If you can see it through the smoke tonight, take a gander skyward at the Corn Moon, reaching its full glory at 12:04 a.m. Pacific Time. Why corn? According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, September is historically harvest time, for both corn and barley.
Connecting the moon with agriculture, moisture and weather changes (not to mention odd behavior) dates way back. First-century Roman naturalist and naval commander Pliny the Elder wrote in his Natural History that the moon “replenishes the earth; when she approaches it, she fills all bodies, while when she recedes, she empties them.”
Native American nations with strong cultural connections to nature named full moons for crop harvests, animals, and other earthly cycles. September’s full moon is also called “Moon When the Plums Are Scarlet” (Lakota Sioux) and “Moon When the Deer Paw the Earth” (Omaha Nations). The year’s other moons are:
October: Full Hunter’s Moon, which lasts from sunset to sunrise, a well-lit night for hunters to obtain winter’s store. September’s is often also the Harvest Moon (nearest the autumnal equinox), but in 2017 this occurs in October.
November: Full Frost, or Beaver’s Moon, when American colonists and Algonquin tribes set beaver traps for a supply of winter furs before the swamps froze.
December: Full Cold Moon, when winter firms its grip.
January: Full Wolf Moon, when wolves could be heard howling from hunger.
February: Full Snow Moon, for the obvious reason.
March: Full Worm Moon, when the earth softens and worms reappear, inviting the return of migrating birds.
April: Full Pink, or Sprouting Grass, Moon, for new growth.
May: Full Flower, Mother’s Moon, or Full Planting Moon — by whatever name, a time of fertility.
June: Full Strawberry Moon, the year’s smallest, which signaled ripening fruit.
July: Full Buck Moon, when a buck’s antlers are in full growth. Also called Thunder Moon, for rainstorms.
August: Full Sturgeon Moon, when this fish is easily caught in the Great Lakes.
Each moon phase also impacts nature differently. The period from each full moon through its last quarter, or the “dark of the moon,” is said to be a good time to kill weeds, thin, prune, cut timber, and plant below-ground crops.
The new moon and first quarter, or waxing phases, are considered fertile and wet — good for above-ground crop planting. They’re also called the “light of the Moon,” which is probably when those Buffalo Gals came out dancin’.
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Sholeh Patrick is columnist for the Hagadone News Network who loves corny old songs and Indian folklore. Contact her at Sholeh@cdapress.com.