MOON MYTHS

(Investigator 34, 1994 January)



New Zealand Maoris link the moon to pregnancy and consider the moon to be the father of their children. In India the Hindu moon-god, Soma, is likewise considered to cause pregnancy.

Menstruation has often been blamed on the moon. However, the moon's cycle is 29 days 12¾ hours and is fixed precisely. The normal human menstrual cycle is 21 to about 35 days and varies in any one person. Although the moon's gravity effects the oceans due to their size there is no effect on human body fluids. Nevertheless the Maoris call menstruation "mata marama" meaning "moon sickness".

Numerous peoples plant crops by moonlight, thinking this to be advantageous. Farmers in North Carolina plant cabbage under a new moon and potatoes beneath a declining moon.

Hospitals are said to deliver more babies during a full moon than on other days. Miami psychiatrist Arnold Lieber and associate Carolyn Sherin, in The Lunar Effect (1978), claimed that crime peaks at full moon and two days after the new moon.

Dr. J P Oliven says that half of all suicides occur on days around the full moon. Some people argue that moon phases regulate biorhythms and effect the state of the immune system. The skeptical response has been to analyse the available statistics and declare the moon "not guilty."

Ancient Greeks were much alarmed by eclipses of the moon (Investigator 24, p.56) but hardly troubled by an eclipse of the sun.

Greeks, Romans and Europeans often believed that some people change to animals under a full moon. The word for this is "Lycanthropy". In 16th-century France thousands of people supposedly lived as wolves in the mountains and attacked and ate unwary travellers.

(BM)


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