Even the most nonspiritual person is often moved to admire a full moon. At its sight, we stop and stare, pausing a moment to contemplate Nature’s wonder, as men and women have done since time immemorial. Last night, I was fortunate to catch a glimpse of the April full moon before it disappeared magically, up into a dim bank of dusky cloud and I sensed the turn of the earth and the changing seasons as so many will have done before me.
Each cycle of 29.5 days, we see a full moon when the side of the moon that faces the Earth is fully illuminated. The exact timing depends on where the moon is in its orbit around the Earth, so where we are on the planet dictates when we see it. The phases of the moon occur as we see it revolve around the earth, lit by the sun at different angles.
Historically, the various tribes of the earth have named each month’s full moon, celebrating the seasons and changes in nature, using these phases as indicators of times to plant, harvest or prepare for winter hardship. The names given alluded to what they could see around them at the time, so varied according to the part of the world they inhabited.
Here in the Northern hemisphere, this most recent full moon is the first of spring, signalling the time to awaken from Winter slumbers. The “Pink Moon” I was so lucky to see last night was named for the mossy pink bloom of the Phlox flowers, which were seen growing abundantly around the northern Native American tribes.
Here where I live on the coast people called it the Fish Moon to mark the time when certain fish swam upstream to spawn, while others referred to it as the Waking Moon because animals awoke from their hibernation. Others referred to it as the Hare Moon, as the Mad March Hares, sacred animals of springtime fertility in Roman legend, were seen boxing in the fields. The Rain Moon was probably named for April showers awakening the slumbering seeds or the Wind Moon for the spring gusts so prevalent at this time. Another one obvious to those contemplating their dusty lawnmowers is the Sprouting Grass Moon!
Following on from the Pagan rituals, some religions choose this time to celebrate too. Christianity has Easter, which today’s commercialism has hijacked with its Easter Bunny and egg hunts. This moon also dictates the start of Jewish Passover, whilst in Islamic tradition, it is called Badr with associations with health and beauty.
In this atmosphere of renewed life in nature and spirit, we humans often feel a primaeval stirring of our senses too. We feel an urge to Spring clean, start fresh or make changes to awaken our lives. Astrologers urge us to make plans and foretell of wishes falling into place. We have endured the dark, hardship of winter so now is the time to awake. This moon is our call to action. So tell me – what will you do to make this a memorable summer?