December 18, 2013

The Elder Moon of December

Here we are at the twelfth and last full moon of this calendar year, and it seems only yesterday that Spencer and I were out in the garden shivering and watching the first full moon of the year rise over the trees. Whatever time of the year, the old oak tree in the garden does its best to frame the rising moon, leafed out in spring and summer, robed in russet leaves in autumn, bare branched and embracing in winter.

The thirteen moons (twelve this year) of a calendar year wear different names, faces and personalities according to one's culture, where one happens to live 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. They speak eloquently of timeless natural rhythms and the calendar of the seasons: springtime and green things springing from the earth, planting and weeding, hunting, harvesting and gathering in, rest and regeneration.

December's moon falls at the darkest time of year in the north, and for me it will always be either the Elder Moon or the Long Nights Moon. The elder tree is December's sylvan symbol in the Celtic tree calendar, and December's moon falls during the darkest time of the year, so both names are apt.  This is also the month of my birthday, and so I have particular fondess for this radiant winter moon.

Yule is only a few days away now, and it makes me happy to think that when January's full moon arrives daylight hours will be lengthening 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 our 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, 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, 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

Among the many names for this month's moon, I also like "Midwinter Moon" and "Little Spirits 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.


Rain Trueax said...

I'm glad to see your photo of it as it's been cloudy here; so it's through a haze that I see it trying to get through and not quite making it with any detail.

Claire said...

Thank you for this :) In October I started a Full Moon Dreamboard practice, which I get such deep joy from!

Tabor said...

This is my moon this month as my birthday falls on the solstice and it seems to be a gift in the early morning.

Barb said...

What a magical post. I love all things lunar and am in the midst of planning and researching twilight gardens, moonstones, lucid dreaming etc. I love every word of this. Thank you for a peaceful, natural writing and photograph amidst all the trappings of the holidays.

Lilian Nattel said...

I love the framing of the moon. Thanks for all the names.