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Sunday, November 13, 2016

Natural events and supernatural stories



cj Sez:  Lovers and star gazers take note . . . Get ready for one enormous, astronomical show!
Tomorrow, November 14, 2016, you’ll be treated to the biggest supermoon in almost 70 years!

According to scientists, tomorrow’s supermoon will be the biggest so far of the 21st century, and we won't see another one like this until November 25th, 2034.

Supermoon status occurs when the lunar orb will be near or at its closest elliptical-orbit point to the Earth…its perigee. High tides are a little higher, male deer begin to grow velvety antler nubs (“Full Buck Moon” is what the Native Americans called a July supermoon), and, according to some, lunatics run loose on the streets and werewolves howl their loudest.

The word lunacy comes from the Latin “lunaticus,” meaning, in modern language, moonstruck. Everyone knows that when the moon is full, the crazies come out. Right? Not so says science of the myth that spawned werewolves

It was feared that those affected by lycanthropy would grow extra long canines and feast on human flesh when the moon was full. (I’ve read that younger werewolves can transform when the moon is only 80% full; older werewolves need a 100% full.)

The theme of lycanthropy as a disease or curse became an accepted cinematic and literary theme in the 1941 film, The Wolf Man (Lon Chaney starred) which contained the now-famous rhyme:
Even a man who is pure in heart
And says his prayers by night
May become a wolf
When the wolfbane blooms
And the autumn moon is bright.

Wikipedia says the most prominent werewolf in the Harry Potter novels is Remus Lupin, who's portrayed as struggling with his curse and terrified of infecting someone. The series also includes a werewolf villain, Fenrir Greyback, who fits more with the older image of werewolves. The Potter books, while showing the intense threat the humans transformed to bloodthirsty monsters pose to the population, essentially use werewolves as a metaphor for marginalized groups who have been discriminated against in modern society.

The myth of full moons and werewolves became so popular that, in 1985, a team of scientists did a study on the concept that a full moon (full harvest moon or full wolf moon, or full snow moon, or full buck moon, et. al) could affect human behavior as it does the tides. You can rest easy. No evidence of such an effect was forthcoming.

Really? What about Little Red Riding Hood?  And what about this:  

In 2005, scientist Dr. Colm Kelleher and reporter George Knapp published a book detailing a scientific investigation of a ranch in Northeastern Utah where paranormal activity was taking place (Hunt for the Skinwalker). Despite not finding enough hard evidence for “scientific” publication, among the more than 100 incidents they described were large animals with piercing red eyes that they say were not injured when struck by bullets.


Other researchers tie the wolf creatures to ancient Navajo witchcraft practices. Many of the Navajo call these tribal witches Skinwalkers. Sightings of these creatures persist throughout the Navajo Nation, although few are willing to talk about it.


So why do we blame the full moon for strange happenings? Probably because we’re expecting the correlation, and we can point to that full moon for confirmation. All you have to do is take one look at the sky on November 14th, and you'll understand what all the fuss is about.

Okay, now that’s settled, You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same. By the way, you can sleep tight. Werewolves don’t exist…do they?

cj
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cjpetterson@gmail.com
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