Tonight is a very special night. Not only is it time for the Blood Moon (or Hunter's Moon), October's full moon -- it's also going to be a penumbral lunar eclipse. Sooo, you can probably guess what the theme of today's Stranger Nightmare is, can't you? Nope, it's not lycanthropy (too easy!). Nope, not the Penumbra video game series either (though trust me, I was tempted). You're thinking too hard. Try the most obvious guess of all. Yep -- it's the moon.
Now, there have been stories about the moon and its effects on the world since there were creatures on Earth capable of telling them. Ancient (and some not so ancient) religions personified and deified the moon, and many rituals and sacrifices were performed in its (sometimes His or Her) honor. Other, less flattering tales, told of changes coming over people sensitive to the moon's influence; since the days of Aristotle and Pliny, it has often been associated with madness (hence, lunacy), and of course, rumors of men (and women) that transform into wolves in the night have persisted through the ages. And don't even get me started on all the conspiracy theories concerning that big round shiny thing that shows up in the sky after the sun goes to bed.
Some of the creepiest ideas about the moon manifest themselves in the superstitions surrounding it. Of course, not all of them are scary -- some, like the idea that the new moon can bring you fortune, or that getting your hair cut during a particular phase is lucky, are even downright optimistic. But then you've got stories like the one where sleeping with the light of the full moon on your face means you won't live to see the end of the year, or that the moon turning orange is an evil portent. Or the ones (yes, more than one) where the Man in the Moon is someone trapped there as a form of eternal punishment. Or the other one, from Inuit mythology, where he is the keeper of the souls of men and animals. Or the other other one where he's a hunchback plaiting a fishing line. A rat gnaws the line, and a cat chases the rat, and as long as this cycle continues the universe is safe -- but if the fishing line is ever completed, the world ends.
Cheery stuff, no? While browsing through these today I stumbled on a story which, as far as I can tell, is not rooted in any particularly old or commonly-held superstitions -- however, it is a story about superstitions, and after reading it you might acquire a superstition of your own concerning mirrors and the moon... and dead things.
Click here, if you dare, to read "Moon Face." (Bonus points if you read it in the dark, at night, near a mirror, and aren't overcome with the urge to cover that mirror up immediately.)