fall moon

October 8th is the first full moon after the Harvest Moon. The full moon nearest the autumnal equinox is usually called the Harvest Moon and most years, including this year, it occurs in September.  The first full moon after the equinox is often called the Hunter’s Moon. The name was given because it was the preferred time to hunt summer-fattened deer and also for the “sporting” hunts of the fox who has a harder time hiding without the cover of baring fields. Many states still have their deer hunting seasons timed around these dates.

If Hunter’s Moon doesn’t appeal to your sensibilities, then you also might not want to use the other popular name for this month’s full moon: the Blood Moon. That name comes from the old practice of killing and salting down livestock before the winter months made it harder or impossible to feed them.

The Harvest Moon and the Hunter’s Moon seemed to be particularly bright and long in the sky. Any bright, full moon will give hunters a better opportunity to stalk prey at night. It also suited the hunting of migrating birds in Northern Europe. American Indians also had names based on this time of the hunt in autumn moonlight, as they needed to stockpile food for the winter ahead.

The Cherokee people called this a Harvest Moon (Dunin[i]di) because it was the time of the harvest festival called Nowatequa.

I have collected many names for this full moon used by the ancient Druids, Wiccans and American Indians. Most are less brutal than hunting and blood names: Travel Moon, Moon When the Water Freezes, Moon of the Changing Seasons, Leaf Fall Moon, Basket Moon, Big Wind Moon, Shedding Moon, Winterfelleth (Winter Coming), Windermanoth (Vintage Month), Ten Colds Moon, Moon of the Changing Season and Moon of Falling Leaves.

For 2014, I have chosen the name Moon of the Dying Grass. This year the full moon is early in the month and not so long after the equinox (September 22), so trees in most of the U.S. still have leaves full of brightening colors. But the grasses are beginning to yellow and their growth has started to slow down as they prepare for winter.

This month’s full moon also coincides with a total lunar eclipse of an unusual nature, and a full moon and lunar eclipse usually does give the moon a reddish tint which will a bit more literally suggest that Blood Moon.