Full Moon in Cynthia

Wasn’t it a glorious full moon the other night? I took my friend Ali’s advice and lay my crystals out on the window sills to give them a hit of moonglow energy. Here is a tarot card of the moon featuring moon goddess Cynthia. She is sometimes called Diana Cynthia, but most often, Artemis. Cynthia comes from the Greek, from the mountain where Artemis and her twin brother Apollo were born of Greek God Zeus and immortal Leto, on the tiny island of Delos in the Aegean Sea. Zeus as usual was trying to keep his shenanigans secret from his wife Hera.

Hera figured out what was going on and barred Leto from giving birth on any land and because Delos was so tiny and not attached to the ocean bed, Leto was able to deliver her twins there. Later, a temple was erected in Artemis’s honor and Delos became a spiritual center of the ancient world. The name of that mountain in Delos where Artemis and Apollo were born is Cynthus (Kynthos in Greek) and thus the goddess is sometimes given the name Cynthia. You don’t often hear it, that’s for sure. Like Leto herself, Cynthia fades into the background.


A high school course sparked my interested in mythology even before I looked into one of those “what your name means” books and saw to my utter surprise the title “moon goddess” next to my name. I would have thought Cynthia meant “scullery maid” or possibly “milk maid.” Nothing so grand as a goddess. I of course never brought this connection up in college when I studied Greek and Roman literature, history, and philosophy. In academia, the moon goddess is Diana or Artemis. Cynthia is the unnamed one. I was content with that until I read a memoir by Sue Monk Kidd called The Dissident’s Daughter about Kidd’s break with mainstream Christianity in favor of goddess worship. Kidd, like so many before her for thousands of years, took a pilgrimage to Mt. Cynthus in Delos.

As I read of this trip, I felt a yearning to take the pilgrimage myself. But at the time my life was busy with teaching and writing and I never imagined I’d have the resources for such an endeavor. I could only look a little deeper into Cynthia. Pretty much all I know is the name is derived from the mountain and somehow mountain and moon formed a bond that the ancients honored by bestowing Cynthia the title of moon goddess.

I like that Cynthia was a bit elusive; she’s a secret. As Artemis is called the huntress, I too hunted down my namesake through the years, certain only of the fact that I possess a secret goddess name and I should see what I might do to live up to it. I’ve never held a bow and arrow or seen a unicorn. Still, the honor and mystery of my name has grown on me to the point where I suggested to my husband we travel to Greece. To Delos. To climb Mount Cynthus. And to my surprise and gratitude he said yes. I expect I will find something at the top of that mountain, something that has been inside me all along will spring forth and reveal its secret to me.

Either that or I will just have a nice view and tired legs. Oh, and the trip of a lifetime.