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Celestial Myths, Layla & Majnun and Lunar Effect | Notes

For thousands of years, people have studied celestial bodies and generated stories about them. Long before home-entertainment and modern life existed, I think of early people lying on their backs, watching the sky during the night and day, imagining and exchanging stories.

I have had the chance to listen to many myths about the sun and the moon in different geographies. I have realised that most of them are actually very similar to each other; the Sun and the Moon are in love but they cannot be together for some reason.

If I was an early human myself unaware of the scientific facts, what would I think of those two bodies that I keep seeing at the sky? I would probably adopt the belief, which my family/tribe transferred to me or I would try to make up a meaning of my own.

When I read about the story of Layla & Majnun, which is a narrative poem by Nizami a Persian poet based on a semi-historical Arab story, I thought that the story had many resemblances with the love stories of the Sun and the Moon. I reckoned, what if the poem was also telling about the two celestial bodies, one living at night and the other at day, which can never come together...

For theme and narrative of my experimental game project, I am thinking of embracing these two stories as one.

Story of Layla & Majnun:

Qays fell in love with Layla. He soon began composing poems about his love for her, mentioning her name often. His unselfconscious efforts to woo the girl caused some locals to call him "Majnun." When he asked for her hand in marriage, her father refused because it would be a scandal for Layla to marry someone considered mentally unbalanced. Soon after, Layla was married to another noble and rich merchant belonging to the Thaqif tribe in Ta'if. He was described as a handsome man with reddish complexion whose name was Ward Althaqafi. The Arabs called him Ward, meaning "rose" in Arabic. When Majnun heard of her marriage, he fled the tribal camp and began wandering the surrounding desert. His family eventually gave up hope for his return and left food for him in the wilderness. He could sometimes be seen reciting poetry to himself or writing in the sand with a stick. Layla is generally depicted as having moved to a place in Northern Arabia with her husband, where she became ill and eventually died. In some versions, Layla dies of heartbreak from not being able to see her would-be lover. Majnun was later found dead in the wilderness in 688 AD, near Layla’s grave. He had carved three verses of poetry on a rock near the grave, which are the last three verses attributed to him.

In Arabic language, Layla name means "night," and is thought to mean "one who works by night" or "worker of the dark." In the Arabic language, the word Majnun means "a crazy person."



The term "lunatic" derives from the Latin word lunaticus ("moonstruck") which originally referred mainly to epilepsy and madness as diseases caused by the moon. By the fourth and fifth centuries astrologers were commonly using the term to refer to neurological and psychiatric diseases. Through at least 1700 it was also a common belief that the Moon influenced fevers, rheumatism, episodes of epilepsy and other diseases.


Lunar effect:

Explores the idea that the Earth's Moon has an influence on human behavior. Surveys have shown that this belief is still commonplace in contemporary society, despite studies which have found that there is no correlation between the Moon and many indicators of human behavior.

It is the very error of the moon; She comes more near the earth than she was wont, And makes men mad.”

—Shakespeare, Othello


#Notes #ExperimentalProject

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