Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Hunter's Moon of October

In October, Lady Moon is often veiled by drifting clouds, and sometimes we don't see her for several nights in a row. If Luna seems spooky at this time of year, it is not surprising, given the inky darkness into which she rises, and the fact that Samhain (or Halloween) is only two weeks away. Although this month's full moon is no brighter than the other moons in a calendar year, she seems so because of the position of the ecliptic in the sky in late autumn.

This is a splendid month for moonhearts, stargazers and backyard astronomers, for we are entering the fabulous region of the winter stars.  There is more darkness in which to engage in sky watching, and if one doesn't mind staying up all night or rising early, there are wonders to be seen from one horizon to the other. I can't begin to catalogue them all, but I just have to mention the annual Orionid meteor showers.  Throwaway children of Halley's comet, the Orionids have already begun, but they won't peak until October 22 when the earth moves directly into the densest region of the comet's ancient particle field.  There is still time to observe the grandest light show of them all, a shower of falling stars in the dark hours before dawn.

For the ancient Celts, the last day of October signified summer's end and the onset of long nights and deep cold.  As Himself, Spencer and I shivered in the garden last evening there were no two ways about it - summer has crept away, late autumn has settled in, and winter is not far off. Oh, there are splendid sunny days now and then, but nights are chilly, and the wind has icy fingers after dark. Falling leaves and bare branches form an austere architectural backdrop for the moon in her rising and setting.

Lady Moon is a prominent motif in Halloween folklore, and I'm always on the lookout for new appearances.  Witches on broomsticks, bats, dancing skeletons, jack-o'-lanterns, ghosts, spectral owls and crooked trees - all make their appearances silhouetted against ghostly moons and deep darkness. The queen of night will be waning when Halloween arrives this year. She will be two weeks past full and heading for the fruitful darkness where she rests before journeying back to radiant completeness in the great cauldron of night.

We also know this moon as the: Acorns Cached Moon, Banksia Moon, Bare Branches Moon, Big Chestnut Moon, Big Wind Moon, Blackberry Moon, Blood Moon, Chrysanthemum Moon, Corn Ripening Moon, Drying Grass Moon, Falling Leaves Moon, Frosty Moon, Hallows Moon, Joins Both Sides Moon, Kantlos Moon, Kindly Moon, Leaf Falling Moon, Leaf Dance Moon, Leaves Change Color Moon, Maple Moon, Michaelmas Daisy Moon, Middle-finger Moon, Migration Moon, Moon When Birds Fly South, Moon of Poverty, Moon When Geese Leave, Moon of Changing Seasons, Moon of Harvesting, Moon When Deer Rut, Moon of Acorn Gathering, Moon When Corn Is Taken In, Moon of Falling Leaves, Moon That Turns the Leaves White, Moon of First Frost, Moon When They Store Food in Caches, Moon of Long Hair, Moon When Quilling and Beading Are Done, Moon When the Water Begins to Freeze on the Edge of Streams, Nut Moon, Pekelanew Moon, Raking Moon, Samhain Moon, Shedding Moon, Small Trees Freeze Moon, Song Moon, Striped Gopher Looks Back Moon, Strong Moon, Ten Colds Moon, Travel in Canoes Moon, Trees Felled by Fire at Butt Moon, Trout Moon, Turkey Moon, Vintage Moon, White Frost on Grass Ground Moon, Wild Turkeys Moon, Wilted Moon, Wine Moon, Winter Coming Moon.


Rain Trueax said...

I always like your moon posts. We'll never see the moon this October due to storms. I did wake up two nights ago, when it looked almost full to see it between the clouds. Lovely but the clouds were moving too fast for it to last enough to get the camera; so I especially enjoy your photo

Mystic Meandering said...

Was interested to hear that the ancient Celts considered Samhain the actual end of Summer. That fits more with what's happening here in sunny Colorado - 80 degree days, 40's and 50's at night, with only a few dips into the 30's and no hard freeze yet. If we're lucky we get some days with cooler temps only rising into the 40's or 50's. Am anxiously awaiting the change!

Claire said...

We've had heavy cloud most nights this week, so I'm been unable to say Lady Luna - until this morning! She was shining brightly in the still-dark when I got up at 5 am - such a joy!! Is there anything more magical than moonlight - whatever the time of day??

Luna Crone said...

So lovely, a Lady Moon post!

Oh yes, summer's end, and winter's beginning, at Samhain. No 4 seasons for the ancient Celts.

Yes, it would be all the more majestic, of the Lady Moon were full, for Samhain. But her fullness is a lovely precursor, to Samhain, also. :-)

Oh and may I add one more name, to your list? In the upper NE, we use Full Moon names, of the Native American Indians. And they called this Full Moon, the Full Hunter's Moon.

Late Autumn blessings,
Luna Moon

Kay G. said...

My Dad is 89 and he called me last night, "Look East!". I stepped outside and did so and was rewarded by a beautiful moon. I will tell him some of the names that you have given me here and he will love them. Thank you.