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Does the moon affect your behaviour?

Have you ever accused someone of being a lunatic or shaken your head at a bizarre news story and muttered, “Must be a full moon”? If so, you are giving voice to a belief shared by many that the phase of the moon affects human behaviour. Researchers are now exploring the idea that much of what transpires on earth is due to our lunar neighbour.

 

Animal effects

Of course the moon’s gravity creates ocean tides. However, the moon’s pull also causes “earth tides”, a slight bulging of the earth’s crust that has been linked to volcanic activity.

Then there are the animals that are tuned into the lunar rhythm. If you take fiddler crabs away from the sea and put them in a room where the temperature and light are constant, they will still get most active at the time when the moon’s influence would have the tide going out. Many marine organisms move in response to levels of lunar light.

On land, there are African dung beetles that can only roll their dung ball in a straight line when the moon is full. This is probably because the beetle relies on polarised moonlight, so if you see a staggering dung beetle, he’s not drunk — he’s just waiting for a full moon.

In the February edition of WellBeing, Christine Paul’s article ‘Planting by the Moon’ shows the many ways in which moon phases affect the sowing and growing of plants.

When it comes to species such as dogs and humans though, the moon’s effects are not so clear-cut. Take, for example, the two articles that appeared in the December 23rd edition of the British Medical Journal in 2000. One article from England found that the chances of being bitten by a dog were twice as high on or around a full moon. A study from the University of Sydney, however, found no correlation and, in fact, revealed a slightly lower incidence of dog bites on full moon days. The research is not much clearer when it comes to humans.

 

Sheer lunacy

Christina Morrissy presents the breakfast program for ABC local radio in Esperance, Western Australia. She has worked as a reporter for A Current Affair, Today Tonight, Getaway and as a news presenter. Christina is not given to unreasoned flights of fancy, but she is quietly convinced that the moon has a real effect on human behaviour.

“Many of my friends who are mothers will arrive at school on the mornings when the moon is full, complaining of children having atrocious nights of sleep,” says Christina. “Then there was the time when my grandmother, aged 85, was in the hospital. The nurses there told me that on the full moon, the old dears would walk around late at night. I waited two weeks and, sure enough, on the full moon, there were lots of oldies wandering the corridors in the middle of the night for no apparent reason.”

Christina is not the only person to voice this feeling. Paramedics and police say they get busier on nights of a full moon. In fact, the term “lunacy” arises from the belief that weird things do happen when the moon is full. Science, however, has yet to reach a conclusion.

Earlier this year, researchers from the University of Berne, Switzerland, found that people sleep around 20 minutes less on nights when the moon is full — hardly enough to precipitate lunatic behaviour. Taking this idea a step further, German researchers matched up police records with the lunar cycle between 1998 and 2003 and found no link between suicides, murders or assaults and the phase of the moon. Yet some studies have found links between moon phase and human behaviour, so maybe science is simply not asking the right questions to fully reveal the moon’s effects.

 

The moon and stars

Astrologically, the moon is believed to exert a strong influence on moods, instinct and personality. “The moon describes the emotional nature, personality or magnetic centre,” says Christine Broadbent, an astrologer and columnist for WellBeing. “It’s even more important than the sun sign when it comes to compatibility in relationships.”

Kelly Surtees, a regular contributor to WellBeing on astrological matters, says, “When we respond without thinking, almost as if driven by primal instinct, that’s the moon acting in our lives.”

As well as affecting the bigger picture of your path through life, the moon affects your day-to-day life. According to Kelly, “The Moon’s movement around the sky (and the birth chart) is like the second hand on a clock ticking off 48-hour intervals that highlight different areas of our lives.”

Christine puts our lost connection with the moon into perspective. “A full lunation cycle takes 29 days, 12 hours and 44 minutes,” she says. “Our month is derived from the moon’s cycle but, sadly, the current counting system loses track of the moon’s phases. At one time a week represented the quarter moon phase, now it’s only numbers. Astrology opens a path of knowledge back into the natural magic of the moon.”

 

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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