Well, so much for capturing this evening’s Beaver Moon. I guess I should have tried last night. Tonight is way too foggy. Instead, I present to you my shots from last November.
Also known as the Frosty Moon, it can be referred to as a Mourning Moon if it happens to be the last full moon before the Winter Solstice, as is the case this year.
November’s Full Moon was one of the most important of the year for Northern American communities. Most commonly known as the Full Beaver Moon, this Full Moon marked a time when rivers would begin to freeze over, making it impossible to set out traps. Many Native American tribes, including the Cree, Arapaho and, Abenaki tribes, called November’s full moon the “Moon When Rivers Start to Freeze”.
With the changing of the seasons, November’s full moon marks the beginning of the end. This year, it is the very last full moon before the winter solstice, which makes it the Mourning Moon according to Pagan tradition. In many different cultures, November’s full moon is intimately connected with death and loss, on both a literal and symbolic level. The Celts, for instance, called it the Reed Moon, comparing the mournful music made by wind instruments to the ghoulish sounds of spirits being drawn into the underworld. And, not without good reason…the Full Mourning Moon marks a dangerous time of the year where people could easily slip into the underworld with a single misstep.
We may enjoy the luxury of winter coats and central heating, now but, freezing to death during the long, dark winters used to be a very real threat to early inhabitants of Northern America. In order to survive, making warm winter clothing out of beaver fur was crucial for American colonists and Native American tribes. This is why November’s full moon is also known as the Beaver Moon. During this month, beavers are very active, working hard on dam construction and this was a good time to start harvesting their fur. Missing the timing for this would mean death for these early Northern American communities. This name drives home the importance of November’s full moon as a signal for these Native American tribes to begin trapping beavers before it was too late, as well as to complete their preparations for the darkest depths of winter.
For the Pagans, on the other hand, the final stage of their winter preparations involved the very important process of “mourning”, which is why they call the last moon before the winter solstice the Mourning Moon. After a full year of accumulating possessions, both physically and otherwise, the Mourning Moon is the perfect time to let go of old, unnecessary things, while giving yourself permission to mourn their passing. Practicing Pagans may perform a moonlit ritual where they write down the things they want to rid themselves of and ask their Goddess for help in removing unwanted burdens.
Pagan traditions aside, anyone can benefit from taking the time to self-reflect and to let go. Take advantage of the Full Mourning Moon this November to look back on your year. Take stock of your desires, ambitions, mental and behavioral habits and, the people you spend your energy on. Clean your living and work spaces and, sort out the physical objects that are not contributing to your well-being. Take the time to fully mourn and let go of anything, or anyone, that does not bring you joy, so that you can begin to move forward, unfettered, towards a lighter and happier new year.
100% illumination occurred at 12:39am EST.
Howl for me… ~Vic
The leaves are falling. The deer have grown fat for the winter. Hunters can move more easily over cleared fields, spotting the smaller animals. Also known as the Blood Moon or Sanguine Moon, Native Americans named the moon for the hunt and the storing of meat for the winter. Traditionally, it was a feasting day in Western Europe and among many tribes. From Moon Giant:
Contrary to popular belief, the Hunter’s Moon isn’t actually bigger or brighter than usual. It simply rises earlier, soon after sunset, which would give hunters plenty of bright moonlight to hunt by during the early evenings. To Neo-Pagans, however, the Hunter’s Moon is known by a far more morbid name – the Blood Moon.
Humans through the ages have always found autumn’s full moons to be creepy and not without good reason. There’s a reason why English folks in the Middle Ages called October’s full moon the Blood Moon and it’s the exact same reason why even Halloween imagery today often features a large, low-hanging moon with an eerie reddish glow. The Hunter’s Moon rises early in the evening, which means that you are more likely to see it near the horizon. When you observe the moon while it’s near the horizon, it gives off the illusion of being bigger while it’s in fact the same size. In addition, observing the moon at the horizon makes it look redder. This is because you’re seeing it through a thicker atmosphere, which scatters more blue light and lets more red light pass through to reach your eyes.
Scientific explanations aside, the Hunter’s Moon or Blood Moon still holds an undeniable aura of mystique and power. As October’s full moon occurs right before Samhain, the Gaelic mid-autumn festival that has evolved into Halloween today, Neo-Pagans consider the month of the Blood Moon to be a special time denoting the change of seasons and, a prime opportunity to contact dead loved ones, given the thinning of the veil between the physical world and the spiritual world. Precious stones such as amethyst are used to ward off evil and, sacred flowers like chrysanthemum are used when working with spirits, such as in rituals to commune with long-dead ancestors.
Despite the Blood Moon’s spooky associations, it rarely actually happens on Samhain or Halloween night itself. The next time you’ll get to see the full moon on Halloween is 2020, and if you miss that, you’ll have to wait 15 years to see it in 2035. Sometimes, October’s full moon even happens early enough in the month that it becomes the Harvest Moon, which is defined as the full moon that’s closest to the fall equinox. In Chinese culture, the Harvest Moon is celebrated during the Mid-Autumn Festival, where people gather to celebrate by eating mooncakes. There is also a harvest festival in India that celebrates October’s full moon called Sharad Purnima. Devotees fast all day before offering delicacies to the Moon God under the moonlight.
In contrast to the day-long fast of India’s moonlight festival, the Hunter’s Moon was a very important feast day in Europe as well as for many Native American tribes. Appropriately, the Ponca tribe’s name for the Hunter’s Moon is “the moon when they store food in caches”. Taking advantage of the fact that the fields have been reaped, hunters would capture foxes and other small animals who come out to graze on the fallen grains as well as hunt down deer in the moonlight. They would butcher their prey and preserve their meat. Blood Moon is an excellent name for this month’s full moon, given that it was a final, bloody harvesting of meat before the winter months.
Sadly, the tradition of feasting during the Hunter’s Moon was lost around the year 1700, but its spirit still lives on in historical reenactments like the Feast of the Hunter’s Moon, or even the feast of candy enjoyed by trick-or-treaters everywhere on Halloween.
This Hunter’s Moon reached 100% illumination at 12:45pm EDT.
Howl for me…