Saturday, 28 February 2009

Living by the moon

Think back. Not to yesterday but to a good few thousand years ago. There? Good.

Three months into Moonwalking, I'm beginning to realise just how important the moon's phases have been - and still are - to human life. My main worry when beginning the book was that my lack of knowledge about space, moon transit, Earth-sun-moon relationships - in fact, anything more than a few feet above my head - would soon shine through the front I'd built in order to chat with experts on all these subjects. But a strange thing is happening.

Like our ancestors, I've found my time regulated more and more by the moon. In its simplest form, that has meant I use the moon's phases to organise my travel and writing. So, for example, when I haven't started writing a chapter up by the next new moon after the full-moon, I know I'm in trouble. When I find the third full-moon of the year creeping towards me (I possess a strong gravitational pull) and I still haven't started writing chapter one, it's time to weep. But the moon is helping me timetable so much more than this book.

When you start to take notice of the skies, take in the moon's phases, appreciate sunrise and sunset, moonrise and moonset, you begin to understand how those who lived pre-Swatch survived. It was the sun, moon and stars that orchestrated the day's activity - the hunting, the foraging, the eating, the sleeping. It was the moon and sun, the offical marriage made in heaven, that forecast the coming seasons, the changing months - not the newspaper or TV Times. Not even the internet.

And it's still possible to live like this, I've learned. If only we paid more attention to our celestial neighbours. Yes, I might get stumped by penumbral eclipses and libration, but at least I know when Mothering Sunday is.

2 comments:

The Prodigal Tourist said...

Interesting concept. What on earth (or should I say, in the skies) led you to this idea?

rob-sp said...

It's strange, the further I go through the process (travel, writing, encounters, research), the more I forget where the idea came from. I'd like to say it's from my incredible knowledge of all things cosmological - but that would be a grotesque lie.

I wanted to write the first travel book about nightwalking - and the full-moon seemed a good theme/hook.

Thanks for the comment.