I missed my post for the Full Moon of this month. It rained that night (the 22nd), so it wasn’t visible in Paradelle, but it was still there casting its spell.

The full moon of July is commonly known as the Thunder Moon (for the frequent thunderstorms) and as the Buck Moon.

July is normally the month when the new antlers of buck (male) deer are “in velvet.”  While an antler is growing, it is covered with highly vascular skin called velvet, which supplies oxygen and nutrients to the growing bone.  Growth occurs at the tip, and is initially cartilage, which is later replaced by bone tissue. Once the antler has achieved its full size, the velvet is lost and the antler’s bone dies. This dead bone structure is the mature antler.

In most cases, antlers fall off at some point (unlike animals that have horns).  Antlers are considered a handicap because there is an incredible nutritional demand on deer to re-grow antlers annually. In most arctic and temperate-zone species, antler growth and shedding is annual, and is controlled by the length of daylight. In tropical species, antlers may be shed at any time of year.

Antlers are considered an exaggerated case of male secondary sexual traits in the animal kingdom. They grow faster than any other mammal bone. In researching this a bit for this post, I discovered plenty of articles and sites for buying deer velvet as an unproven performance enhancer. It is used by some athletes who believe it helps heal cartilage and tendon injuries more quickly and boosts strength and endurance. It’s not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and is banned by the National Football League. Deer antler velvet is essentially a growth hormone called “insulin-like growth factor 1,” or IGF-1.

To the New World settlers, full moons were most often related to their farming and the July Moon was known as the Hay Moon because the brightness of the moon allows one to harvest hay in the cool of the night rather than the heat of the day.

For native Americans, the names of the moons indicated what each tribe thought was important at that time in nature. It usually pertained to weather, crops or food that could be gathered. July for many tribes was the time of summer crops, mainly corn, which begins to ripen for the harvest and was the staple crop for many American Indian tribes. July is often the hottest month of the year for much of the Northern Hemisphere and with the ripening corn also comes tomatoes, squash and cucumbers.

Here are some of the names different tribes had for the Full Moon at this point in the year.

Abenaki – Grass Cutter Moon
Algonquin – Squash Are Ripe Moon
Cherokee – Ripe Corn Moon
Choctaw – Little Harvest Moon, Crane Moon
Comanche – Hot Moon
Cree – Moon When Ducks Begin to Molt
Dakota Sioux – Moon of the Middle Summer
Haida – Salmon Moon
Hopi – Moon of the Homedance
Kalapuya – Camas Ripe (the bulb of the camas lily was a staple food to the Kalapuya)
Lakota – Moon When The Chokecherries Are Black
Mohawk – Time of Much Ripening
Ponca – Middle of Summer Moon
Potawatomi – Moon of the Young Corn
Shoshone – Summer Moon

For the ancient Druids, this is the moon to celebrate the harvest.

In the Chinese Moon calendar, 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. This Hungry Moon is the reason for Hungry Moon festivals and traditions.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, there are some rancorous spirits also roam the streets, seeking revenge on those who have wronged them, before and after their deaths. 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.

These hungry ghosts are often thought to be lost or disturbed souls. Unlike normal spirits, a hungry ghost is thought to have been greedy in life or to have been forgotten by his or her descendants. In some traditions, these ghosts are the spirits of those who have died tragically, violently, or wrongfully. They are hungry during the time of the seventh moon to seek revenge against those who have wronged them.

You might choose to honor this time with a nice glass of the 16th Century Medieval English drink which gave its name to this lunar month in that period – 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. Mead, also called honey wine, is produced by fermenting a solution of honey and water.

Mead is known from many sources of ancient history throughout Europe, Africa, and Asia, although its origins are lost in prehistory.

Claude Lévi-Strauss said that we might consider the invention of mead as a marker of man’s passage “from nature to culture.”

The Mead of Poetry is a mead of Norse mythology that was crafted from the blood of the wise being Kvasir.  Drinking it would turn the drinker into a poet or scholar.