Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Hunter's Moon

In spite of, (or more likely, BECAUSE of) our modern books, and calendars and websites I am woefully ignorant of the progression of astronomical events in the night sky. It was different for the native people of old and for the rural people of not so long ago. A full moon allowed for activities that would be impossible on a dark night and, so, was worth planning for. In certain useful realms of learning, whether it was the behavior of animals, the healing qualities of plants, or the movement of the moon and stars, individuals in pre-literate cultures possessed a level of knowledge that far exceeded the knowledge of most contemporary individuals.

I’ve been studying the names that have been assigned to the full moons of the year and expect to have more on that lush poetry in a later post. Today is the day of a full moon, in this case the Hunters’ Moon, which is the first full moon following the Harvest Moon, the Harvest Moon being the full moon that occurs closest to the autumnal equinox.

Farmers could continue to bring in their crops, working well into the night under the light of the Harvest Moon. By the time of the next full moon, dwindling leaf cover made it easier to hunters to track their prey throughout the night.

[See the comment below from Anita, and link over to a lovely site - "Beyond the Fields We Know" - for DOZENS of alternate names for the Hunters' Moon. http://kerrdelune.blogspot.com/2008/10/hunters-moon-of-october.html
As I've started to explore this matter of naming the full moon, I'm amazed at what I'm finding. More to follow...]

Traditionally, the Hunters’ Moon was celebrated with feasting throughout Western Europe. Even today, one American community observes “The Feast of the Hunters’ Moon.” The Tippecanoe County Historical Association sponsors the event near West Lafayette, Indiana as a re-creation of the annual fall gathering of the French and Native Americans which took place at Fort Ouiatenon, a fur-trading outpost in the mid - 1700s.

Tens of thousands of people turn out for the feast each year. The 2008 celebration took place on September 27-28, but in 2009 it will be on October 10-11. Though I’ve never attended “The Feast of the Hunters’ Moon” I do have fond memories of the Wabash River, and wouldn’t mind returning there next October for what sounds like a fun time.


Anita said...

Thanks for posting the poem I'd have mmissed it otherwise.

Cate at Beyond the Fields We Know (http://kerrdelune.blogspot.com/2008/10/hunters-moon-of-october.html) has a post up about the Hunter's moon, complete with names. (There are others, one a month or so, but you'll have to look back through her archives to find them.)

The Appalachianist said...

Glory be to it! I may have missed the Hunters Moon, but I Bear Hunt all next week.