August Full “Sturgeon” Moon

This month’s full moon has been given many names by native peoples. Among them are sturgeon, salmon, blackberry, and “flying up.” The latter referring to the time of year when young birds fledge.

I agree with Blackberry Moon. It’s ripening and picking time here! At various places in town, you can see people here and there with buckets and bags, cars parked alongside the road. But the invasive shrubs might make up for their brash ways somewhat by giving us bounties of berries to perk up summer meals and snacks.

I suppose if you are an angler, you might find sturgeon and salmon at this time also.

I went out to greet the Blackberry Moon on its fullest night and found an enchanting sight between the trees.

Friday the 13th Full Moon

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I looked at my calendar to see when the full moon was this month and, bam, there it was. Friday the 13th!

What could this possibly mean? Has this ever occurred before? I had to see what the soothsayers said about it, or “seers” as the priestesses in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s books are called. I happen to be reading about the priestesses of Avalon.

The Harvest Moon of September 2019 will occur just as the days morph from the 13th to 14th, shortly after midnight on the east coast.  But for the rest of us, it will still be the 13th.  This phenomenon has happened before, but it’s generally uncommon.

Smaller Yet Powerful Moon

Astronomers say the moon will appear somewhat smaller this month because it’s at its farthest point from earth – apogee.  moon9 No matter. This “micromoon” will still send full-moon energy. A full moon is the ending of a particular cycle, and marks the beginning of a new one.

Full moons are usually known as times when emotions can go awry. People get crazy, wolves howl, werewolves go abroad. Pair that with an equally freaky day, Friday the 13th, and let the games begin!

One “seer” notes that this full moon will rise in the constellation Phoenix, a powerful symbol of rebirth. However, it is tempered with a host of astrological arrangements.

“Jupiter square Neptune” can foster unpleasant things like trusting too much, falling prey to scams, and suffering losses or disappointments. The position with Mars can bring moodiness, anger, delusion and impulsiveness. DSCN4425 - Copy  But while “full moon conjunct Neptune” brings confusion and deception, Neptune rules hopes, dreams and spirituality, and the position of Pluto, our poor little downgraded orb, contributes positive energy for rebirth and moving on from destructive behaviors and emotional baggage.

Just Ancient Superstitions?

The number 13 has long been considered unlucky, so it follows that the 13th day would also be unlucky. And for some, the 13th falling on a Friday is especially worrisome.

The fear of this number is called triskaidekaphobia. Superstitious people generally avoid walking under ladders and spilling salt. DSCN1654Other taboos are opening an umbrella in the house and putting shoes on the table, both things my mother forbade! Even hotels don’t have 13th floors, most buildings don’t have one, and most elevators do not go to a 13th floor! Would you live or work on the 13th floor?

According to some historians, “Western cultures have historically associated the number 12 with completeness (12 days of Christmas, 12 months and zodiac signs, 12 labors of Hercules, 12 gods of Olympus and 12 tribes of Israel, just to name a few).”

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On the other hand, the number 13 is odd and therefore bestowed with incomplete qualities and has not been so celebrated. It is said that the ancient Code of Hammurabi omitted a 13th law from its list of legal rules. This may have been simply a clerical error.

Furthermore, the  seating arrangement at the Last Supper has led to a longstanding Christian superstition that having 13 guests at a table was a bad omen. The day following the Last Supper was a Friday. Many superstitions seem to arise from religious beliefs or events, while others appear linked to practical considerations.

DSCN4415 - CopyBut not everyone subscribes to these notions. In the late 19th century a New Yorker even created an exclusive club called, what else, The Thirteen Club. He thumbed his nose at all the myths surrounding the number, and invited 12 other men to join. They met on the 13th day of each month, in room number 13, and dined on 13 courses. Apparently, they all dodged bad luck.

Are you willing to test it? Go ahead, walk under a ladder, pet that black cat, and spill some salt! I dare you!

Good tidings under the Friday the 13th Full Moon! 

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Spring Equinox and the Super Worm Moon

March 20, 2019: the first day of spring – the equinox, full moon and the third and final Super Moon of the year. That’s a lot of weight for one little day to carry. I was curious about what it all means, so I consulted those most in touch with and knowledgable about the cosmos – astrologers, of course!

This is what they had to say about this overwhelming energy.

Under this Libra Super Moon, “we are going to be guided to enter into the new.” Under these three Super Moons, they say, “we have been encouraged to tune into our intuition . . . to purge and release all that is holding us back.”

Under these Super Moons, they say we have been guided to clear the slate and set ourselves “back to zero” and prepare for the new chapter that is ahead.

March’s Full Moon “opens a portal to a new wave of energy. It falls around the same time as the Equinox, which is the start of the astrological year and the beginning of a new cycle.”

And, get this! “Zero is the number of infinite potential, and it’s no coincidence that the March Full Moon falls at zero degrees of Libra. At the time of the Full Moon, we will actually have three planets in the cosmos aligned at the vibration of number zero, which means the Universe is just going to be blossoming with potential.”

Wow!

“. . . the Libra Moon will be calling us to take inventory of how we are using our energy and to assess whether we are using it in a way that serves us or drains us . . . we may realize that we need to let things go, and to do away with things take up too much of our precious energy reserves” This is interesting because that’s exactly what I’ve been called to do during the past week.

This Full Moon reminds us to center ourselves, to return to the blank slate . . . get perfectly balanced, so we can feel more peaceful and in tune with our lives.

Stay on this path, one astrologer says, because April also brings another Libra Full Moon, and this will bring the closing of the portal.

We will have one lunar cycle to integrate these new energies and walk into the new.

A final warning from one seer:

“Full moons tend to make us purge and release things from our lives, The bright light of the sun throws a spotlight on our subconscious and our shadow. This can feel uncomfortable as the Sun literally blasts out the demons who have nowhere to hide. Often the full moon is a time when we reap what we sowed at the new moon . . .  for good or for ill.”

“The veils between the worlds are thinnest around a full Moon, so be very careful what you invite in.”

Happy Spring!

Full Blood Moon, Buck Moon, Here Comes an Eclipse!

Today’s superstar is the full moon, and this one is being hailed as the longest lunar eclipse of the century!

That’s a lot of hype. Sadly, the eclipse won’t be visible in the United States, because it takes place during daylight here. But it should be exciting for people in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and South America, who should see a reddish moon.

That’s where the name Blood Moon comes in. Any moon in eclipse typically looks reddish, so it’s always called a Blood Moon.

The July full moon is also called the Buck Moon, referring to the time that deer start to shed their antlers. Other names for the July moon are Thunder Moon and Hay Moon.

Whatever we call it, our moon is deeply tied to our rhythms and cultures on earth.

Full Moon, Empty Strawberry Bowl

The June Full Moon is called the Strawberry Moon. The Algonquin tribes associated this moon with the gathering of strawberries.

The June Full Moon is also known as the Rose Moon, Honey Moon, and Mead Moon. Perhaps it is the time of collecting honey, picking roses and making mead.

I have not noticed a pink hue to the moon in the past couple days. The night before it was officially full, I gazed upon a lovely, if not ominous, moon surrounded by swirly clouds. I especially liked the way the moon was lighting up the clouds around it.

I quickly shot a bunch of hand-held photos. Not sharply in focus, they do not need to be. Think of them as atmospheric, dreamy.

On the following night of the real full moon, I looked out and saw a crystal clear white moon, with no clouds. Not as interesting, so I did not shoot it.

Strawberry moon? I have been waiting for my strawberries to ripen. They seem late and not many so far this June.

True, we have had cooler, cloudy weather, but I usually am harvesting many berries by now.

There is promise: strawberry blossoms and unripened fruit.

Brother Sun Sister Moon

Scenes like this always bring to mind the phrase Brother Sun Sister Moon, which happens to be the title of a 70s film about Saint Francis of Assisi by Franco Zeffirelli.

This morning’s sunrise blazes in the east, while the full moon bids farewell in the western sky.

The Harvest/Hunter’s Moon

The October full moon is known as the Harvest Moon, but my Witch’s Datebook says it’s the Blood Moon. I wonder where that name came from.

Usually, the September full moon is called the Harvest Moon. But this year it’s in October, due to the closeness to the equinox. Every few years, the autumn equinox falls closer to the tenth month than the ninth.

The October full moon has also been called the Dying Moon and Hunter’s Moon, for the time of year for hunting and preserving meats for winter. Perhaps the name Blood Moon arises from hunting and slaughtering.

Under the bright light of the Harvest Moon, farmers can harvest such crops as corn, pumpkins, squash, wild rice and beans. Scientists explain that most months, the moon rises about an hour later each night.

But the Harvest Moon seems to rise at almost the same time for several nights around the full moon.

Harvest your crops, or just harvest that extra long moonlight to enjoy!

The Corn Barley Nut Rice Crow Ice Moon

Mr. Moonlight, come again please
Here I am on my knees
Begging if you please
And the night you don’t come my way
I’ll pray and pray more each day
Cos we love you, Mr. Moonlight

— “Mr. Moonlight” — the Beatles

Here I am waiting for Mr. Moon to rise, so I can photograph him for this blog piece! From the recesses of my brain this song surfaced. It’s a simple but beguiling song. Surely the Beatles were inspired by the very same magic of the full moon.

Wildfire smoke colors the moon

It seems that the August and September full moons vie for the name Corn Moon. August’s is also known as the Sturgeon Moon, so we’ll go with Corn Moon for September. But the ninth month moon is also called the Barley Moon.

South of the equator, it is also called the Worm Moon, Crow Moon, Sap Moon, Lenten Moon, and Chaste Moon.

There are nights when wolves are silent and only the moon howls. — George Carlin

Phil Konstantin has compiled an extensive list of Native American names for moons on his website, www.AmericanIndian.net. Among the names he lists for September’s moon are Corn Maker Moon (Abenaki), Rice Moon (Chippewa, Ojibwe), Yellow Leaf Moon (Assiniboine), Nut Moon (Cherokee), Drying Grass (Cheyenne and Northern Arapaho), Little Chestnut Moon (Creek), and Ice Moon (Haida).

Summer ends, and Autumn comes, and he who would have it otherwise would have high tide always and a full moon every night. — Hal Borland*

Scientists tell us that the moon is never 100 percent full when we think it is. Only during a lunar eclipse, when the earth, moon and sun are completely aligned, is the moon truly “full.”

The Corn Moon arrives September 6, 3:03 a.m. Eastern time.

*Hal Borland was one of my favorite journalists. He wrote a weekly editorial in the Sunday New York Times for 35 years, always observations of nature and the seasons. He died in 1978. I have a collection of his writings, published in a book, Borland Country, which are paired with photographs by renowned photographer Walter Chandoha. Chandoha is particularly known for his photographs of cats, which are forever singed in my memory from a National Geographic magazine from the 1960s that I kept for a very long time. He is still alive and working, and still resides on a farm in New Jersey. You might check out the work of both of these craftsmen.

The Corn Moon

How fitting that our August full moon is a lovely golden yellow (from Canadian fire smoke), for it is known as the Corn Moon. A time of harvesting, this full moon is also called the Green Corn Moon, Sturgeon Moon, Grain Moon, and Barley Moon.

According to the Farmers Almanac, Native American tribes called it the Sturgeon Moon because sturgeon in the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain were usually abundant during this time.

Some tribes, the Almanac adds, had yet other names for this late summer moon: “Wheat Cut Moon” (San Ildefonso, and San Juan), “Moon When All Things Ripen” (Dakotah Sioux), and “Blueberry Moon” (Ojibwe).

August is a time when the earth is providing an abundance of foods. Fish are running; corn, blueberries and other crops are ripening. No doubt it’s a welcome time for feasting and preparing foods for winter stores.

This moon tells us it’s the perfect time to reflect on what we have, what we can sacrifice, and what we can put away for leaner times.

Rabbit Run

rabbit running

I just finished reading Watership Down (I know, a few decades late.) I will likely never think of rabbits in the same way again! When this year began, little did I know what a Year of the Rabbit it was shaping up to be for me. For the Chinese, it might be the Year of the Goat or Sheep, but for me, decidedly the year of the rabbit.

Sometime early in the year, I put an old calendar photo of a jack rabbit on my frig. It’s a beguiling creature, with its spectacular ears and piercing eye. I’ve always wanted to see a jack rabbit in the wild. I felt the photo was a good omen for the year. Aren’t rabbits considered good luck? At least their feet have been held as lucky pieces (alas, not for the rabbits).

Rabbits have been bestowed with magical powers in various cultures, art and literature. We westerners may see the Man in the Moon, but in Asian, Mexican and Native American cultures, they see the Rabbit in the Moon. It’s pretty obvious, too, that they are right! The rabbit is there plain as day, although what I see is a running rabbit, while Asians see a rabbit hunched over a mortar. For Chinese, the rabbit is the companion of the moon goddess Chang’e, and is preparing her elixir of life. For Japanese and Koreans, the rabbit is pounding ingredients for rice cake.

Rabbit in the Moon
Rabbit in the Moon

It’s been a subtle chain of occurrences, but I now realize that for a few years, rabbits have been coming into my life. I acquired a lovely ceramic planter with such a sweet rabbit face that I had to have it. Then, I bought a silver-colored planter type bowl, ringed with rabbits. After I moved to Seattle, I attended the Northwest Folklife Festival, where I met a potter among whose wares were some small dishes decorated with charming rabbits. I couldn’t resist and bought one for myself and another for a friend.

Scouring a thrift store on a road trip, I found a flat black metal figure of a rabbit. It would be perfect for my garden, I thought! Obviously I was feeling some affinity for with rabbits. Then, I received a gift of another rabbit-themed piece of pottery, a very small dish perhaps to hold sushi. It was a nice companion to the rabbit spoon rest from the festival. Another gift from a friend was a hand-painted rabbit-shaped box from India. What inspired her to give me a rabbit?

It was about then that I did realize I was starting something of a rabbit collection. When I went to Scotland, I picked up a small watercolor of a rabbit on the Isle of May.

Recently, at a neighbor’s yard sale, there were scads of garden rabbit figurines! Most were too cutesy, but one caught my eye. It was a rustic white-painted metal rabbit, sitting tall and looking more natural. This one would do. He told me his name was Benjamin, and he now watches over my garden.

Benjamin
Benjamin

Somehow the word got out and I noticed rabbits in my yard a couple times. One morning I opened my front blinds to find a cottontail happily munching grass. I quickly scanned my veggie garden to see whether anything was missing, but everything seemed fine. The bunny was eating grass and weeds. Had it not discovered my spinach, beet greens or the mass of leaf lettuce? Or were those not appetizing?

A visitor to my yard
A visitor to my yard

I had seen these small brown cottontails hopping about for a few months. I’m sure they were born in the big park next door. They come and go under the park fences. Lately they had become bolder and were wandering farther from the park. I had seen them outside my front fence a few times, and now, here was one, in my yard. Maybe when I made a home for Benjamin Bunny in my garden, I unwittingly placed a welcome sign out for other bunnies. Much like the custom of hobos leaving symbols for others [a cat meant “kind lady lives here,”] my inorganic rabbits signaled to their flesh-and-blood kin that this is a safe house.

rabbit yard2I watched the one cottontail in my yard for as long as it was in view. It darted around nervously, briefly interacting with a squirrel. Did they talk to each other, like in Watership Down? Did the rabbit ask the squirrel, “Are there men here?” or “Is the food good?” The rabbit hopped out of the yard, and returned a short time later. I saw its buddy outside the fence. They both shot off toward the park.

Rabbit (at top) and squirrel
Rabbit (at top) and squirrel

Did the squirrel talk to the rabbit?
Did the squirrel talk to the rabbit?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since reading Watership Down, I wonder about the social structure of rabbit warrens. How many local rabbits are there? How big are their burrows? In the book, the intelligent rabbits were able to communicate with other critters, and had exceptional senses of smell. Their sense of smell serves to alert them of potential dangers. They stamping of feet as an alarm is also noteworthy. They obviously have their own communication system, similar to birds’ raucous alarm calls.

I don’t expect that our rabbits actually “talk” to other creatures, but surely they are tuned into all the sounds around them, and do respond to bird alarm calls as well. Even I respond! Recently there was such a ruckus among the Stellers Jays, and I saw several crows fixed on something too. So I went out to investigate, and sure enough, there was something — a cat in the yard. Any rabbits would have made a beeline for their holes long before.

I haven’t noticed any of our rabbits in a while, but then again, I haven’t been looking very often. I trust they are fine and hopping about, munching away on the free buffet, and occasionally talking to the squirrels, mice and birds.