deer in the snow

The Full Moon on Saturday, 15 February 2014, will reflect very nicely on the snow-covered ground in Paradelle. This particular Full Moon is often called the Snow, Storm, or Ice Moon. The weather through most of the Northern hemisphere is full of the cold, snowy weather of winter.

Of course, not all of the Northern Hemisphere is in that cold pattern. Some people will observe the Moon shining down on a warm, desert place. We often use the Native American Indian names for the Moons. While a northern tribe, like the Dakota Sioux, may have seen this as a Snow Moon, the Cherokee called this the Bone Moon. It was a time when “the stars and moon are fixed in the heavens.”

We may not all share the weather, but we share the season. Winter is a time of dormancy when activity by humans and in nature appears to slow down. Even water slows, freezes and sometimes seems to disappear.

Some tribes called this the Hunger Moon because winter stores might be running low and foraging and hunting were harder. I think of the Bone Moon as connected to the remaining bones from meat that was eaten and the broth made from what remains. And I also think of the bones of animals that did not make it through the winter lying on the ground, picked clean and white as the Moon and snow by hungry animals.

To most of us, the 13 cycles of the Moon represent not only the changing seasons, but the passage of time. To Native Americans, each moon has its own name that, though they vary among the tribal nations.

One consistency amongst the nations is that 13 scales on Old Turtle’s back hold the key to the moons. There is a nice presentation of this in poems and paintings in Joseph Bruchac‘s children’s book, Thirteen Moons on Turtle’s Back.

To Colonial Americans, this was the Trapper’s or Winter Moon, but not all Moon lore and naming is full of winter cold.

On the other side of the world, in China, this a Holiday Moon connected with the New Year. Tibet celebrates the conception of Buddha and the Feast of Flowers during this time of year.

The Inca celebrated Hatun-pucuy, or the Great Ripening. The Greeks celebrated the Festival of the Returning Daughter and celebrated Kore’s return from the Underworld and the rebirth of earthly vegetation which sound much more spring than winter.

For Druids, this is Carmoil, the fifth month of their year. This is the Waking Moon and Carmoil begins with the Full Moon and is connected to when the Celts celebrated Imbolc and the celebration goes from Imbolc until the Moon of Ice on March first.

Imbolc is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature and there is evidence it has been an important date since ancient times. It is believed that it was originally a pagan festival associated with the goddess Brighid and that it was Christianized as a festival of Saint Brighid, who herself is thought to be a Christianization of the goddess. Most commonly it is held on 1 February, or about halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox.

In both the Celtic and Roman cultures, it was a time of spiritual purification and initiation. It was seen as a time to cleanse and purify yourself and your dwelling place. It was believed that purifying changes the vibrations by removing negative ones and inviting in positive ones and so prepares the environment, the body, mind and spirit for receptivity of new spiritual and life experiences.