The Shoulder to Shoulder Around the Fire Full Moon

snow moon

February is the snowiest month of the year in many parts of North America. February 9 is the Full Moon date for 2020. The Snow Moon is the most common name for the second Full Moon of winter.

The Moon enters its full phase early on Sunday morning (2:34 a.m. EST) but last night it would look full and tonight it will be 99% percent illuminated on the East Coast.

This is also considered to be a “supermoon” which is an unofficial name used to describe a larger appearing New Moon or a Full Moon. The appearance of a larger than usual Moon is when either phase occurs at roughly the same time the Moon is nearest Earth in its monthly orbit. That nearest occurrence is properly called perigee.

The Wishram people are Northwest Coast Indians who lived along the north bank of the Columbia River. They named this the Shoulder to Shoulder Around the Fire Moon, and I can easily imagine February as a time to huddle around the fire.

The Cherokee people called it the Bone Moon because animal bones were sometimes their only source of nutrition in the dead of winter.

Some other names for this month’s Full Moon that I have written about include Ice Moon, Hunger Moon, Old Moon,(which can also be in January), Grandfather Moon, and Storm Moon.

Moon When Limbs of Trees Are Broken By Snow

snow trees moon

The Full Moon today, January 10, is most often called the Wolf Moon,  a name adapted from names different northern American Indian names for this Full Moon. The name references the wolf packs that howled hungrily outside villages this month.

In 2018,  there was a Blue Moon (a second full moon in one calendar month) and a total lunar eclipse and it was the third in a series of three Full Moons that were supermoons. Some of the world saw a “ring of fire” eclipse of the Sun on December 26, and exactly two weeks later there will be a Wolf Moon Eclipse. Unfortunately, it will not be visible in North America. It will be visible from Europe, Africa, Asia and parts of Australia.

To the Zuni people, this Full Moon is Dayamcho yachunne, the Moon When Limbs of Trees Are Broken By Snow. Since the Zuni (Zuni: A:shiwi; formerly spelled Zuñi) are Native American Pueblo peoples native to the Zuni River valley in New Mexico. I think of that area, the interior Mountain West, as a semi-arid climate with hot summers. But the high altitude means cool nights as late as July there have been freezing temperatures. According to Wikpedia, that climate has winter nights cold enough that snow is common and sometimes heavy:

The current day Zuni are a Federally recognized tribe and most live in the Pueblo of Zuni on the Zuni River in western New Mexico. The Zuni tribe lived in multi-level adobe houses.

According to a Zuni legend, it was Coyote’s fault that we have winter because he stole the sun and moon.

This Cold Moon (called Unolvtani in Cherokee celebrations) marked the start of the season for personal and ritual observance, fasting and personal purification. It was a time for families to prepare for the coming of the next season which will start with the Windy Moon in March. The tools for planting are repaired, and new ones are made. The ancestors are honored with the telling of stories about them to young ones.

The Hard Face Moon of November

moon through pines

Today, November 12, 2019, at 8:37 A.M. the Moon became full again in my neighborhood. Commonly called the Beaver Moon, this was the Ful Moon that signaled for some Indian tribes and Colonists it was time to set beaver traps before swamps and rivers froze in order to ensure a supply of warm winter furs. For some people, the name meant that beavers were now actively preparing for winter.

There is no standard agreed-upon list of names for the monthly Full Moons and tat is especially trie among the Indian tribes of the Americas.

For example, the Cheyenne names for the Full Moons are often listed as the months of the Colonists calendar. That is why there may be two Moon names for one of our months.

Hard Face Moon is a name used by Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes.

On November 29, 1864, a village of Cheyenne and Arapaho encamped along Sand Creek in the southeastern Colorado Territory was attacked by the Colorado Territory militia. An estimated 150 to 200 Native Americans were killed, nearly all of them elderly men, women, and children.

Nancy Oswald uses the Sand Creek massacre as the climax for her historical novel, Hard Face Moon, which is the story of a young Cheyenne coming-of-age warrior, thirteen-year-old mute Hides Inside.  The story connects the earth and sky and the Cheyenne people, and it looks at one of the most shameful events in the history of the American West.”

Chief Black Kettle thought that by being peaceful with the whites he would be under the protection of the U. S. Army. The decision is not popular with his people, and the members of the Dog Soldier Society vowed to keep on fighting the whites.

The Sand Creek Massacre occurred in late November and probably was associated with the Hard Face Moon in their history.

Most of us have been told as children about the “Man in the Moon” and we can sometimes see a “face” in the Moon, especially when it is full. So, it is not surprising that people may have seen that face as a changing one.

While November is called by the Cheyenne He’koneneéše’he (Hard Face Moon) there are other months that use that “face” naming. February (He’konénehesó-eše’he) is called the Little Hard Face Moon. March is Heše’évenéhe-éše’he Dirt Face Moon, and October is Heše’kévénestseeše’he Dirt In The Face Moon.

But I find multiple names for the months/moons, such as October also being called Se’ma’omeveéše’he Starting To Freeze Moon.

In England this month was often the Harvest Moon, arriving a month or two later than in the U.S.

In the past, I have written about the November Full Moon as being called Hunters Moon, Snow Moon, (a name used by others for December and February) Sleeping Moon Before the Dark MoonFrost Moon, Trading Moon, Sleeping Moon (Celtic), Moon When Water Freezes and the Sassafras Moon.

In Paradelle this month, by this Full Moon we have had frost, a bit of snow, and no large bodies of water freezing . And that is why no one name for a monthly Full Moon can really apply to all places every year. Personally, I like the variety.

Leaf Falling Full Moon of October

moon autumn tree

The Moon just reached its full phase here in Paradelle at 5:10 PM ET.  The Full Moon immediately following the Harvest Moon is often called the Hunter’s Moon. The Hunter’s Moon (like the Harvest Moon) rises along your eastern horizon for the next several days, from either the Northern or Southern Hemisphere, and you’ll see the moon rising farther north on the horizon each day.

September in some years is the month of the Harvest Moon but other years it is in October because that name is given to the Full Moon that occurs closest to the autumnal equinox.  That was last month’s September 23rd Harvest Full Moon for 2019.

Going back to before artificial lighting (and light pollution), the moonlight was important for anything done after sunset – from traveling, to working, to hunting. At this time of year, a Full Moon rising in the east around sunset and being highest in the sky around midnight, and setting in the west around sunrise could provide. In the northern latitudes, people noticed the differing rising times of September and October full moons. The Moon rising near sunset for several evenings could mean that farmers might continue working in the fields and bringing in the crops. That partially led to the Harvest Moon name.

The American Indian names are always more interesting, longer and sometimes quite literal, such as the Cheyenne’s Moon When the Water Begins to Freeze on the Edge of Streams or the Cree’s Moon When the Birds Fly South (although lately, some birds are not flying south from Paradelle anymore).

This month I selected the Leaf Falling Moon name used by the Abenaki. Leaves falling is certainly a sign of October in my part of the country.

For those in the Southern Hemisphere, you can call this Spring Full Moon the Egg Moon, Fish Moon, Seed Moon, Pink Moon, or Waking Moon.

Moon When Deer Paw the Ground

white-tailed deer – USDA photo by Scott Bauer

The media made a big deal yesterday about the coincidence of a Harvest Full Moon occurring on a Friday the 13th. But the Moon didn’t reach fullness in Paradelle until after midnight, so that wasn’t exactly true for me. And anyway, the 13 part is just a coincidence of calendars and nothing celestial.

The name of this month’s Full Moon as the Moon When Deer Paw the Ground comes to us from the Omaha people.  The Omaha people are a federally recognized Midwestern Native American tribe who reside on the Omaha Reservation in northeastern Nebraska and western Iowa, United States. The Omaha people migrated to the upper Missouri area and the Plains by the late 17th century from earlier locations in the Ohio River Valley.

Why do deer paw the ground at this time? This is one of those nature signs that Native Americans (and today deer hunters) would notice. It concerns scrapes which is a sign that is important in tracking deer during the rut. Scrapes are made when bucks paw the ground at the foot of a tree, creating a bare patch of earth on the ground, and then urinating on it to leave a sign of their presence. In this way, a buck can attract does during the rut. The buck urinates down his rear legs and onto his tarsal glands, which create a stronger and more pungent odor.

The rut (from the Latin rugire, meaning “to roar”) is the mating season of certain mammals, including deer, sheep, goats, and bison. This is when males have an increase in testosterone, increased aggression and interest in females. In most species, males mark themselves or their habitat with mud, secretions from glands or their urine.

Some of the many names given to this September Full Moon include: Nut Moon, Mulberry Moon, Singing Moon, Barley Moon, Elk Call Moon, Fruit Moon, Corn Moon, Wine Moon, Gypsy Moon, Moon of Leaves Turning Color, Moon of Spiderwebs on the Ground, Big Feast Moon, Haligmonath (Holy Month), and  Witumanoth (Wood Month).

September sometimes is the month of the Harvest Moon but in some years that is in October. That is because that name is given to the Full Moon that occurs closest to the autumnal equinox.  The equinox is on September 23 this year and the October Full Moon is on the 13th, so today’s Full Moon is the Harvest Moon for 2019.

For any readers in the Southern Hemisphere, this September Full Moon might be called by our Northern spring names, such as Worm Moon, Crow Moon, Sugar Moon, Chaste Moon, or Sap Moon.

August Moon When All Things Ripen

rosy moon of summerThis morning (August 15 8:31 A.M.  here), the Moon went full. It was so close to being full earlier in the week that it made it more difficult to see any of the Perseid meteor showers.

The most common name for this August Full Moon is the Sturgeon Moon. But I suspect that for the vast majority of Americans the sturgeon or even fishing is not a big part of their life this month. The fishing tribes are given credit for the naming of this Moon, since sturgeon, a large fish of the Great Lakes and other major bodies of water, were most readily caught during this month.

Because I pay attention to threatened and endangered species, I want to note that all five U.S. Atlantic sturgeon distinct population segments are listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act. These populations are threatened by entanglement in fishing gear, habitat degradation, and habitat impediments such as dams and other barriers and vessel strikes.

Sturgeon – photo

In many cultures, the Full Moon names were actually applied to the entire month that followed. The Farmer’s Almanac has a list of Full Moon names with brief descriptions.

In Colonial America, the Europeans may have called this the Dog’s Day Moon.

Among the American Indian tribes, there were many variations in the Moon names, but in general, the same ones were used among the Algonquin tribes from New England on west to Lake Superior. In the book This Day in North American Indian History the author looks at events, including Full Moon names, going back to the construction of Mayan temples in A.D. 715 to modern political activism and governmental legislation. It has 50+ native peoples.

I chose the Dakotah Sioux name Moon When All Things Ripen. The Cherokee called this the Fruit Moon.

The Klamath people are a Native American tribe of the Plateau culture area in Southern Oregon and Northern California, centered around the area around the Upper Klamath Lake and the Klamath, Williamson, and Sprague rivers. They subsisted primarily on fish and gathered roots, berries, and seeds.

Different tribes started the year at different times. For example, the Juaneno people started the year with the winter solstice.  The Klamath people started the year with today’s Full Moon. They marked the months/moons on their fingers, so this moon was marked on the thumb and was called the Moon When Berries Dried.

This is the Celtic Dispute Moon, and it is the Neo-Pagan Lightning Moon.

If you’re feeling the heat and humidity where you are today, here’s a cooling thought: In the Southern Hemisphere, the August Full Moon is often called the Snow Moon. That’s a name we use in the North in January or February.