First things first, we can’t talk about the importance of the moon in the wizarding world and not mention werewolves – their condition is dictated by it! There are a couple of notable werewolves that we come across within the stories, Remus Lupin and the werewolf who attacked him, the deadly Fenrir Greyback. As Lupin unfortunately learnt as a young boy, to become a werewolf, you have to be bitten by one in their wolf form – which only happens at the full moon. And for those who have suffered such a terrible fate and survived (which isn’t always the case if they don’t have dittany and silver on hand), every full moon for the rest of their life results in an excruciating transformation where they become a dangerous beast devoid of humanity. Though the Wolfsbane Potion can offer some relief – restricting the transformation to that of a normal sleepy wolf rather than a full werewolf – there is no cure for the condition, and a werewolf’s life is forever tied to the phases of the moon.
Speaking of Lupin, the moon was an important part of his story. Obviously, his ‘furry little problem’, as he liked to call it, reared its head at every full moon but his monthly transformation was also the reason that his friends became Animagi (interestingly the process to become one involves the moon) as they were safe to keep him company in their animal forms. Without the four of them running around at every full moon, you could argue that the Marauder’s Map would not have been created. For one thing, they would never have been able to explore the Hogwarts grounds as thoroughly. That would have been disastrous. The Marauder’s Map was an incredibly useful tool – not just for mischief-making – and when it came into Harry’s possession it got him out of more than a few tight spots. Oh, did we mention that Lupin’s nickname was also very appropriately moon related? He was Moony of Messrs Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs.
We’ve always thought it would be brilliant to be an Animagus and have the ability to transform into an animal at will. We’ve often wondered what animal we would like to be. Maybe a tabby cat like Professor McGonagall? A stag like James Potter? Perhaps it would be fun to be a dog like Sirius Black… but not a rat like Peter Pettigrew. However, a witch or wizard can’t just become an Animagus on a whim. It is a long, complex and risky process that can go horribly wrong, and it can’t be completed without the moon. For example, one step requires you to carry a Mandrake leaf in your mouth from full moon to full moon. That’s right, for an entire lunar month you must keep a leaf in your mouth and if you swallow it or take it out, you have to start the entire thing all over again. The leaf then needs to be removed at the full moon and placed (along with your saliva – yuck) in a small crystal phial that receives the pure rays of the moon. Unfortunately, if the night is cloudy, yep – you’ve guessed it, you begin the whole thing again with a brand-new leaf.
One other character that had strong links to the moon was Luna Lovegood – her name literally means moon in Latin. That’s not the only connection – though this one is not quite as nice – many of Luna’s peers called her ‘Loony’ because of her eccentric personality. We know that Luna was somebody who was curious, open minded and unconventional (it’s unfortunate that her classmates didn’t share these traits) but others regarded her as possibly not being entirely sane. Anyway, the moon has often been linked to insanity and the word ‘lunacy’ is another word that comes from the Latin name for the word moon and its goddess… Luna.
If you were paying close attention to the Sorting Ceremony in Philosopher’s Stone, you might remember one particular surname being called out for Sorting, Moon. That was Lily Moon – a character that changed somewhat. While J.K. Rowling decided to use the name Lily for Harry’s mother instead, she did confirm that Lily Moon was the earlier iteration of a fey, dreamy character that she was inspired to create… Luna Lovegood. You see, the moon and Luna have always been tied together.
This is one very useful potion. It allowed Harry and Ron to sneak into the Slytherin common room disguised as Crabbe and Goyle (Hermione had a certain feline mishap here but that wasn’t the potion’s fault). Barty Crouch junior was able to pose as Mad-Eye Moody for an entire year thanks to Polyjuice Potion. And Harry left Privet Drive for the final time accompanied by six other Harrys as a diversion technique using this potion. However, this is not a concoction that can be whipped up in a matter of minutes, hours or even days. It took Hermione at least a month to make her brew in her second year and that’s thanks to some of the steps needing to be completed at specific times. This is where the moon comes into play. The fluxweed that is needed for the recipe must be collected at the full moon. If it is picked on any other night you’ll be left with a foul-tasting, completely useless and possibly dangerous sludge instead. No thanks!
Finally, there is one rather adorable creature that only emerges from their burrow at the full moon… the Mooncalf! These shy creatures with bulbous eyes and four spindly legs love to boogie in the moonlight. They perform complicated routines while standing on their hindlegs – something we would love to witness. Fun fact, their dung is rather valuable. If you collect the silvery deposits before the sun rises, then spread it on magical flowerbeds and herbs, you will have plants that grow fast and strong – nifty… and smelly.
Remus Lupin’s Boggart was a full moon – it was Hermione who figured that out.
The fact that Astronomy was taught at Hogwarts – we’re sure that would have involved some study of moons.
And, we’re putting it out there, Albus Dumbledore’s half-moon spectacles – mini moons on his face!