Just yesterday, a friend’s friend requested me to give her some advice over the telephone, about her plans of extending her family. In her early thirties, she has been married for over four years, but now wanted to conceive.
Like any usual gynecologist would, I asked a few questions, and advised the need to just stop any contraception. “That’s all”.
She asked about the appropriate time for conception. Obviously, it had to be “The time you ovulate”, I said almost instantly.
It felt, as if this wasn’t all she wanted to hear from me. After a few seconds of pause from both sides she asked; “Do you know tomorrow is full moon.”
“Okay, maybe, I have no idea. I do not follow the moon sizes, except when just by chance when I happen to see it. Am neither a poet, nor a mystic to follow it”, I joked.
She didn’t find it funny, remained silent over the phone longer. When on a repeat “Hello” she asked, “What is your opinion about Lunar fertility”.
“What? Lunar fertility? Can you please explain?”
“ I have heard, this weekend will be the Full Flower Moon of the year also called as Mother’s Moon. It is going to be the closest to Earth, so the largest moon of the year. Hence, there shall be the highest chances for fertility.” she informed.
“Oh ! I am not sure of that fertility thing.” I did not want to misguide her.
“See, this is coinciding with the time of the spring, where the warming of temperature leads to germination of seeds, and bulbs buried underneath the ground. Isn’t that an example from nature, of the time for increased fertility.”
“Well spring comes every year at the same time.” I wasn’t impressed.
“Don’t you know that our menstrual cycles follow as 28 day Lunar calendar, not Solar. And also the fact that scientists have discovered that as the moon waxes, the oestrogen levels rise, peaking at the full moon. And along with it also rises the libido, hence a nature’s way of procreation. It peaks at midnight.” She was so sure.
“Yes, high energies of the full moon, cause tides to rise, but it also creates tides of insomnia in the human beings, leading it to be the ideal time to procreate. I didn’t know this.” I tried to crack a joke again, but she was still too serious to take it.
And then, as if to make me feel even more miserable about the poverty of my knowledge, she mentioned the name of a physician, Dr Eugen Jonas who had interest in Astrology/ Astronomy ( she wasn’t sure) and hence led to discover the correlation between fertility and full moon.
“He was a doctor like you, not a naturopath.” She retorted.
I begged my ignorance to her, with a promise to explore further, “Strange, but about Lunar fertility I never ever heard a mention in my entire professional life”.
“No, no there is. These scientists deliberately distort facts to hide such Laws of Nature.”
“Why would they hide? In fact it would help them?”
“I don’t know, but since you people all are so against ‘alternate medicine’ you people don’t trust.” She continued, “Don’t you see, even after full use of contraception, there are failure rates of each contraceptive.”
“Yes it is. But that is because of the erratic hormone levels, we have in the body, and also on the improper use of contraception”.
“You know what?”, She dropped another bombshell of myth. “My Naturopath even told me that in the ancient times all women menstruated in sync after the full moon waned, if they did not conceive in the peak of full moon hormones. But now due to artificial lights in the houses, it has disturbed the whole cycle. “
“Yes I know Moon especially full moon has been associated with a lot of poetry in our Urdu language, relating it to woman, her beauty and radiance, but never imagined it with fertility or procreation”. I tried to reason.
“See the whole idea of woman being eulogized as moon, and why not as sun, or stars. In India, when women fast for their husbands on Karwa Chauth, before they break the fast they watch the reflection of moon in their steel thalis ( plates). This reflection of moonlight, increases their levels of female hormones, and makes them look more beautiful in front of their husbands. There is always wisdom behind such practices.” The firmness in her conviction was screaming across the telephone reciever.
I had no knowledge or information, to flout her claim.
She suggested, “There are so many sites, which talk about it. And even those passion crimes, agitated behaviors, etc increase in the full moon”.
“You mean the men also increase their male hormone levels on full moon? Because all this could be due to the exaggerated male hormones, Androgens, which in excess are also associated with aggression.”
“Yes, yes. I don’t know exactly what is Androgen, but haven’t you heard of the stories from Europe, not just India, of ‘werewolves’ and their relationship to full moon?”
“Oh but they are all myths”.
“No. And researches have proven the increase of births, conceptions and even crimes of passion…..”, again quoting the same doctor.
Jokes apart, I was flabbergasted at the flood of information she gave me. I had no clue to any of that information, what so ever.
Of course, I was aware of the havoc the high tides create at the sea shore, owing to the gravitational pull of full moon. And have been a witness of what mesmerizing eye-treat it is, to sight the symbol of love Taj Mahal, in full moon. And even had the fortune to experience live, the ecstasy of sniffing the aromatic gardens of Saffron fields in full bloom, during full moon in Kashmir. (This is an age old tradition in Sopore, Kashmir to visit the Saffron Gardens when their flowers bloom, in full moon, usually in November).
I promised her that I will look up on the net, and search, before telling her more. And before she hung up she announced:
“And by the way, my Naturopath is a European immigrant. And there is plenty of belief in Europe too about this”.
Almost immediately, I looked up on the net and found some links to sites which claim such assertions, and hardly any which refuted them.
Interestingly, one of the sites mentioned Maria Celeste , Galileo’s daughter:
“Writing to her father on 24 – 26 Feb. 1633 (Galileo was then in Rome to be interrogated and tried for heresy) Maria Celeste noted “The vines in the garden will set nicely now that the Moon is right” – and, if we check theory – the Moon was full on 24 Feb. 1633.
[From `Galileo's Daughter - A Drama of Science, Faith and Love' by Dava Sobel - ISBN 1-85702-712-4]
And then mentions in the footnote:
[Ironically, Galileo himself rejected all folk-lore about the Moon, as `old wives' tales. Which was why he failed to solve the connected mysteries of `tides' and therefore of `gravity' itself.] “
Half a day later, I called her up, and told her of having seen the sites:
“Yes, I could see them, but I still trust my knowledge of Gynecology. But, good for you then, you do not need a gynecologist’s advise, when you believe that the nature is the best gynecologist.”
She laughed and said, “Yes, I have tremendous faith on Naturopathy, and my Naturopath, is an excellent one. No doctor can beat his knowledge.”
She hung up.
Her faith in the hearsay, and my knowledge from my books, could not budge each other even an iota from our beliefs.
I kept pondering over the power of faith, for a long time…