Natural time – Part 3

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Quite intriguing, in this regard, is the duel-use greeting, which the Bashu, of eastern Congo (D.R.C.), reportedly extend to the first quarter Moon.

“The Moon appears!” sounds innocuous enough. Yet, according to Herbert, “This same phrase is used as a euphemism for a woman’s menstrual period…”

As I have noted previously, iron smelting is likewise linked to the menstrual and the lunar cycle, among the Lejja, in the Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu State.

The villagers herald the new Moon with cries of “Ogughi banyi oh!” (No evil is in my house!), while smelting (now an abandoned tradition) is perceived as a replication of child-birth.

Earth’s annual orbit around the Sun, is a third measure of natural time—whose biological influences are evident in the seasonal or “circannual rhythms” of organisms.

“A Circannual rhythm,” Psychology Wiki explains, “is a biological rhythm that occurs on an annual basis, even in the absence of environmental cues”.

“Environmental cues” include perceptible changes in temperature, the length of day, atmospheric pressure, Earth’s magnetic field and the position of celestial bodies.

These cues are essential for reproductive success—i.e., for attracting and seducing mates, securing food and shelter as well as rearing and protecting offspring.

“Creatures on Earth,” observes Physics.Org, “have annual cycles consisting of life history stages of breeding, moult and migration”.

Wiki puts it this way: “Species with a breeding season have naturally evolved to have sexual intercourse during a certain time of year in order to achieve the best reproductive success”.

Migration, hibernation and mating behavior are extensively studied reproductive and energy management strategies, that are known to be environmentally influenced.

So critical are these environmental cues, that the chemical and electrical systems of organisms are often “entrained” (genetically programmed) to the cadence of seasonal rhythms.

Notes Wiki, “migratory birds kept in controlled conditions without seasonal cues still exhibit seasonal variations in behavior reflecting the underlying rhythm”.

Individuals who has done some reading in biology, would recognize this as an oblique reference to a famous experiment, involving caged migratory birds.

When the time of year arrived, for their annual migration, the animals turned to what would normally have been the direction of flight, and started flapping their wings.

Physics.Org reported on a study of specie called Barau’s petrel, which “exhibits a predictable annual timing of breeding and migration” and “are more active when the full moon is out”.

Nor is it only lower organisms who responds to seasonal rhythms. According to the Trinity College Department of Sociology, biometeorology researchers believe human behavior is also influenced.

Among the claims investigators make, are that death rates in cultures of the northern hemisphere peak during the winter, while marriage rates spike in June and births in late summer.

Investigators claim too, that romantic liaisons between university students tend to crash during May/June/September and December/January.

In this article:
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