Friday, December 08, 2006

Man, Mind and The Moon

In the Indo-European tradition, the common root of “Moon” and “measurement” – me, ma, men – extends, fascinatingly, into more complex notions of mental activity. most importantly, Sanskrit ma to measure, seeds the Sanskrit manas, which meant mind, in its widest sense of intellect, intelligence, understanding, perception, sense, conscience, will and spirit. Mata of mati-h was thought, intention, measure, knowledge, and mantra was an instrument of thought, a prayer, hymn or text. However, ma also means to measure out, to plan (after the manner of a carpenter or house-builder), giving the idea of maya, that which is measured out, the phenomenal world of time. Manu was the name given to the great teacher who originated Hindu culture, from whom the word “man” derives, defining “man” as a thinking being.

In Greek, the Sanskrit root of me, ma, men structures a similar range of thought. As well as terms for measurement, the root me yields metis, wisdom, foresight, shrewdness; metiesthai, to meditate, to have in mind, to dream; menos, mind, intention, courage, spirit; mnasthai, to be mindful, remember; mneme, memory…

In Latin, finally, mens, meaning mind, becomes mental in English.

Jules Cashford, The Moon: Myth and Imagination


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