Full Moon Before the Equinox

moon

The Full Moon was rising last night but reached peak illumination at 3:20 A.M. EDT today. This Full Moon is often called the Worm Moon because worms sometimes emerge from wintering underground at this time. But, as with many Full Moon names, it all depends on where you live and the weather. Here in Paradelle, we have had some warm 60-70 degree days but we still have lots of nights near the freezing mark. I have seen robins in the backyard but I haven’t seen them nabbing any worms yet.

There is no special name for the Full Moon nearest to the spring equinox. Coincidentally, in the Southern Hemisphere, this is the Harvest Moon and that name in the Northern Hemisphere is given to the Full Moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox.

The spring equinox is on March 20, two days after the Full Moon. That means that Easter (a moveable feast) falls after the next full Moon, which is the Pink Moon on April 16 and the next day is Easter Sunday 2022.

The bright Moon decreases the number of visible stars, but you can see in the early evening night sky the very bright Venus and below it are Mars and Saturn in the pre-dawn eastern sky, and Jupiter is just above the horizon close to sunrise.

The weekend finishes with an equinox which is not a viewable event, but it is an important marker in the Earth’s solar journey.

Raccoon Moon

moon rotating

Tonight the Moon will be full but here in Paradelle is reached fullness at 11:57 a.m. EST. Names for the February Full Moon include Ice MoonHunger Moon, Grandfather Moon, and Storm Moon.

The Hunger and Bone Moon names come from a time when animals and humans in the north might and a soup made from only bones might have been all that was available. The Cherokee people called it the Bone Moon because animal bones as a soup or eating the marrow was the only source of nutrition in the dead of winter.

The full February moon is called Raccoon Moon by some Lakota cultures because as sap freezes, cracks branches, and perhaps begins to rise, so does the blood and urges rise in raccoons. Some people say they can hear them crooning their love at this time. Breeding peaks in February and copulation lasts up to an hour. Raccoons usually den in a hollow tree, culvert, or burrow, (or perhaps your chimney). They will leave those dens in April and do their night foraging for fruit, garden crops, fish, snakes, eggs, and small mammals.

raccoon

Names for the Full Moons vary from place to place. This month is sometimes called the Snow Moon, but that name is also applied to the November Moon and December Moon. It depends on when snow hits your part of the country.

We must note that the calendars and Moon names used by ancient and native peoples were not as exact as our calendars. The Shawnee people used the Full Moons to create two seasons – summer and winter. Like our own modern calendars earliest versions, the months needed to be adjusted. One way to adjust the moon with the seasons was to add an extra month every second or third year. Their March Full Moon was when the sap would begin to flow. If the Moon was full but the sap was not flowing it was a signal that the moons were out of sync with the season. This month would have been their Crow Moon and the Sap Moon would be next month.

The ancient Druids called this the Storm Moon. In their calendar, this would be the fifth month of the year. The Full Moon is the start and it ends with the next Full Moon which is the Moon of Ice.

Feeling cold where you are? If you were in the Southern Hemisphere, this is mid-summer and this could be the Grain Moon, Red Moon, or Corn Moon. Location, location, location.

phases
This calendar of the Moon’s phases this month is a nice illustration of how the Moon will look full on the 16, 17, and 18th – though it becomes full on the 16th.

This Spring Full Moon

canoe in moonlight

Tonight is the March Full Moon. It is frequently called the Worm Moon because spring rain and warmth sometimes bring earthworms out of the ground around this time. Like all Full Moon names, it is accurate only for some places.

The Algonquian peoples are one of the most populous and widespread North American native language groups. Historically, the peoples were prominent along the Atlantic Coast and into the interior along the Saint Lawrence River and around the Great Lakes. This grouping consists of the peoples who speak Algonquian languages and my New Jersey is included in this large group.  I have found that the Algonquian peoples called this Full Moon the Worm Moon but tribes in other parts of that wide range used the names Sugar Moon, Crow Moon, Snow Crust Moon or Sap Moon.

A 16th-century sketch of the Algonquian village of Pomeiock. North Carolina.  Link

The language associated with the Moon is quite rich worldwide. Here are some examples:

  • The natives of Madagascar call their isle the Island of the Moon.
  • To aim at the Moon means to be very ambitious, to set your sights extremely high.
  • The name Mount St. Helens means “Moon Mountain.” Mt. Sinai was probably named after the Chaldean god of the Moon, Sinn, which would make it another Moon mountain.
  • When people speak of the Mountains of the Moon, it generally means white mountains.
  • Arabs called white horses “Moon-colored.”
  • Originally, the term Moon-struck or Moon-touched meant chosen by the goddess.
  • When anyone spoke of Mountains of the Moon, it simply meant white mountains.
  • The Druids believed that when the circle of the Moon was complete, good fortune was given to those who knew how to ask the gods for it.
  • The word “moonshine” in the U.S. means “illegally distilled liquor” (AKA “white lightning”) but an older meaning was “total nonsense.”
  • In English, French, Italian, Latin, and Greek, the Moon is feminine. Most of the Teutonic languages (Frisian, Dutch, Flemish, German, Swedish, Danish, Icelandic and the Norwegian dialects) mark the Moon as masculine.
  • The Druids believed that when the circle of the Moon was complete, good fortune was given to those who knew how to ask the gods for it.

A Little Famine Moon in Virgo

wolf moon

Tomorrow, February 27, is this month’s Full Moon. This Full Moon is usually called the  Snow Moon and this year in Paradelle has been a very snowy month.  We had more snow in one big storm in December than we had all of last winter, and the storms keep on coming.

Snow Moon is one of the names that is attached to several different months depending on the group and geographic area naming the event. That is also true for some of the other names given to the February Full Moon.

Other names that I have written about in past years include the Ice Moon, Hunger Moon, Snow Moon, Old MoonGrandfather Moon, Storm Moon, Bone Moon and the Shoulder to Shoulder Around the Fire Full Moon. The names certainly describe what was certainly a tough month, especially in the distant past. Even in places where there might not be ice and snow, there might be hunger and food in short supply.

The Choctaw Indians called this the Little Famine Moon. The Choctaw people originally occupied what is now the Southeastern United States in what is modern-day Alabama, Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana. In the present day, they are organized as the federally recognized Choctaw Nation.

Like the names Hunger and Bone Moons (and sometimes the Wolf Moon), this difficult month for people living in the northern lands was once a time when a meal might be bone soup and eating the marrow from bones. The sound of wolves at the edges of villages looking for food was also something that might have been connected to this time of year.

Spiritually, the Moon and the Sun are on opposite sides of the zodiac during a Full Moon and that can create an intense aspect of energy. The lunar and solar energies are thought to be in balanced cosmic harmony. It is a good time to recognize the beauty of life and express creativity. Some people feel heightened sensuality.

In astrology, full moons are about endings as they shine their light on the past month. It is a time to take stock, spot problems, and tie up loose ends. This Midwinter Full Moon is in Virgo. The February Full Moon in your horoscope at 19 degrees Virgo, is especially significant if you have any planets in mutable signs –  Gemini, Virgo, or Pisces –  and its energy is mutable., soft-natured, and feminine.

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The Moon and Sleep

moon meadow bed
Image by Myriams-Fotos from Pixabay

A new study found people get less rest in the days leading up to a full moon. have you noticed that yourself?

Researchers looked at the sleep patterns of hundreds of people over a lunar cycle and what they found was that people had later bedtimes and got the least amount of sleep during the three to five days before a full moon.

I’m monitoring my sleep every night anyway, so I’m going to look at my sleep from last night through the Full Moon on Saturday.

If my sleep or sleep matches those in the sleep study, it will take about 30 minutes longer to fall asleep. You may also find that you slept for about 50 minutes less than usual.

As of now, we don’t know the reason behind the trend. Does it sound like some old Moon lore? Modern studies have shown that menstrual cycles seem to temporarily synchronize with moon cycles.

Throughout history, we have made connections from the changing faces of the moon to our lives though some lore about the moon’s phases, such as a Full Moon inciting werewolves, is easy to dismiss.

More about the newest study at “It’s not just the pandemic. The moon may be messing with your sleep, too” What’s different about this study is that it wasn’t done in sleep labs but in real life. To track sleep, participants were outfitted with wrist monitors not so different from the one I wear on my wrist day and night.

Let’s see what I find this week before the Full Moon.

Hunting the Halloween Blue Moon

We had our Harvest Moon at the start of October, and tomorrow we will have our second Full Moon of the month. This Full Moon is often called the Hunter Moon because it occurs during hunting seasons in many places and because a Full Moon offered better light for hunters.

But this particular Full Moon has some other oddities.

Back on the 16th, we had the year’s closest and largest New Moon. This Full Moon will be the year’s farthest and smallest one. It’s also a Blue Moon and appears near red Mars which makes for a nice Halloween Blue Full Moon.

Halloween was traditionally called All Hallows’ Eve because it occurs on the evening before the Christian holy day of All Hallows’ Day or All Saints Day (November 1). That’s why Halloween is celebrated on October 31.

This pandemic year has changed Halloween trick-or-treat traditions as going door to door is probably not a good idea. In my town, they will have an event at the community park where kids can come with parents by car and drive around the big parking lot, stopping at candy and treat stations. That doesn’t sound very appealing for kids.

There has been a movement to change Halloween to the last Saturday of October in the past so as not to conflict with school and work. Of course, this year a lot for kinds are schooling at home as parents are working from home or not working at all. This year Halloween coincidentally does fall on the last Saturday. By the way, that movement for a Saturday Halloween was started, unsurprisingly,  by the Halloween and Costume Association.

The next time we’ll see an October 31st Halloween Full Moon is in 2039, so you should plan to get your werewolf costume this year.

Werewolf, Full Moon, and Blue Moon all together send my thoughts immediately to the film, American Werewolf in London. I love this scary and also funny film by John Landis about two American college students on a walking tour of Britain who are attacked by a werewolf that none of the locals will even admit exists.

Be careful out there tomorrow night.