Buck Moon (Full Moon July 2008)

Watching the wild (and not so wild) life in my yard, I see the flowering of last month turning to fruit. The elderblow has turned to green berries. The catnip and basil blooms have gone to seed. Other flowers have taken over, though. My maypop took off this year, and its showy passionflowers grace the twine trellis above my nettles and mint. Already the insects have fertilized several of the flowers, and the green egg-shaped pops have started swelling.

Many of the indigenous North American names for the July moon have to do how many plants begin ripening, in fact:1

  • Mohawk: Ripening Time
  • Creek: Little Harvest or Little Ripening Moon
  • Cherokee: Green Corn Moon
  • Apache: Time of Ripeness
  • Algonquin: Squash Are Ripe And Indian Beans Begin to Be Edible
  • Sioux: Moon When the Wild Cherries Are Ripe
  • Anishnaabe: Raspberry Moon
  • Shawnee: Blackberry Moon
  • Passamaquoddy: Ripening Moon
  • Zuni: Moon When Limbs of Trees Are Broken by Fruit
  • Natchez: Peaches Moon
  • Pomo: Manzanita Ripens

Despite all the plant-ripening-related names used by many of the North American tribes, the name that the Farmer’s Almanac took for the July moon has to do with an occurrence in the animal world:

July is normally the month when the new antlers of buck deer push out of their foreheads in coatings of velvety fur. It was also often called the Full Thunder Moon, for the reason that thunderstorms are most frequent during this time. Another name for this month’s Moon was the Full Hay Moon.

I don’t know where the Farmer’s Almanac came up the the name of Thunder Moon. I find it hard living in Arkansas to call any one single moon the Thunder Moon. We tend to start having major Thunder Storms beginning in February, and they definitely last through the summer and into the fall.

As for other animal-related moon names among North American tribes, they abound almost as much as the plant-ripening-related names:1

  • Omaha: Moon When the Buffalo Bellow
  • Northern Arapaho: When the Buffalo Bellows
  • Apache: Moon of the Horse
  • Cree: Moon When the Ducks Begin to Molt
  • Haidi: Salmon Moon
  • Hopi: Month of the Fledgling Hawk
  • Kiowa: Little Moon of Deer Horns Dropping Off (used for a late July moon)
  • Tlingit: Salmon Moon
  • Wishram: Salmon Go Up the Rivers In a Group Moon

I think you can draw the conclusion that a lot happens in July. Take a look around your neck of the woods to see what happens where you live.


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by hikeagiant on 06/28/2009 at 1:44 pm

    Thanks for the infomation – a group of us are hiking a local park on the evening of July 7th – Sleeping Giant State Park in Hamden, CT. There will be a full moon that night. I have been searching for information about the July full moon and your list of names is quite impressinve. I also wanted the names to see if I could come up with some food and other ‘perks’ to add to the celebration.

    So far I’ve come up with herb & flower garlands (or maybe just sprigs) – something with honey, either a beverage or some type of ‘honey cake’ – for a laugh, I thought I’d bring green cheese as well.

    Anyway – thanks for the help. If you’re interested in Sleeping Giant, check out my blog – http://hikeagiant2.wordpress.com

    Added note: http://www.space.com says that the July 2009 full moon is the smallest of the year – 12% smaller than the Jan. 10, 2009 full moon – this is because it reaches apogee in 13 hours. I’m not sure what that means. It’s a search for another day.


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