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Interpretations - Spiritual Elements - The Full Moon - Dates, Times, Names & Meanings

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moon phases

Certainly my favorite time of the month, the full moon always captivates my attention. Millions of light reflections cast down upon me as I simultaneously absorb its abundance of energy. I have come to appreciate it's significance to myself and life quite a bit, and look forward to adding more information on this subject for years to come.

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brief history | dates and times | names and meanings

~ Measuring time ~

Since ancient times, people have measured time by the phases of the moon. The American Indians recorded that a harvest or a hunt took place a certain number of "moons" ago.

People in Muslim countries still use a calendar with 354 days, or 12 synodic lunar months. Jews use the lunar calendar to establish the dates of religious holidays. Christians observe Easter on a date that varies each year because it is related to the full moon. The words month and Monday come from Old English words related to moon.

~ Mythology ~

Early peoples thought the moon was a powerful god or goddess. The ancient Romans called their moon goddesses Luna and Diana. Diana was also the goddess of the hunt and used a moon crescent for a bow and moonbeams for arrows.

The moon goddesses of the ancient Greeks were Selene and Artemis. The Greeks and Romans also believed in a goddess called Hecate who was said to have three faces—as Hecate, she was the moon in its dark form; as Artemis (Diana), she was the waxing moon; and as Selene (Luna), she was the full moon.

The early Egyptians honored the moon god Khonsu. The Babylonians knew the moon as Sin, sometimes called Nannar, the most powerful of the sky gods. Some American Indian tribes believed the moon and the sun were brother and sister gods. Today, some peoples still worship the moon.

~ Legend and folklore ~

Many people who did not think of the moon as sacred believed that it influenced life. Early philosophers and priests taught that the moon was related to birth, growth, and death because it waxed and waned. Some people feared eclipses as signs of famine, war, or other disasters. According to one superstition, sleeping in moonlight could cause insanity.

The word lunatic, which means moonstruck, comes from luna, a Latin word meaning moon. Even today, many people believe the moon affects the weather. Others think seeds grow especially well when planted during a waxing moon. Southeast Asian and Western folklore long ago established the Full Moon as the time for werewolves and vampires to awaken, or appear most often.

As suggested in the film Wolf (1994; Jack Nicholson, Michelle Pfeiffer, James Spader; Directed by Mike Nichols) the creators of these myths explained away violence occurring during the middle of each month, when in fact the moon simply adds more light to the evening sky. This allows criminals to act more freely. It also helped assuage the guilt of the masses for not doing more to stop violent crime, and freed people to vilify brutality, while fantasizing and apologizing for it.

Full Moons are traditionally associated with temporal insomnia, insanity (hence the terms lunacy and lunatic) and various magical phenomena such as lycanthropy.

Psychologists have found that there is no strong evidence for effects on behaviour around Full Moon. They find that studies are not consistent, with some showing a positive effect, while others will show a negative effect. In one instance, the December 23, 2000 issue of the British Medical Journal published two studies on dog bite admission to hospitals in England and Australia.

The study of the Bradford Royal Infirmary found that dog bites were twice as common at Full Moon, while the study of public hospitals in Australia found they were less likely at Full Moon. Psychologists point out that there is a difference between correlation and causation. The mere fact that two events happen at the same time doesn't mean that there is a cause and effect relationship between the two.

Many neopagans hold a monthly ritual called an Esbat at each Full Moon, while some people practicing traditional Chinese religions prepare their ritual offerings to their ancestors and deities on every Full Moon and New Moon.

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