The Moon | Indigenous Symbolism


The Moon has varying meanings across the Pacific Northwest. Each tribe, clan, and family can have distinct and unique associations with the Moon. Generally, the Moon symbolizes tranquility, guidance, and protection throughout most Pacific Northwest Indigenous art. 

All Indigenous symbols and crests have significant cultural and historical associations. Many of these symbols can represent the stories, traits, and values that hold a special significance to Indigenous Peoples. In retail jewellery, these symbols still hold significance but aren’t held to the same cultural standard. Regardless, we believe learning more about the beauty and depth of these legends brings more pleasure to the wearer. 

Many legends attribute the Moon to transformation and time. In Indigenous stories, Moon is typically a feminine figure but can be masculine depending on the specific tribe. 

Depictions of The Moon In Indigenous Art

In Indigenous art, the Moon is depicted with a round face and flat features. An artist may choose to depict the Moon with either human or bird facial features. If the artist wants to indicate that the Moon is feminine, they may add a labret, a specific type of lip piercing.  

The body of the Moon does not have rays like the Sun but it may have a rim or circle surrounding its face. Indigenous artists usually depict a full or crescent moon but may occasionally include both phases, simultaneously. 

Although the Moon is not a popular crest, it is frequently depicted in Indigenous art. There are many legends and stories associated with the Moon among Northwest Coast Indigenous cultures. Popular depictions may include Raven putting Moon in the sky.

Also Read:  The Raven Symbolism | Indigenous Art and Jewellery

The Moon Symbolism

The Moon is an exclusive crest of only a few high-ranking chiefs among the Haida. Although stories of the Moon vary across many Indigenous cultures in the Pacific Northwest, the Moon is generally always associated with a guiding figure. 

She majestically graces the night skies with tranquility and poise. In contrast to this representation, the Nuu-chah-nulth believe it’s the Sun that’s the delicate figure while the Moon protects the people. 

Among most Northwest Coast Indigenous tribes, the Moon is a feminine symbol often associated with the Wolf.   

Also Read:  The Wolf Symbolism | Indigenous Art and Jewellery

The Moon In Northwest Coast Cultures

In nature, the Moon is responsible for the moving tides and rising oceans. Because of the Moon’s power, shamans would often call to her as a spirit guide. Moon’s origins vary between many Indigenous tribes and cultures. There may even be multiple, conflicting origins stories within the same culture. Among most groups, the Moon has a feminine personification.  

Some believe Raven put the Moon into the sky. Similar stories go so far as to say that the Moon was a piece of the Sun that Raven accidentally dropped into the night sky. 

Nuu-chah-nulth Peoples calendar year consists of 13 moons rather than months. The Moon is a guiding figure who can grant good luck and abundance. Among this tribe, the Moon as masculine, and the Sun is his wife. 

Also Read:  The Sun Symbolism | Indigenous Art and Jewellery

One Nuu-chah-nulth legend speaks of a giant codfish who tries to swallow the moon during a lunar eclipse. Both Nuu-chah-nulth and Kwakwaka’wakw tribes would participate in a Peace Dance during the Winter Ceremonies in correspondence with this. Pine tree bark would create enough smoke to cause the codfish to cough up the Moon.  

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