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Why the 21st of January IS NOT a “super blood wolf moon”

You have probably seen the posts being shared regarding the upcoming “super blood wolf moon” on the 21st of January, and as usual people are getting excited about “what it means” and planning rituals, but have you ever stopped to think why is it called a super blood wolf moon? Is that name meaningful to your practice, or is it misleading? From a druid perspective, and indeed I would suggest the vast majority of other people too, the name is entirely superficial. Let us dissect the name and see what it means to us in our quest for knowledge and truth.

Super moon

A super moon is when a full or new moon occurs at or near the point on the moon’s ecliptic orbit around the earth, where it is closest to the earth. This is a term used to describe the moon’s apparent larger appearance during the full or new moon. Not forgetting of course that the new moon is not visible as it is too close to the sun and appears in the day.

What we are really trying to say is that the moon is at its perigee. The Moon’s orbit around Earth is elliptical, with one side closer to Earth than the other.

This results in the moon appearing up to 14% bigger and 30% brighter when compared to a full moon at Apogee (when the moon is furthest away)

The question at hand is this. If we already have perfectly good astronomical terms for when the moon is at it’s maximum and minimum distances, why do we need new terms such as “supermoon” and “micro-moon”? Don’t they sound just a little bit superficial and sensationalist?

Blood Moon

The term blood moon, which simply refers to a lunar eclipse was popularised by two north American Christian fundamentalists, Mark Blits and John Hagee. During a lunar eclipse, the moon can appear reddish due to the way the light shining on the moon passes through the Earth’s atmosphere. They believed that the 2014–15 “lunar tetrad” of four lunar eclipses coinciding with the feasts of Passover and Tabernacles matched the “moon turning to blood” described in the Book of Joel of the Hebrew Bible. This tetrad was claimed to herald the Second Coming of Christ and the Rapture as described in the Book of Revelation on the date of the first of these eclipses in this sequence on April 15, 2014. As far as we know this has not come to pass.

Although many cultures have stories around the moon turning red, it was not known as a blood moon before Mark Blits and John Hagee’s books. By continuing to use the term, we are perpetuating a failed fundamentalist Christian apocalypse prediction. The term has effectively been picked up by the media who have then forced it onto the pagan community who, for the most part accepted it without question.  The correct term is simply “lunar eclipse”.

Wolf Moon

We can’t be exactly sure of the origin of the term “wolf moon”. It is possible that it was in use in both North America pre-colonisation and in Europe, but I believe that it is more likely that the origin has become confused and lost. Some claim that it originated with the North American tribes, and was adopted by the settlers. Others claim the settlers took it with them from Europe and the term is Anglo-Saxon in origin, and used during the medieval period. The earliest recorded Anglo-Saxon name for this moon/month was recorded by Bede in his 8th Century work “On the Reckoning of Time”. In it he states that the Old pagan name for this moon is Giuli or “The moon after Yule”. The origin of the term is certainly confused at best.

The truth is that many cultures that have tried lunar calendars have their own names for the Moons. So, what makes the name wolf moon so special? Are you guilty of blindly appropriating the term from another culture? It is a hard question to answer when we can’t remember the origin. But we can perhaps look at the names of the moons in other traditions that might fit better with our own practice. Here are just some of the moon names from around the world starting with the moon after the winter solstice and excluding the 13th month.

Colonial America Cherokee Choctaw Gallo-Roman (Celtic) Hindu Chinese Old Farmers Almanac /Algonquian Anglo-Saxon
1st Moon Winter Moon Unolvtana
(Cold Moon)
Hash Haf (Sassafras Moon) Giamonios
(Winter?)
Pausa Holiday Moon Wolf Moon After Yule
2nd Moon Trapper’s Moon Kagali
(Bony Moon)
Hash Chaf Iskono (Little Famine Moon) Semiuisonna
(Before Spring?)
Magha Budding Moon Snow Moon Month of Cakes
3rd Moon Fish Moon Anvhyi
(Strawberry Moon)
Hash Chaf Chito (Big Famine Moon) Equos
(Horse?)
Phalguna Sleepy Moon Worm Moon Month of Goddess Hretha
4th Moon Planter’s Moon Kawohni (Flower Moon) Hash Mali (Winds
Moon)
Elembiuos
(Deer?)
Chaitra Peony Moon Pink Moon Month of Goddess Eostar
5th Moon Milk Moon Ansgvti (Planting Moon) Hash Bissi (Blackberry
Moon)
Aedrinios
(Fire/Heat?)
Vaisakha Dragon Moon Flower Moon Three Milkings Month
6th Moon Rose Moon Dehaluyi
(Green Corn Moon)
Hash Bihi (Mulberry
Moon)
Cantlos (Song?) Jyaistha Lotus Moon Strawberry Moon Before Calm
7th Moon Summer Moon Kuyegwona (Ripe Corn Moon) Hash Takkon (Peach
Moon)
Samonios
(Summer?)
Asadha Hungry Ghost Moon Buck Moon After Calm
8th Moon Dog Days Moon Galohni (Fruit Moon) Hash Watallak (Crane Moon) Dumannios (Dark/Smoke?) Shravana Harvest Moon Sturgeon Moon Weed Month
9th Moon Harvest Moon Dulisdi (Nut Moon) Hash Luak Mosholi (Green Corn Moon) Riuros (great/big/sturdy?) Bhadra Chrysanthemum Moon Harvest Moon Harvest Month
10th Moon Hunter’s Moon Duninhdi (Harvest Moon) Hash Koinchush (Wildcat Moon) Anagantio (unknown) Asvina Kindly Moon Hunter’s Moon Winter Full
11th Moon Beaver Moon Nvdadegwa (Trading Moon) Hash Koichus (Panther Moon) Ogronnios
(cold month)
Kartika White Moon Beaver Moon Blood/Sacrifice Month
12th Moon Christmas Moon Vskihyi
(Snow Moon)
Hash Haponi (Cooking Moon) Cutios
(Unknown)
Agrahayana Bitter Moon Cold Moon Yule

This is of course only a small selection of moon names attributed to different cultures. In some systems the name “blood moon” is used for some of the autumn moons. In a few years’ time as the lunar nodes rotate and we start to see eclipses in the autumn will we get a “super blood blood moon”?

Conclusion

The important point here is not to just accept the terms blindly. Is it really a super blood wolf moon, or is it a giamonios perigee eclipse? It would seem to me that they are both valid within the context of their culture. The problem is that by allowing the media to pick up on these terms and sell them back to us we are not in control of our own practice. We are allowing the media to dictate to us the terminology we use to discuss our own practice, removing our own ownership over our own beliefs. And when we accept this, we appear superficial, ill-informed and we leave ourselves open to accusations to cultural appropriation. When the next “super blood wolf moon” comes around, stop for a moment and think. What does that really mean in my practice?

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