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This month’s Full Moon arrives today, May 29. The Dakotah Sioux called this the Moon When Leaves Are Green because it was the first Full Moon of the year when the trees and plants were truly full with leaves.

Many of the names for the may Full Moon are connected to plants. It has been called Flower Moon, Corn Planting Moon, and Planting Moon. Even a name like Milk Moon is related to the abundance of new growth for the cows to feed on that also gave us the name Grass Moon.

The Medieval name, Hare Moon, marks the appearance of the hare out feeding on all that new growth. And the Moon When Frogs Return is a Native American name taking note of the return of one hibernating species.

The leaves of most plants are green. These leaves are full of chemicals that are green, and the most important one is chlorophyll. It is the chemical that allows plants to make food so they can grow using water, air and light from the sun.

I’m sure you were taught in school about photosynthesis. This process occurs throughout the plant and all leaves contain chlorophyll, but not all of the leaf has chlorophyll. Some leaves have green and white or green and yellow stripes or spots, so only the green bits have chlorophyll and can make food by photosynthesis.

Yes, you will find plants and trees with red or purple leaves all year round. They still are full of chlorophyll, but so much of other chemicals that are red or purple that the green is masked.

This is the time of year that I am outside planting and admiring the greening and flower-coloring of the season. The last frost is past and it’s safe in my area to put out the more tender flowers and vegetables.

The health benefits of eating foods with chlorophyll are amazingly numerous. It seems to have positive impacts on almost everything in our body. All hail chlorophyll in our bodies and in nature!

The April Full Moon this month comes late in the month, as do all the remaining Full Moons for 2018.  The April full moon is typically known as the Sprouting Grass Moon, Egg Moon, Fish Moon, Pink MoonPlanting by the Full Egg MoonNight of the Planter’s MoonSeed MoonBlood Moon (which only occurs for some Full Moons and is not really an April event), Mini Moon When Ducks Return and the Growing Moon. It is obvious that this is a time when our focus is on the true flowering and growing of spring.

Had the Full Moon arrived early in April this year, I could have written about snow and winter hanging on, but by this time in the month spring has finally taken hold and there have been a few days that already felt like summer.

My seeds have all started inside and are waiting for that last frost, which in Paradelle can still occur in May.

I’m not a believer in lunar cycle gardening which is an old mythological approach to gardening. The “science” of it is not very strong, but you can use the lunar cycles as a way to plan your gardening. But there are some scientific studies that suggest the changing gravity pull of the lunar cycle affects the water level in soils and even seed and plant cells.You can go look into that theory a bit here.

I plant based on my own calendars kept over many years of when things have sprouted, bloomed and yielded a harvest.

The ducks and geese never leave here for winter and they are grabbing the sprouting grass at the parks, golf courses, and around the ponds.  If you haven’t gotten the mower out yet and see some dandelions popping up and blooming, you might consider leaving them be for a while. They are one of the early flowers for the bees to feed on.

In the Neo-Pagan tradition, this is called the Awakening Moon.

Don’t forget that for anyone in the Southern Hemisphere this could be called the Harvest Moon or Hunter’s Moon.

elkmoon-flickr

Traditionally, today’s Full Moon is the Harvest Moon, but I like to look at other names given to this month’s Full Moon.

I say today’s Full Moon rather than tonight’s Full Moon because depending on the month and where you are reading this, the Moon might have reached its fullness while you were sleeping, eating breakfast, lunch or dinner in sunshine. Where I am typing this post, the Moon will be full at 03:05 pm (EDT), but in Perth, Hong Kong and Beijing it won’t happen until the calendar and clock say September 17 03:05 am (WST).

The Full Moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox is traditionally called the Harvest Moon. It is usually in September, but sometimes occurs in October. The autumn equinox this year for Paradelle is
September 22, 2016 at 10:21 AM EDT.

I do like that the Harvest Moon seems to be one of the rare names that both the English and many Indian tribes of eastern and northern North America agreed on. Other Native American names included the also harvest-themed Corn Moon and Barley Moon.

You will often see the Harvest Moon and Hunter Moon portrayed in photos and artwork as being very red or orange, which gives it an autumnal look. But any red effect is more of the seasonal tilt of the earth and the atmospheric conditions of nightfall. That reddish color of the moon as it rises low in the sky is from viewing it through a greater amount of atmospheric particles, including pollution and smoke. It looks whiter when it is higher overhead. All those particles scatter the blue part of the light spectrum, allowing the red end of the spectrum a straighter path to your eyes and the chance to dominate. Itis why the sunrise and sunset look so much more red.  That’s less Romantic than thinking the Moon changed colors along with the tree leaves.

This month’s Full Moon is also called the Elk Call Moon. Although this is partially a reference to hunting, the Hunter’s Moon is a more modern name for the Full Moon that follows the Harvest Moon. That would be our October Full Moon.

Still today, most elk hunting begins around early September in a time known as pre-rut. During the summer, elk bulls’ grow their antlers grow and that ends late August, when testosterone levels rise and they begin the process of gathering as many cows as possible in harems jealously guarded by the herd bull for the duration of the rut. This is also when their vocalization increases and peaks the last two weeks of September.

Keep in mind that our friends in the southern hemisphere view the Full Moons of September, October and November as the Full Moons of spring.

 

moon deer

This month’s Full Moon comes early, on March 5th and this year I chose a Celtic name for it: Moon of the Winds. The Cherokee name for the March Full Moon is translated as a similar Windy Moon. For those southwestern people, their Anvyi is the first Full Moon of the new season and a traditional start of the new cycle of planting and a time when new council fires are made.

In past years, I have used some of its other names which are mostly derived from nature and animal behavior: Sap Moon, Worm Moon, Crow Moon, Oak Moon, Storm Moon, Seed Moon, Maple Moon.and Fish Moon. One name comes from religion: the Lenten Moon.

Some consider this the “last Full Moon of winter” but depending on when the April Full Moon arrives (this year early on the 4th) and where you live, next month’s Full Moon may not feel like spring to you. In 2013, the Full Moon was on the 27th and so spring did seem at hand in Paradelle. And March is the month that supposedly comes in “like a lion and out like a lamb” – another saying of weather lore that can vary is accuracy quite widely.

Most of the United States will experience some windy days this month as the temperature tends to vary and shift as fronts move across the continent.

Even Winnie-the-Pooh considered this a time to say “Oh what a blustery day! It must be Windsday again!” Hopefully, your Windsdays this month will not be as blustery as it was in the Hundred Acre Wood.

egg moon

The March Full Moon (march 5, this year) goes by many names including Windy Moon, Sap Moon, Worm Moon, Crow Moon, Oak Moon, Storm Moon, Seed Moon, Maple Moon and Fish Moon. As with the other months, most names are derived from observations of nature and animals in the area.

One name comes from religion: the Lenten Moon. Early American Christian settlers, often used this name for it. In some Christian denominations, Lent is the forty-day-long liturgical season of fasting and prayer before Easter. The forty days represent the time Jesus spent in the desert, where according to the Bible he endured temptation by Satan.

The religious intention of Lent is preparation not only for the events linked to the Passion of Christ and Easter. many Christians associate the season with fasting or giving up something we desire. That practice had a practical purpose in times when the end of winter was a time of sparse supplies anyway.

Many of the Christian holidays were timed to coincide and co-opt pagan holidays. For example, the Resurrection of Jesus is connected to pagan spring seasonal celebrations.

The computation of when Easter falls is based on the old lunar calendar. In 725, Bede wrote, “The Sunday following the full Moon which falls on or after the equinox will give the lawful Easter.” But that rule does not reflect the actual ecclesiastical rules precisely. For example, the astronomical equinox is a natural astronomical phenomenon, which can fall on 19, 20 or 21 March, while the ecclesiastical date is fixed by convention on 21 March.

The full moon before Easter is often known as the Egg Moon which has a seasonal connection in the laying of eggs by birds and also is carried over to Easter celebrations in the secular sense.

The Lenten Moon is considered to be the last moon of the winter season. Of course, this is all confused by the fact that Easter changes year to year – sometimes in March, sometimes in April. For 2015, Easter is later, falling on April 5.

Spring arrives this year on March 20.

The March Full Moon also comes early this year – also on the fifth day – and so it is unlikely to feel like the end of winter for most people in northern climes.

Pieter Aertsen, The Egg Dance (1557)

Pieter Aertsen, The Egg Dance (1557)

 

That doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate anyway. An egg dance is a traditional Easter game in which eggs are laid on the ground and the goal is to dance among them without damaging them. As a pagan symbol of the rebirth of the Earth in spring, it was adopted by early Christians. The version of egg dancing depicted in the painting by Pieter Aertsen has participants rolling an egg out of a bowl while keeping within a circle drawn by chalk and then flipping the bowl to cover the egg. This had to be done with the feet without touching the other objects placed on the floor.

For centuries, the full moon has been associated with madness. The term “lunatic” was once used to refer to people who are considered mentally ill. It also was a label put on someone who was dangerous, foolish or unpredictable. “Lunacy” is now considered insulting and not used as a medical or legal term – though it is still used in jest.

The words are from lunaticus meaning “of the moon” or “moonstruck”. The term originally referred mainly to epilepsy and “madness” as these were diseases believed to be caused by the Moon.

By the fourth and fifth centuries astrologers began to commonly use the term to refer to neurological and psychiatric diseases Philosophers such as Aristotle and Pliny the Elder argued that the full Moon induced insanity in some individuals because the Full Moon provided light during nights which would otherwise have been dark. This extra light caused sleep deprivation.

Into the 17th century, it was also a common belief that the Moon influenced fevers, rheumatism, episodes of epilepsy and other diseases.

Scientific study has continually shown that Full Moons do not cause madness or an increase in suicides. You can find stories online about both of those beliefs and others. I have heard a number of times that there are more animals killed on roads in a Full Moon period.

Fauna fatalities peak along secondary roads through edge habitat (where two types of habitat meet). Add more deaths during late summer and early fall, when spring-born leave home to strike out on their own. And add more on new and full moons, when drivers seem more reckless and animals less reclusive.

The lunar theories continue. In 2005, Yuan, Zheng, and Zhu found “that stock returns are lower on the days around a full moon than on the days around a new moon. The magnitude of the return difference is 3% to 5% per annum based on analyses of two global portfolios: one equal-weighted and the other value-weighted.”  The return difference is not due to changes in stock market volatility or trading volumes. The lunar effect is not explained away by announcements of macroeconomic indicators, nor is it driven by major global shocks. Moreover, the lunar effect is independent of other calendar-related anomalies.

Is this truly a lunar effect? That remains to be seen.

 

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