No other celestial body has quite
the same reputation as our moon. The source of myths, legends, and ghost
stories, the Moon is a symbol of superstition and wonder. We know that the Moon
causes the rising and falling of the ocean tides, but could this mysterious
master of the tides control something other than Earth’s water? Urban legend
and folklore has spurred on the idea that the Moon has real, and sometimes
strange, effects on human behavior. After all, the word “lunacy” is derived
from the Roman goddess of the moon, Luna. Legend states that car accidents,
heart attacks, violent episodes, and suicides increase in occurrence during a
full moon. During the 1800s, London’s psychiatric hospitals would shackle their
patients during a full moon, and the city made sure to have more police officers
than normal on duty. Even now, the phrase “there must be a full moon tonight”
is used commonly when strange behavior is taking place. However, despite’s the
Moon’s mystical reputation, there is no real evidence that the moon has any
effects on human behavior.
Before modern science and technology, many
believed that the Moon’s control of the tides also meant that the Moon’s
gravity affected the water in our bodies. Greek philosopher Aristotle called
the brain the “moistest” organ, concluding that it was susceptible to the
gravitational pull of the Moon. Now though, science proves that the Moon is too
far away to have any dramatic effect on human bodies. Multiple studies have
been conducted trying to prove the claims about the Moon’s effects, but each
one has failed to show any correlation.
The root of our modern
superstitions about the Moon seem to come from the fact that in ancient times
when there was no electricity, the brightness of the full moon caused people to
be unable to sleep, leading to sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation can cause people
to behave strangely and sometimes violently, which are the behaviors that are attributed
to the Moon’s influence. I also have an idea that when ancient peoples could
not find a physical cause for strange behaviors, they would simply blame the stars.
From mythology to astrology, the celestial bodies always seem to be the ones at
fault for strange occurrences down below. However, despite the facts and science,
the Moon will always be seen as our mysterious, illusive ruler of the sky.