“Madness is rare in individuals, but in groups, parties, nations and ages is it the rule.”
The waxing and waning of the moon was once believed to affect all living things. A waxing moon was thought to radiate energy which stimulated growth; as it waned, the energy diminished. Superstitious gardeners and farmers planned their sowing so that the young plants could grow with the moon, and the plants were best picked, or trees felled, when a moon on the wane was weakening their resistance. The flesh of animals killed under a waning moon was likely to shrink in the pot, and business deals and marriages had the best chance of success if they were timed to take effect as he moon began to wax.
The moon was also widely thought to influence human beings, and until about 100 years ago it was officially recognized as the prime cause of madness. A lunatic, as the word suggests and as the Lunacy Act of 1842 clearly stated, was a person ‘afflicted with a period of fatuity in the period following after the full moon’.