Moon of Horses

Celtic Moon with Horse
A coin from Armorica, Gaul showing stylized head and a horse (Jersey moon head style, circa 100-50BC) via Wikimedia

Before the sun rises tomorrow morning, the Moon will become full (4:31 AM EDT). You probably won’t notice it until tomorrow night, and you might consider the Moon to look full tonight.

The June Full Moon is commonly known as the Strawberry Moon, because this is the peak of the short picking season for that berry. Well, maybe it is the peak where you live. It is not a Strawberry Moon everywhere. That was the name used by just about every Algonquin tribe. Europeans called this the Rose Moon, and roses are more likely to be blooming in Paradelle than I am to be picking strawberries.

Another old European name for this full Moon is the Mead Moon or the Honey Moon. Mead is a drink created by fermenting honey mixed with water, sometimes with fruits, spices, grains, or hops. The tradition of calling the first month of marriage the “honeymoon” dates back to at least the 1500’s. It may be connected to this Full Moon, either because of the custom of marrying in June or because the “Honey Moon” is the “sweetest” Moon of the year.

As spring ends and summer begins, the daily periods of sunlight lengthen to their longest on the solstice, then begin to shorten again.

Among the Cherokee people, this was known as the Green Corn Moon. It is early for even green corn in my area. There are three federally recognized Cherokee tribes today: the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina, the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians (UKB) in Oklahoma, and the Cherokee Nation (CN) in Oklahoma. The Cherokee Nation has more than 300,000 tribal members, making it the largest of the 567 federally recognized tribes in the United States.

The Dakotah Sioux were safely more generic with the name Moon When June Berries Are Ripe.

This was also known as the Dyan Moon (today as the Dyad Moon) in medieval England. Dyad is an archaic word meaning pair. It was thought that at this time of the year, the effects of the Sun and Moon are equal.

horsesThere are many cultural legends that connect the Sun and Moon as husband and wife, maid and suitor, brother and sister.

This is the Moon of Horses to ancient and latter-day Celts and Druids.  The Celts called this Equos, “horse-time, which is from the middle of June to the middle of July.

The calendar known as the “Coligny calendar” is one that was made in Roman Gaul in the 2nd century. It also has a Equos. It has an interesting five-year cycle of a lunisolar calendar with intercalary months. Intercalary means that a leap day, week, or month is inserted into some calendar years to make the calendar follow the seasons or moon phases. It reminds me more of the Maya calendar than the ones that are most widely used today.

Are the Celts also the Gauls?  Caesar wrote that the Gauls called themselves Celtae. Gaul was a geographic area (modern France and northern Italy) and “Gauls” were the people who lived there according to the Romans. Linguistically, the people who lived in Gaul were Celts, and this was the main distinction made by the early historians.

I could not find an explanation of why the Celts and Druids called this horse-time or what meaning the Moon of Horses had to them. But this Full Moon of very early summer definitely ushers in the season which officially begins later this week.

Sunrise, Sunset

sunrise sunset

Being a bit of an insomniac, I often see the sunrise. I don’t live on the Atlantic coast, sso I don’t get to see those horizon sunsets that often.  I’m always awake for the sunset, which in my neighborhood sets at a not very distant mountain. It disappears from my view before the official time of sunset.  People west of that mountain still see the sun up for some time.  It is a relative thing in our perception, though not astronomically.

When is the earliest sunrise and latest sunset of the year? The exact date of earliest sunrise (and earliest sunset) varies with latitude.  Paradelle is at 40 degrees north latitude. Here, the earliest sunrise of the year was this morning (June 14) at 5:25 AM. I saw it a bit later rise above a mountain ridge to the east. (Paradelle is between two mountain ridges called First Mountain and Second Mountain.

Is the photo above a sunrise over First Mountain or a sunset at Second Mountain? They really look about the same.

The latest sunset of the year for me will fall on or near June 27. That is not to be confused with the longest day of the year  (the day containing the greatest amount of overall daylight) which is on the solstice on June 21.

The earliest sunrises come before the summer solstice because the day is more than 24 hours long at this time of the year. In the Southern Hemisphere, the earliest sunsets of the year come before the winter solstice for the same reason. How is that possible? The main reason is the inclination of the Earth’s rotational axis.  At the summer solstice next week, Earth is close to aphelion (farthest point from the sun) which lessens the effect. Conversely, at the December solstice, Earth is close to perihelion (closest point to the sun) which accentuates the effect.

You can ask your phone or your computer for when sunrise and sunset times are for your home.

Grass Moon of May

moon grass

What can I say about this month’s Full Moon that has not been said before? It occurs tonight, May 18th, at 5:11 P.M. in Paradelle. But you might have looked up last night and said, “Oh, it’s a Full Moon tonight,” because it certainly looked pretty full then.

This May Full Moon is often called the Flower Moon, for obvious reasons. Things are probably blooming in your Northern Hemisphere neighborhood. In Paradelle, we are past all the early spring bulbs like crocuses, daffodils and tulips. We have moved on to azaleas, rhododendrons and irises. Mother’s Day was often the time for my mom’s iris bed to be filed with blooms, but this year we are behind by almost two weeks because of a very wet and cool spring. But we will catch up eventually.

Flies are buzzing and ants are trying to eat up my home’s framework. I’m sure the mosquitoes are very happy about all the vernal pools, unintentional puddles and water filled objects around for their breeding.

Does this feel like Flower Moon or the Planting Moon, or the Medieval Hare Moon?  I have written about it being the Buddha Full Moon, Corn Planting Moon, Hare Moon, Moon When Frogs Return, and Milk Moon.

In 2016, it was a Blue and Day for Night Moon.

In my neighborhood, it feels like the Grass Moon this year. The American Indian name of  Moon When the Grass is Green mixes well with the Milk Moon because of the grass and cows connection. The Dakotah Sioux called this the Moon When the Leaves Are Green.  With all the grass peaking in its chlorophyll green, historically this is the time of the hay harvest.  It is a planting time for vegetables, so rather than celebrate harvests, this is seen as a time of hope and promise.

No cows in Paradelle, but lots of rain has made lots of grass in my front and back lawns. It is at its peak green. I could use a few cows or goats to graze there, because my lawn mower refuses to start. So, for this Full Moon, I will be pulling apart the carburetor and cleaning the float and checking the gas line and pulling the starter a bunch of times. The rabbits are enjoying the grass for now, waiting for me to plant my vegetables.

The grass needs cutting.

The April Full Fish Moon

This morning at 7:12 A.M., the Moon will go “full” and, of course, it will still look quite full tonight.

The Cherokee word for the Full Moon at this time was Kawohni (duck) as in “Moon when the ducks return.”  Some American Indians called this the Wildcat Moon. The European wildcat and the Asian wildcat (Felis silvestris ornata) are different animals from what Americans would encounter and the term was usually given as a nickname to the lynx and bobcat. These are not animals that hibernate in winter, but they are more likely to be seen in warmer months. Bobcats (Lynx rufus) are very solitary animals during the winter months, but in early January or February, adult male bobcats begin searching for females, though pregnant females can be seen throughout the year.

Most of the Full Moon names for this spring season Moon reference nature. The Dakotah Sioux called this the Moon When Geese Return in Scattered Formation. Colonists had names like Seed Moon, Pink Moon, and Sprouting Grass Moon.

In some years, we have an Egg Moon. When there is a Full Moon before Easter, it can be called the Egg Moon. This month’s Full Moon just qualifies by occurring two days before Easter. That naming comes from several nature and religious traditions. In nature, hens begin laying more eggs with longer days, and many wild bird species also lay their eggs now. Even fish spawn now and deposit their eggs. Eggs have long been a symbol of spring, regeneration, and rebirth.

In Celtic tradition, this is the Growing Moon, which could refer to nature or to ourselves.

American shad – via Wikimedia

I’m thinking of this Full Moon as the Fish Moon. Here in Paradelle, trout season opened this month, but that is a fish event that is man-made. Spring time, and perhaps right now in your area, is when bass come out and start feeding after a long, lazy winter. Frogs emerge and along with the worms of last month’s Worm Moon, they are both tasty treats for bass. And in Paradelle, this is the time when shad swim upstream to spawn.

Herring and hickory shad spawning. They are anadromous fish, meaning they migrate from the ocean to freshwater streams each spring to spawn (release or deposit eggs).

Although it was said that in spring a young man’s fancy turns to love, humans have no spawning season. But we do need to plant in the spring, whether because it is our job to provide food, or we just feel some inner need to make things grow.

There is planting folklore concerning the New Moon and Full Moons of spring that some still follow, although it doesn’t have scientific backing.

Root crops, such as carrots, radishes etc., are said to grow better when planted during the days between the waning moon that comes after the Full Moon, until the New Moon.

Above-ground crops, like tomatoes, corn and pepper, should be planted during the waxing moon phase from the New Moon until the next Full Moon. Those times work pretty well in my neighborhood.

seedlings

 

A Super Equinox Full MoonWorm

The March Full Moon is often called the Worm Moon due to the early spring appearance of worms reappearing and the robins and other birds that enjoy them.

In 2019, it occurs on March 20 for those of us in the United States, but in any location it will be less noticed for worms and more noticed for two other aspects.

It will reach fullness just ahead of the vernal/spring equinox, which is a nice coincidence. This full moon will also be the third and last last “super moon” of the year.

The rising full moon will look slightly bigger and brighter because it is near its closest approach to Earth in its monthly orbit.

Perhaps you are someone who believes there are no coincidences, and so this triple crossing of celestial events will have greater meaning.

To astronomers, it is just another full moon, though I did read that the full moon on equinox day will allow for some interesting calculations. This is something that occurs every 19 years.

If you measure the shadow cast by a perfectly vertical stick when the Sun us at its highest point (zenith) on equinox day, the angle will be your latitude.

Or you can just look up and wonder at the big, beautiful Moon of ours.

 

Venus, Saturn, Jupiter and a Crescent Moon

If you were up early this morning you would have seen a lineup in the morning sky of Venus, Saturn and Jupiter on a line with the morning crescent moon. The lineup will be around for the next few mornings, so if there is a clear sky and you are up more than an hour before sunrise, it will be easy to spot.

Look east to the sunrise and the Moon will slide its way up past the three planets.

planets
The planetary lineup – via earthsky.org

This morning the waning crescent moon was right next to Jupiter. (This is best viewed from North America.)

Saturn and Venus are east of Jupiter and the line they seem to all be on is the ecliptic, or Earth-sun plane. This is the plane on which the other planets in our solar system and the moon all orbit, so we view them as being on this line.