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NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
How the Moon Affects Health|
Posted: December 26th. 2004
Times Viewed: 7,023
The moon is in all things our primary day-to-day influence, and this influence may be modulated (but never cancelled out!) by the phase fraction in which it finds itself, and by how it relates at any given time with other astrological elements. The first phenomenon is the more obvious, affecting the moon's appearance. As it passes through the phases, there is a leading edge of the bright image that crosses and illuminates the dark disk and a trailing edge that returns the disk to darkness. In our "modern" analytic mode, we would measure this by degrees of passage across the surface, percent dark versus light, rate of change, etc., and develop formulas to predict all this. However, in the human race's first 34, 850 years of existence, we were not accustomed to comparing big things to little markers (like millimeters) . We observed the phenomena and came up with explanations involving Gods and Goddesses for each phenomenon separately, and over the millennia generated myths to explain probably every aspect of the moon's activity during the lunar month, so that mythology has been a kind of imaging system for lunar activity and effects. Whereas in science, we would begin by assuming the moon is a perfect sphere, and proceed to calculate, mythologically we have created a sort of spherical-cut diamond, with a Deity and/or myth occupying each facet (of which there must be thousands upon thousands) . Part of the study of lunar influence on health would have to include the mythical evaluations ("studies") made by the wise ones of all ages past. It should be at least theoretically possible to put together a kind of periodic table of the Deities who were (and are) said to hold sway under such-and-such points in the moon's movement.
With respect to the second phenomenon, the moon's relationships with other heavenly bodies: depending on relative positions (aspects) , its influence may, to greater or lesser degrees, be magnified or diluted, strengthened or weakened, given a positive or negative twist, or when it concerns our bodies, may affect more some particular organ, structure, process, frame of mind, etc. Without these other influences, the effect of the moon on a specific person would always be pretty much the same from month to month. Any good astrological text can give details for calculating onset - maximum effect - remission of these effects, so that here I will limit myself to generalities and examples. But it should be understood that here also the mythological imaging process was behind the formation of the astrological science. And I would like to add that I believe that the existence of all this rich, complex imagery explains why two people born in almost the same date-time-place can have significantly different life patterns. They each have their own patterns inscribed, and the circumstances of their births had also been affected by the patterns (not to mention the actual lives) of their parents, grandparents and so on. All that and reincarnation too, but this goes in a different direction that we won't touch for now.
Before going into the effect of the phases, I would like to touch on the mechanism, so to speak, of how our bodies are actually affected by these processes. We are symbolic representations that proceed from the agency of the Goddess. Our bodies are in a state of constant creation as modulated by the multi-faceted dynamics of the moon (remember to think imagery) . The modulations stay within normal (i.e. healthy) limits until some more general, more imperative principle takes over and calls for exceeding the limits. One example is the beginning of a course of physical deterioration in order to achieve a "natural" end of life and allow procession through the intermediate stages of reincarnation.
However, in all this it is important to remember that we have our own free will, according to which we can also affect our health positively or not. Again, in the deepest sense, we who are symbols manipulate other symbols to our benefit (or not) ; the symbols of a healthful diet support the symbolisms of health and strength, whereas the symbols for self-destruction - alcohol, cocaine, LDL, etc. - do not. (Note: in common conversation, we who think along these lines would get tired really fast of saying symbol this and symbol that, image this or that, so we simply refer directly to the things themselves - liver, alcohol, vegetarianism, lunar influence, etc.) So, here's our bottom line: the Goddess created us and continues to be our Creatrix in all things including body-soul-health; but we also are in charge of certain aspects which we should attend to at all levels: diet, exercise, wellness, medication if we really need it, meditation, prayer, or magick.
(Just to dwell a moment on an aspect of creation: in the Bible it says God instructed humans to go out and subdue nature. This is absolutely alien to many Pagans, who feel a much different relationship to nature. To define it in the terms I have been using here, the Goddess has created the earth and nature both as original cause and eventual final effect. Cause and effect are bound together by a tension which is the magick that transforms one into the other. But there is more to it: our existence as the human race is in that tense, magickal space between the cause and effect. Our forms of existence are shaped and come into being as a result of the convergence of causes ordained by the Goddess, and the effects [also ordained by Her] are produced through us. In other words, our purpose in life is to transform the earth [or universe, depending on how far you can see], not subdue it, according to the will of the Goddess.)
The moon, then, being a cyclical creature, exerts its influence generally in a waxing and waning manner, especially over the watery and airy elements. Although many have said that women and the waters of the earth are the most influenced, everything and every creature responds to some degree, depending in part on their rigidity: water has a notable tide, but even rocks must move in response, even if only by nanometers. Thus, in reality, changes in hormones, in the blood, etc., happen to everyone, and these changes provoke responses in the brain which come out, for one example, as changes in emotions. To understand how all this affects the health, let's follow the progress of a hypothetical patient through a lunar month, and let's begin at the point of full moon, taking this to be the condition most favorable to health.
At this point, the patient had been receiving an increasing amount of lunar energy, and is now at the maximum. The disk is totally open, and all facets are radiating. It helps our understanding, I think, for us to invent images too. Let's visualize the movement of the leading edge of the light (the divider) as it progressively illuminates more and more of the disk. In part, this increase is general, like opening a faucet, but also from the beginning of the divider's movement across the face of the moon to full moon, the energy enters the body-soul components, processes, and structures in a specific sequence, affecting certain ones first, then others, finally all. The point at which a structure begins to be affected is a sign that a relevant facet has been activated by the passing over of the divider, and that the facet is now bathed in light and refocusing it on that particular system or organ, so that at full moon everything is energized to the max. This is the best time for a weak structure to recuperate and strengthen, and the time leading up to the full moon is best for magick intended to cure. Recall that every facet is associated with a Deity-myth. A study of these Deity- myths, then, can help us to map the pattern of lunar influence on the body. There are two books that I found especially useful in detailing this aspect of the study: Praise to the Moon by Elen Hawke, and God/Goddess by A. J. Drew and Patricia Telesco.
>From this point on, the energy level will decrease, while the stored energy accumulated in the previous two weeks will mature. The effect is similar to taking antibiotics for five days. After the last dose, the antibiotic has diffused throughout the body and is passing through a phase of combating the infection. The effectiveness of the antibiotic diminishes in accordance with the drug's half-life (this more or less means the time it takes for the drug to become half as potent) . But let's remember that at this full moon, our patient is healthy - not yet really a patient. So what happens to a more or less healthy person when the moon diminishes? I specified more or less, because on this planet everyone is constantly entering into some disease-causing condition, and if they are not really sick, they may occasionally have what I would call microdiseases: "small" infections that do not do great or lasting damage, and are mostly asymptomatic. The influences that we are studying fight off infection, contagion, etc., before a notable illness develops, often without our even realizing it.
The lunar energy with which the person has been infused undergoes what I see as a period of maturation, that is, it settles into the body-soul, refreshing the viable structures and causing diseased elements to be removed. As the disease-causing agents are reduced or removed (negative-mode healing) , the structures pass some time more or less quiescently resting. This period descends sometimes into a kind of lethargy and inactivity, which is why it is not advisable to start any new projects at this time, but some old business may be concluded. Now would be a good time for our person to think about shedding nonviable or negative aspects of his/her life. The intention should be to enter into the next cycle free of that pathological aspect, in a euphoric condition (euphoric = in good health and with mild elation) . But until the next cycle, everything proceeds in a decreasing direction: less energy, less movement. Towards the end of the waning cycle is not the time to attempt anything new, nor to try to heal the sick.
The new moon is a time when the lethargy breaks up, and although there is not much activity yet, there is anticipation and possibly nervousness. This is a good time to think about new projects such as positive-mode healing (for example, re-growth, replenishment, resumption in full of impaired function) , because these can take advantage of the upcoming increase in energy. The energy inflow continues to increase, picking up speed and really moving along, until there is a sudden and dramatic cessation. This is the moment when it reaches half moon. After a relatively brief pause, it resumes its acceleration towards fullness, and just before that moment may even become a little hyperenergetic.
What causes the break at the half moon? I think it relates to a tension existing between the structures, or rather the facets, that have already been affected by the illuminated portion of the disk, and those that are still in the darkness of the waning phase. In our bodies, some organs and systems will already be responding to the early waxing phase while others are still relatively unmoved. This in itself will cause physical and mental tension. But at the half moon point, exactly one half of the waning phase has undergone conversion to waxing, waxing is exactly balanced by waning, and I think they momentarily neutralize one another in a kind of dynamic tension. What remains of the dark disk will then convert more rapidly, because as the divider crosses the second half, the area still untouched decreases faster than proportionately to divider movement, meaning also the energy increase will accelerate the same way, thus the hyperenergetic phenomenon. And finally, at full moon, everything repeats, although modulated by changes in planetary positions.
So, it is a modulated cycle. One outstanding difference between modern science and ancient wisdom is that the ancients, through long epochs of observation, focused in on cyclical, circular, spiral movements, in general nonlinear phenomena, while modern scientific thought began with calculations of straight-line phenomena (which are relatively simple) , and calculation of the nonlinear things had to wait until more complicated mathematics were invented. But the fact that the ancients first saw more in the nonlinear systems is a clue that those are more fundamental and important.
Closing comments: In this article and in a previous one, Healing Magick, which appeared on The Witches' Voice in October - neither of which are near to being complete technical articles - I tried to propose a theory of health and healing that is in accord with the point of view of those among us who follow the Goddess. By combining traditional vocabulary with modern technical terms I hoped to begin building a bridge to make concepts on one side available to the other. We won't all agree on it, but hopefully it was worth the effort to read it, and maybe it opened up some new lines of thought for a few readers. I realize that it seems to go far away from the concepts of the natural religion, but really it is the natural religion that is on front stage, and I was just peeking behind the curtain in back. Certainly practitioners of healing with magick can go on practicing their art without knowing or even believing all that I put down here. Because always:
She is our Goddess and She rules over all of us.
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