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.

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 MoonCorn 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.

 

The Bone Moon of February

On February 19, 2019 at 10:53 am ET, we will see the February Full Moon. Often called the Snow Moon, that name for this Full Moon might not make much sense if you are in a climate where snow is rare or non-existent.

I have written about most of the Full Moon names below (click links for earlier posts). The Wolf Moon may be one English name for this month, but in the U.S. the January Full Moon is the one sometimes called the Wolf Moon.

American Indian tribes have the most variety in naming the Full Moons which were a very important way of marking the passage of time.

Transposing the Cherokee names for our Julian calendar months, our February would be Kagaʔli or Gŭgăli, the Bone Moon or the “month when the stars and moon are fixed in the heavens.” I couldn’t find the exact reason for the “bone” symbolism. Maybe the bare bones of a difficult time of year when it came to food? There might be little food and you might even gnaw on bones and eat bone marrow soup. This was the traditional time for families to mark those who had departed this world with a family meal with places set for the departed. Maybe it is the bones of the departed?

Other tribes called this Full Moon the “Shoulder to Shoulder Around the Fire Moon” (Wishram Native Americans), the “No Snow in the Trails Moon” (Zuni Native Americans).

In colder climes, Snow, Storm, Winter and Ice Moon were names that were used by Colonists.

Month Colonial America Cherokee Choctaw Celtic Medieval England Neo-Pagan Wiccan Algonquian English
February Trapper’s Moon Bony/Bone Moon Little Famine Moon Moon of Ice Storm Moon Snow Moon Storm Moon Snow Moon Wolf Moon

There is snow and ice in Paradelle at this time, but thankfully there is no famine or gnawing at bones or wolves waiting for me outside.

Eclipsing the Moon

January 2019 lunar eclipse animation.gif
The eclipse will take place in the constellation of Cancer, just west of the Beehive Cluster.   Animation by Tomruen – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Even people who don’t pay attention to the sky or even notice stars, planets and the Moon’s phases will probably take a look at the total lunar eclipse on January 21, 2019. The media have been talking about it for a few days already and throwing around terms like “Supermoon” and “Blood Moon.”

Here in the Americas, the eclipse will take place between the evening of Sunday, January 20 and the early morning hours of Monday, January 21. This eclipse will be visible in Paradelle and the New York metro area starting at 9:36 pm local time. The Earth’s shadow will be covering the lunar surface until 2:48 am – so plenty of time to get outside to look before bedtime and even more viewing for insomniacs.

The eclipse will be visible in its entirety from North and South America, as well as portions of western Europe and northwest Africa. Observers at locations in Europe and much of Africa will be able to view part of the eclipse before the Moon sets in the early morning (pre-dawn) hours of January 21.

The eclipse will occur at a time when the Moon is closer to Earth (perigee) than at other times and that is where the “super” comes from. It will appear somewhat larger to most viewers.

As with most lunar eclipses, the moon will appear somewhat reddish during the eclipse because of an optical phenomenon (Rayleigh scattering) of sunlight through the Earth’s atmosphere. It’s basically the same reason that we see sunsets as more reddish than the Sun at earlier parts of the day.

If you somehow miss the event, this is the last total lunar eclipse until May 2021.