If the sun is the most important of the celestial bodies for the inhabitants of the earth, the Moon is undoubtedly the most mysterious. As opposed to the life-giving properties and warmth of the sun, the Moon is said to give out an occult power, and to rule over growth, the hidden processes of nature, the hollow spaces of the earth, and the movements of all the fluid elements within and upon the earth’s surface.
There is a magical power in the Moon for it is supposed to draw to itself the hidden potencies of the stars and constellations. It used to be called the "funnel of the earth" because it was said to receive and concentrate the radiant emanations from the other celestial bodies and filter and transmute them before pouring their bounty upon the earth. If the Moon were to vanish, it was believed all mental activity would come to a standstill.
Like the sun and stars, the moon rises east and sets west, as an effect of the earth’s rotation from west to east. But the Moon also revolves around the earth from west to east and this reduces the apparent effect of the earth’s own rotation. The result is that the Moon appears to wander across the sky perceptibly more slowly than sun and stars, and this makes it schedule rather erratic, at first glance. Everyday, it rises about 50 minutes later, on the average, than the day before and it sets accordingly later, too. This daily retardation, as this is called, brings the moon out of step with the sun and then into step again over a period of a month, or more exactly, 29 ½ days from a Dark Moon to Dark Moon. There is a difference of more than two days between these two periods of time. By the time the Moon completes one orbit, the earth has moved farther in space. The Moon has not quite reached its Dark Moon phase yet. It must move a little farther around the earth before it is again between the earth and the sun. This extra distance accounts for the 2 extra days the Moon takes to change from a Dark Moon to the next Dark Moon. In earlier days, before man became afraid of the dark, the New Moon was referred to as the Dark Moon and the first sliver in the sky was in deed, the New Moon. But because of man’s fear of the dark and unknown, they did away with the dark and now call it New Moon instead of Dark Moon.
The Moon can be seen in bright sunlight unless it is "dark." In fact, the moon is not just a night fixture but its appearances are evenly spread over night and day.
The Moon always turns the same side to the earth, as is well known. That is not the Moon’s doing but the earth’s. At the beginning of existence the moon supposedly rotated fast around itself, but the pull of the earth’s gravity slowed that rotation down to 29 ½ days, exactly the same as the moon’s revolution around the earth and nobody could tell what the other side of the moon looked like until 1959 when the Russian space Lunik III took the first photographs of those regions.
The Moon and the Earth are both affecting each other. The Moon makes the earth slow down. The flowing of water through ties, caused mainly by the Moon, produces friction on the ocean basins, and this is decreasing the rate of the earth’s rotation by one second every 450,000 years. That means that 400 million years ago, the days were around 22 hours long instead of 24. In another 35,000 years from now, there will be 25 hours in a day–a bliss for the workaholic!
We generally believe that we only ever see half of the Moon’s surface. This is not strictly true. Although the Moon does keep only one aspect turned towards us, it swings slightly, both from east to west and from north to south as the moon’s axis is titled as well. About 59 percent of the moon’s surface is actually visible from Earth over a period of time.
The Moon reflects less than one-tenth of the light that falls on it from the sun, although its brightness varies according to its phases because of the roughness of its surface and the consequent variable amount of shadow. The Full Moon–-when the sun, earth and moon are in the same line–-is ten times as bright as the moon at first quarter. However, the Moon’s energy is not effected in anyway by the light of the sun. The sun only adds to the moon’s beauty of a full moonlit night. The sun enables us to know what phases the moon is going through. Its energies are the same whether it is a rainy night or if there was no sun at all. It is the earth and the moon revolving and as stated before, the pull is the greatest when the Moon is at its closest point to the earth. It is the earth and the moon dancing in the sky as partners going through their cycles every 28 or so days, depending on how you are counting.
What couples the earth and the moon? They both revolve around the center of mass of the earth-moon system. Think of it this way, imagine two people of very different weights on a see-saw. The heavier person must be nearer the center of gravity, or mass, for anything to happen. And, as the Moon is 81 times further away from the center of mass than the earth, it must have 1/81 times the mass.
So the Moon does not revolve around the center of the Earth! Each moves in an ellipse around the center of mass. The Earth-Moon center of mass lies approximately 3.5 miles from the earth’s center in the direction of the Moon.
Moscow is raised and lowered by twenty inches twice a day by the tides, those mysterious currents that visibly affect the oceans of the Earth–and may affect much more besides, which in turn are affected directly by our friend, the Moon.
The Moon acts as a magnetic force of the Earth, pulling the waters towards it. The reason why Moscow, for instance, rises and falls in this extraordinary way is that the Moon acts as a giant sponge, absorbing and releasing the waters.
The general ebb and flow of tide-lore is that coasts have two low and two high tides, separated by an average of 12 hours and twenty-five minutes. The complete cycle of the tides takes about 24 hours and fifty minutes, as the earth presents all its aspects to the Moon during that period.
What makes the Earth’s waters ebb and flow? The Moon pulls gravitationally on both the earth and the water. The earth, being solid, is attracted to the Moon as if all of its mass was concentrated at a point in the center. But not so the water. It is free to move around, and the difference between the Moon’s gravitational forces on the earth and the ocean waters produces the tides. The tides are caused by the rising of two bulges in the oceans on the opposite sides of the earth. Water nearest the Moon is attracted more than the earth itself which is, in turn, attracted more than the water on the other side of the earth furthest from the Moon. The bulges do not line up with the Moon but lags behind because of friction. This is gradually slowing the earth down.
High tide is the most significant time for crime. A study of over a thousand admissions to a mental hospital in Ohio was shown that a significant number of people were admitted when the Moon was full (highest in the sky.)
What about measuring the effects of the Moon on the brain? It has been done: Doctor Leonard Ravity, a neurologist, has taken measurements of the time electrical currents flowing along the nerves, using a microvoltammeter. He found violent fluctuations at the times of the Dark Moon and the Full Moon, and concluded that people who were already unstable became more so at these times.
If this is so, could not the Moon also affect our psychological powers? One intrepid scientist has had a go at measuring the elusive psychic and telepathic powers. It took five years of preparation before he could complete a satisfactory series of telepathy tests for a full lunar month. After all of the research on one particular person, shows two peaks of scoring were evident, one on the Dark Moon phase and the second around the Full Moon phase. The latter shows the most pronounced increase in scoring rate.
Dr. Puharich puts this down to the same gravitational forces which affects the tides. The Moon attracts our telepathic powers, our kundalini energies, more strongly at certain phases. Perhaps we should not be surprised, given the links with menstruation and the mysterious flow of life.
The Moon has been proved to influence bleeding. An American scientist, Dr. Edson Andrews, found that 82 percent of surgical bleeding crises occurred between the first and last quarters of the Moon, with a significant peak at the full moon. He concludes: "these data have been so conclusive and convincing to me that I threaten to become a Witch doctor and operate on dark (not cloudy) nights only, saving the moonlit nights for romance." And if the Moon can influence bleeding, is there still not a story to be told about its effect on our own mental and spiritual life–the ebb and flow of our human tides? The Moon waxes and wanes, rises and sets, drawing the waters of the world with it. And, it seems, drawing us too, effecting us psychologically and physically.
"Yes, lovely Moon! If thou so mildly bright
Dost rouse, yet surely in thy own despite,
to fiercer mood the frenzy-stricken brain,
Let me a compensating faith maintain;
That there’s a sensitive, a tender, part
Which thou canst touch in every heart,
For healing and composure."
The Moon has such a strong influence on the earth that twice a day, it makes the waters of the ocean ebb and flow. If it can perform such a feat, may it not also affect other parts of life on Earth? Plants, the weather, animals, man’s physical being–all have been thought to be subject to lunar influences. Way back in the fourth century, Aristotle reckoned that oysters and sear-urchins were meatier during the full moon–the 20th scientific investigation has proven him right. Other old-wives’ tales are providing to have more than a grain of truth in them.
The ideas of planting crops, flowers and trees according to the Moon’s phases does sound strange to us today. How could the Moon make any difference to growth? But there has long been a belief that the Moon plays an important part if plant development, and modern research is now supporting it. In general, it is thought best to plant a couple of days before the full moon, when the Moon is on the increase. This seems logical. But the science of moon-planting turns out to be a bit more complex that that. "Picking medicinal herbs must be done when the Moon is in the sign of the Virgin, and not when Jupiter is in the ascendent, for then the herb loses its virtue." (Paracelsus, sixteenth century.)
It certainly seems logical to believe, as many herbalist do, that a plant’s vital energies flow upwards during the waxing of the Moon, meaning that this is the time to gather the stalks, leaves and flowers, and that the energies are in the roots when the Moon wanes. Farmers thought that crops should be planted at the waxing moon, but that destructive work, such as killing pests and weeding, should be at the waning. There were particular recommendations for various plants: potatoes should be planted in the dark of the Moon, if possible, on Good Friday; peas should be sown in the light of the Moon; root crops are best between the first quarter and full moon; leafy plants should be planted at the turn of the lunar month when the Moon begins to wane. And the Amish of Pennsylvania even plant fence posts according to Moon phases.
A Full Moon at Christmas means that next year’ harvest will be poor. According to occult tradition, herbs should only be planted while the Moon is in one of the moist, fertile signs. Trees needing to develop strong roots, should be planted during the waning Moon, ideally after the last quarter but before the Dark Moon. Flowers valued for their fragrance, such as lavender, should be planted during the Moon’s first quarter, ideally in the sign of Libra to achieve best fragrance.
Flowers, herbs and trees for timber were all thought to be best gathered when the Moon is declining, because they yield much better, being weaker during the Moon’s wane.
Trees should be pruned however during the moon’s increase, if they are to produce abundant fruit.
If you want to prevent a tree or shrub from growing too large, plant or prune it during the dark moon, when it is in Cancer. Trees which you wish to grow fast should be pruned in the Moon’s first quarter. Never cut timber during the light of the Moon.
Some flowers are said to have particular connection with the Moon. The poppy is considered to be a flower of the Moon, perhaps because of its association with death. The rose is associated with Diana.
If white flowers are offered to the Goddess of the Moon on the night of the new moon, first sliver in the sky, a fortunate month will follow. White flowers are also believed to come under the Moon’s influence. They were thought to be inhabited by Moon spirits, who appeared at full moon, especially in July, August and September. Jasmine, too, is a flower of the Moon, and of mysteries of the night. Its oil is used to attract love and the scent of Jasmine helps bring sleep and to aid meditation. Perhaps all of this advice about planting should not be dismissed as old wive’s tales–there is no doubt that animals are affected by the Moon’s phases. The movement of fish in the sea, the spawning of various marine animals such as crabs, mussels, oysters and sea urchins–all these are done according to lunar period.
While mortals sleep and dream their dreams beneath the mysterious Moon, its subtle power is influencing the growth of life on our planet.
Omens of coming weather have always been seen in the Moon, because it governs the waters. If two Moons occur in the same calendar month, especially May, floods and other calamities may be expected. Rings around the Moon are thought to herald storms.
"A ring around the Moon,
Rain comes soon."
If the Moon shows a silver shield,
Be not afraid to reap your field."
But if she rises haloed around
Soon we’ll walk on deluged ground."
"When the Moon lies on her back,
Then the sou-west wind will crack,
When she rises up and nods,
Chill nor’easters dry the sods."
"If the lower horn of the Moon is dusky, it will rain before the Full Moon. If the horns of the Moon are sharp on the third day, the whole month will be fine. If the upper horn of the Moon is dusky at setting, it will rain during the wane of the Moon. If the center is dusky, it will rain at Full Moon."
If thunder happens when the Moon is changing phases in spring, the weather will be mild and moist, promising good crops.
If the full moon happens at the Equinox, there will be violent storms, but a very dry spring will follow.
However, many days of the Moon is old on Michaelmas Day (September 29) is how many floods there will be afterwards.
If the Moon casts no shadow by the time it is four days old, prepare for bad weather.
"An old moon in a mist is worth gold in a kist,
But a new moon’s mist will never lack thirst."
"When round the Moon there is a brugh (halo)
The weather will be cold and rough."
The dew is said to fall heaviest on moonlit nights,
Clear Moon, frost soon.
‘Pale Moon does rain, red Moon does blow
White Moon does neither rain or snow."
If the Moon changes its phase close to midnight, good weather will follow for the next seven days. If the change happens near noon, the weather will be more changeable. A new moon on a Saturday precedes four weather. A Dark Moon on a Monday - Moonday" is a lucky sign and brings good weather. But if the Moon appears on a Sunday, there will be floods before the month is out.
Lyall Watson tells the story of two quite independent studies which were done in the early 1960s in Austrailia and the US respectfully, "both coming to the same conclusions but reluctant to publish their findings for fear of ridicule. Only when each discovered the existence of the other and learned that their findings had been confirmed, did they go to press–together, for mutual support in the same magazine.
The American study was of weather data covering forty-nine years, and found that there was increased rainfall in the first and third weeks of the synodical month, i.e., on the days after the full and Dark Moon. The Australians, looking at data over 25 years, found the same patterns. Watson suggests that the cause of this could be the greater precipitation of meteor dust at the times of the full and Dark moons, causing greater condensation of water vapor in clouds, and hence rain.
What about man, does the Moon also affect his physical body? The Moon has been compared with the brain. Aristotle saw them both as cold, moist and insensitive. He reckoned the brain became moister and fuller under a waxing moon than under a waning moon. Not so far removed from the ever popular belief that the Moon can affect people’s mind, leading to "lunacy" and becoming "moon-struck." One belief commonly held, particularly among people living in coastal regions, was that there was a much higher birth rate when the Moon is full over the local meridian, because it affects uterine contractions. Many astrologers have said that the Moon is connected with the blood flow.
It has been determined that women have more water in their body than man and is more effected by the Moon than man. The moon has special powers for women, Her cycles correspond to our bloods. She represents emotions, fertility, gardens, animals, sexuality, psychic powers and insights. Her light softens differences and makes visible what is usually invisible, making it possible for us t see ourselves more clearly.
In ancient India, surgeon would only operate when the Moon was waning to prevent scarring.
Let us take a look at the evidence of connections between man and the moon.
According to a 1940s study of tuberculous, deaths from the illness are at their height seven days before full moon. It suggests that this is linked to a lunar cycle in the PH content (the ratio of acid to alkali) of the blood.
A similar correlation has been found with pneumonia, the amount of uric acid in the blood, and the time of death. The incidence of hemorrhages after throat operations was found to be 82 percent greater during the second quarter of the Moon, in a Florida study. The problem cases were clustered around the Full Moon with the minimum at Dark Moon. Perhaps it is scientist who are now more convinced than anyone of its influence!
In our culture, knowledge of the Moon is frequently ignored and suppressed. The lunar calendar was outlawed in 45 B.C.E. by Julius Caesar, and the concept of cyclic process was declared heretical in the 5th century C.E. by the Council of Constantinople. The solar calendar now used ignores the lunar cycle. Rekindling the knowledge of Her cycle will enable us to celebrate life in a more wholistic way. Celebrating the cycles of the Moon can be a meaningful way for women to recapture/remember our cyclical skills. We share a common bond with the Moon, since our own menstrual cycle correspond to her rhythms.
"Our Lady of the Moon, enchanted Queen,
And of midnight the potent sorceress,
O Goddess, from the darkest deep of time,
Diane, Isis, Hecate, Artemis
Your power we evoke to aid us here!"
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