The Moon of the Autumn Equinox
The Harvest Moon is usually defined as the full moon closest to the autumn equinox. For us in the Northern Hemisphere, that usually occurs on or near September 22 each year. This year however, the nearest full moon to the equinox will occur this week on October 5, 2017.
Many people think this full moon gets its name from a reddish glow that may appear on the full moon. But that red color doesn’t happen with every Fall Full Moon. This effect is caused by the atmosphere of the earth. When sunlight is scattered by passing through Earth’s atmosphere, the other colors of the spectrum are removed. The moon will appear reddish when it’s nearer to the horizon, for the same reason a sunset or sunrise appears red. It’s all because of the Earth’s shadow.
A red moon is sometimes used to refer to four total lunar eclipses that happen in the space of two years, a phenomenon astronomers call a lunar tetrad. The eclipses in a tetrad occur six months apart with at least six Full Moons between them. So a red moon, isn’t a completely rare thing when an eclipse occurs.
A lot of Space or Astronomical journals have begun using the term “Blood Moon” to describe all these red moon occurrences. Unfortunately they didn’t do their research and made some significant assumptions about the phrase. It has nothing to do with the color of the moon at all.
Not to mention there’s a difference between a Blood Moon, which is always a full moon in the fall, and “Blood on the Moon”, which can occur with any phase of the moon. Blood on the Moon isn’t just a Pagan thing, it’s a cultural thing. Blood on the Moon generally refers to an omen, usually a bad omen signaling a death, danger or an unhappy event.
The Real Blood Moon
The Blood Moon get’s its name from two sources. The oldest sources can be linked to Pagan mysticism and belief, or if you’re fond of the Norse, Heathen mysticism and belief.
The Celtic Pagan version started with an oral legend shared between Irish kingdoms that spread throughout the Celtic lands. The premise of the story is the same, but the names and places maybe different based on the region where one hears the tale. The story is called The Legend of the Sacred King. The Sacred King in his many forms, tells the story of an honored hero or deity, who sacrifices his life for his people. Through this blood sacrifice the King ensures that the fields are fertile and they will produce a bountiful harvest during the autumn months. By doing this, he ensures his people will survive the harsh winter months.
The story can be found in many cultures around the world, and existed long before Christianity. It’s found in Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Asian, and Middle-Eastern cultures, or any where a King was looked upon as a deity or worshiped as a deity as much as he was honored as a King. Something that was very common way back in the day.
Just think of how early Japanese Emperors were described and depicted as Deities. But you’ll recognize the concept in the Great Khagans, the Pharaohs of Egypt, the Tsars of early Russia and the Shahs of Iran. Monarchies carried sacral kingship into the Middle Ages, encouraging the idea that kings were installed onto their throne by the Grace of God. This isn’t an unusual perspective in ancient and even not so ancient times.
The second source of the Blood Moon relates to the harvest full moons as the season for hunting game. Again it’s an event of the blood sacrifice to ensure food is plentiful during the cold winter months. And again it’s found in many cultures around the world.
In early Germanic cultures, the autumn hunt is usually associated with Odin. The Norse divide the year into two parts. The Summer and Winter, with minor holiday observances in between.
Winter begins with the festival of Winternights, close to the Autumn Equinox. Winternights marked the beginning of Odin’s Wild Hunt, which would continue until Walpurgisnacht. This festival corresponds roughly to the Celtic observance of Samhain.
Along with Odin ride the great Gods of the Norse. Balder, and Tyr sons of Odin, Freyr, Njord, and Thor the great god of the Sky are among the band of brothers who clash through the winter sky during the “Wild Hunt”. Their ride is even part of the History of Yule.
For the Celts in those early days, all the Full Moon events that occurred during the Harvest season, were all recognized as “Blood Moons”. As with everything, that observation evolved and only the first full moon nearest to the autumn equinox, was used as the celebration event. Probably to preserve the bounty of the harvest during lean years, but no one really knows why the other harvest moons fell out of favor.
It’s Not Astronomy – It’s Mysticism
The Blood Moon is a special spiritual time to many pagans in the many different traditions around the world. It’s a time to honor the blessings bestowed upon the land to bring forth its bounty in grain, fruit, vegetables and meat that would allow a family, clan or any kind of community to survive another harsh winter.
It’s a time to give thanks for the sacrifices others have made so that we might live another day. It’s about sharing and thinking of those who are less fortunate and may have it a little harder when the cold winter days arrive.
The Blood Moon is about Pagan mysticism, not science, not astronomy and not the hype that modern journalism tries to place on the phrase and on GrandMother moon.
We gather around the bonfire and share the story of the Sacred King, usually in the form of Lugh, as the Sun God, the keeper of the flames that warm home and hearth during the dark cold winter months. It’s a spiritual thing.
© 2017 Springwolf, D.D., Ph.D. Springwolf Reflections / Springs Haven, LLC. All Rights Reserved.