I like to dabble in photography and this time of year usually finds me outside at dusk with my camera, waiting for the full moon to rise. Four cameras, several years, and hundreds of photos later, I’m still waiting for the “perfect” shot.
Why such a fascination with the moon? Honestly, I don’t know, but I’m not alone. Throughout history, people have shown great interest in the moon. America even sent men to there in the late sixties and early seventies. (And yes, I remember looking up at the night sky when Neal Armstrong took his historic first step.)
In ancient Jewish culture, Mosaic laws required new moon festivals. These were marked by the blowing of trumpets and celebrated with offerings. Normal work ceased during these festivals. Their purpose was to mark consecration to God each month in the year.
In folklore, full moons are traditionally associated with temporary insanity. The terms lunacy and lunatic are derived from lunar. Modern psychologists say there is no strong evidence to support this theory.
In the 1930s, the Maine Farmer’s Almanac began to publish American Indian full moon names. Since 1955, The Farmer’s Almanac has continued this tradition.
The October full moon is known as the Hunter’s Moon. It follows September’s Harvest Moon, so named because it is the time for the last gathering of crops. (Note that some years the Harvest Moon is in October, depending upon its cycle in conjunction with the autumn equinox.)
Like the Harvest Moon, the Hunter’s Moon is especially bright and remains in the sky a long time, giving hunters the opportunity to hunt prey at night. Tradition says it is so named because it is the preferred month to hunt for summer-fattened deer and other animals.
In Western Europe and many Native American tribes, the Hunter’s Moon also serves as an important feast day. Some tribes referred to the October moon as the Full Hunter’s Moon. It was a time to prepare for winter.
Moons have also been associated with folklore, such as:
- Corn planted under a waning moon grows slower, but yields larger ears. (We don’t have a garden, so I can’t verify this.)
- Babies born a day after the full moon enjoy success and endurance (I checked and there wasn’t a full moon the day of my birth.)
- A new moon in your dreams promises increased wealth or a happy marriage. (I don’t think I’ve ever dreamed of a new moon, but I do have a happy marriage. Wealthy, at least in monetary terms, I am not.)
I’m not a hunter, I’m not superstitious, and I don’t farm. So tonight, you won’t find me hunting, trying to justify a little craziness, or harvesting crops. But if weather permits, you might find me outside with my camera, still waiting for that perfect moon shot. Then again, some people might think that is crazy.
Is there superstition and folklore that have carried from past generations in your family?
Do you enjoy watching the full moon rise?