear source in an individual and are characteristic of all people.

In the last decades of the 20th century – the beginning of the 21st century, ideas about the archetypes of the collective unconscious have undergone certain changes. The development of archetypal psychology towards its closer connection with ecopsychology and the eco-human approach [3] considering the psyche in its multifaceted interactions with the environment is indicative with this regard.

The eco-human approach serves as the basis for a new perception of archetypes, making it possible to identify and substantiate such their category as “archetypes of nature” (“natural archetypes”). Archetypes of nature are mental images and works of art that combine various natural phenomena and objects, on the one hand, and the world of mental/psychological phenomena, on the other hand.

Trying to solve the problem of determining the relationship between human subjectivity and the environment, the mental and the physical realms, C.G. Jung introduced the concept of a “psychoid” (or “psychoid factor”), realized through the archetypes of the collective unconscious. As Murray Stein explains, “psychoid” is a concept, “... referring to the boundaries of the psyche, one side of which interacts with the body and the physical world, and the other with the kingdom of the “spirit”” [28, P. 234]. Thus, in order to solve the problem of determining the relationship between the human subjectivity and the environment, the “psychoid” foundation of mind as partly material, partly psychic, a merging of psyche and matter is proposed. [15, p. 234].

The eco-human approach recognizes that the key problem of the humanities – the problem of understanding ourselves as “environmental subjects” – cannot be solved within the framework of Cartesian science that separates a person (the subject) from the external world of objects. The eco-human approach posits that subjects are considered in relation to the environment, and seeks to reveal their subjectivity and to shape the world in order to fulfill their needs and take care of the well-being of the environment.

The eco-human approach postulates the poietic (from the ancient Greek “ποιέω” – I create; "ποίησις" – creativity) nature of human beings, their ability to shape the world around themselves with a view to beauty. It also suggests that humans exist in the mode of possibility; they can choose to shape the world and themselves in a way that is not yet actual but that is contained potentially in what is already given. Based on the idea of the poietic nature of humans, the concept of ecopoiesis (from the Greek words "Οἶκος" – home, housing, and ποίησι – creativity) is introduced as an important part of the eco-human approach, supporting the idea of humans as "environmental subjects.” This concept is designed to provide the foundations necessary to consider human beings in their relations with the environment as willing and able to take care of their “earthly home.

This approach considers the creative ability, denoted by the concept of ecopoiesis, as the fundamental basis for the existence and development of physical, biological, social and psychological phenomena. They all arise, function and develop according to general laws, and in the process of interaction with each other they can create something new, participating in the process of evolution. In this case, humans are considered as an actively operating self-developing part of nature, which implements general principles that ensure the self-realization of nature itself in various forms of its manifestation.

As V.I. Panov admits, “With this approach, a human being is understood as carrying out its development and at the same time the self-development of nature as a whole, such a system as “humanity–planet,” which manifests itself, in particular, in the emergence of the noosphere. Thus, the formation (being) of the “humanity– planet” system acts as the generation of an integral ontological subject, realizing in its development the general natural principles of the formation of forms of being, common for “humanity”, and for the “planet”, and for the psyche – as different forms of being with common principles.” [11, p. 14].

In accordance with the ideas of the eco-human approach, realizing the ability to ecopoiesis, nature and humans act as subjects of joint development and creative activity. At the same time, according to M.M. Bakhtin, through humans, nature realizes its ability of “expressive and speaking being.” [1, p. 8]

The Moon from the point of view of ideas about poiesis and ecopoiesis

When considering the Moon as a natural phenomenon in its relationship with humans, such aspects of their interaction with nature when it is perceived through the prism of non-pragmatic, artistic and aesthetic experience should be emphasized. When considering this mode of perception of the Moon, the concepts of poiesis and ecopoiesis become important.

The concept of poiesis has a long history in European philosophical thought and is touched upon in the works of thinkers of different eras. In particular, Plato’s work “The Symposium” [7], constructed in the form of a polylogue on the theme of love, is dedicated to this phenomenon.

In this work, the speech of the key speaker of the dialogue, Socrates states that Eros expresses the desire for an original androgynous wholeness that has been lost. With the story of the androgynes, Aristophanes explains that “love is the thirst for integrity and the desire for it” and that “our race will achieve bliss when we fully satisfy Eros, and everyone finds an object of love corresponding to themselves in order to return to their original nature.”

Socrates enters the dialogue after Agathon, who extols Eros as possessing the highest qualities of beauty and kindness. Socrates objects to Agathon, stating that Eros is love directed towards someone or something, and its object is “what you need.” The object of love is a beautiful object of desire, and Eros is the love of beauty that a human being gains by connecting with its other half.

This part of the Symposium also describes how through love (Eros) mortals achieve immortality. This occurs on the basis of the realization of the ability to create in different senses of the word. Poiesis can be realized as procreation, performing a heroic act, learning the truth, or cultivating virtue. Poiesis provides a way out beyond the cycle of human life, which runs from birth to death. At the final stage of its ascent to immortality, through poiesis, Love (Eros) comes to a “single type” of knowledge, the wisdom of Eros.

Considering the category of poiesis, S. Levine [5] draws attention to the fact that, starting from the ancient tradition, there was a characteristic division of different forms of knowledge into the highest forms of extrasensory, speculative comprehension of truth associated with philosophy, and forms of sensory knowledge of the world related to the arts. The tradition of philosophy either denies that truth can be comprehended through the arts, or believes that this way of knowing is more mundane and inferior to intellectual understanding. If philosophy is aimed at going beyond appearance and getting closer to the essence, then poiesis is aimed at external manifestations and can only be a lower way of existence. For Plato, the arts deal with the changing world of the senses, while philosophy seeks the unchanging object of the intellect. For him, the chaos of sensory appearance is an obstacle to comprehending the unchanging truth.” [5]

As S. Levine [5] puts it, it is not until Nietzsche that poiesis was restored to its central place as our fundamental mode of being and knowing. Nietzsche’s rehabilitation of poiesis implies a greater valuation of the sensible world as well. He even accuses the philosophers of a “hatred of the earth” in their attempts to reach a realm of existence beyond the world of the senses [14].

It is possible to see Heidegger’s phenomenological ontology as a continuation of Nietzsche’s fundamental project of restoring poiesis to the center of human existence. Heidegger’s task is to consider the opposition between essence and appearance, intellect and senses, being and becoming, and to overcome it once we give up the idea of an eternal unchanging world behind the world of appearance [14].

In his essay, “The Origin of the Work of Art,” [5] Heidegger considered the primary manifestation of Being to take place in the work of art, i.e., through poiesisFor Heideggerpoiesis is understood to be a mode of disclosure proper to finite beings, who live their temporality within an historical horizon. Art does not reveal eternal essences, rather, it realizes possibilities that were previously hidden.

Heidegger connects the ability for poiesis with human mortality and, at the same time, calls poiesis “birth” and, to illustrate it, resorts to natural images: the blooming of a flower, the emergence of a butterfly from a cocoon, the melting of snow. He understands poiesis as a threshold event, a moment of ecstasy when something departs from its previous state to become something else.

Poesis as a capacious philosophical category associated with the creative ability of humans and nature was subsequently considered by different thinkers. This function of poiesis allows a person “ make transitions of the ontological order, from one type of existence to another…” [9].

H. Dreyfus and D. Kelly [12] encourage everyone to become a kind of “master”, improving their abilities for poiesis in order to find meaning in life and reconcile their bodies with any transcendence that exists in life itself: “The task of the master is not to create meaning, but to develop in oneself the ability to distinguish between those values ​​and meanings that already exist in earthly, natural, bodily existence” [12, p. 209].

The concept of ecopoiesis appeared on the basis of a rethinking of poiesis and has an ecological basis. It denotes the ability of living organisms not only to continue and reproduce themselves, but also to create an environment (“homes” or “niches” for life), interacting with each other and forming a “web of life” [4]. Thus, it is emphasized that life is a systemic phenomenon, uniting many living organisms operating in a certain environment, participating in a process of co-creation.

According to the eco-human approach, the ability for ecopoiesis is associated with the ability of different organisms and ecosystems to cooperate with each other and cultivate life. The ability for ecopoiesis in humans is realized as an instinctive mechanism that underlies the construction of mutually beneficial, symbiotic relationships with different living beings, on the one hand, and as the ability for conscious cooperation with the natural world, on the other hand. In this case, it involves the reflection of these relationships in culture, through the creation of a certain system of figurative representations of nature, the Moon, for example.

It is necessary to emphasize that the creation of a certain system of figurative representations of nature, of the Moon as one of the natural archetypes, takes place, according to Hillman [18], as the self-generative activity of the soul itself. Axiomatically, in archetypal psychology, the word “image” does not refer to an afterimage, the result of sensations and perceptions. Neither does “image” mean a mental construct that represents in symbolic form certain ideas and feelings. The image has no referent beyond itself, neither proprioceptive, external, nor semantic. Archetypal images comprise the “psychoid factor” of the human mind and as a functioning generative “organ.” [10]

The moon as a subject. Subjectification of natural objects

When considering the relationship between humans and the Moon from the eco-human perspective, it is difficult to do without the concept of subjectification of natural objects. Subjectification plays a crucial role in the process of developing human relationships to natural environments and objects, and enables an ethical perception of nature to be established. At the same time, the endowment of natural objects with subjectivity can be viewed from different perspectives. One of the positions, thoroughly described and investigated by Sergey Deryabo [2], is associated with the recognition of natural objects as a means of reflecting human subjectivity; the self of the individual. “The basis of the subjectification of natural objects is the human desire for ‘subjective expansion’ onto other beings. It is the manifestation of a person’s profound need to ‘appropriate the world.’” (p.4)

According to Deryabo, the process of subjectification of natural objects has the following basic functions: a) to provide a person with an experience of one’s own personal dynamics, b) to act as an intermediary in a person’s relationship with the world, and c) to act as a subject of joint activity and communication [2]. This type of subjectification described by Deryabo is based on the human tendency to project one’s subjective qualities onto external objects. It is nothing more than the reflected subjectivity of human beings [2].

Russian eco-psychology [5, p.13] describes a type of interaction between humans and natural objects that differs from Deryabo's perspective on subjectification and is associated with the concept of subject-generating interaction. It is considered to be a process whereby the psyche takes on actual existence, passing from “being in possibility” to “being in reality” through the human interaction with nature. In this case, the psyche embraces both human and non-human qualities in order to produce a new aggregated quality:

“…the psyche appears as the emerging quality (property) embracing the whole ‘human-environmental’ system, which (since it is systemic) is not reduced to the actual properties of either ‘human’ or ‘environmental’ as components of the specified system, but is determined by both of them. This means that the formation of psychic reality as a quality of this specified system occurs in the functional range, the limits of which are set by the relevant properties of its components, that is, an individual and the environment.” [6, p.14]

In consequence, this type of interaction between humans and natural objects and environments establishes a new subjectivity that is not reducible to the subjectivity of the individual and the qualities of natural objects that were present before the start of the process. A new quality is formed, which is not reducible to those qualities that were characteristic of a person and a natural object, such as the Moon in particular, before their interaction.

According to J. Hillman [10], various subjective entities that appear in the process of human interaction with natural objects are a vivid personalized expression and empirically the most convincing way of creating, experiencing and reflecting various human properties. When considering natural archetypes, in particular, the natural archetype of the Moon from the standpoint of the eco-human approach, it should be recognized that it is important to take into account the specific qualitative characteristics of natural archetypes, which are not reducible to the physical properties of objects, but constitute their subject-generative potential (“hidden subjectivity of natural environments and objects”).

As Robert Macfarlane puts it:

“I have long been fascinated by how people understand themselves using landscape, by the topographies of the self we carry within us and by the maps we make with which to navigate these interior terrains.… For some time now it has seemed to me that the two questions we should ask of any strong landscape are these: firstly, what do I know when I’m in this place that I can know nowhere else? And then, vainly, what does this place know of me that I cannot know of myself?” [13, p.26-27]

The Moon as a natural archetype and a factor in the generation of subjective qualities of nature and humans in different cultures

Based on the analysis of cultural information, the main functions and meanings of the Moon as a natural archetype are as follows:

• The moon acts as a factor in connecting humans with spontaneous, unconscious manifestations in themselves and in nature, closely related to intuition, that which escapes the control of reason and common sense.

• Interaction with the Moon as an archetype helps to reveal the characteristic properties associated with the feminine principle and its many archetypal incarnations, such as Beauty, Great Mother, Wise Woman, Witch, etc.

• The Moon serves as a factor in actualizing the experience of intimate relationships, erotic and sexual experience at different moments in the development of these relationships.

• Affects the perinatal experience associated with the moments of conception, pregnancy and feeding.

• Affects both positive experiences, such as joy, delight, awe, tenderness, compassion, etc., and negative ones, such as anxiety, fear, sadness, despair, etc.

• Often concerns the experience of death, sleep, suspended animation and rebirth.

In the history of world culture, the Moon has often been associated with the feminine principle, spontaneous, unconscious manifestations, intuition, and that which escapes the control of reason. People associated the masculine principle and reason with the sun. This can partly be explained by the fact that during the day people are awake and engaged in various activities, while at night they rest. And this is typical not only for humans, but also for other life forms.

The Moon is often represented by female deities associated with the manifestation of intuition and instincts. Moreover, they were not only worshiped, but also feared, since those manifestations could be perceived as a threat to stability and rationality. The perception of the Moon and the night in many cases, in art and spiritual culture, is often associated with the experience of anxiety and sadness, which is mixed with the feeling of meeting something mysterious and incomprehensible, what not only frightens, but also attracts human beings.

Examples of female deities expressing the “lunar principle” and qualities associated with it are Isis, one of the significant goddesses of Ancient Egypt, embodying the ideal of femininity and motherhood. The worship of Isis was widespread throughout the Greco-Roman world.

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Figure 1: Ancient Egyptian image of Isis.

Isis was the faithful wife of Osiris. Having learned about the adultery of Osiris with Neftia, Isis shook the universe with a cry of despair and tore the ribbons from the marriage bed. Seth decided to take revenge on his brother and killed him. Hearing about the murder of her husband, Isis cut her hair, put on mourning robes and went in search of Osiris, turning into a female kite – the bird Hat. Having found his body, Isis spread her wings over the mummy of Osiris, uttered magic words and became pregnant.

Ancient poets (Pindar, Aeschylus, Sappho) called her “the sparkling eye of the night” and imagined her as a beautiful woman in the sky, with a torch in her hands, leading the stars when she appears in a silvery splendor at the time of the full moon.

The poeticized perception of the Moon as a mysterious feminine entity is clearly shown in Sappho’s poetic miniatures.

The Moon

The stars about the lovely moon
Fade back and vanish very soon,
When, round and full, her silver face
Swims into sight, and lights all space

(English translation by Edwin Arnold)

In this poetic miniature, Sappho conveys her condition through the image of the Moon.

The Moon has left the sky,
Lost is the Pleiads’ light;
It is midnight,
And time slips by,
But on my couch
alone I lie.

(English translation by J. Addington Symonds)

Another lunar deity of the Ancient World was Hecate, who also acted as the goddess of the underworld, everything mysterious, magic and witchcraft. At first, in ancient Greek mythology, Hecate was not a negative character, but later, with the development of the cult of Aphrodite, Athena, Artemis and other goddesses, she increasingly began to be associated with the domains of Hades, embodying the horror of the night and death, appearing in the image of a pale woman with black hair, which goes out at night to hunt, accompanied by dogs. The perception of the Moon is thus filled with a variety of meanings and evokes a variety of experiences, from peace, love, admiration, to anxiety, sadness and fear.


Figure 2: Triple-formed representation of Hecate. Marble, Roman copy after an original of the Hellenistic period. Chiaramonti Museum, Vatican

The moon and the night world have inspired poets, artists, and musicians for centuries, who are able to listen to the sound of the night, see the richness of its colors and unravel its “secret messages,” comprehend its spirit and states.

In his poem "To the Moon" (1820), the English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley experienced the state of the moon this way:

Art thou pale for weariness

Of climbing heaven and gazing on the earth,

Wandering companionless

Among the stars that have a different birth, —

And ever changing, like a joyless eye

That finds no object worth its constancy?

Thou chosen sister of the Spirit,

That gazes on thee till in thee it pities ...

Having published his first collection of poems at the age of 18, Alexander Blok included “The Full Moon Rose Over the Meadow” (1898). He describes nature as sleeping, resting, while insomnia forces the lyrical hero to leave his home and, experiencing fear caused by the unrecognizability of the familiar world, and his defenselessness before the mysterious night life, experience inspiration and see the world in a new light.

The full moon rose over the meadow

Unchanged marvelous circle,

Light and silent.

Pale, pale blossoming meadow,

The darkness of the night for him crawling

resting, sleeping.

Terribly take to the road,

incomprehensible anxiety

Under the moon reigns.

Though you know: early in the morning

The sun will come out of the fog,

field light up,

And then you will pass the footpath,

Where under every blade of grass

Everyday life.

Written by Beethoven in 1800-1801, the Moonlight Sonata was named so by music critic Ludwig Relstab, 5 years after the death of the author. Relshtab compared this work to “moonlight on Lake Firvaldstät.” The sonata is dedicated to 18-year-old Giulietta Guicciardi, to whom 31-year-old Beethoven gave music lessons in 1801. The composer was in love with the young countess and wanted to marry her. However, from the first months of 1802, Juliet showed a clear preference for the composer Gelenberg and, as a result, married him. Six months after writing the sonata, Beethoven wrote the Heiligenstadt Testament in despair. Some Beethoven scholars believe that it was to Countess Guicciardi that the composer addressed a letter known as the letter “to the immortal beloved.” It was discovered after Beethoven's death on March 26, 1827, in a hidden drawer in his wardrobe. Beethoven kept a miniature portrait of Juliet along with this letter and the Heiligenstadt Testament. The melancholy of unrequited love, the agony of hearing loss – all this was expressed by the composer in the Moonlight Sonata.

Another outstanding piece of music associated with the Moon is the piano piece “Moonlight” by Debussy. This is the third part of the Bergamasco Suite, which the composer wrote, as some believe, inspired by the poems of the symbolist Paul Verlaine. One of his most striking poems is called “Moonlight”. In fact, exactly the opposite happened. Inspired by the light and harmonious music of Debussy, Verlaine wrote three wonderful quatrains.


Your soul is like a landscape fantasy,

Where masks and Bergamasks, in charming wise,

Strum lutes and dance, just a bit sad to be

Hidden beneath their fanciful disguise.


Singing in minor mode of life’s largesse

And all-victorious love, they yet seem quite

Reluctant to believe their happiness,

And their song mingles with the pale moonlight,


The calm, pale moonlight, whose sad beauty, beaming,

Sets the birds softly dreaming in the trees,

And makes the marbled fountains, gushing, streaming—

Slender jet-fountains—sob their ecstasies.

(English translation by Norman Shapiro)

The moon has left a significant mark on the fine arts of different times and peoples. Very significant for its time is the image of the moon in the fresco “Assumption of the Virgin Mary” (or “Immaculate Conception”) by Ludovico Cardi, known as Sigoli (1610-1612; Rome, Santa Maggiore, Paolina Chapel). Sigoli was a great friend of Galileo Galilei, thanks to communication with whom the artist was able to create the first realistic image of the Moon in a work of art, which was at odds with the ideas of the Catholic Church, which believed that the Moon is a round, flat, smooth, clean body. Still, Sigoli's work was not censored; church authorities preferred to remain cautious.

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Figure 3: Fresco “Assumption of the Virgin Mary” (or “Immaculate Conception”) Ludovico Cardi (1610-1612, Rome, Santa Maggiore, Paolina Chapel)

European painters often use mythological material as a source for creating images of the Moon. In this regard, the painting of the Italian painter of the 17th century, a representative of the Bolognese school, Guercini (real name Giovanni Francesco Barbieri) – “Endymion” is indicative. According to Greek mythology, Endymion was a young, handsome shepherd who fell madly in love with Selene, the moon goddess. Selene was so passionate about him that she begged Zeus to give him eternal youth and eternal sleep so that she could come to him forever.

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Figure 4: Guercino, “Endymion” (1647; oil on canvas)

The English artist Edward Robert Hughes (1851-1914), considered a follower of the Pre-Raphaelites and aestheticism, created many paintings on literary and allegorical subjects, filling them with romantic images of the Moon, the night, conveying the amazing night world and special states experienced by humans and other creatures.

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Figure 5: Edward Robert Hughes. "Tired Moon" Cardboard, watercolor (1900).

An allegory for the posthumous repose of fallen soldiers is the work of Viktor Vasnetsov “After the massacre of Igor Svyatoslavich with the Polovtsians” (1880). Vasnetsov’s canvas depicts the imaginary result of a real battle that Prince Igor gave to the Polovtsians. A large moon rises on the fallen warriors, illuminating them with its light of sorrow and compassion.

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Figure 6: Viktor Vasnetsov, “After the massacre of Igor Svyatoslavich with the Polovtsians.” Oil on canvas (1880).

The moon in Rene Magritte's painting "The Sixteenth of September" (1957) "settled" on a huge tree, perhaps a monumental ash or oak. Throughout his work, Magritte created effects of mystery, for example, by placing one object in front of another, causing the viewer to want to solve the riddle given by the artist.

In contrast to the relative permanence of the giant, strong tree, the presence of the moon in the picture is a symbol of changing phenomena, the natural order of things. The Moon truly expresses the cyclical changes in the natural world, and itself supports them.

Magritte's painting can be seen as a memory of the deep relationships that connect a person with the forest, the sky, the Moon, and the watery shell of the Earth. All of them seem to “breathe”, support the flow and life cycles of nature and humans, the ebb and flow of their vital activity.

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Figure 7: Rene Magritte. "September sixteenth." Oil on canvas (1957).

In its ever-repeating monthly cycle of waxing and waning, the Moon goes through phases of birth, maturation, aging and "dying", almost disappearing and soon reappearing again, thus reflecting the process of sowing, cultivating and harvesting.

The Italian artist Osvaldo Lichini felt a strong connection with the Moon, which he called “Amalassunta” and saw it as the embodiment of “beautiful, eternal silver, personified in a few words, the friend of every little weary heart.”

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Figure 8: Osvaldo Licini, "Amalassunta on a blue background" (1951; oil on canvas, 25.5 x 34 cm; private collection)

“Private Moon” is an art project by Russian artist Leonid Tishkov. It is a series of photographs and light installations that tell the story of a man who fell in love with the moon and stayed with her for life. Leonid Tishkov calls “Private Moon” a visual poem. The author accompanies many photographs of the project with poetic texts written in blank verse.

The sky is nearby

Open the attic and you will see

Where the wasp nest is,

A blinding light is buzzing

Lost moon.

According to the plot of this art project, a man saw the living Moon falling from heaven in the attic of his house. He covered the Moon with a blanket, drank tea with her, treated her to apples, and then transported her across a dark river to a bank with lunar pines, descended into the lower world, and then returned back, illuminating the path with his personal Moon. Together with the Moon, man crossed the boundaries of worlds, fell into sleep, and became a mythological creature that can live in the real world as if in a fairy tale.

The romantic fairy-tale quality of the project is ambiguous: it allows you to see the world in a new light, to introduce notes of poetics, mystery, fabulousness, childhood, tenderness, care, reciprocity, contemplation into a person’s perception, and highlights everything around. A meeting with the Moon revives in us the ability to perceive the world as a living universe, sharing with a person the feeling of loneliness, and pain, and the joy of meeting, and living together, and wanderings.

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Figure 9: Leonid Tishkov. From the project “Private Moon”. Uvarovka, Russia (2003). Photographer: Boris Bendikov.


The article examined various aspects of the influence of the Moon on humans. It is shown how, through creative activity in the interaction of a person with a given celestial body, new meanings and forms of experience are formed and their renewal in culture takes place. The moon acts not only as a physical object, but also as a subject, together with which people are included in various forms of subject-generating interaction with the natural world, realizing the wealth of their potentials in their unity with the world of nature. When considering the Moon as a natural phenomenon, special attention is paid to those types of activities when it is perceived through the prism of non-pragmatic, artistic and aesthetic experience. When considering this mode of perception of the Moon, the concepts of poiesis and ecopoiesis were used.

Through the examples of a large number of mythological images, as well as works of fine art, music and literature, it was shown how the Moon acts as one of the natural archetypes, interacting with which people reveal their essential properties in their unity with the “web of life”.

Interaction with the world of natural archetypes, such as the Moon archetype in particular, develops a sense of beauty, thanks to which people, in the process of interacting with the natural world and each other, attach importance to love and reverence for life. The sense of beauty has an ecological basis and is associated with the perception of the world of nature and various forms of life as possessing beauty, health and creative potential. Addressing the Moon as a natural and, at the same time, cultural object supports the unity of scientific and artistic ways of comprehending the world and human relations with nature.


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Reference for citations

Kopytin, A. (2024). The natural archetype of the Moon in culture and in the arts. Ecopoiesis: Eco-Human Theory and Practice, 5(2). [open access internet journal]. – URL: (d/m/y)


About the journal

In accordance with the Law of the Russian Federation on the Mass Media, the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Communications (Roskomnadzor) on September 22, 2020, the web-based publication - The peer-reviewed scientific online journal "Ecopoiesis: Eco-Human Theory and Practice" was registered (registration number El No. FS77-79134).

“Ecopoiesis: Eco-Human Theory and Practice” is the international multidisciplinary Journal focused on building an eco-human paradigm, disseminating eco-human knowledge and technology based on the alliance of ecology, humanities and the arts. Our journal aims to be a vibrant forum of theories and practices aimed at harmonizing the relations of mankind and the natural world in the interests of sustainable development, the creation of Eco-Humanity as a new community of human beings and more-than-human world. The human being is an ecological being, not separate from the world. The Ecopoiesis journal is based on that premise and aims to develop a body of theory and practice within that framework.

The Journal promotes dialogue and cooperation between ecologists, philosophers, doctors, educators, psychologists, artists, musicians, designers, social activists, business representatives in the name of eco-human values, human health and well-being, in close connection with concern for the environment. The Journal supports the development and implementation of new environmentally-friendly concepts, technologies and practices in the various fields of health and public life, education and social work.

One of the priority tasks of the Journal is to demonstrate and support the significant role of the arts in their alliance with ecology and the humanities for the restoration and development of constructive relations with nature, raising environmental awareness and promoting nature-friendly lifestyles.

The Journal publishes articles describing new eco-human concepts and practices, technologies and applied research data at the intersection of humanities, ecology and the arts, as well as interviews and conference reports related to the emerging eco-human field. It encourages artwork, music and other creative products related to eco-human practices and the new global community of Eco-Humanity.