The Full Moon By Name

"Merlin In The Moon" by Springwolf 🐾

“Merlin In The Moon” by Springwolf 🐾

Have you ever wondered what’s behind the name of a Full Moon? Every month the moon graces Mother Earth with her bright Full phase. And occasionally she’ll pop in a second full phase in a single month too.

We know those occasional double full moons in a single month as a Blue Moon. But every full moon has its own name as well. You may have seen some people refer to the September’s full moon as the Harvest Moon, or the Fruit Moon. You might have even seen it called the Corn Moon. So which is it?

Well, it’s all of them really. As with most things, there isn’t a single definitive set of names to correspond to the full moon world wide. There are many.

Ages ago, cultures around the world kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full moon. So there are a multitude of corresponding names to each Full moon of a single month.The names people gave to their full moons were based on their culture, their region of the world, the timing of seasonal changes and maybe even specific traditional influences as well. For instance here in North America, winter arrives much earlier in the far north than it does in the far south. That will affect the weather and therefore how the people of those areas see the moon and it’s phases. A winter moon in New England may not be all that wintery in Florida. So even within the same country, people in different regions might have developed different names for the Moon shining over their heads.

The names people here in the U.S. and most of western Europe are most familiar with, can be found in The Old Farmer’s Almanac (in print since 1792). These names have been traced to a couple of sources. The from late Celtic pagan cultures who lived by a Lunar calendar system. These names were already familiar to many Anglo-Saxon cultures, even as they evolved into Christianized cultures that followed a Solar calendar systems.

As Europeans traveled across the ocean, they brought their traditional names with them. But the people who were already here in America, had their own set of full moon names as well. In fact, different Native American nations held different names for their full moon times. The Algonquin Nation seems to have had the biggest influence over North American names for the Full Moon. Which makes sense when you consider the range of their territory was most of the North East of American in those early days.

As other Europeans migrated to North America, they brought along their many traditions and names for things as well. But it seems the majority of Americans relied on the Old Farmer’s Almanac, that the early names reported in their annual took hold and still remains as the reliable list.

Here’s a quick example of different peoples who established their set of full moon names. You can align the name of the moon to the season or weather for that month. What that group might have been doing to prepare for winter, or ready their fields for spring and summer. Or perhaps even what they harvested and when.

Celtic – circa 1300
The Celts fall in several regions of western Europe from Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

January – Quite Moon
February – Moon of Ice
March – Moon of Winds
April – Growing Moon
May – Bright Moon
June – Moon of Horses
July – Moon of Claiming
August – Dispute Moon
September – Singing Moon
October – Harvest Moon
November – Dark Moon
December – Cold Moon

whiteroseEuropean  – circa 1700s
Largely based on Europeans who came to the Americas and settled in the colonies. These names were widely used in England, France and Spain.

January ~ Hunger moon
February ~ Snow moon
March ~ Sap or worm moon
April ~ Pink moon
May ~ Flower moon
June ~ Rose moon
July ~ Buck moon
August ~ Sturgeon moon
September ~ Corn moon
October ~ Hunter’s moon
November ~ Beaver moon
December ~ Cold moon

The Algonquin Nation– circa 1400-1450
The Native American nations from New England to Lake Superior had their list of full moon names that also appear from time to time in modern literature or discussion.

January ~ Full Wolf Moon
February ~ Full Snow Moon
March ~ Full Worm Moon
April ~ Full Pink Moon
May~ Full Flower Moon
June~ Full Strawberry Moon
July~ Full Buck Moon
August~ Full Sturgeon Moon
September~ Full Corn Moon
October~ Full Harvest Moon
November~ Full Beaver Moon
December~ Full Cold Moon

The Cherokee Nation – circa 1600
The Native American nations that populated the south-eastern regions from what we know today as Virginia to upper Florida.

January – Cold Moon
February – Bony Moon
March – Windy Moon
April – Flower Moon
May – Planting Moon
June – Green Corn Moon
July – Ripe Corn Moon
August – Fruit Moon
September – Nut Moon
October – Harvest Moon
November – Trading Moon
December – Snow Moon

americanpantherThe Choctaw Nation – Circa 1550
A Native American people originally from the Southeastern United States (modern day Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, and Louisiana).

January – Cooking Moon
February – Little Famine Moon
March – Big Famine Moon
April – Wildcat Moon
May – Panther Moon
June – Windy Moon
July – Crane Moon
August – Women’s Moon
September – Mulberry Moon
October – Blackberry Moon
November – Sassafras Moon
December – Peach Moon

The Deborean Clan  – circa 1780-1800
This is my craft tradition. It is a Pagan Shamanistic tradition, that formed out of the combination of Celtic and Cherokee cultures. This name set merged two cultures together either by influence or out of a desire to represent both spiritual perspectives. No one is sure when this name set was established, but it’s fair to assume it began around the time the Clan itself was established between 1780 and 1800.

January ~ Wolf Moon
February ~ Snow Moon
March ~ Worm Moon
April ~ Rain Moon
May ~ Flower Moon
June ~ Strawberry Moon
July ~ Deer Moon
August ~ Fish Moon
September ~ Fruit Moon
October ~ Harvest Moon
November ~ Hunter’s Moon
December ~ Cold Moon

The Wiccan Tradition  – circa 1953-1956
It’s fair to say that Gerald Gardner based his name set on a variety of sources. Wicca itself is a culmination of his previous participation with many craft traditions such as the Fellowship of Crotona, Ordo Temli Orientis and even the Golden Dawn had its influence on his formation of this now popular denomination of Paganism.

January ~ Cold Moon
February ~ Quickening Moon
March ~ Storm Moon
April ~ Wind Moon
May ~ Flower Moon
June ~ Sun Moon
July ~ Blessing Moon
August ~ Corn Moon
September ~ Harvest Moon
October ~ Blood Moon
November ~ Mourning Moon
December ~ Long Nights Moon

Today we have the advantage of aligning our energies with the cultures we’re drawn to, or to the perspective our tradition follows. So if you’re of a European tradition, or Norse or Native American tradition; you can pick and choose the name set that you feel most connected to.

While these names for each full moon seem similar, think about how backward they would be for a culture living on the equator or in the southern hemisphere. Our Winter is their Summer. So it wouldn’t make sense for their December Full Moon to be called the Cold Moon. It has taken a while for me to find a reliable source for the Full Moons down under. Read about The Full Moon In The Southern Hemisphere and you’ll understand why.

Additional Reading:

© Springwolfs Hanko

© 2013 Springwolf, D.D., Ph.D. Springwolf Reflections / Springs Haven, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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