Power of The Moon

Written by Dominique Liboiron

The effect the moon has over events on Earth is a subject of debate and controversy. However, no one would dispute that the moon is responsible for the movement of the ocean’s tides. That isn’t a mystery. After all, the moon doesn’t move water with magic, just gravity. But if the moon moves entire oceans, maybe it has other powers, too. Could it be the moon can influence plants, animals and even humans? To gain a deeper understanding, I want to share insights from a Métis elder.

Rose Fleury was from Duck Lake, Saskatchewan. Before she passed away at the age of 92 on Jan. 6, 2020, she shared some of her traditional knowledge with me. Mrs. Fleury believed that understanding the moon served many practical purposes in the 21st century. 

At first, she was skeptical about what she was told about the moon. “I was taught by my grandfather,” she said, “but I thought he was just joshing.” Curious and wanting to know more, she decided to read about the subject. The research she conducted helped Mrs. Fleury realize her grandfather was right. 

From that point on, Mrs. Fleury looked to the moon to better understand human and animal behaviour. She also let it guide her when working in her garden or when she wanted to know what the weather would be. Of course, she wasn’t the only person to be guided in this manner, but the impact the moon might have is a taboo subject. To say you plant your garden by the moon or fish by the moon could invite ridicule. Those who believe in its influence often do so in secret. 

Mrs. Fleury explained to me that the moon’s influence comes and goes in cycles. Each new cycle starts and is strongest with the new moon, which is the time when it’s hidden from view. After the full moon, the cycle gradually loses strength and influence. 

At the time of the new moon, animals want to feed more heavily, a behaviour they maintain until the full moon, but the cycle is strongest for about three days before and after the new moon. During this period, they tend to be more active during the day and will risk being out in the open to eat. Then, fatigued from their efforts, they rest more during the full moon. They continue to feed but prefer secluded areas that allow them to do so in hiding. The cycle starts again each month.  

For hunters, fishers, photographers or nature enthusiasts, this information can help them plan their outdoor activities in such a way that they’ll know when animals should be most active. 

According to Mrs. Fleury, plants are subject to the same cycle. She felt the best time to plant flowers, to put in a garden or even to seed a crop is at the beginning of the cycle because that time favours growth and fertility. Plants grow less after the full moon so she seeded in accordance with the new moon. 

As far as harvest or picking is concerned, Mrs. Fleury advised to wait until the end of the growth cycle, weather permitting, because plants have achieved their maximum growth.

In addition to plant growth, Mrs. Fleury also used the shape of the quarter moon to help her foretell a change in the weather. She said, “If the prongs are up and they’re very sharp, it’s going to be cold. And if they’re like rounded corners in the moon as well, then it’s more likely to be warmer weather.”

On a final note, there’s a popular belief in contemporary culture that the night of the full moon can be a busy time for nurses and police officers. Apparently, this is because some people were thought to go ‘crazy.’ (In fact, the word lunatic is derived from the word lunar.) This didn’t surprise Mrs. Fleury, who said the strange behaviour is caused by fatigue. She believes the cycle of rest and activity isn’t limited to plants and animals but extends to humans, as well. 

Confident in her knowledge, Rose Fleury suggested that people who want to learn more could use a notebook to record their lunar observations. After a few months, keen observers should be able to see a pattern between moon cycles and events on Earth. More specifically, these patterns involve plant, animal and human behaviour as well as changes in the weather. Have a look for yourself during the next moon cycle!

A Painting of Rose Fleury – Photo by Peter Beszterda, Gabriel Dumont Institute.

Métis elder Rose Fleury stands next to a portrait of herself painted by fellow Métis artist Christi Belcourt. The painting was unveiled on June 21, 2013, at Batoche National Historic Site as part of National Aboriginal Day celebrations. The Gabriel Dumont Institute commissioned the artwork. 

For some people, the full moon is a mysterious force. For others, the moon is just something in the sky. Yet, according to the late Métis elder Rose Fleury the moon is able to influence plants, animals and even humans. 

Full Moon – Photo by Dominique Liboiron
Lunar Eclipse – Photo by Dominique Liboiron
Solar Eclipse – Photo by Dominique Liboiron

A lunar eclipse occurs when the sun, Earth and moon form a line. The sun illuminates one side of our planet and causes a shadow behind the other. The moon moves through this shadow as it orbits the Earth and changes colour. Although the earth’s shadow hides the moon, it’s still partially illuminated by refracted light. As this light passes through the earth’s atmosphere, most of the blue and white are filtered out. The remaining red is most visible but other colours can include orange, brown and dark grey.

Here, we see the moon as it passes in front of the sun during the most recent partial solar eclipse on Oct. 14 of this year.

Crescent Moon – Photo by Dominique Liboiron

Based on Rose Fleury’s teachings, what does the shape of this moon tell you about upcoming weather?

Moon in the Maze – Photo by Dominique Liboiron

Living in a city can fracture our relationship with nature. Of course, we still feel the wind and the weather, but it’s easy not to notice the moon hidden as it is here behind a maze of power lines and telephone wires.

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