Lunar effect

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This project explores the idea that the Earth's Moon has an influence on human behavior. These beliefs have a very long history but there are few sources that give a good overview of the topic. Surveys have shown that this belief is still commonplace in contemporary society, despite studies which have found that there is no correlation between the Moon and many indicators of human behavior.[1] One of the goals is to gather information which can be used to improve w:Lunar effect and perhaps also w:Medical astrology.

History[edit]

The horoscope of a "Lunatic" according to astrologer C. Heydon (London, 1792)

The term "lunatic" derives from the Latin word lunaticus ("moonstruck") which originally referred mainly to epilepsy and madness as diseases caused by the moon.[2] By the fourth and fifth centuries astrologers were commonly using the term to refer to neurological and psychiatric diseases.[2] Through at least 1700 it was also a common belief that the Moon influenced fevers, rheumatism, episodes of epilepsy and other diseases.[3]

... if the Moon is in her Phases afflicted, or overcome by the maleficks, ♄ and ♂, he will be a lunatic.

—C. Heydon, Astrology[4]

The nativity shown here is an historic example of the belief that lunacy was caused by the position of the Earth's Moon at the time of birth. This author describes how the positions of the planets Saturn and Mars (both of which are considered to be a malefic planet by astrologers) with respect to the Moon are the cause of "diseases of the mind."[4]

Literary references[edit]

SkyCamMoon.jpg
It is the very error of the moon;
She comes more near the earth than she was wont,
And makes men mad.

Shakespeare, Othello

And she goes and roams the world at night, and makes sport with men and causes them to emit seed. And wherever men are found sleeping alone in a house, they [these spirits] descend upon them and get hold of them and adhere to them and take desire from them and bear from them. And they also afflict them with disease, and the men do not know it. And all this is because of the diminishing of the moon.

Zohar, 1:19b


Depictions in art[edit]

An insane man (Tom Rakewell) sits on the floor manically grasping at his head, whilst two attendants manacle his legs: his lover, Sarah Young, cries in distress, they are surrounded by lunatics at Bethlem hospital, London.


Contemporary beliefs[edit]

Scientific studies[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. Campbell, David E.; John L. Beets (September 1978). "Lunacy and the moon". Psychological Bulletin 85 (5): 1123-1129. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.85.5.1123. http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/1979-26088-001. Retrieved 2016-01-04. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Riva, M. A.; Tremolizzo, L.; Spicci, M.; Ferrarese, C.; De Vito, G.; Cesana, G. C.; Sironi, V. A. (January 2011). "The Disease of the Moon: The Linguistic and Pathological Evolution of the English Term "Lunatic"". Journal of the History of the Neurosciences 20 (1): 65–73. doi:10.1080/0964704X.2010.481101. 
  3. Harrison, Mark (2000). "From medical astrology to medical astronomy: sol-lunar and planetary theories of disease in British medicine, c. 1700–1850". The British Journal for the History of Science 33 (1): 25-48. doi:10.1017/S0007087499003854. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Heydon, C. (1792). Astrology. The wisdom of Solomon in miniature, being a new doctrine of nativities, reduced to accuracy and certainty; ... Also, a curious collection of nativities, never before published. London: printed for A. Hamilton. ISBN 9781170010471. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Rotton, James; I.W. Kelly (1985). "A scale for assessing belief in lunar effects: reliability and concurrent validity". Psychological reports 57 (1): 239-245. doi:10.2466/pr0.1985.57.1.239. 
  • Vance, David E. (February 1995). Belief in lunar effects on human behavior. 76. pp. 32-34. doi:10.2466/pr0.1995.76.1.32.