eastern moon times
pacific moon times

The Names of the Moons - reprinted from FABandPP.org

Quoting FAB and PP:

For no particular reason, I've been interested in the names of the moons. When I first organized this chart (as a letterpress broadsheet) I had found only two complete sets, plus a few other names for some specific months, but I'd never found or looked for any lists with citations which explained the origins or history of the any of the names. When the web site went on line, I decided to just post what I knew, in case anyone else was out there, searching for lists.

Here's the original chart, now augmented by what I like best of the names and sets that have been sent to me so far. I've also posted some additional notes, and some links to still other pages and other lists.

Month Set #1 Set #2 Cherokee¹ Ottewell² Wiccan³
January Old Wolf Cold Moon After Yule Wolf  
February Snow Snow Bony   Storm  
March Sap Worm Windy Lenten Chaste Crow Crust
April Grass Pink Flower Egg Seed Moon of the Red Grass Appearing†
May Milk Flower Planting   Hare  
June Rose Strawberry Green Corn Flower Dyad Honey‡
July Thunder Buck Ripe Corn Hay Mead  
August Green Corn Corn Fruit Grain Wyrt Sturgeon
September Fruit Harvest Nut   Barley  
October Harvest Hunter's Harvest Hunter's Blood  
November Frost Beaver Trading Hunter's Snow  
December Long Night Cold Snow Moon Before Yule Oak  

¹ A kind note from Gary Graham (gegraham@deq.state.va.us) provided the reference for this set: Guy Ottwell's Astronomical Calendar 1993. He also referred to radio segments called Stardate produced by Sandy Wood and Brad Armosky. I had encountered neither source before Gary's note, so I gratefully include them here.

² According to the Chreokee Cultural Society of Houston.

³ From To Ride A Silver Broomstick: New Generation Witchcraft by Silver Raven Wolf with my thanks toAkili for letting me know about it. About half of these names used to be in my 'other' column.

† The 1999 Old Farmer's Almanac Every Day Calendar, which also repeats 'Pink' and 'Egg' as April moon names) lists a variation of this name: "The Sprouting Grass Moon," which is much less poetic. They also list 'Fish Moon,' which seems a little too general. "Fish," they say, refers to the season when the shad come upstream to spawn. So why not "Shad Moon?" Another fisherman correspondent lists 'Crappie', 'Bass' and (my favorite fish moon name) 'Catfish.'

‡ The name 'Honey Moon' for June was submitted by Nancy C. Eisele, who heard the reference on Jack Horkheimer's STAR HUSTLER TV program. My thanks to Nancy and, of course, to Jack!

I'm not sure how long this link will last, but Scientific American has weighed in on the subject of Blue Moons. Visit http://www.sciam.com for a brief discussion by George Spagna, chair of the physics department at Randolph-Macon College.

It is also said that Blue Moon is the name used for the second full moon in any month; the extra moon that is relatively rare... as in "once in a blue moon." New information, however, indicates that this bit of 'old folklore' may go back to an editing mistake.

Richard Matthews kindly provided a link to the Sky & Telescope article that started it all. The specific link is no longer vald, nor is the old Sky & Telescope site. Richard explained the more accurate use of the term this way in a very informative e-mail:

Essentially it says to take the 1st, 2nd, and LAST (not 3rd) full moon in each season and give them the names in the table. If there are 4 full moons in the season, the 3rd is the "blue moon".

The table he's talking about would start with the 'first Winter moon', rather than 'January.' But then, which moon really marks the 'first Winter moon?' Would that always match up with some else's 'January' moon? The answer to these questions could lie in the definition of the first spring moon, sometimes called the Easter or Paschal Full Moon. This moon has been defined as the first 14-day-old moon on or after March 21. This moon is not necessarily an astronomical full moon, but is always in April, and Western Easter is set on the Sunday after the Paschal Full Moon. At least that's what I found in the Old Farmer's Almanac Every Day Calendar page for February 17, 1999. A more detailed explanation of the moons' relation to the changing seasons, the role of the Blue moon, and a nice astronomical chart, could be found in another old Sky & Telescope link provided by Matthews. He also offered this example of a 'seasonal' list:

winter 1st - Moon after Yule
winter 2nd -Wolf Moon
winter last - Lenten Moon

spring 1st - Egg, Easter, or Paschal Moon
spring 2nd - Milk Moon
spring last - Flower Moon

summer 1st - Hay Moon
summer 2nd - Grain Moon
summer last - Fruit Moon

autumn 1st - Harvest Moon
autumn 2nd - Hunter's Moon
autumn last - Moon before Yule

[Insert Blue moons in any season as required, after the 2d moon and before the last.]

The problem I have with reorganizing my comparative chart this way is that most other lists I've seen are in fact sequenced by month, not by season, and the aforementioned question still holds. Easter may always be in April, but will the Moon After Yule always be in January? Or would that make it Blue? And what about October?

The great irony, of course, is that moon folklore and most moon names undoubtedly predate Christianity itself and the Christianized feasts, festivals or lunations of Easter and Christmas. Pope Gregory's calendric reformations and declarations aside, sequencing moon names according to the date of the eccleastical 'Paschal' moon is just as arbitrary as using Roman months, or Stonehenge, or Mayan artifacts, or the Old Farmer's Almanac.

So I don't know, I just collect lists of the names. Any further list submissions would be amazing. Further contributions to the discussion of which moon is which: Blue, Yule or whatever, will also be received with interest. Thank you.

Other Links:

Silent Wolfs Indian Moons Calendar Includes a list of Lokota Sioux names, an automatic calendar, and several useful links, and even a link back to here. (Ah, what a tangled world-wide web we weave!)

http://www.7almanac.com/eye/fullmoons.html... another page by a TV weatherman (Todd Gross) sent to me by yet another (T.J. Del Santo; Meteorologist, WPRI-TV, Providence, RI), and this page contains a great link, listed below

http://members.tripod.com/~PHILKON/moons.html... this one has a harmless little JavaScript embedded in it, but it's got a lot of lists on it, as well!

The US.Naval observatory's FAQ on how the date of Easter is calculated. You may also be interested in their page showing the calculated dates of Easter or in some of the other items (including software) available from their home page. Many thanks to Stan Young for his note, which included lots of interesting information and contained a reference to the US Naval Observatory's web site.

http://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/ask_astro/answers/970314a.html... while it lasts (and it loads very slowly, so it's buried deep in some archive), this one contains still more links, including the first one I ever found that points back to here!

http://tbtf.com/archive/1999-01-04.html#s09 was sent to me recently by one of my many far-flung correspondents


Richard Minutillo

The FAB&PP Home Page . the original of this doc.