The full moon is said to symbolize different things in various cultures, including the control of water as well as the rhythm of time. The phases of the moon are also used to represent phases of life.
Various symbols have been prescribed to the full moon. Some cultures identify the moon as a feminine symbol that represents the rhythm of time while in other cultures it has religious significance. For example, in India the full moon is said to control the flow of all water in the universe. In other societies, particularly in scientific realms, the moon is said to control tidal flow. In Buddhist ideology, full moon days maintain significance as a time for religious reflection.
The lunar cycle has, in time, also been attributed to the various mental and emotional states of people. The word "lunatic" is a result of such symbolism. The full moon is also said to cause demonic influences.
Further, the phases of the moon are used as an analogy for human development:
- New moon: infancy
- Crescent: youth and adolescence
- Full: maturity and pregnancy
- Waning: old age and sleep
However, empirical study of both the positive and negative effects of the moon have proven inconclusive. The symbolism of the full moon thus appears to be more folklore than concrete science.