Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Hunger Moon

I had planned to write an article about February when post about The Hunger Moon crystallized it for me.

January's Full Wolf Moon resonates with the howl of the wolf for me. Growing up in rural north-central Ontario, we had plenty of wildlife. It has now changed but I still remember the cold, crisp, starry nights of January, standing outside at the corner of the house and howling to get the wolves going. They would answer and continue as long as we did. The wonder and beauty would keep us out there until our noses and ears stung from the cold. This bitter cold winter takes me back to those sub-zero nights. We no longer have the great snow drifts covered by a thin crust formed in the January thaw. Each time we went out to play, we would be cautioned to stay away from the power wires. I have not seen such drifts in many years. I am grateful that we do not have the outdoor plumbing that we had in my childhood. I am also grateful to the friend who shared a midi of wolves howling with me.

I still find it the coldest and the brokest (after Christmas) month of the year, but I find February with its Full Hunger Moon to be the longest month. After December and January, the winter snow, ice, cold and shoveling have lost their charm. Tobogganing on a neighbor's hill and making a Fox and Geese track in the snow of the school yard, which lasted to spring melt had also become stale. So had skating on the river with a bonfire in the middle of the cleared ice. When the fire burned through and fell into the river, it was time to put away the skates and dig out the hoe.

I long for March, with its promise of spring to come. March seldom delivers on that promise, but year after year, I hope. I yearn for the first rite of spring, digging little channels from one puddle to the next, ultimately to drain away and dry up.

Over the years, I have devised ways to break up this long month of cold, snow and dark skies, and make the wait more bearable. One is to have a picnic, particularly if there are children around. Prepare all of the foods you would normally take on a summer picnic. Spread a blanket on the family room floor, topped with the picnic table cloth. Scatter the plastic ants, throw down some cushions and spread out the picnic. Everyone will enjoy the break and chat about great picnics past and those yet to come. With children, it is even more fun if you can make it a surprise.

Another thing I have done is to make a complete fondue meal with hot oil, cheese and chocolate. Put a door on low stools, spread out the cushions and prepare the fondue pots and the goodies to dip. Again, with it being on the floor, we tend to see it as extra special, and will linger over the food, both reminiscing and planning.

If anyone has other February events, it would be great to share them.
Note:From the Farmers Almanac http://www.farmersalmanac.com/full-moon-names

Full Moon names date back to Native Americans, of what is now the northern and eastern United States. The tribes kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full Moon. Their names were applied to the entire month in which each occurred. There was some variation in the Moon names, but in general, the same ones were current throughout the Algonquin tribes from New England to Lake Superior. European settlers followed that custom and created some of their own names. Since the lunar month is only 29 days long on the average, the full Moon dates shift from year to year. Here is the Farmers Almanac's list of the full Moon names.

• Full Wolf Moon - January Amid the cold and deep snows of midwinter, the wolf packs howled hungrily outside Indian villages. Thus, the name for January's full Moon. Sometimes it was also referred to as the Old Moon, or the Moon After Yule. Some called it the Full Snow Moon, but most tribes applied that name to the next Moon.

• Full Snow Moon - February Since the heaviest snow usually falls during this month, native tribes of the north and east most often called February's full Moon the Full Snow Moon. Some tribes also referred to this Moon as the Full Hunger Moon, since harsh weather conditions in their areas made hunting very difficult.

• Full Worm - March Moon As the temperature begins to warm and the ground begins to thaw, earthworm casts appear, heralding the return of the robins. The more northern tribes knew this Moon as the Full Crow Moon, when the cawing of crows signaled the end of winter; or the Full Crust Moon, because the snow cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night. The Full Sap Moon, marking the time of tapping maple trees, is another variation. To the settlers, it was also known as the Lenten Moon, and was considered to be the last full Moon of winter.

• Full Pink Moon - April This name came from the herb moss pink, or wild ground phlox, which is one of the earliest widespread flowers of the spring. Other names for this month's celestial body include the Full Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon, and among coastal tribes the Full Fish Moon, because this was the time that the shad swam upstream to spawn.

• Full Flower Moon - May In most areas, flowers are abundant everywhere during this time. Thus, the name of this Moon. Other names include the Full Corn Planting Moon, or the Milk Moon

• Full Strawberry Moon - June This name was universal to every Algonquin tribe. However, in Europe they called it the Rose Moon. Also because the relatively short season for harvesting strawberries comes each year during the month of June . . . so the full Moon that occurs during that month was christened for the strawberry!

• The Full Buck Moon - July July is normally the month when the new antlers of buck deer push out of their foreheads in coatings of velvety fur. It was also often called the Full Thunder Moon, for the reason that thunderstorms are most frequent during this time. Another name for this month's Moon was the Full Hay Moon.

• Full Sturgeon Moon - August The fishing tribes are given credit for the naming of this Moon, since sturgeon, a large fish of the Great Lakes and other major bodies of water, were most readily caught during this month. A few tribes knew it as the Full Red Moon because, as the Moon rises, it appears reddish through any sultry haze. It was also called the Green Corn Moon or Grain Moon.

• Full Harvest Moon - September This is the full Moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox. In two years out of three, the Harvest Moon comes in September, but in some years it occurs in October. At the peak of harvest, farmers can work late into the night by the light of this Moon. Usually the full Moon rises an average of 50 minutes later each night, but for the few nights around the Harvest Moon, the Moon seems to rise at nearly the same time each night: just 25 to 30 minutes later across the U.S., and only 10 to 20 minutes later for much of Canada and Europe. Corn, pumpkins, squash, beans, and wild rice the chief Indian staples are now ready for gathering.

• Full Hunter's Moon - October With the leaves falling and the deer fattened, it is time to hunt. Since the fields have been reaped, hunters can easily see fox and the animals which have come out to glean.

• Full Beaver Moon - November This was the time to set beaver traps before the swamps froze, to ensure a supply of warm winter furs. Another interpretation suggests that the name Full Beaver Moon comes from the fact that the beavers are now actively preparing for winter. It is sometimes also referred to as the Frosty Moon.

• The Full Cold Moon; or the Full Long Nights Moon - December During this month the winter cold fastens its grip, and nights are at their longest and darkest. It is also sometimes called the Moon before Yule. The term Long Night Moon is a doubly appropriate name because the midwinter night is indeed long, and because the Moon is above the horizon for a long time. The midwinter full Moon has a high trajectory across the sky because it is opposite a low Sun.


Margie said...

Hi Z
I really appeciate all that!
It was wonderful to read it!
Thank you so much!

Joyous spring will be here soon!


jon be me said...

good stuff. Thanks. Being from Florida, I cannot relate but now living in Germany....

Speaking of Native Americans, have you read anything from Sun Bear?(SunBear Tribe used to be in Spokane Washington) He moved on in the 90's, but my wife and I will always remember meeting him at one of his weekend Mediciine Wheel Ceremonies in Florida. He inspired us to learn more about the Indian way which to this day we still relish.

Take care

jim said...

I loved reading about these moons and months Zareba, thanks for the chance.

I copied all these posts last week and read them all over the week, I thoroughly enjoyed that, and so, You Zareba, thanks, looking forward to more. Love to you and your family, G-d bless you all with His best!

Zareba said...

Thank you Margie. I am looking forward to the first crocus, the first blade of green grass, the first fresh leaves, and the first maple tree tapped.

May joyous spring come early this year.


Zareba said...

Hi Jon:
I have not read Sun Bear, but will look for his writings. The native spirituality draws me as well.

Peace and joy


Zareba said...

Hi Jim:

I look forward to your comments. They are always insightful.

Hoping that your internet time increases again. Others miss you as well as I.