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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.

 

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.

Wednesday, 24 October 2018 is the day of the October Full Moon. It is commonly known as the Hunter Moon and also as the Blood Moon or Sanguine Moon. This is the first full moon after the Harvest Moon, which is the Full Moon nearest the autumnal equinox. In most years, including 2018, the Harvest Moon comes in September, but in some years it occurs in October.

Sanguine is a curious word to attach to the Full Moon. Sanguine usually means “blood-red” and is associated with chalk of a reddish-brown colour, so called because it resembles the colour of dried blood. It has been popular for centuries for drawing and is preferred to common white chalk which only works on colored paper.

But “sanguine” (which comes via French from the Italian sanguigna and originally from the Latin sanguis) also means optimistic or positive, especially in an apparently bad or difficult situation, as in “She is sanguine about prospects for the upcoming elections.”

The Native Americans of the northern and eastern parts of the continent named this Full Moon that came at a time of leaves falling, deer fattened by summer growth and harvests, and concerns for getting game to store for the winter ahead. The appearance of “blood” in the naming comes from the hunting and also from the sometimes reddish appearance of the Moon when it first rises.

Some of the other names associated with this Full Moon are: Travel Moon, Dying Grass Moon, Moon of Falling Leaves (sometimes used in November), Moon When the Water Freezes, Blood Moon, Leaf Fall Moon, Basket Moon, Big Wind Moon, Shedding Moon, Winterfelleth (Winter Coming), Windermanoth (Vintage Month), Ten Colds Moon and the Moon of the Changing Seasons and Moon of the Changing Seasons

The Harvest Moon and Hunter’s Moon are the traditional names for the Full Moons occurring in autumn, usually in September and October, respectively. These two names go back to the early 18th century.

The Harvest Moon is the Full Moon closest to autumnal equinox. This year it became full in the early morning today, September 25, 2018. The Hunter’s Moon is the Full Moon that follows the next month.

Coincidentally, or apocryphally, some Native Americans also referred to this Full Moon as a hunting moon. Indian tribes of eastern and northern North America had as diet staples corn, pumpkins, squash, beans, and wild rice, and of which would normally be ready by this Full Moon. The Corn Moon was another Native American name for this Full Moon.

In 2010, the Harvest Moon occurred on the night of the equinox itself for the first time since 1991. Most years, the Harvest Moon is in September though it can be in October.

There are other names for autumn Full Moons: Nut Moon, Mulberry Moon, Gypsy Moon, Singing Moon, Barley Moon, Barley Moon, Elk Call Moon and Fruit Moon.

I know that many people think of the Harvest and Hunter Moons as being more orange-tinged. That fits in nicely with autumn tree colors and Halloween decorations, but really the Moon will not appear any more orange or red this season than it will during the year when there is enough atmosphere/pollution to add some color to our view. Also, the tilt of the Earth after the equinox gives a warmer color of the moon shortly after it rises. But it is an optical illusion. When the Moon is low in the sky, we are looking at it through more atmospheric particles (including pollution) than when the moon is overhead. All of that scatters the blue light but allows the reddish component of the light to travel a straighter path to your eyes.

And that low hanging Moon, to our eyes, is also perceived as being larger than one that is high in the sky. This is known as a Moon Illusion.

The Full Moons of September, October and November as seen from the northern hemisphere correspond to the full moons of March, April and May as seen from the southern hemisphere.

Though the Moon will be “fullest” in Paradelle at 01:56:12 pm today, I will (like most of us) be looking up at it tonight.

One neo-pagan name for this August Full Moon is the Lightning Moon, and around Paradelle there has been a lot of thunder, lightning and rain.

This August Full Moon is also known as the Sturgeon Moon, since that large fish of the Great Lakes and other major bodies of water were most readily caught during this month. It may be called the Red Moon because, as the Moon rises, it appears reddish through any sultry haze.

The video visualization that tops this post tries to capture the mood of Claude Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” (moonlight in French) from 1905 with images from NASA of the Moon built from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. “Clair de Lune” is the third of four movements in his Suite Bergamasque, but this section is quiet, contemplative, and melancholy. It feels right for solitary gazing at the Moon, full or not, inside or outside.

Maybe you can combine the video and music with one of these relaxation techniques tonight and ease yourself into a gentler new week ahead.

golden moon

Tonight’s July Full Moon is usually called the Buck Moon. I saw on the calendar that there is a Night Hike under the Full Buck Moon at the Sandy Hook National Recreation Area near me in New Jersey. That is a beautiful natural beach area and if all the rain of his week clears out for the evening there, it should be a great setting to observe the ecosystem below that Full Moon.

That Buck Moon name comes at a time of year when a buck’s antlers are in full growth mode. This is known as when the antlers are in velvet. They will do their bloody scraping of those antler and prepare for rutting season closer to autumn.

Both American Indians and colonists used the Buck Moon name, but there are many other American Indian tribal names that use notable nature signs from their geographic region. For example, the Cree noted this as the Moon When Ducks Begin to Molt.

The Lakota called this the Moon When The Chokecherries Are Black and other tribes noted this as the time for huckleberries. Several tribes referenced the corn which was an important crop that they planted and relied upon. This gives us names such as the Corn Moon, Young Corn Moon or Ripe Corn Moon (Cherokee). For the Choctaw this was the Little Harvest Moon or Crane Moon.  depending on your location. The Algonquin called this the Squash Are Ripe Moon.

I used this year the more general Mohawk name of the Time of Much Ripening because wherever you are in the Northern Hemisphere some things are ripening.

And yes, today is also the “century’s longest lunar eclipse” is also today BUT this lunar eclipse is primarily visible from the world’s Eastern Hemisphere (Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand). In South America, you can watch the final stages of the eclipse just after sunset July 27, whereas New Zealand will catch the beginning stages of the eclipse before sunrise July 28. For those of us in North America, most of the Arctic and much of the Pacific Ocean, we will miss out entirely.

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