Long before we landed on it in 1969 and even now – nearly 50 years since – we humans have low-key been obsessed with the moon. Our closest celestial neighbor, the full moon can turn even the most skeptic among us into a believer of the lunar effect.
Science, however, is pretty adamant that there’s no actual connection (physical or otherwise) between ourselves and the moon. While there have been studies conducted that seem to show correlations between nights with a full moon and an increase in car accidents, pet injuries, and crime, among other things, science gently reminds us that correlation does not equal causation and that there are perfectly reasonable explanations for why we may see an increase in “crazy” things during the days surrounding a full moon (i.e., more light at night, the placebo effect, etc.).
“Now, hang on a second,” you may be thinking. “I’m a teacher/hospital worker/veterinarian/etc. and there’s a full moon tomorrow and the students/patients/pets/etc. where I work are getting crazy, just like they do every full moon!”
To which I say, “I know, right?!”
For centuries before all these various lunar studies were conducted, the full moon seemed to have very much of an effect on our thoughts and emotions. Frequently – and across cultures – full moons have been associated with not just magical phenomena (like witchcraft and werewolves), but very real, mental issues like temporal insomnia and even insanity. In fact, the words “lunacy” and “lunatic” derive their meaning from the Roman moon goddess, Luna.
But surely this correlation between the full moon and lunacy didn’t just come out of nowhere! Clearly, something was freaking out our great-great-great-great-great-great grandparents enough for the full moon to still hold this kind of mystical weight over us. And today there are some researchers ready to admit that the full moon did create a kind of madness in humans at one time. It goes back to that more light at night thing: before we could control our lighting with electricity, those living outside or in shelters that did little to block the night sky might have been kept away by the intense light of the full moon. And as we all know, not sleeping is not good for our mental health so this could explain why the full moon could have such an effect on people.
This illumination could be the very thing that ignited our connection to the moon in the first place. While the full moon produces no light of its own, it’s still able to brighten up the night like no other moon phase can, just by reflecting the sun’s light. In many cultures, this pointed to an association between the moon and strengthening our inner qualities through clarity, reflection, and indirect deduction.
So maybe rather than letting the full moon get to you when it comes round, since there’s no scientific basis in it driving us all a little loco, focus on its good influences, like renewal, balance, progression, and wonder instead.
Kat Wiseman is a content writer for Span Enterprises in Rock Hill, SC. She has a B.A. in English-Creative Writing from Winthrop University and her RYT 200 from Yoga Alliance. When she's not writing or doing yoga, she enjoys Netflix marathons, mystery novels, and being at the beach.