April’s Full Moon, which occurs tonight for 2011, is known as Chaste Moon, Growing Moon, Hare Moon, Maiden Moon, and Planting Moon.

Days began getting longer, the air and ground is warming up and people may be a bit warmer too as they shake off winter.

This moon has been long associated with the return of the Maiden, and a time to look at your life and restore its balance.

I have written here about this as the Full Pink Moon. That is a name that is associated with the herb moss pink, or wild ground phlox, which is one of the early flowers of the spring that is commonly found in the United States.

Among indigenous tribes of North America, it was also known as the Full Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon. Among coastal tribes, it was the Full Fish Moon because this was the time that the shad swam upstream to spawn. It was also known as the Waking Moon because the hibernation of some animals ended now.

Native American Moon names vary according to geography and don’t follow our monthly calendar formalities. Northern Native Americans were the ones most likely to call April’s full moon the Pink Moon. The Dakotah Sioux called this the Moon When Geese Return in Scattered Formation (or at least that’s our translation). The Choctaw called this the Wildcat Moon and the Cherokee called it the Flower Moon.

A Medieval name was Seed Moon and a Celtic name was the Growing Moon.

In the Chinese moon sequence, this is the Peony Moon.

The Roman festival of Cerealia celebrated the return of Proserpina to the Earth goddess Ceres. (Our word “cereal” comes from the name Ceres.) It was the time of planting grain. Ceres was the Roman equivalent to the Greed goddess Demeter.

Gidhet (gee eht’) is the seventh month of the Druid year, and also known as the Flower Moon. The first day of Gidhet is the Full Moon when the Celts celebrated Beltane.

The New World colonists were always concerned with their own manipulation of nature and so referred to this month as the Planter’s Moon.

Snow melt, rains and warmer days, finds us preparing for planting. Farming folklore says to plant root crops during the waning moon (after the full moon and until the new moon) and plant above ground crops during the waxing moon (as the moon thickens, like the wax drippings of a candle) from the new moon until the full moon. The belief was that the moon’s magnetic force pulls everything that contains water. So, the ocean, our blood, and the water in plants and seeds are affected by the Moon’s pull. Our green leafy plants will seek the moon during its waxing phase, while root crops growing below the ground will need to push their energy down, away from the moon, during its waning phase.

Romanian decorated eggs

In some years, the April moon is called the Egg Moon, if it is the full moon before Easter. This year that’s true with Easter coming late on the 24th.

Why egg moon? Not only do domesticated hens begin laying more eggs with longer days, many wild bird species also lay their eggs now. Eggs have long been a symbol of spring, regeneration, and rebirth.

If you think egg painting is a recent tradition, you are wrong. The ancient Persians painted eggs for Nowrooz, their New Year celebration, which falls on the Spring equinox. Sculptures on the walls of Persepolis show people carrying eggs for Nowrooz to the king.

At the Jewish Passover Seder, a hard-boiled egg dipped in salt water symbolizes the Passover sacrifice offered at the Temple in Jerusalem.

The pre-Christian Saxons had a spring goddess called Eostre, whose feast was held on the Vernal Equinox, around 21 March. Her special animal was the spring hare (rabbit),  so it is believed that Eostre’s association with eggs and hares, combined with the rebirth of the land in spring was adapted for the Christian holiday of Easter.

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