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The Moon Cycle

We are all familiar with the moon and its phases, but how much do we really know? We know of the love songs and “spoonin’ by the light of the silvery moon”; we know that Lon Chaney, Jr. shape-shifts into a wolfman at the full of the moon; and, we now that Neil Armstrong planted the American flag there, (conspiracy theories aside), yet what do we know about the moon? I dare say that moderns have very little practical information on the moon and its phases compared to our near ancestors. Indeed, many of us don’t even know the sequences of the moon, when a cycle begins or ends, or what the significance of each is.


To our agrarian ancestors and even those in the old cities, the moon was most important since there was no artificial means of illumination beside candles and lanterns. It was essential to know the full of the moon and the cycles both leading up to and away from it because this extended the time spent in the outdoors completing necessary chores and tasks, if not just to make a mid-night run to the outhouse. This is to say nothing of security in being able to see in the night when dangers of both four and two legged beasts lingered in the shadows. For moderns today, so used to bright street lighting, most have no idea of just how bright the moonlight can be in the deep nighttime. This is especially true in the dead of winter when all the leaves are gone from the trees and the whiteness of the snow-cover reflects so intently. The moonlight, at this time, illuminates the woodlands and fields nearly as much as the sun. Try going out the backdoor on a moonlit January night; you will be amazed at the detail you see just by the light of the moon.


Additionally, there are other attributes of the moon, which though scoffed at by moderns, have centuries of anecdotal confirmation to prove their veracity. For instance, though modern science states there is no empirical proof of the moon phase effect on both humans and animals, try telling that to both police and medical personnel whose graveyard shifts include nights of the full moon. Further, there is also an extensive alternative group of gardeners and farmers who swear by the folklore of planting by the phases of the moon, (see ).


Moon Phases Premier

We’ve all heard the term moon cycle, lunar phase, or lunar cycle which refers to the visible relationship of the moon’s encircling orbit around the earth. This ever changing cyclic change in the appearance gives us an indication of the moon’s movement in the moon cycle, otherwise known as the age of the cycle.

moon phasesJust as on the Earth, the sun always shines exactly on one-half of the moon. The effect of the angle from earth’s perspective changes as the moon rotates around the earth. While we can see, at least with the naked eye, only that part of the moon which the sun is illuminating because of the contrast with the dark portion, the entire moon is ever present. As an example, a crescent moon is what we call the moon when we see only a small portion of its illuminated surface.

Thus, as time progresses and various parts of the moon are illumined, we see visible changes ranging from slivers to a full round disk: these are the moon phases. Different parts of the moon cycle are called different names, depending on how the moon appears to us.

These are the generally used terms for each of the phases of the visible moon:

  1. New Moon – (also called the Dark of the Moon), that is, not visible. This is the beginning of the cycle or phase
  2. Waxing Crescent
  3. First Quarter – commonly called a “half moon”
  4. Waxing Gibbous
  5. Full – we can see the entire illuminated moon disk.
  6. Third Quarter – another “half-moon”, but the illuminated part is opposite of the First Quarter
  7. Waning Crescent
  8. New – back to the beginning

Contrary to popular opinion this “lunation” does not refer to the chaotic state of our country under Obama, but refers to the complete lunar cycle, that is, New Moon to New Moon. During this time the moon will completely circle the earth giving us the full range of appearances of the visible moon. BTW, the complete cycle of the moon phase according to the Hebrew calendar is of 29 & ½ days. However, there are other scientific measurements, which are not important to our intent here and vary only moderately from the Hebrew designation.


The relationship of earth and moon, its cycle, and the visible size of the moon varies within the year because of the rotation between these two heavenly bodies and the Sun. This rotation is not round but elliptical, thus, the distance from the Sun at each of the moons apogees, (the farthest point of rotation) affects the size of the moon we see. This of course, is dependent on the syzygy of these celestial bodies. Despite what many may think, syzygy, is not some exotic Polish delicacy, but refers to the alignment of the Sun, Earth, and Moon.

Aside from the scientific explanation given above, the term “moon phase” is often heard in folkloric and astrological circles. According to these, the moon’s cycle can affect the way we feel about things. In particular, when the moon is full or new, both males and females can experience dramatic changes in their mood and behavior. Indeed, there is some credence given to the correlation of the biological menstrual cycle of women and its relation to the moon.

As mentioned in the initial paragraphs, when the moon is full, stress seemingly becomes a major factor. Various emotions are activated and often are acted out. Conversely, a new moon brings with it the sense of calmness. In this moon cycle, people’s emotions are reduced and things, in general, become less stressed.

Interesting moon facts:

o   In the folklore of various countries each of the twelve cycles of the moon within a year is generally given a name, such as, Harvest Moon in September, the Hunter’s Moon, (also called the Blood Moon as a reference to hunting) in October, etc.

o   The face of the moon we see is exactly the same face nightly because the moon’s orbit and the earth’s are in perfect sync. Yet, they say there is no intelligent design but a series of random events.

o   A blue moon, as in “once in a blue moon” phrase, is actually a second full moon within a month, thus it is a rare event. It is also a great tasting Belgian white beer with a hint of citrus.

o   A blood moon will actually turn red when it matches up with a lunar eclipse. These occur about twice a year, so blood moons match up with lunar eclipses about every 6 years or so. At the time of this writing, the next blood moon lunar eclipse will be in 2015. A blood moon is also an indication of foreboding in the Apocalypse of the Holy Bible.

o   Getting mooned has nothing to do with the actual moon and will not be discussed in the polite readership of Catholic Rural Solutions. ;o)

Pray fervently the Rosary for the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by all the bishops and Pope during this the Centennial Anniversary Month of the Apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima; time is quickly running out.

Richard of Danbury, D.S.G.




About Catholic Rural Solutions

This group is for the practical application of Catholic Distributist teachings as promoted by Pope St. Pius X, Belloc, Chesterton, Maurin and others in the 20th century. This group is also a respite for traditional Catholics who adhere to the Tridentine Rite of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and who share a concern for small independent Catholic communities throughout the world. These communities while primarily small holding farmers, craftsmen and tradesman all espouse an integrated life based on Catholic Social Justice and the Sacred Magisterium of the Church. Through this we intend to inject the Distributist economic principles into the greater society. Please fell free to share your experiences in this vein. Flaming, proselytizing and persecution WILL NOT BE TOLERATED.
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2 Responses to Moonlighting

  1. Mimi Smith says:

    Hi Richard,      I enjoyed this article.  Ending with a little laugh.   One couple of our older neighbors here, who have since passed away with old age, seemed to live by the moon’s cycle. They were from the farming lands of Maine.   Both from large families on farms. She taught me how to give haircuts for my husband and the boys.  Never could find out if it was true, but she said to only cut their hair when the moon was waning.   The reason she claimed, was that it grew slower during this time and faster when the moon was growing.      Her husband planted according to the moon.   I recall one year he was planting his cucumbers and other not so hardy plants in late April.  All the other years I knew him to plant after the middle of May at least.   I was warning him, about the normal frosts we usually get here in N. England in the early spring.   He continued his hoeing and said, “Not gonna happen this year, the frost is done now.”   And he gave an explanation about the moon.  Sure enough, his plants and crops that year were as good as previous years.   And ours were a month behind his.        I miss them, as they were our best neighbors and good friends.    I’m sure they had no more than 6th grade education, but they had common sense and practical knowledge. Thanks for the memories you bring to mind. 

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