The full moon has inspired us for as long as we’ve been bathing in its glow—poetry, music, books, and movies—oh so many movies. It’s a magical time of heightened emotions, manifestation, and potent creativity.
According to Kalia Kelmenson in Spirituality & Health, “When the moon is fully illuminated by the sun’s rays, the view from Earth is that of a complete orb, seemingly emitting its own light. Time spent under this reflected light of the full moon has the power to be transformational, intense, and inspiring. It can also add intensity to whatever emotions are living in you, so it’s helpful to be intentional about what you are focusing on.”
In this creation, everything is connected with everything else. The change in the phases of the moon represents the rhythm of life. These connections become obvious when we learn about the impact of the moon on water, as the tides rise and fall in alignment with its rays. The moon has been associated with the mind and emotions—lunatic, derived from Latin luna, from the belief that lunacy fluctuated with the phases of the moon.
In many cultures, the full moon is considered an auspicious time for spiritual practices like meditation and contemplation in large groups.
Ayurveda and the Moon
According to Ayurveda, the moon has a soothing and calming effect on the body-mind complex. It carries and reflects the sun’s light energy without its harshness, balances excess heat, and is also known to help in the treatment of certain illnesses and conditions like migraines, rashes, blood pressure, and inflammations.
The moon is also associated with the kapha dosha that combines water and earth elements. Though the moon affects our minds and emotional states across gender, it has a greater association with the feminine body and the menstrual cycle.
Moon bathing helps relieve signs of anxiety and stress and produces deep relaxation as it promotes the release of melatonin. It is also believed to help women regulate their menstrual cycles.
Read more about full moon and how it influences the body.
Where do full moon names come from?
Full moons got their names in ancient cultures commonly based on the seasonal transitions, fruits or flowers, or activities that remained popular at a particular time of the year, particularly in the Native American or North American cultures. Some have origins in names of the common tribes that lived in specific areas in the north. In fact, some of the Native American names applied to the whole month and not just the full moon.
The full moon that occurs in January, Wolf Moon, has origins in the Anglo Saxon lunar calendar. The name is derived from the wolves that howled louder and more noticeably at this time of the year for mating reasons. The Wolf Moon is also called the Old Moon, Icy Moon, or Moon after Yule since it comes right after Christmas and New Year.
The full moon seen in the month of February is the Snow Moon for the reason that it is the time when it snows the heaviest in the winter. It is also called Hunger Moon—because food gets scarce in nature during these months—as well as Chaste or Storm Moon.
If you have ever owned a garden, you probably know that March is the month when worms or larvae surface in nature, when winter is on a decline and spring is on the horizon. Other names for this month’s moon include Sugar Moon, Lenten Moon, Crust Moon, and Crow Moon.
The full moon in April gets its name from the early springtime blooms of a certain wildflower native to eastern North America: Phlox subulata—commonly called creeping phlox or moss phlox. Other names for April’s full moon are full of references to spring, including the Breaking Ice Moon, Sprouting Grass Moon, and the sometimes the Paschal Moon, the first full moon after the spring equinox that marks Easter.
The Flower Moon in May indicates the flowers blooming around this time of the year. It is also referred to as the Planting Moon because this is the time when the crop seed is popularly planted, and Egg Laying Moon, Frog Moon, and Moon of Shedding Ponies marking the arrival of spring in animal behavior. The Anglo-Saxon name is the Milk Moon because of its clear visibility and its rich white color.
The full moon in June is the Strawberry Moon, referring to the berries that grow this time of the year in the northeastern regions. It is also called the Mead Moon or the Hot Moon, given that the temperatures start rising around this time.
This July full moon gets its name from the antlers that start showing on the buck’s head. It is also called Hay Moon, Thunder Moon, or Wort Moon.
Named after the fish found in the lakes around places where Native American Tribes lived, the August full moon is also called Green Corn Moon, Barley Moon, or Grain Moon, all based on the dominant grains and cereals found at this time.
The Harvest Moon usually occurs around the equinox on September 22, when days and nights are equal. (Every three years, it occurs in October.) This is the time when the corn planted in May is harvested. The October full moon is also called Hunter’s Moon as tribesmen prepared for the upcoming harsh winter months by hunting, gathering, and collecting food. The October full moon is also called Sanguine Moon or Blood Moon, signaling the beginning of the fall months.
There is disagreement over the origin of November’s Beaver Moon name. Some say it comes from Native Americans setting beaver traps during this month, while others say the name comes from the heavy activity of beavers building their winter dams. It can also be called Frosty Moon, as nights get chilly this time of the year, as well as the Mourning Moon as it is the last full moon of the year before the winter solstice.
The December full moon is quite unimaginatively called the Cold Moon. The Anglo-Saxons call it the Moon Before Yule.
Then you have the Blue Moon, which is second full moon in a single calendar month (or third full moon in a season that has four) or the Black Moon that occurs once every 32 months.
The cycle begins with the new moon when the sun and Earth are on the either sides of the moon and the moon and sun are perfectly aligned. You cannot see the new moon from here on earth.
The waxing crescent moon is the phase when a sliver of moon is seen to the naked eye, reflecting some of the light of the sun.
Then comes the phase of the first quarter moon when the moon completes a quarter of its revolution around the earth. This is when we see exactly half of the moon, while other half of the moon remains in the dark, though you can make out the contours.
This is followed by the Waxing Gibbous Moon phase—the part of the moon that is visible starts to grow, culminating into a visible full moon.
It is this full moon that lights up the nights with its cooling bright quality. It presents an ideal opportunity for spiritual seekers to align their minds with the cooling energy of the moon by meditating under it.
Sharing the Experience
We’re both looking at the same moon, in the same world.
We’re connected to reality by the same line.
All I have to do is quietly draw it towards me.
—Haruki Murakami, author
That’s a lot of moon information, but here is the most amazing thing to think about: when you’re looking at the moon, you’re looking at the same moon every single human being—and animal and bird and insect and fish—who has ever walked this planet has looked at. It’s one of the few shared experiences for everyone who has ever looked at the night sky. That’s pretty incredible to think about; no wonder there is so much magic wrapped around the moon.