The waxing moon was long thought to promote healthy growth; this was the time to plant seeds, cut one's hair (so that it would grow back thickly), or undertake new business; animals and children begotten or born with the waxing or full moon would thrive. Conversely, cutting corns and charming * warts should be done with the waning moon, to make them disappear; so should bloodletting, as too strong a flow would be dangerous. The interval between old and new moon is ill omened; a baby born then will die young, or grow up foolish, for 'No moon, no man'.
   Equally common was the idea that the full moon affects the mad, worsening their symptoms; it was long considered medically sound, and still survives at the popular level. A related idea, current within living memory, was that it was dangerous to sleep in moonlight, either indoors or out of doors, especially when the moon was full; it could make one blind, or mad.
   Customs observed on first seeing a new moon have been recorded from the 16th century to the present day; one should bow, curtsy, or kiss one's hand to it; one should turn over or count the money in one's pocket or purse, and/or spit on it, so that it may increase as the moon waxes; one should make a wish. But it is essential to have a clear view; to see the new moon through glass (or through a tree) brings bad luck. A *love divination known to Aubrey (1686/1880: 36) and still practised in the 19th century was for a girl to sit on a gate or stile to greet the new moon, and wish to see her destined husband in her dreams.
   ■ Opie and Tatem, 1989: 260-6, 279-83; also most regional collections.

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.


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