A Rose Moon

This month’s full Moon is on Monday, July 26.

deer-velvetIt’s most commonly referred to in America as the Buck Moon, a name that comes from Native Americans. Male deer, which shed their antlers every year, begin to regrow them in July. This is normally the month when the new antlers of buck deer push out of their foreheads in coatings of velvety fur.

Other names for this Summer Moon include signs of what early settlers saw in nature: the Raspberry Moon, Hay Moon (harvesting could be done in the light of a cooler night sometimes), Thunder Moon, Whale Moon, the Rose Moon (for its color, not for the flower) and Red Salmon Time Moon.

It’s important to remember that in many other cultures the Lunar month is the time between the full moons and not the calendar months that we are familiar with today.

A lantern-lit Japanese street

In the Chinese Moon calendar this is the Hungry Ghost Moon. On the 14th day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar, the Gates of Hell open, and ghosts pour forth from the Nine Darknesses into the sunlit world. To placate the dead, Hell Money (fake paper money) is burned, offerings are made, and paper boats and floating lanterns are set out to give direction to wayward spirits. Though many spirits simply seek out the comforts of their former homes and the company of their loved ones, angry spirits also roam the streets, seeking revenge on those who have wronged them. Offerings of ginger candy, sugar cane, smoky vanilla and rice wine might appease the ghosts who give off their own scent of white sandalwood, ho wood, ti, white grapefruit, crystalline musk and aloe.

In Japan, this month brings O-Bon, the 3-day Festival of Lanterns. This Buddhist and Shinto celebration honors the dead, and homes, altars, shrines and tombs are cleaned and decorated. Gardens are hung with lanterns to light the way of the dead so that they can join their families for the festival.

The Cherokee called this the Ripe Corn Moon, while American colonists called it the Corn Tassel Moon,  so we can see the stage that corn was in for Northeastern settlers versus Southwestern Cherokee.  The Choctaw called it the Crane Moon and the Dakotah Sioux referred to it as the Moon of the Middle Summer.

The Celtic name Culendom (cu’ lin dum) is the eleventh month and the first day of the month is the full moon when the Druids celebrated Harvest or Lughnasadh. Culendom is from the July Harvest Moon to the August Moon of Claiming.

A 16th Century Medieval English name was the Mead Moon. Mead is an ancient alcoholic beverage made from honey. Since this is a month when hives are heavy with honey, it was a time to make mead.

Want to make some mead of your own? Try the homebrewtalk.com site.

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