May 4th is the Full Moon for this month. It occurs at 3:43 UTC, but in Paradelle (and the eastern U.S. coast) it slips into fullness tonight (May 3) just before midnight at 11:42 pm EDT.
The Full Moons get all the attention, but it is nice to be aware of the other phases too. On the 1th, make note of the Last Quarter (seeing the left half of the Moon) and the New Moon (or “no Moon”) on the 18th. You can look wise on the 25th by pointing out the First Quarter (the right half showing brightly) to people.
As the years pass, I will run out of names for the Full Moons. This year I chose the name Moon When Frogs Return which is said to be an American Indian name (though I can’t find a tribe it is attached to). Frogs, which probably don’t seem very noble or heroic compared to others who have Full Moons named for them, like the Wolf Moon, have a place in Native American mythology. The frog was the guardian of all the fresh water in the springs and wetlands. Water is more essential than even food and the “singing” of frogs like spring peepers is a surer sign of the spring season than those groundhogs.
Most species of frogs interpret signs in nature, such as slight rises in temperature, to know when to travel to vernal (spring) pools and ponds and begin breeding. At the breeding sites, frogs sing to attract mates and the sound can be quite loud song to the new season.
As I have written several times before, many of the Full Moon names are geographically based. What is happening in nature in Maine is not happening that month in Arizona. One species of frog, spring peepers, emerge from their winter hibernation in early January to early April depending on where you live. You can hear them singing in ponds, marshes, swamps and temporary pools throughout the eastern half of the United States.
You can also call this the Hare Moon, Merry or Dyad Moon, Fright Moon, Bright Moon, Mothers Moon (for Mothers Day), Flower Moon, Frogs Return Moon, Thrimilcmonath (Thrice-Milk Month), Sproutkale, Winnemonoth (Joy Month), Seed Moon or the Planting Moon.
The American Colonists sometimes called this the Milk Moon. It’s not a name the American Indians would have used because they did not domesticate cows. Colonists thought of May as the time when their cows, goats and sheep could enjoy the abundantly-sprouting new grasses, weeds and herbs in the pastures and produce lots of rich milk.
Buddhists can view this as the Buddha Moon since it was said that Buddha was born, died and received enlightenment on the Full Moon in Scorpio. This Full Moon is considered by some as a very spiritual day.
I may have invented the name of the Moon of the Horseshoe Crabs that I used in the past on this site. Their spawning activity (which I know and have seen in the waters between New Jersey and Delaware) peaks for a few days before and after the May and June new and full moons. Huge numbers of horseshoe crabs will appear on the beaches along Delaware Bay to mate and to lay eggs under the sand. The numbers peak on the night of Full Moon and at the time of high tide. They feel the pull.
It is a Romantic idea that the lunar pull controls the crabs. Well, it does control the tides. I love those horseshoe crabs. They are “living fossils” that have remained essentially the same for 300 million years.
The tens of thousands of eggs which the females deposit in the sand for the males to fertilize coincides with the spring migration of many species of shorebirds. Those birds rely on those eggs for the food they need to continue their migration. It is a great example of the web that connects the natural world.