I wrote yesterday that the May Full Moon is sometimes called the Buddha Full Moon. Of course, there are many names for this month’s Full Moon from many traditions: Hare Moon, Merry or Dyad Moon, Fright Moon, Bright Moon, Mothers Moon, Flower Moon, Frogs Return Moon, Thrimilcmonath (Thrice-Milk Month), Sproutkale, Winnemonoth (Joy Month), and the Planting Moon.

I don’t know if anyone else refers to it as the Moon of the Horseshoe Crabs but their spawning activity peaks occur for a few days before and after the May and June new and full moons. And, not far from Paradelle, a huge number of horseshoe crabs will appear on the beaches along Delaware Bay (between Delaware and New Jersey) to mate and to lay eggs under the sand. The number of mating horseshoe crabs on the beach peaks at the night of full moon and at the time of high tide. The huge number of horseshoe crab eggs attracts many birds to converge for this annual feast.

This month’s full moon is tonight and in June it will be on the 4th, so the activity is likely to be at its peak in the latter part of May approaching the June full moon. Still, I associate this month’s Moon with the first coming of the crabs who are feeling that ancient cosmic pull.

I find horseshoe crabs fascinating. They are “living fossils” and have remained basically the same for 300 million years. The females (which are generally larger than males) carry tens of thousands of eggs which they deposit in the sand for males to fertilize.

The spring migration of many species of shorebirds coincides with the arrival of the horseshoe crabs in Delaware Bay. Bird counts of migratory shorebirds show disturbing decreases in numbers, and those who study the migrations see a correlation shorebird population declines and horseshoe crab over-harvesting.

 Horseshoe crabs have survived 300 million years of a changing planet, but may not survive human interference. Loss of habitat is a concern, but the use of the crabs as bait is more of a threat.

The horseshoe crabs spawning creates many birding opportunities in places like Delaware Bay.  Plum Island is part of Sandy Hook Gateway National Recreation Area in New Jersey and the NJ Audubon Society is a good source of information on Sandy Hook activities.  (More on horseshoe crabs from my Endangered New Jersey blog)

This ancient natural ritual also ties in with the very old belief that the same Moon 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. Conversely, 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.

Staying with the natural world, May’s many blooms give this month make it the Flower Moon and have it related to both the natural oand planting cycles. The natural cycles are more closely connected to Native Americans. The planting cycles are generally more associated with the early colonists.

Since Native Americans did not domesticate cows, it was the settlers who also named this 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.

However, both groups seem to have called this the Corn Planting Full Moon. 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.

I am no expert, but I have found that the Cherokee people seem to have called this either the Moon When Leaves Are Green, Moon To Plant or  Moon When the Ponies Shed.  Families traditionally prepare the fields and sow them with the stored seeds from last season. Corn, beans, squashes, tomatoes, potatoes, yams and sunflowers are some food planted at this time. A dance traditionally done at this time is the “Corn Dance”.

The earth is becoming fertile again and it is a time for the planting and for recommitting yourself to the Gods and the Earth.

The Moon’s perigee coincides with the full Moon this month bringing it nearest to Earth for this year, so it gets the popular nickname of a “super moon.”