As you may be aware, we have had several significant lunar events in the past few months. In fact, almost everyone I know felt really unsettled while some of these events were happening. Did you notice this too? If so, you’re not alone! I thought it would be interesting to write a short article about the moon and some of the history and research around moon phases and how they affect us.
The Latin term for moon is “luna” – so you can pretty much figure out where the terms ‘lunacy’ and ‘lunatic’ originate! The term ‘lunacy’ was specifically coined in the 16th century to describe insanity brought on by moon cycles. During the Middle ages in Europe, some humans were thought to morph into vampires or werewolves during a full moon as well. In modern times, many people still believe that a full moon can create volatile behavior which includes more violence, emergency calls and just an increase in irrational happenings in general. It is no secret that some Police and Fire Departments even add more staff during these periods. So why does this stuff happen?
Some theorists believe that since the moon cycles affect the tides, they also affect balance in the human body, which is made up of mostly water. There have been scientific studies about this that have returned mixed data. Although one study in the 1980s showed an increase in traffic accidents during a full moon, critics of the study also pointed out the the full moon cycles coincided with weekends, which historically have a higher incidence of crashes already. However, if you know anyone working in positions of public safety, most of them do not dismiss the affects of the moon cycles on their work.
What we do know is that the moon phases affect tides and also can affect animal migratory patterns and behavior. And as such, we cannot completely dismiss that the moon’s cycles also have a profound affect on us as human beings. Another important point to remember is that we are also very affected by our sleep patterns. A full moon is bright and adds more light to the night sky, and as such, can definitely play a part in causing sleeplessness. Lack of sleep can create erratic behavior, especially in those with mental health conditions. A study done at the University of Washington and the University of Basel, Switzerland, noted that people’s sleep rhythms definitely changed during a full moon. Studies in Florida and Great Britain also seem to indicate an uptick in dog bites and emergency calls during these times as well.
So what can you do to help mitigate these periods of “lunacy”? For starters, keep an eye on the moon phases themselves. There are many free moon phase calendars available online, many of which can be integrated into your smartphone or computer desktop. Also, keep a journal of observations–of your own behavior and of those around you during these times. Do you pick up any significant changes in yourself and the people around you? Do some people seem more on-edge than others? (Example: your boss seems to have a pattern of being cranky when the moon is full. Check that calendar, and the next time the moon is full, consider taking a vacation day!)
If you begin to feel your own stress level rising during these times, try to unplug for 10-15 minutes to a quiet place where you can retreat and center yourself. Play relaxing music, turn off all your electronic gadgets, visualize yourself in a place you enjoy (like the beach or mountains!) and try to meditate a little. This “time out” will help to calm you during these periods and will also help clear the ‘static’ from your mind. These moon phases were around long before we came into being, and will continue into the infinite future. The sooner we can learn to understand that beautiful glowing orb and its possible impact on us, the more we will also be able to appreciate and enjoy it’s power.