Monday, February 9, 2009

The Pull of the Moon

The moon woke me up today. It must be full. Sometimes it's like the moon comes right into your room and flicks on the hormones. Humans see a man in the moon. Does that mean bees see a bee in the moon? Not that they are nocturnal creatures, but they do spend a great deal of their time in the dark. They are affected by the moon as much as any creature is, which is to say in a mysterious way that we probably know nothing about. The lunar calendar acknowledges the development of the seasons in a more direct way than the Gregorian calendar, which is based on that old drama queen, the sun. Ancient civilizations and indigenous people used round calendars to mark time, acknowledging its cyclical nature. Many people had names for the moon in each month that describes a phenological marker.

Here is a list of names for the February Moon from some native American tribes from

Algonquin: Ice River is Gone Moon
Abenaki: Makes Branches Fall In Pieces Moon
Northern Arapaho: Frost Sparkling in the Sun Moon
Assiniboine: Long Dry Moon
Cheroke: Bony Moon (lack of food means people make bone soup)
Eastern Comanche: Sleet Moon
Cree: Eagle Moon
Haidi: Goose Moon
Hopi: Month of Purification and Renewal
Inuit: Avunnivik
Kalapuya: Atchiulartadsh--Out of Food
Kiowa: Little Bud Moon
Lakota: Moon when the trees crack because of the cold.
Mohawk: Enniska-- Lateness Moon
Muscokee/Creek: Wind Month
Omaha: Moon When Geese Come Home
Passamaquoddy: When the Spruce Tips Fall
Pima: The Gray Month (when trees are bare and vegetation is scarce)
Potawatomi: Rabbit Conception Month
Shawnee: Crow Moon
Central Shoshoni: Coyote Moon
Sioux: Racoon Moon/ Moon of the Dark Red Calves
Tewa Pueblo: Moon of the Cedar Dust Wind
Tlingit: Black Bear Moon
Winnebago: Fish Running Moon
Wishram: Shoulder to Shoulder Around the Fire Moon
Yuchi: Wind Moon
Zuni: No Snow in Trails Moon

As you can see, these names are poetic and poignant. We have lost so much of this sensitivity to the seasons and the natural world that comes from truly living off the land. It must has been a hard life, especially in months like February in some of the colder parts on North America. The people would have really depended on each other in February, standing shoulder to shoulder around the fire, eating bone soup, giving each other the strength and courage to go on.

One of my favorite all time haiku books is Haiku Anthologie Canadienne: Canadian Anthology edited by Dorothy Howard and André Duhaime. It contains poems by a variety of Canadian artists in French, English, and sometimes Japanese too. It contains a lovely moon poem by Irene G. McGuire:

power failure moon rise

panne d'electricité lever de lune

Here, the loss of electricity suddenly draws the writer's eye to the natural source of light, bringing her close to nature and the beauty of a winter moon. Take time to go out and look at the moon tonight.

3 degrees Celsius, mostly cloudy, Pressure: 101.44 kPa

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful. There's found poetry there.

    Long Dry Moon.

    That's me.