The Hungry Ghost Full Moon of July

The moon was but a chin of gold
A night or two ago,
And now she turns her perfect face
Upon the world below

– Emily Dickinson

July 2022’s Full Moon will rise on Wednesday, July 13, reaching peak illumination at 2:38 P.M. Eastern Time. Of course, it will be below the horizon then, so look to the southeast after sunset to watch it rise. It probably looks quite full already tonight.

In Chinese traditions, this is the time of the Hungry Ghost Moon. It was a time when spirits could move freely from this world into the Otherworld or the Eternal world. This is the time when the veil separating the worlds was “thin.” Though we often think of ghosts are frightening things, the Chinese believed that some spirits would return to where they were happiest. That makes this a time when you might see or feel the presence of ancestors, loved ones, and friends who have passed on.

It is also a time when mischievous spirits can make trouble and people can be more susceptible to bad energy from the spirit world. That aspect makes it similar to the ancient Irish observation of Samhain which was a feast marking the beginning of the Irish Winter. It is also celebrated on October 31st as Halloween in North America.

This month’s Moon is usually called the Buck Moon because the antlers of male deer (bucks) are in full-growth mode at this time. Bucks shed and regrow their antlers each year, producing a larger and more impressive set as the years go by.

Deer aren’t the only animals that figure into the Full Moon at this time of year. Feather Moulting Moon was used by the Cree in our July or sometimes in August, and Salmon Moon was used by the Tlingit people since this was when those fish returned to the area and were caught in large numbers.

Yes, this Full Moon orbits closer to Earth than any other full Moon this year, so it is the biggest and brightest supermoon of the year. I just don’t get very excited about the “supermoon” label since the Moon doesn’t really look bigger to us. Technically it is bigger and brighter than a regular Full Moon, but at 7% larger it is pretty much imperceptible to the human eye.

The Southern Hemisphere is marking a Wolf Moon, Old Moon, or Ice Moon. How strange that still seems to me.

The Scorpion Full Moon

Scorpius has over ten stars with planets in its constellation, as well as four Messier objects. The most famous star within the constellation is called Antares.

The constellation Scorpius the Scorpion has had the Moon moving through it earlier this week, The Moon was closest to Antares, the Heart of the Scorpion, on July 19. Antares and the Scorpion’s Tail are relatively low in the sky from latitudes like those in the northern U.S. or Canada.

Antares is a red supergiant and really twinkles and that may even be more evident after the Moon goes full. It is the 16th brightest star in the sky. Antares is about 10,000 times more luminous than our Sun and it is 12 million years old.


This month is generally called the Buck Moon. On my walk today, I passed two bucks munching away at greens in the park. This Full Moon marks a time when the antlers of male deer (bucks) are in full growth mode. They shed and regrow their antlers each year and so they have larger and more impressive antlers as they age.

I also saw some evidence from the waterfowl at the park that confirms this being the Feather Moulting Moon (Cree tribe). The Salmon Moon was a name the Tlingit people used and my son is in Alaska this week salmon fishing because this is when they return to northwestern fishing waters.

Depending on your location, the Moon was full at 10:37 a.m. today but it isn’t full until 2:37 a.m. on July 24 in other locations. Not that you’ll notice the difference.

I don’t want to ignore the Southern Hemisphere where it is the Wolf Moon, Old Moon or Ice Moon – none of which make my sense to northern me unless it’s because I wolfed down my dinner with a well-iced drink and I’m feeling kind of old.

All-American Fourth of July Hay Moon

farm full moon

The Moon will be full on Sunday, July 5 at 12:44AM ET, which means it will look very full for the 4th of July tonight.  There may be fireworks where you live this year for Independence Day, but with pandemic still very much active in the United States, the sky might just be filled with a big Full Moon.

Tomorrow is also my younger son’s birthday. That big Moon will be shining on him in this strange 2020 when he celebrated his first Father’s Day. The summer solstice weekend was special for him and also an extra special day for me as a new grandfather.

There is a penumbral lunar eclipse. In my part of North America near New York, the eclipse begins July 4 at 11:07:23 pm but it ends July 5 at 1:52:21 am, so it bridges both days here. (Is it visible where you live?)

Honestly, a penumbral lunar eclipse is not very spectacular compared to other celestial events. It takes place when the Moon moves through the faint, outer part of Earth’s shadow, but this type of eclipse is often mistaken for a regular Full Moon.

The July Full Moon is most often called the Buck Moon, for the new antlers that emerge from a buck’s forehead around this time of the year. It is also called Thunder Moon, Mead Moon, Corn Moon, Huckleberry Moon, Time of Much Ripening and Salmon Moon.

This year I chose the Hay Moon as my title. This name came from the early American settlers who were harvesting, baling and storing hay for the winter. Many of our Full Moon names, such as Buck Moon, came from names used by the northeastern Algonquian Native American peoples that the first colonists encountered.

hay field
Image by Peter H from Pixabay

A Salmon Moon

Haida salmon art
      Haida salmon art

One name for the July Full Moon, which officially arrives for me at 5:39 pm today, is the Salmon Moon. There are no salmon in the water near me and I doubt that the name was used much around here for this Full Moon. But to some native people, such as the Haida people native of the Northwest, the Coast Salish people of the Canadian Pacific coast, and native people of Alaska, salmon was (and for some, still is) a staple food source.

salmon run jumpingThe times when salmon “run” or are plentiful in numbers would be a time for much fishing, preserving, and celebration.  A salmon run is a time when salmon, which have migrated from the ocean, swim to the upper reaches of rivers where they spawn on gravel beds. After spawning, all Pacific salmon and most Atlantic salmon die, and the salmon life cycle starts over again.

An annual run is a major event for grizzly bears, bald eagles, and native and sport fishermen. But most salmon species migrate September through November, so why would this month be a “salmon moon?”

Fishing tribes in North America also used this name and called the August Full Moon the Sturgeon Moon because this large fish of the Great Lakes and other major bodies of water were most readily caught during this month.

The Druid’s Salmon Moon is in August.

Alaska’s Kenai River offers silvers, pinks, reds and king salmon from May through October. Salmon weighing up to 98 pounds have been captured. Early runs through June average around 16,000 fish. I will be further south but the late runs began July 1 and peak at 41,000 fish in the middle of the month.

Despite the variations, salmon has served as a source of wealth and trade and is part of the cultures of First Nations people of Canada. The practice of traditional fishing is strongly associated with Coast Salish culture. Salmon was seen as respected gift-bearing relatives. Their beliefs are that all living things were once people and salmon are viewed as beings similar to people but spiritually superior.

I will be taking a floatplane from Ketchikan, Alaska (“Salmon Capital of the World”) to Prince of Wales Island.

We will not be employing the traditional or artisanal fishing methods that are low-tech, such as net-fishing, stone-fishing and weir fishing.

The five species of Pacific salmon found in the Northeastern waters (rivers and ocean) are Sockeye, Pink, Chum, Coho, and Chinook.

salmon types
Types of salmon – U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service

Other July Full Moon names include the more common Buck Moon, Thunder Moon (for the month’s many summer storms) and Hay Moon (for the July hay harvest). The Celtic name was Moon of Claiming – for which I find no explanation.


A Corn Full Moon in July

corn moon

The Moon reaches its fullness today, July 12, at 01:24:54 pm, but until darkness falls we don’t give the Moon much thought.

That wasn’t always true. Going back 200 years or more to the naming of Full Moons and you can see how their appearance was strongly attached to the nature – flora, and fauna – that provided sustenance and life.

On our continent. the names of the moons indicate what each native tribe thought was important in the season in their area. Names might apply to the weather, crops and food they could gather, and animal activities.

July for many tribes was the time of summer crops, mainly corn, which begins to ripen for the first harvest and was the staple crop for many American Indian tribes.

The name “chokeberry” comes from the astringency of the fruits, which create a sensation making your mouth pucker.

Look at these tribal Moon names: 
Abenaki – Grass Cutter Moon
Algonquin – Squash Are Ripe Moon
Cherokee – Ripe Corn Moon
Choctaw – Little Harvest Moon, Crane Moon
Comanche – Hot Moon
Cree – Moon When Ducks Begin to Molt
Dakota Sioux – Moon of the Middle Summer
Haida – Salmon Moon
Kalapuya – Camas Ripe (the bulb of the camas lily was a staple food to the Kalapuya)
Lakota – Moon When The Chokecherries Are Black
Mohawk – Time of Much Ripening
Ponca – Middle of Summer Moon
Potawatomi – Moon of the Young Corn
Shoshone – Summer Moon

Roasting ears of corn are ready and this was once the traditional time of the “Green Corn Dance” or festival for some tribes. The New World colonists called it the Corn Tassel Moon (similar to the Potawatomi of the upper Mississippi River and Western Great Lakes region), which indicates that corn was not as far along for Northeastern settlers as it was for tribes such as the Southwestern Cherokee. Some farming colonists referred to this as the Hay Moon.

It is early for a “Harvest Moon” here in Paradelle. In Britain, it is more common to say “autumn” while Americans generally say “fall” but the older word for the season after summer is harvest, and this Full Moon signals the start of harvesting. I’ll be picking my first tomatoes in another week.

Here in Paradelle, it has been more of a Thunder Moon month with the hot, humid days producing lots of thunderstorms.

Last year, I wrote about this being the Moon When Bucks Are in Velvet, which seems to me to be a quite Romantic name based on male deer beginning to show antlers that are now covered in their “velvet” stage.

All Full Moon names are Romantic in some way. After all, paying attention to the stars, the planets, nature and the phases of the Moon has become a rarer and somewhat Romantic (in that capital R way) in itself.