The Super Wolf Moon earlier this month lived up to its hype. That was the week Michael Wolff published his Fire and Fury — unleashing a political feeding frenzy that very much evoked the “wolves” that gave this Moon its name. Full Moons are illumination time and the revelations of that week rocketed the book to the top of the world’s best seller list. Technically — another Full Moon in January means another Wolf Moon — and once again, Wolff’s book is making the news after Hillary and other celebs read from it on the Grammys.
This Wolf Moon could be even noisier. It’s an eclipse. Notoriously, during eclipse periods, occurring twice a year, what’s been in the shadows is revealed. The air is jittery and unsteady. Unconscious material erupts into awareness. Yet we’ve seen so much of that already! So many secrets and so many shadows have erupted onto the world stage over the past year, it’s hard to believe we can still be surprised by more of them!
We’ll see. The eclipse is the source of the “Blood Moon” nickname. During a lunar eclipse, the Moon often turns a reddish hue. “Blood Moon Eclipse” is repetitive but not necessarily violent.
Yet is it “super“? The last two Full Moons have been “super” (occurring when the Moon is at her closest to earth or perigee). These are extra bright nights, when the Moon draws so near. Some say this Full Moon is a such a lunation. But the purists at Farmer’s Almanac recently drew the line. The Moon’s perigee and the Full Moon need to occur within 24 hours of each other. This was true for the last two months, but not for this Full Moon.
What about the “blue” part? Here’s where I draw the line.
A Full Moon is supposedly “blue” when it’s the second Full Moon in a calendar month. This happens once every two to three years, which may or may not be rare enough to deserve the cliche, “once in a blue Moon.” But you won’t find much about Blue Moons in spiritual or ceremonial histories. That’s because they’re man-made, not Moon made.
The first to use this term for the second Full Moon in a month was James Hugh Pruett in a 1946 issue of Sky & Telescope. Unfortunately he got it wrong — among the Maine farmers whose tradition he was sharing, the fourth Full Moon in a season was considered blue. Pruett invented something with neither history nor lineage.
Either way–as the second Full Moon in a month or fourth in a season–these aren’t unusual moments in nature. Luna has never culminated twice in a single Moon cycle, nor will she do so in the future. Blue Moons are simply a gift (or curse) of the Western calendar, which is disconnected from natural cycles.
Honestly, the only reason I think we still care about Blue Moons is that hauntingly beautiful Elvis song. If there’s a sacred ceremony that’s appropriate for this lunar holiday, it should definitely include sitting in moonlight–perhaps eclipse gazing if your locale allows it–while playing that Elvis song. And now, with so many digital resources, you have no reason not to. Keep calm and enjoy the show.
If you’d like to go beyond Moon hype and create an authentically soulful relationship with the natural cycles of Sun and Moon, try my monthly Moon Workshop — enroll here.