"Rocky Shoals Spider Lily - Full flower Moon" by Ted Borg, South Carolina

For 2010,  May 27 will be the full moon of the month. (The New Moon was the 14th.)  May’s abundant blooms give its full moon the name Flower Moon (or a variant)  in many cultures.

Each full moon has several names related to the natural or planting cycles, the former being more popular with Native Americans and the latter with the early colonists. Full moon names go back hundreds of years to Native Americans of the northern and eastern United States who kept track of the seasons by giving names to each full moon based on natural occurrences. For the colonists and the tribes that planted, May was often called the month of the Corn Planting Moon.

Those that believe that the gravitational force that pulls the tides and pulls a horseshoe crab ashore to mate, also causes crops (particularly those that bear fruit above ground) to sprout faster from the earth during the full moon.

However, each phase of the moon has its plantings. When the moon is waning (appearing smaller after the full moon) and the pull decreases,  good old gravity has its way and roots and root crops like potatoes and carrots are best planted.

Believers would also say to plant nothing when the moon is “dark.” That’s when plants rest and the gardener should kill weeds because they won’t grow back.

In the Native American tradition of the Medicine Wheel, the Corn Planting Moon is the third moon of Wabun, the Spirit Keeper of the East. The stone on the wheel representing this moon is placed three-quarters of the way between the eastern and southern stones in the outer circle of the Medicine Wheel.

Variations of the Native American moon names come from the European settlers who created their own versions. Native Americans did not domesticate cows, so it was the settlers who named the May full moon the Milk Moon. During May cows, goats, and sheep enjoy the abundance of sprouting weeds, grasses, and herbs in the pastures and produce lots of rich milk, full of vitamins.