How do lunar calendars work

The lunar calendar

The end of the year is approaching. And the annual calendar glut takes place in the bookstores. There are calendars with cats, calendars with clever sayings, calendars with stupid sayings, calendars with athletes, calendars with naked people - and a lot of calendars that want to explain to us how the moon affects our lives.

Since Johanna Paungger and Thomas Poppe published their book "Vom Richtpunkt" in 1991, the "Mondkalender" have become a hit on the book market and an integral part of the esoteric world. The basic thesis is that if you want to live properly, you have to watch out for the moon. Our wise ancestors knew this, but we stupid modern humans have unfortunately forgotten about it. Fortunately, all the lunar calendar writers seem to have grandparents who still have the "old knowledge of the moon" and were able to save it to the present day. And it is extremely astonishing what our ancestors knew: The moon determines when the fields should be tilled and the vegetables should be harvested in the garden. The moon also tells us when is the right time to water flowers, cut hair or clean the windows. According to the authors of the lunar calendars, there is only a streak-free shine if the dirt is wiped away during the correct phase of the moon.

Always the same moon

From an astronomical point of view, this comes as a bit of a surprise: Although the moon looks different in its different phases in the sky, it is always the same moon. The full moon is no other celestial body than the crescent moon or the new moon. At any point in time, one half of the moon is illuminated by sunlight and the other half is not. The only thing that changes over the course of a month is our perspective and the proportion of the illuminated area of ​​the moon that we can see from Earth. The light of the moon is also not extraordinary or even mysterious (and if the light of the full moon does not fall directly onto the bed through a curtain-free window, then it does not affect our sleep. This widespread idea is a result of selective perception and disappears all by itself if you keep a complete and honest sleep diary). It is completely normal sunlight, i.e. the same light that we see more than sufficiently during the day. When it comes to the "right time", it doesn't seem to matter what the sun does - you have to follow the moon!

And it's amazing how many everyday things you can do wrong if you don't pay attention to the moon phase! In the lunar calendars you can find information on when to open the windows for ventilation, when to perform oral hygiene, when to visit the solarium, when to make jam or when to wash clothes. I personally always did the latter when it was dirty - but, according to the ancient knowledge of our ancestors, simply washing it at some point would be a big mistake ...

Influence on oral hygiene

On closer inspection, however, the story of the alleged peasant wisdom that preserved the ancient knowledge of the moon turns out to be just as unreal as the influence of the moon on oral hygiene. The cultural scientist Helmut Groschwitz from the University of Regensburg stated in his work "Moon times. On the genesis and practice of modern lunar calendars" (Waxmann: Münster 2008): "The" knowledge "conveyed in today's lunar calendars is not ancient, empirical peasant knowledge as in the calendars Rather, it is the set pieces of former elite cultural systems of explanation of the world that have been repeatedly taken out of their respective context and re-contextualized. The interpretation of the "living peasant wisdom" emerged in the 19th century and becomes extremely modern as a label in the 20th century Apparitions used. ".

And on closer inspection, the lunar calendars are actually nothing more than media for spreading the same esoteric ideas that can also be found everywhere else. In one of the current guides from Paungger and Pope, for example, you can find explanations about earth rays and divining rods in addition to the usual explanations about astrology and the zodiac signs. In the event of health problems, it is even recommended to take homeopathic globules (but of course only during the correct moon phase). And this is exactly where the lunar calendar becomes questionable as an esoteric advisor. If you follow some fantasy rules while watering flowers or cleaning your shoes, then you only get dried up flowers and dirty shoes. But if you - as can be read in almost every lunar calendar - also have to pay attention to the moon phase at doctor and, above all, surgery appointments, it becomes dangerous. Advice of the kind "Postpone planned operations to the waning moon in order to avoid scars, infections and bleeding. Refrain from interventions on the part of the body under which the moon is currently shown." (GU Mondkalender 2013) can in the worst case lead to death or at least result in health impairments.

Apparent security

The lunar calendars only offer apparent security. It may be convenient for some people to be presented with a "cosmic plan" for the many boring and mundane chores that they can stick to. But if the urge to do everything "at the right time" intervenes too deeply in your own life, then at some point you will no longer be able to make your own decisions and your health will depend on an arbitrary calendar.

For Christmas Day, the astrologer Helga Kuhn notes in the "Woman" lunar calendar that it is a good day for family get-togethers. It should also be a good day for personal hygiene. So we can all wish each other "Merry Christmas" with a clear conscience and freshly showered! (Florian Freistetter, derStandard.at, December 22, 2014)