Interesting question. Of course, the saying is “the Man in the Moon,” not “the Man is the Moon” – referring to an image a lot of people pick out when they look at the moon (though some see a rabbit or a hare).
In classical mythologies across many cultures, the Sun has often been perceived as or associated with a masculine deity (e.g., Shamash, Ra, Helios, Phaeton, Apollo, Mithra, Sol, etc.) and the Moon with a Goddess (Selene, Luna, Artemis, Chang’e, Diana, Abuk, Coyolxauhqui, etc.). However, that’s only been since the Bronze Age, with the introduction of the solar hero and patriarchal traditions. Joseph Campbell makes a strong case that prior to that the Sun was thought of as female and the Moon as male:
Here’s an excerpt on that subject from a yet to be published compilation of Q & A sessions with Joseph Campbell:
CAMPBELL: The point that’s coming through to me more and more as I work on these materials—and I’ve worked on them all my life—is that most of our great traditions derive finally from the Bronze Age. And the Mother Goddess is the principal divinity of that time.
QUESTION: THE MOTHER GODDESS PRE-DATES THE EMERGENCE OF THE MASCULINE HERO THEME IN MYTHOLOGY?
CAMPBELL: The earlier tradition, so far as my findings go, is the one where the sun is feminine and the moon masculine. The moon is the image of the sacrifice that dies and is resurrected. The moon dies in the light of the sun, and is again born from the light of the sun. And so the sun is the mother of the moon.
That makes the sun feminine. The fire of the sun and the fire of the womb that converts seed into life are equivalent. Also the fire on the sacrificial altar consumes the victim. These are all associated with a mythic consciousness that dates at least from the early bronze age. Here there is a deep sense of the melancholy and tragic quality in life, since the moon, the symbol of life’s death and resurrection, carries its own shadow within itself, as we all do.
You can see something of the influence of myth on language when you consider the Indo-European family of languages. Here nouns have genders, but it’s strange how these change. In German they have a masculine moon and a feminine sun: der Mond, die Sonne. This accords with a myth that extends all the way from the River Rhine to the China Sea, where in Japan the goddess Amaterasu is the sun, her brother being the moon god. Then there’s a myth about the moon brother and sun sister that is known to practically all the circumpolar peoples of the North.
Q: WHEN DID THE DOMINANT MYTHOLOGICAL IMAGE CHANGE FROM A FEMININE TO A MASCULINE SUN?
CAMPBELL: This is heroic mythology. It comes in around 2500 B.C. with the Fifth Dynasty in Egypt. It was built up throughout the Near East and elsewhere. There the image is of the rising sun in the morning, a hero dispelling darkness and shadows. So there is Sol Invictus, the unconquerable sun, the masculine hero. The sun hero, then, becomes a very important figure.
In French, the sun is masculine and the moon feminine: le soleil, la lune; and this accords with another myth context. Apparently this mythic orientation came by way of the Mediterranean into France but not into early Germany. So at the Rhine these two mythic traditions confronted each other. In my estimation that’s why the French and the Germans will never understand each other. The French language has a sunny, bright quality. There are deep mysterious things you simply can’t say in French.
Q: WHAT EXPLAINS THE SHIFT FROM GODDESS-ORIENTED CULTURES TO PATRIARCHAL TRADITIONS ACCENTING MASCULINE GODS AND HEROES?
CAMPBELL: Nomadic herding peoples—the Mongols, the Indo-Europeans, and the Semites—came smashing in on those city areas and you have the period that we know, the heroic age.
Q: WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN?
CAMPBELL: In the second millennium B.C.—actually, it begins earlier than that—with the invasions of these great cultures in Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley, and the Huang Ho, by the Semites coming out of the Syrio-Arabian desert, the Indo-Europeans from the northern grasslands (their base seems to be just north of the Black Sea), and then, later, the Mongols going into China.
Clearly you are in good company, Willi!