Howl at the Moon

Last night was the full moon and, if it’s not too cloudy, tonight’s moon will be a lovely, howl-inspiring sight.

Living in the city, the ambient light make stargazing tough but the moon — on a clear autumn night, is beautiful. It lights up the sky, stirs souls and inspires storytelling.

Do violent crime statistics and emergency room visits actually spike with the full moon? A lot of people believe this to be true. But is it just an urban legend?

I read an interesting, and very reasonable, explanation in an article from Scientific American. Most of the studies done to prove or disprove the hypothesis have failed to show a true statistical uptick — except a study of traffic accidents which happened to occur during a period of months when full moons landed disproportionally on weekends when more people are out driving at night. Once the factor of weekend driving was accounted for, there was no real increase in those accidents.

The article proposed that the anecdotal evidence behind the urban myth came from historical memories of a time before artificial light. The moon would have disturbed sleep patterns, effectively turning night into day for people living outdoors or in minimal shelters. Generations of artificial light later, we still feel drawn to the moonlight and tell old stories about its power because they are part of our shared cultural mythology.

This imaginary power of the moon becomes real because of our belief. That’s the part I like. We are convinced that the moon inspires aggression and loss of reason — lunacy — and so we interpret our observations through the moonlit lens.

Enjoy the full moon. I know I will.


    • Candy

      I particularly like the storytelling possibilities opened up by the myth theory. It’s is definitely worthy of a good solid HOWL!

    • Candy

      So much better than a mournful howl — except in fiction when that mournful cry of a dog (or wolf or werewolf) signals the start of an interesting adventure.

  1. I LOVE the full moon and am always drawn to go outside and walk around at midnight or 1am. We have no city lights, or street lights here in the desert and it is quite bright – certainly enough to see by. It can be an inspiring site for certain scenes you’re writing, or for something magickal.


    • Candy

      A desert moon! How romantic, how exciting, how inspirational….

      Whenever I find myself in the country I spend hours at night studying the sky. It’s the one thing that I find lacking in NYC. A magical scene beneath the full moon is the definition of enchantment.

  2. Lovely thoughts! The cover of Half Light (demons, fairies, and moons, too) shows a sliver of Jupiter’s moon, Titan, with its glorious halo. I love the howling bit, too, ‘though it can get pretty loud around here when the coyotes join in.