Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Cold Mistress of Moods

"Got eclipsed but I'm back again."

Yesterday I read this in an article in The Independent:

"How does the moon affect us? Depression, accidents, even suicide - are all more common when the moon is full. Why?

Various studies have so far shown that gout, pseudo-gout, lunacy, alcoholism, epilepsy, menstrual cycles, casualty-unit admissions, road accidents, absenteeism, anxiety, depression, sexual activity, homicides, insomnia and diarrhoea are influenced by the full moon.

Diet, too, is subject to a lunar effect, with an 8 per cent increase reported in average meal sizes on the day of the full moon, and a 25 per cent hike in drinking rates. Researchers in Italy have also found that births, at least in Fano, tend to be clustered around the full moon.

Even fish and insects are not immune. Diverse research teams have discovered that when there is a full moon, the dust mite is not so active, the giant tiger prawn eats more and the belted sandfish is more sexually active.

The idea that the full moon has an effect on human and animal health and behaviour goes back at least to Roman times and shows no sign of going away. Indeed, one American study found that the belief in a lunar effect among health professionals is waxing rather than waning.

But, despite the links between the full moon and increases in myriad diseases and disorders, the actual mechanism remains elusive.

It has been proposed that if the gravitational force of the moon is sufficient to cause the oceans to rise, it may also affect the glands and organs. Some people are affected more than others, it's suggested, because they are borderline cases that are tipped over into ill health every month by the power of the moon.

Dr Mikulecky Rovensky proposes that gout attacks may peak at the full moon because of the changing geomagnetic fields; Dr Arnold Lierber suggests the biological tide theory, in which the moon exerts a pull on the water within the body, resulting in a cascade of effects. Internal body rhythms may also be implicated, as could the effects on the pineal gland of the light emitted by the moon or a slightly warmer temperature triggered by the full moon.

Although some conditions, especially depression, anxiety and behavioural problems, have long been associated with a full-moon effect, other conditions, such as diarrhoea, are more recent.

One of the explanations as to why the full moon should have such an effect is that its small gravitational effect has an unbalancing effect on pathogens, making the body more toxic."

Twilight Zone

In the end, I found myself thinking, "Will medicine ever have all the answers, the cure for all our ailments? I think and hope not."

Clair de Lune

The poem I chose to mark this full moon is particularly bleak in sentiment but brilliant in delivery. It goes well with this extraordinary photo I found in Flickr some four years ago.

Train Tracks
Train Tracks - by Terry Lea

The only thing missing is the Yew tree.

The Moon and the Yew tree

"This is the light of the mind, cold and planetary.
The trees of the mind are black. The light is blue.
The grasses unload their griefs at my feet as if I were God,
Prickling my ankles and murmuring of their humility.
Fumy spiritious mists inhabit this place
Separated from my house by a row of headstones.
I simply cannot see where there is to get to.

The moon is no door. It is a face in its own right,
White as a knuckle and terribly upset.
It drags the sea after it like a dark crime; it is quiet
With the O-gape of complete despair. I live here.
Twice on Sunday, the bells startle the sky -
Eight great tongues affirming the Resurrection.
At the end, they soberly bong out their names.

The yew tree points up. It has a Gothic shape.
The eyes lift after it and find the moon.
The moon is my mother. She is not sweet like Mary.
Her blue garments unloose small bats and owls.
How I would like to believe in tenderness -
The face of the effigy, gentled by candles,
Bending, on me in particular, its mild eyes.

I have fallen a long way. Clouds are flowering
Blue and mystical over the face of the stars.
Inside the church, the saints will be all blue,
Floating on their delicate feet over cold pews,
Their hands and faces stiff with holiness.
The moon sees nothing of this. She is bald and wild.
And the message of the yew tree is blackness - blackness and silence."

-- Sylvia Plath --

After having stepped inside Sylvia's tormented mind, I had to pull myself together by listening to two of the most beautiful and soothing pieces of music ever composed inspired by moonlight.


Trulyfool said...


Despite the scientific play of the doctors quoted above, and the stiff, descriptive howdy-do of the journalist, they could manage to squeeze poetry from the phrases "geomagnetic fields" (I may want to use this some time!)and "biological tide".

Sylvia, on the other hand, has no -- poetic -- problem. She always knocks me back. And I don't mean her dark orientations that weave through all her writing. She is sterling. She is f***ing good. It would be hard to find a writer whose poetry is so consistently 'right there'.

And this from me, far from being a suicide -- indeed, negotiating a deal with . . . I name no names. But rest assured, I'll continue whistling my happy tune even if it's to an unimpressed jailer!

Anonymous said...

Hughes and Plath....right there but emotional nuclear meltdown betwixt.
I have Ted Hughes book 'Letters'.The
intimacy of a great English poet.
The Journals of Sylvia I could not put down.At the age of 18 her mind had clarity and yes, even then she was good.
Great post.Good to read.

rauf said...

i know this chap in the first picture, saw him at your place only.
He is very round. i think i said there's a dent on our chap here.

Lunatic, yes the word comes from moon. Far from it. Its just chemical imbalance Claudia, nothing else. Many variations there. not understood fully yet like temporal lobe epilepsy (Divine revelations)
Same with Plath, some don't have the mental strength to handle it.

Claudia please don't make any connections.

Ruth said...

The connections with the moon are what's inside us. Some things trigger emotions, or even depression. It could be anything that triggers it. It's in me. It's what's in me, not the moon.

Yet, how evocative it is. Terribly evocative.

As is this post.

Claudia said...


I had never interpreted it that way, perhaps it's too personal for me, I lack the necessary detachment. But I can understand what you mean.

Claudia said...

Ian, What a tragic marriage...
Thanks for your comment.

Claudia said...

Dear rauf,

No connections. Not today.

Claudia said...

Dear Ruth,

It's meant to be evocative. Thanks.