September’s Barley Full Moon

A “moon” of barley seeds

After sunset tonight, you will start to see a full Moon but its peak illumination is actually at 1:23 A.M. ET on Tuesday, September 2. Close enough tonight.

The most common name for this month is the Corn Moon. The September Full Moon can be a Harvest Moon but this year that will occur in October. The Full Moon that happens nearest to the autumnal equinox (September 22 this year) is called the Harvest Moon. Tonight’s Full Moon is very early in the month so the October one will be closer.

My birthday month of October will be interestingly lunar this year. There will be two full Moons. First,  the Harvest Moon on October 1 and then another just squeaking in on the 31st which will make it a Blue Moon.

Historically, some Native Americans gave a name to each month’s full Moon, naming it in relation to a natural event or sign of the season. This aided them in tracking the progression of the year. Different peoples had different names, reflecting the areas where they lived.

One such name for the September Full Moon is the Corn Moon because it traditionally corresponded with the time of harvesting corn in what is now the northeastern United States.

It was also called the Barley Moon, as this is the time to harvest and thresh ripened barley. Barley is commonly used in breads, soups, stews, and health products. Though now it is primarily grown as animal fodder and as a source of malt for alcoholic beverages, especially beer, barley water can be used as a healthy (and high calorie) drink.

In Black Elk Speaks, he says that what we call “September” is known by the Sioux as the “Moon When the Calves Grow Hair” or “Moon of the Black Calf” or the  “Moon When the Plums Are Scarlet (Lakota).

NASA says that this Full Moon can be called the Corn, Fruit, Barley, and Hungry Ghost Moon; the end of Onam; the start of Pitri Paksha; Modhu Purnima; Binara Pura Pasalosvaka Poya; and the GRAIL, LADEE, and OSIRIS-REx Moon.

That Corn Moon name should not be dismissed. I have written about it before but you should keep in mind that corn was at the center of Mesoamerica life and key to many Native Americans and was important to the Colonists and corn is still a major U.S. crop as people food, animal feed, fuel and as a sweetener.

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Ken Ronkowitz

A lifelong educator on and off the Internet. Random by design and predictably irrational. It's turtles all the way down. Dolce far niente.

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