Cold Moon (Full Moon December 2008)

This moon marks the last of the year and the end of this series of posts.

The Farmer’s Almanac has this to say about our moon this month:

The Full Cold Moon or the Full Long Nights Moon: During this month the winter cold fastens its grip, and nights are at their longest and darkest. It is also sometimes called the Moon before Yule. The term Long Night Moon is a doubly appropriate name because the midwinter night is indeed long, and because the Moon is above the horizon for a long time. The midwinter full Moon has a high trajectory across the sky because it is opposite a low Sun.

Although a lot of the Native American moon names reference the winter, snow, and cold, you find variety among the other variations:

  • Abenaki:Winter Maker Moon
  • Anishnaabe: Small Spirits Moon
  • Northern Araphaho: Popping Trees
  • Cheyenne: Moon When the Wolves Run Together
  • Eastern Comanche: Evergreen Moon
  • Cree: When the Young Fellow Spreads the Bush
  • Haidi: Ripe Berries
  • Hopi: Month of Respect
  • Kiowa: Real Goose Moon
  • Lakota: Moon When the Deer Shed Their Antlers
  • Passamaquoddy: Frost Fish Moon
  • Shawnee: Eccentric Moon
  • Sioux:
    • Moon of Popping Trees
    • Moon When Deer Shed Their Antlers
    • Moon When Buffalo Cow’s Fetus Is Getting Large
  • Tlingit: Unborn seals are getting hair
  • Winnebago: Big Bear’s Moon
  • Zuni:
    • Turning Moon
    • The Sun Has Traveled South to His Home to Rest Before he Starts Back on His Journey North

Some of these names reference the effects of winter and snow.  Popping Trees probably refers to the way branches break under the weight of the snow.  And Evergreen Moon references the way that all the deciduous trees have lost their leaves by now.

Looking to my European roots for inspiration in naming the moon this time of year, we have rich Yule traditions from Northern Europe, the Saturnalia, and Sol Invictus among the Romans and the Winter Solstice celebrated throughout.  All of these celebrations contributed elements to the modern celebration of Christmas including evergreen trees, holly boughs, mistletoe, gift giving, caroling, wassailing, feasting, and the birth of the Sun/Son, and any of these aspects would work well as references for the December moon.  Call it the Wassail Moon, the Yule Moon, the Gifting Moon, the Christmas Moon, the Sun Return Moon, or simply the Winter Solstice Moon, and you can reference the rich traditions that have been celebrated for millenia among the caucasian cultures of the old world.

This idea of mingling elements of European and Native American traditions and cultures lies at the very heart of syncretizing a new view of the world, a new and rewilded culture with which to forge forward.  You can begin it with your calendar and your view of time.  Mark the spiral of your next year as I have marked the spiral of this one.  Notice the phenology of the world around you, the interplay of plants and animals with the seasons and weather, and give names to these events, to the moons, the seasons, the solstices and cross-quater days.  Celebrate the turning of the year and the points that mark each phase.  And then do it again the next year.  Rewild your calendar.


4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by pete on 12/14/2008 at 11:28 am

    Great post, this moon has really held my attention for the past couple weeks. Thanks Rix.


  2. I miss being able to see the moon well. City life just doesn’t afford the big sky view of Texas.

    Though I take a different view of these things than you do, namely:

    The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
    Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they display knowledge.
    There is no speech or language
    where their voice is not heard.

    … I do love the skies and their signs. And I enjoyed reading those names… especially the “unborn seals are getting hair” and “buffalo cow’s fetus is getting large”. Nice.


  3. Thanks for the comment, Pete.

    Jess, I still agree with that passage from Psalm 19, in fact it is definitely one of the passages that helped lead me out of christianity. I just happen to define “God” differently now. Regardless, though, few would dispute David’s claim of knowledge pouring from the skies.

    I love those Tlingit and Sioux names, too.


  4. Posted by Mikeharvey on 05/13/2010 at 4:33 pm

    Hey, from Toronto, Canada

    Just a quick hello from as I’m new to the board. I’ve seen some interesting comments so far.

    To be honest I’m new to forums and computers in general :)



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