There was a lustrous full moon up there last night, and as it was the last full moon of 2012, Spencer and I were outside in our snow drowned garden watching for it to come into view. Yes, we were cold, darned cold in fact, but not being out there and looking up would have felt wrong somehow, and it would have run counter to our tradition. The moon of our watching was clear and white and great among the bare winter trees, and it was, in the words of my sister Caroline, a perfect pearly "ghost moon".
The thirteen moons of a calendar year wear many different names, faces and personalities according to one's culture, where one lives in the world and what the seasonal activities of one's native place are. There are common threads or themes to lunar lore though, and the moon's names provide food for thought about the nature of community, hearth and connection. The names in use among the diverse northern cultures of my own native place speak eloquently of timeless rhythms and the natural calendar of the seasons, of springtime and green things springing from the earth, of planting and sowing, of harvesting, hunting and gathering, of rest, hibernation and regeneration.
December's moon falls at a dark time of year in the north, and for me it will always be the Elder Moon or Long Nights Moon. It makes me happy to think that when January's full moon arrives, daylight hours will be stretching out again, and we will be on our way to Spring and warmth. Having said that, we will be making our slow and careful way through bitter cold, deep snow and high winds, and there is a long way to go. Now and then, there will be confetti skies at sunrise, and the dark vaults of heaven will be full of stars at night. Such celestial happenings make journeying through the Great Round a joyous undertaking, and in all the frenetic "toing and froing" of this holiday season, that is a fine thought to cling to.
We also know this moon as the: Ashes Fire Moon, Bauhinia Moon, Bear Moon, Beginning of the Winter Moon, Big Bear's Moon, Big Winter Moon, Birch Moon, Center Moon's Younger Brother, Cold Moon, Cold Time Moon, Bitter Moon, Deer Shed Their Horns Moon, Dumannos Moon, Eccentric Moon, Elder Moon, Frozen over Moon, Heavy Snow Moon, Holy Moon, Hellebore Moon, Her Winter Houses Moon, Hunting Moon, Ice Lasts All Day Moon, Ice Moon, Little Finger Moon, Little Spirits Moon, Long Nights Moon, Long Snows Moon, Midwinter Moon, Moon of Cold, Moon of Long Nights, Moon of Much Cold, Moon of Popping Trees, Moon of Putting Your Paddle Away in the Bush, Moon of Respect, Moon When Buffalo Cow's Fetus Is Getting Large, Moon When Deer Shed Their Horns, Moon When Little Black Bears Are Born, Moon When the Young Fellow Spreads the Brush, Moon When the Wolves Run Together, Moon When the Sun Has Traveled South to His Home to Rest Before He Starts Back on His Journey North, Narcissus Moon, Night Moon, Oak Moon, Paulownia Moon, Peach Moon, Poinsettia Moon, Popping Trees Moon, Poppy Moon, Real Goose Moon, Sap Moon , Sjelcasen Moon, Small Spirits Moon, Solstice Moon, Snow Moon, Star Frost Moon, Turning Moon, Twelfth Moon, Under Burn Moon, White Orchid Tree Moon, Winter Maker Moon, Winter Moon, World Darkness Moon, Yule Moon
Wherever you live in the world, and whatever form your own celestial rites or observances take, I wish you joy on your journey at this turning of the Wheel.