The full moon has been associated with insanity, inexplicable behaviours, suicidal thoughts, sleepwalking and animals acting bizarre since the beginning of time.

Sparking from folklore and ancient myths, there is no scientific evidence that it can influence humans’ physical or emotional state during the full moon, yet there is research to support an idea of a whole moon affecting other organisms. 'Moon phases' refers to the different appearances of the moon from Earth, there being eight main stages to look out for. Beginning with a new moon, roughly four days later the waxing crescent begins to take form, after this comes the first quarter,  waxing gibbous, then the full moon, after is the waning gibbous, third quarter, waning crescent and then back to a new moon. This stage takes place every 29.5 days, the upcoming full moon taking to the sky on the 30th of November, of the year 2020.

The gravitational pull from the moon is the main cause of the rise and fall of ocean tides, so the lunar cycle has a huge impact on sea life and the natural world of the ocean. The different stages of the moon influences the food by its impact on the tides, with its effect on the current it drives many types of marine organisms to mate at specific times of the month and year too. Another example is a study which confirmed that coral can tell when the moon is full due to an ancient gene that allows them to sense how much moonlight is hitting the water, leading to observations that the reef does not coordinate with the tide, but instead the brightest beacon of the moon. Finally, fish are usually more active to feed during sunrise, sunset and during a full moon since the tides are higher than average - this being the best time to go fishing since they're more lively during these hours.

Though the moon's influence on humans may not be completely true, the effect it has on animals is not a myth, scientists and doctors have discovered and recorded changes in animals that occur during a full moon cycle. If you’re a cat owner, you may want to check up on your feline friends during this full lunar, as they may be relentlessly hiding or acting more mischievous than normal. This is because the full moon can scare night - active, nocturnal animals into the shadows, as they feel more safe and secure in the darkness whereas dogs take another approach. Getting in touch with their wolf ancestors, dogs are known to howl at the moon when it is full, acting more boisterous and wild. Other research has shown that predators, like lions, hippos and cheetahs, attack more during the week after a full moon and nocturnal animals, such as vampire bats, tend to decrease their activity during nights when the moon is at its brightest.

Due to the intensity of the full moon, it can make us as humans feel much more anxious, manic and emotional, this being proven to intensify our nightmares and dreams, affecting the quality of our sleep patterns. It’s thought that at the new moon and full moon, similar to the tides of the ocean, our emotions are pulled to the surface and feelings are heightened, old folklore believing every stage of the moon signifying a different symbol - changing seasons, life, death and fertility. The science behind these weird theories is that some researchers speculate that humans are reacting to subtle changes in the Earth’s magnetic field that occur with the moon phases. A research was carried out in which scientists measured changes in sleep structure, brain activity during sleep and melatonin / cortisol levels, yet the results came back to show there was no difference in the quality of sleep of a normal night's sleep, versus a night of a full moon. 

Perhaps research may never prove, nor tell us, why the moon influences so much of most animals' way of life, the reason the full moon brings out deeper emotions within people and whether folklore should be trusted or not. In conclusion, many people don't take complete notice of the moon and its phases, but taking them into consideration can allow you to learn a lot about yourself. Next time there is a full moon, think about your emotions, how you are feeling, what's bothering you and whether or not your inner animal comes out to play

Perdita Le Seelleur - Steyning Grammar Sixth Form