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.

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.

The May Flower Moon

Much artwork connects the Moon and flowers, especially Japanese paintings.  (Image from Pixabay)

The Full Moon in May is often called the Flower Moon. It will look full on both May 6 and 7, 2020, but it will officially be full on May 7 at 10:45 UTC.

This is the third supermoon in a row and the final full supermoon of the year. It is also the third-closest, third-biggest and third-brightest full moon of 2020.  As I have written before, there is a difference in size and brightness, but they are not differences most of us will notice. Your local weather conditions, the time that you look up at the Moon and where you are located have a far greater effect on how the Full Moon will appear.

Flowers are blooming almost everywhere right now and in the Northern Hemisphere they are possibly your first full blooms of spring. I look at websites like The Farmer’s Almanac planting guide, but I have kept my own garden journal for many years. I track when plants bud and bloom in my area and like to see the variations year to year and use that as a guide to my planting.

My journal tells me to expect blooms this month from my tulips, azaleas, lilies of the valley, alliums, violets and some of my favorite irises, but that I probably won’t see my peonies bloom until June.

van Gogh irises
One of Vincent van Gogh’s iris paintings

Planting and blooms are a moveable feast. The peonies have bloomed in late May. I could generalize that I see spring coming earlier and that might be a climate change. Still, though my garden is always frost free in early May, I ran out to cover some warm weather plants (tomatoes, pumpkins, etc.) yesterday evening when I saw that the nighttime temperature was going to go down to 40 degrees. Not a freeze but not comfortable for some young plants.

The Moon is more constant, despite what poets and singers may say about its always changing appearance. We can predict its phases and movements years in advance with great accuracy.

In 2016, I wrote about this May Full Moon when we had a Blue Moon and Day for Night. There are many names from many sources. In years past, I wrote about this as the Buddha Full Moon, the Corn Planting MoonHare Moon, Moon When Frogs Return, Milk Moon, and several Native American variations on the Grass Moon. And yet, the May Full Moon will look very much the same tonight as it did to all my ancestors – something I find very reassuring.