Driven mad with lust by a full moon: Its power to warp our behaviour gave us the word ‘lunacy’. Now, as a Snow Moon rises, read the stories of women who’ve felt its devastating power, including one wife’s extraordinary admission
Visiting her boyfriend’s grandmother in Wales for the first time, Bianca Riemer was understandably nervous and eager to make a good impression. When, later that evening, David suggested a walk in the garden, she was relieved to get some fresh air and privacy.
But as the young couple returned to the house, Bianca was suddenly seized by what can only be described as a wave of uncontrollable lust. With their guest bedroom right next to that of their host, Bianca knew that making love indoors would be rather awkward . . . but not making love was simply not an option, her desire was so strong.
She insisted, therefore, to a rather startled David, that they did it there and then, in the only place available — on his grandmother’s vegetable patch, rolling around among the carrots and turnips.
It was only when she glanced at the night sky that Bianca understood the reason for her sudden rampant libido. It was a full moon which, she says, has always had a dramatic effect on her mood and behaviour, regardless of where she is on her own monthly cycle.
In fact, 20 years and two children later, her libido, and mood in general, is still a slave to the power of the lunar energy.
Desire: Bianca Riemer
The idea that the lunar cycle can influence people’s behaviour dates back thousands of years: the word lunacy derives from the Latin lunaticus, meaning ‘moonstruck’, and both the Greek philosopher Aristotle and the Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder believed that madness and epilepsy were caused by the moon
‘It makes me wild,’ says Bianca, a careers coach from South-East London, who still laughs at the memory of ‘that’ night with her now husband. And with February’s full ‘snow’ moon due on Saturday — so called because it tends to be frosty — she anticipates another rush of desire will be forthcoming although, these days, she and David tend to stick to the comfort of the marital bed.
‘Like a lot of working mums with young children, sex is not terribly high on my list of priorities,’ she says. ‘But I find myself drawing on all my womanly wiles during the day leading up to a full moon, persuading David we need to get the children to bed early so we can have some ‘husband and wife time’.
‘A full moon doesn’t just make me frisky — I find it impossible to sleep: feeling flooded with optimism and invincibility, it’s as though my ability for critical thinking switches off.’
Bianca is not the only person convinced of the power of a full moon. The idea that the lunar cycle can influence people’s behaviour dates back thousands of years: the word lunacy derives from the Latin lunaticus, meaning ‘moonstruck’, and both the Greek philosopher Aristotle and the Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder believed that madness and epilepsy were caused by the moon.
The full moon’s effect on women’s sex drives has long been recorded. The idea was first suggested by U.S. scientist Arnold Lieber, when researching his 1970s book The Lunar Effect: Biological Tides And Human Emotions. He put it down to the gravitational pull of the moon on the brain, leading to arousal and heightened sexual desire.
More recently, a French dating website, in a survey of 6,000 women, found they were more likely to reach orgasm if they had sex outside during the full moon.
Kirsty Gallagher, a moon mentor and author of the Sunday Times bestseller Lunar Living, believes the explanation is simple: ‘The full moon is the peak energetic point of the lunar cycle, a time when whatever emotions we are feeling are drawn to the surface and there is no containing them.
‘Around the time of the full moon, emotions are heightened and people tend to be more impulsive, more angry and more reactive to whatever is going on in their lives.
‘It should come as no surprise, given that the tides are governed by the moon, as is the axis of the Earth. It seems arrogant to assume that people are the only things not affected by lunar cycles.
‘Humans are made up of between 65 and 85 per cent water so, in the same way that the moon pulls on the tides, she pulls on the energy and emotions within us, too.’
Bianca says it’s not just her libido that is affected when the full moon is in the sky. She says she is overtaken by bursts of generosity and exuberance. ‘Quite apart from the clothes shopping, over the past couple of years, on full moon nights, I’ve enrolled on expensive courses — one for £7,000 and another £3,500 — as well as booking a family holiday to Hawaii, without even discussing it first with David.
‘That was in 2019, and I remember almost bursting with excitement the following day when I told him I’d paid £2,000 for a three-night stay in a hotel on one of the Hawaiian islands we were going to visit, to which he could only utter ‘that sounds expensive’.
‘It had seemed like such a great idea, with the full moon illuminating the sky, but, when it came to it, we were so determined to get our money’s worth we barely saw the island, as I don’t think we left that hotel once in the three days we were there.’
Luckily David, 40, a management consultant, is understanding about his wife’s ‘lunacy’, aware that, even after he has satisfied her sexual desires, she will be unable to sleep during a full moon and is highly likely to do something impulsive — and costly.
‘He is naturally more cautious than me, so I don’t always tell him straight away about my more expensive purchases, ‘ says Bianca. ‘I feel the decisions I make at these times are the right ones, like the universe has my back and, with the help of the moon, is steering me towards better things. I can honestly say I’ve never experienced buyers’ remorse.’
Her lunar urges have paid dividends, though: in her former career as a stockmarket analyst for an investment bank, Bianca would regularly feel a surge of optimism for certain stocks around the time of a full moon, and recommended several to colleagues who, like her, ended up making money.
Even as a child, she would dream up money-making schemes while unable to sleep on full-moon nights, including buying sweets in bulk and selling them at a profit to school friends, and planting raspberry bushes so she could pick the fruit to sell on her parents’ market stall.
Sarah Brooks, a natural lifestyle coach, encourages her clients to pay close attention to the lunar cycle, as she believes it can both help and hinder them in achieving their goals.
‘Generally, a full moon gives us an energy boost, which is why so many struggle to sleep. That makes it a good time to get things done,’ says Sarah.
‘However, it can also lead to some of us feeling completely overwhelmed, especially if we have been ignoring our feelings and needs throughout the rest of the month, because they will be drawn to the surface by a full moon.’
Meanwhile, moon mentor Kirsty Gallagher encourages her clients to tune in to their emotions around the time of both full and new moons, which can be seen around two weeks later and ‘tends to bring with it a more reflective, rather than an active time’.
With training, focusing on the changes these moons bring can, believes Kirsty, lead people not only to recognise what’s making them unhappy, but also what they actually want in their lives.
‘Tuning into emotions around the lunar cycle can create such self-awareness that some make huge life changes,’ says Kirsty.
Seizures: Diane Bowe
‘I’ve known people move to the other side of the world, leave relationships that aren’t working, quit jobs and careers that are sucking the life out of them, decide to study something that has always interested them and even discover a new passion for painting.’
But not everyone would describe the moon’s influence as benevolent. Sarah Johnson, 38, a fashion photographer from East London, is wary of the full moon which, she says, leaves her feeling ‘completely unhinged’.
‘I’ve had some spectacular episodes, including one a couple of years ago when I convinced myself that my boyfriend at the time, who I’d been dating for almost a year, was planning to dump me,’ says Sarah.
‘I was awake all night — as I always am when the moon is full — and bombarded him with messages seeking reassurance one minute and venting my fury that he was ignoring me and clearly didn’t have the bottle to dump me to my face, the next.
‘I remember, in the early hours, sobbing so hard I couldn’t breathe, in a heap on my bathroom floor, feeling utterly distraught, even though, rationally, there was no logical reason for it.
‘I had no idea there was a full moon that night — I purposely don’t keep track of it because I don’t want to bring about these meltdowns by anticipating them.
‘However, spiritual people I follow on social media were all posting about it the following day and the penny dropped.
‘My then boyfriend called the next day, completely nonplussed by my messages, and I apologised. I didn’t want to mention the moon, I knew he’d think it sounded loopy, so I blamed it on my hormones.’
But it’s not just lovers who have been on the receiving end of Sarah’s lunar outbursts. ‘I once called into a health food store on my way home from work and when the shop assistant told me they had run out of coconut sugar I burst into tears,’ recalls Sarah. ‘I was almost as taken aback by my meltdown as she was, and tried to apologise between sobs.
‘It was only as I was driving home that I noticed the full moon and was able to make sense of it all.’
Although Sarah still, uncharacteristically, struggles to sleep whenever there’s a full moon, instead of contacting boyfriends or going shopping, she now passes the time surfing the internet and working out in her home gym.
However, there are people who, like Diane Bowe — far from seeing the impact of a full moon as an intriguing irritant — actually live in mortal dread of it. Back in August 2018, Diane, 34, whose daughter, Ivy, was then just four months old, was drifting off to sleep when she suddenly had a seizure — her first ever. Her partner, David, 35, who was alongside her in bed, witnessed the whole terrifying experience as their daughter slept in her crib next to her parents’ bed. ‘He told me afterwards that my head turned to the left, my arms had locked straight out in front of me, my legs had gone rigid and my whole body shook uncontrollably for two to three minutes,’ says Diane, who runs an organic vegan cosmetics company from her home in Darlington, County Durham.
‘I blacked out for about 15 minutes and woke, with no memory of what had happened, to find paramedics in our bedroom. David — terrified and unable to rouse me — had called 999.’
Although Diane had no history of epilepsy, a further three episodes followed — in December 2018 and January and February 2019. And it was David, a no-nonsense quantity surveyor, who discovered they had all happened during a full moon.
‘David is very scientific and loves a spreadsheet, so he was looking at the dates I’d had the seizures, trying to find a pattern, when he realised that all four tied in with a full moon,’ says Diane.
‘I couldn’t believe it when he told me — he’s the last person on earth to pay attention to horoscopes.’
Having been referred to a neurologist for tests by her GP, Diane mentioned the lunar link at her next appointment and was told it was ‘merely coincidence’, but she refuses to believe that.
Fury: Sarah Johnson
Diane was diagnosed with frontal lobe seizures, for which she was prescribed medication in early 2019, and has fitted on only two occasions since, the last time in May 2020 — once again on the night of a full moon.
Having never previously paid any attention to lunar cycles, Diane is now acutely aware of the timings of a full moon and goes to great lengths to reduce stress in the run up to it.
‘I cut right back on work in the days before, so that on the day of the full moon I’m feeling as relaxed as possible,’ says Diane. ‘I’m always in bed by 8.30pm, but I never sleep well — I have a weird whooshing sound in my ears all night, though the night after a full moon I sleep incredibly deeply.
‘Having never paid it much heed, my experience has given me a new respect for the moon and its power. A couple of months ago, the light from the full moon was streaming through our bedroom window and I was really frightened by it, mentally pleading with it not to trigger a seizure.
‘I have to go a full year without one to be legally permitted to drive again.’
Whether they can be blamed on the lunar effect or not, losing her driver’s licence is far from the only price Diane has paid for her seizures.
She and David were living in Wandsworth, an affluent part of South-West London, when Diane had her first fits but, as they tried to figure out a cause, they were desperate for family support and so quit their jobs and moved 255 miles back to her home town of Darlington in the North East.
Fearing it was new motherhood that had impacted her hormones, which in turn had left her more vulnerable to the lunar cycle, Diane is reluctant to have a second child, in case it triggers further fits.
‘Thankfully, the medication I am taking seems to be helping but, given the indisputable link to a full moon, I will continue to have huge respect for it and do everything in my power to mitigate its effect on me each month,’ she says.
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