The Most Fascinating Ideas, Rituals & Truths Surrounding the Moon

“My friend is having her baby right now, and she was due only a week before me. The moon got to her. I’m crossing my legs… stay away from me moon!” a 36-week pregnant friend of mine announced on her Facebook timeline one October night.

From high ocean tides to crime rates, sleepless nights, strokes of luck and money manifestation, humans have been fascinated by and responsive to theories surrounding the moon for Millenia. Taken captive by its mystery, there are a galaxy of ideas and interpretations pertaining to the significance of its waxing and waning.

At the dawn of the New Year, the full Wolf Moon invites the most ambitious of folks to howl with fresh goals and resolutions. In June, we stretch across the fertile grass, gazing up at the glow of the summer Strawberry Moon. And, come September, we are alerted to fall’s abundant harvest. But what about the dark side of its enchantment; are there more acts of violence under the full Moon — more daring episodes of revelry and scoundrel? Hippocrates wrote in the fifth century B.C. that “one who is seized with terror, fright and madness during the night is being visited by the goddess of the Moon.”

And we know that the words “lunacy” and “lunatic” were derived from the Roman goddess of the Moon, named Luna, who was said to spend her nights blazing across the dark sky in her silver chariot.

Are these merely offerings of fascination and folklore, or are there elements of virtue within them? Our brains are always on the hunt for evidence that confirms what we believe to be true. We humans don’t take too kindly to our paradigms being questioned by contrast, yet we celebrate that which mirrors what we think we know for sure.

But maybe — just maybe — some of theses ideas and myths carry truth. Perhaps our Moon, now more than 4.5 billion years old, is a source of galactic power we should practice the art of aligning ourselves with. Let’s find out.

High Ocean Tides & High Human Lunacy

Photo by Neven Krcmarek

While both the mellow Moon and the scorching Sun influence our ocean tides, the former plays a starring role in the human drama because it lives much closer to us – causing its tidal effect on Earth to be twice as powerful as that of the Sun.

The gravity of the Moon and the Sun work symbiotically to pull the waters upwards, thereby creating high tides in the areas of Earth which face the Moon. While this occurs, the ocean water drains away to fill bulges in the remaining areas of the planet, thus creating low tides. We also know that the Moon moves in synchronous rotation with Earth, so there is no doubt that the two celestial bodies are in a deliberate partnership with one another.

But in what other ways does this apply to earthlings? If the human body is roughly 75 percent water, what does this mean for the Moon’s gravitational pull on human psychology and personality? Is the Moon responsible for manic episodes of high and low emotional tides? It’s a romantic thought, sure, but is it true?

One of the earliest scientists to believe in the correlation between the Moon and mental disruption in humans was Pliny the Elder, who said that, because the full Moon causes a “heavy nocturnal dew” on Earth, it also causes the human brain, which is already the moistest organ in the body, to become even more so – to an “unnatural” degree, thereby leading to episodes of epilepsy and mania.

But what if the parallel between the full Moon and the escalation of mental hyperactivity and chaos, if there truly is one at all, is more simple? Is it possible that the bright, alluring light of an inviting full Moon asks more people to head to the park for a night walk with their dogs, more teenagers to sneak out in parental rebellion, more restless souls to crawl from hiding and roam the streets in search of mischief?

Dr. Christian Cajochen, Head Centre for Chronobiology at the University of Basel in Switzerland, says not so fast – that, in fact, “the lunar cycle seems to influence human sleep.” Having conducted a study on the effect of human sleep patterns during a full Moon, he found that the rate of deep sleep dropped by 30 percent, and that it took individuals an average of five minutes longer to drift into a dream state than it normally would have taken them during a new or crescent Moon. Individuals also slept an average of 20 minutes fewer than they normally would.

It’s difficult to argue with that logic: Inadequate sleep can for sure make even the most well-aligned person a little bit loony.

Fertile Wombs & Full Moon Babies

Photo by Josh Bean

Ancient civilizations lived by the moon, with the earliest Egyptian calendar being based on the Moon’s cycles. But they also studied its pattern of waxing and waning to determine when a woman could conceive a child. While fertility methods based on lunar cycles have been repeatedly debunked over centuries, many people still believe in the full Moon’s power to spawn an increase in crying newborns. Could it be true – that the gravitational pull of the full Moon may cause an expectant mother’s water to break? Possibly, but not necessarily.

While countless midwives and doulas still swear that years of bringing babies into the world have proven an undeniable correlation, many doctors and scientific studies claim it’s merely a myth.

According to an article published by The Huffington Post, researchers from Mountain Area Health Education Center in North Carolina rallied together in 2005 to analyze roughly 600,000 births, stretching across 62 lunar cycles – scoping out babies born from 1997 to 2001. Their findings? Sadly, Moon gazers, they found absolutely no significant differences in the frequency of births across the Moon stages.

The Moon, Astrology & Personality

Photo by Sadman Sakib

Kay M. “Astro Pluto Queen” Jay, who has been consumed with the study of Astrology since 2015 and is earning her degree in Cozmophyzix (“an artistic science that utilizes various astrology methods”), is up with the sun to spend her days in lecture, reading and research, and spends her evenings looking to the sky — analyzing natal charts and providing custom phone readings to clients who wish to better understand karmic patterns within their lives. This includes the discovery of their most opulent gifts and personality traits, as well as their most stubborn struggles and traumas. And she has a lot to say about the Moon — particularly its rocky impression on females.

“Women can be seen through the astrological lens of the Moon. Looking at the [position of a woman’s] moon in her natal chart helps us understand what kind of women she is and what she will eventually be. The Moon in a woman’s chart represents her emotional nature and her feminine essence,” says Jay.

She analyzed my natal chart, which she determined to have a sun in Virgo, a rising in Scorpio and a moon in Libra. “Your moon is in Libra, which means the ‘inner you’ has a deep desire for harmony in friendships, romance and domestic partnerships. You are probably really sociable, but you always like coming home to your loved ones,” she says. “But your rising is in Scorpio, so your energy is very commanding, intense and strong.”

I guess? I mean, I can be rather aggressive when I’m hungry. But I’m also my father’s daughter, so that may not be Scorpio’s fault. But then there was more. She went on to spotlight each of my individual “houses.”

“Your 12th House is actually in the Moon, so the Moon is extremely significant for you. This means you’re for sure an empath, and you probably have people coming to you often for counseling because it’s evident that you care deeply about others, and that you’re super intuitive,” she says. “On the downside, you literally absorb the heavy emotions of others, and this can be harmful to you. It can actually alter your behavior and mood. You will always have to protect yourself from toxic people who want to abuse your time and willingness to show concern for them.”

You don’t say? Suddenly, I felt naked and exposed. As skeptical as I was about this entire process, Jay managed to pull a sliver (or 10!) of convincing out of me. I think my eyes bugged out of my skull a time or two — especially when she spoke of the years of teenage angst and rebellion screaming right out of my chart. “You’ve always been a wild card. You’ve always had the desire to be free, think for yourself and go your own way, but it really started in your teenage years,” she says.

She continued to offer up her explanation, through the lens of Astrology, of why some women experience more issues than others when it comes to their mothers, their reproductive health and their processing of emotions. Basically, she says we can blame it all our Earth’s natural satellite.

“As Earth’s Moon enters different phases, our menstrual cycles end and begin. A well-placed and aspected moon [in a natal chart] generally tells the story of a woman with a balanced childhood and emotional life, while an afflicted moon tells the story of woman with blockages that stem from their mother and emotional pain,” she says. “No matter where our moon is placed and how our moon is aspected, understanding our moon tells us about our womb health, family health, and emotional health. As women, we are the moon.”

Having dealt with the tragic loss of my birth mother in childhood, the most astrologically-minded would likely presume that my moon status — and, thus, mother situation — is 50 shades of afflicted. “I definitely see some significant issues with a misconnection to your mother in the moon aspect of your chart,” says Jay.

I can’t be sure if I’m entirely convinced of these natal chart moon placement sentiments, but they are certainly intriguing. I think, perhaps, every person’s Astrological blueprint, including its moon aspect, may serve as a guide to our general natures and behavioral inclinations, but we shouldn’t feel like slaves to it.

New Moon Intentions & Full Moon Manifestations

Beautiful Moon in California
Photo by Jānis Skribāns

“You’ll want to always launch a new business or announce a project when the moon is waxing.”

Those words were posted up by a small business owner in a Facebook group, while discussing the Astrology of marketing and strategy planning in business. “I always set my business intentions when the Moon is new, and watch them manifest or make them known publicly when the Moon nears being full,” she says, in response to a direct message I sent to her.

Along with the dozens in the group who seemed to harmonize with her goal-setting stance, she swears the good stuff always comes to fruition when the night sky is aglow.

Well-known blogger, speaker and spiritual enthusiast Sarah Prout has a podcast episode, “New Moon Rituals and the Power of Intention Setting,” devoted entirely to this topic. In it, she gifts her listeners with five key steps, complete with the gathering of candles, oils and crystals, to align themselves with the lunar cycles – solely for the purpose of anchoring abundance in the most heightened areas of their lives.

Maybe there is some scientific merit to all of this glorification of the Moon. But maybe, above all, it just provides us with a sense of connection to an entity far more prominent than we are – one that is elusive, rocky and orbiting around us without fail. Carl Sagan once said it most eloquently, “The reappearance of the crescent Moon after the new Moon; the return of the Sun after a total eclipse, the rising of the Sun in the morning after its troublesome absence at night were noted by people around the world; these phenomena spoke to our ancestors of the possibility of surviving death. Up there in the skies was also a metaphor of immortality.”

Lacey Johnson

Madam Wonder: Founding Editor

Lacey Johnson is an award-winning editor, essayist and journalist who earned her degree from Belmont University. She has worked with a broad range of celebrities and entrepreneurs — including the likes of Betsey Johnson, Deepak Chopra, Daymond John and Olympic Gold Medalist Shawn Johnson. Her work can be read in a variety of print magazines and digital media sources including Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Woman’s Day, Mirabella, PopSugar, The Connect and others. With a deep intrigue for human beings, and passion for smacking her readers in the face with the truth, she writes and reports boldly about topics that challenge the status quo — in the realms of love and relationships, popular culture, travel, spirituality, women’s issues and the nuances of a fulfilling life. She is also deep in the process of co-authoring her first book, which is a gutsy exploration of the illusions of fame, power and success, told through narratives involving some of the people the world most idolizes.

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