So many full Moon names…

This month’s full Moon comes this week on June 15, 2011. Its names include: Mead Moon, Moon of Horses, Lovers’ Moon, Strong Sun Moon, Honey Moon, Hot Moon, Aerra Litha (Before Litha), Brachmanoth (Break Month), Strawberry Moon, Rose Moon, Flower Moon, Moon of Making Fat. This Sagittarius Full Moon is a total Lunar Eclipse at 24 degrees of Gemini/Sagittarius, close to the center of the galaxy.

The Moon/June rhyme has been used in good and bad poetry for centuries. The most popular epithets for this Full Moon are Rose Moon (European) or the Flower Moon and (especially if the climate makes it appropriate, as in North America) the Strawberry Moon. The Strawberry Moon was universal to every Algonquin tribe.

Full moons tend to dominate the sky from dusk to dawn and Moons of summer are probably more likely to be observed as we spend more evening hour outdoors. The original Roman name for this month was Junonious, after the Great Mother Goddess Juno; her counterpart among the Greeks was Hera.

The Summer Solstice comes later this month and that is still important to many religions and cultures around the world. I will write more about it later, but not only was it sacred to goddesses of fertility, marriage, and love, but it was considered to be a time when faeries, elves, and many other supernatural beings were abroad in great numbers. Midsummer Night that Shakespeare wrote about was celebrated on Midsummer Eve (St. John’s Eve, June 23) and St. Peter’s Eve (June 28) with the lighting of bonfires, feasting and merrymaking. Many Americans assume it occurs in the middle of our summer (August).

For those who worship the moon, the Full Moon festival of Edfu in Egypt honored the goddess Hathor. The cow horns on her head represented the Crescent Moon. Every year at the New Moon the statue of Hathor was taken from her temple at Dendera and transported by boat to the temple of the god Horus at Edfu, arriving on the Full Moon. This festival celebrated the sexual union of the two deities.