Thursday, February 01, 2018

Courting the Imbolc Moon

Last evening's full moon was the second full moon of the year and the second in January, a blue moon as well as a super moon. I am calling it an "imbolc Moom" because it rose on the eve of Imbolc or Candlemas. There was also a full lunar eclipse (or blood moon).

Had we seen it, the lunar orb would have been a icy presence, framed by the vague shapes of snowy evergreens and attended by faint faraway stars. Capturing winter moons with one's lens and a slender scrip of words is always an uncomfortable business, and it is never a sure thing.  The day had been cloudy and several centimeters of snow had fallen, but Beau and I wrapped up warmly after dark and went outside with tripod and camera anyway. It's our way of "saying yes to the world", to the innate wildness of life in the Great Round of time, to grandeur in the starry, starry night over our heads. Alas, there was no moon to be seen, just clouds and more snow.  The spectacular eclipse which could be viewed in other corners of the globe was not visible here at all, even partially. As a super moon, a blue moon and a lunar eclipse all at the same time, one could have called last night's full moon a "super blue blood moon".

This lunar cycle has to be about owls.  Around the end of January, the Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus), claims a nest somewhere in the north woods with its lifelong mate and settles down to the arduous business of raising another unruly brood. The great "hornies" are among my favorite birds, and it's enchanting to hear a couple calling companionably to each other across the snowy woods in winter.  Northern residents to the core, the great owls thrive in cold climates, and the further one travels toward the Arctic, the bigger they grow. The Saw-whet Owl or sugar bird (Aegolius acadicus) is not far behind in its own courtship rituals, and neither are the other owls of the Lanark highlands. There is love and fertility in the air, among northern owls anyway. The rest of us are just trying to stay warm.

Winter life can be stressful for those who lack feathers and dine not on mice and voles.  Even great "hornies" sometimes have a difficult time finding food in deep snow, but they are adept winter hunters.  They are the most resilient of birds and muddle through. They must be resilient to be raising a family in the dead of winter in an old tree in the woods.

When the second moon of the calendar year comes around, hunger is well known in wild and snowbound places, but if we can manage to hang on for a few weeks longer, there are better (and warmer) times ahead.  Late February and March promise milder temperatures, relief and sweetness.  The sylvan alchemy of the maple syrup season will (hopefully) be in full swing when the next full moon makes its appearance.

We also know this moon as the: Ash Moon, Big Winter Moon, Bone Moon, Bony Moon, Budding Moon, Chestnuts Moon, Cold Winds Moon, Coyotes Frighten Moon, Crow Moon, Dark Red Calves Moon, Death Moon, Eagle Moon, Fish Running Moon, Frost Sparkling in the Sun Moon, Gray Moon, Horning Moon, Ice in River Is Gone Moon, Ice Moon, Index Finger Moon, Little Bud Moon, Long Dry Moon, Makes Branches Fall in Pieces Moon, Mimosa Moon, Moon of Ice, Moon of Purification and Renewal, Moon of Rabbit Conception, Moon of the Cedar Dust Wind, Moon of the Raccoon, Moon of the Frog, Moon, When Geese Come Home, Moon When Bear Cubs are Born, Moon When Spruce Tips Fall, Moon When Trees Pop, Moon When Trees Are Bare and Vegetation Is Scarce, Narcissus Moon, No Snow in Trails Moon, Owl Moon, Peach Blossom Moon, Pink Moon, Plum Blossom Moon, Primrose Moon, Quickening Moon, Raccoon Moon, Rain and Dancing Moon , Red and Cleansing Moon, Second Moon, Snow Crust Moon, Snow Moon, Solmonath (Sun Moon), Squint Rock Moon, Staying Home Moon, Storing Moon, Storm Moon, Sucker Fish Moon, Sucker Moon, Trapper’s Moon, Treacherous Moon, Violet Moon, Wexes Moon, Wild Moon, Wind Moon, Wind Tossed Moon, Winter Moon

As far as moon names go, I am fond of Quickening Moon, Wild Moon and Owl Moon, but this will always be Penny's Moon.

Happy Imbolc everyone, happy February!


Barbara Rogers said...

Nice try on capturing luna last night. I caught her the night before all the hoopla...she always looks full the night before full to me. But of course there is exactitude! Not me.

Mystic Meandering said...

We were able to see the Full Moon Rise both the night before last and last night. It *looked* Full both nights actually. It was an icy blue for sure, shrouded in a thin veil of nearly translucent sheer clouds. It was gorgeous! Although, we did not see the blood moon or eclipse aspect which was supposed to have happened around 4:50am our time (MT). And we've also heard an owl in the distance recently... the soft whooo-whooo-whooo is so soothing to the soul... Enjoying the magical moments :)

sarah said...

My personal name for the moon this month is the Gold-heart Moon, for we are in summer here. Infact I wrote about this on my own weblog just today. From now on for the next few months all the full moons will look like super moons to me because of the angle from which they will arise on my horizon, the landscape around them. I guess that's why these super moon events never excite me as much as they do other people (although I did get up at 2.30 am to try seeing it, but there was too much cloud - which was enchanting enough for me, dark cloud rushing behind dark trees, so beautiful.)