Saturday, 9 November 2013

November's Moon Names: Beaver Moon, Frost Moon, Hecate's Moon

We have a full moon coming up on Sunday 17th November 2013. This full moon appears to be most commonly known as the Beaver Moon. There appears to be two possible explanations for this beaver Moon name. One is that November is a month when traditionally hunters would set traps for Beavers; the other is that November is a time of increased activity for Beavers, when they are busy rebuilding their lodges and dams. The Beaver is primarily nocturnal therefore it is fitting that the November Moon should be named after this fabulous animal. Beavers do not hibernate thus they need to be ready for the stark cold months ahead, this explains why they are very busy at this time of the year but also they grew a thick pelt of fur thus this was a prime time to catch them. Beavers were once hunted to the point of extinction in many parts of the world. Thankfully this is no longer the case as beaver hunting is now controlled but I still find it terrible that these creatures are still killed for their fur.
Another common name related to Beaver Moon is Hunters Moon. This is also used for the September Moon. This name is given because the moonlight is ideal for the hunters who frequently began their hunting season by autumn moonlight to begin building a supply for winter. At this time of year the moon is in the sky for longer as it rises closer to the time of Sunset. The shorter time between successive moonrises around the time of the Harvest and Hunter’s Moon is because the orbit of the Moon makes a narrow angle with respect to the horizon in the evening in autumn, leading the Moon to higher positions in the sky each successive day.
Another very common name for the November Moon is the Frost Moon or Frosty Moon. This is obviously named as November is the time on the Wheel of the Year when many parts of the world receive their first frost. We have still to have our first frost in my part of England, it seems exceptionally mild at the moment which is strange considering the cold winter we had in 2012.

There are many more names given to this November Moon, usually based on what nature is doing at this time of year.
Examples of names for the November moon around the world are:
American                  Beaver Moon
Chinese                    White Moon
Cherokee                  Trading Moon
Choktaw                   Sassafras Moon
Dakatah Sioux           Moon When Horns are broken off
Celtic                        Dark Moon
English                     Snow Moon
Pagan                       Tree Moon

In ancient Celtic practices this moon signaled the beginning of a new year because the Celtic year ended on the eve before Samhain (October 31st) and began again on the day after. It was considered a Moon month of beginnings and endings. The Druids called this moon the mourning moon as this was the time to remember our ancestors. Prior to the 1700s, it was a feast day in parts of Western Europe, perhaps in conjunction with the honouring of ancestors. Other societies celebrated their dear at this time too. Among the Incas it was a time of the Ayamarca, or Festival of the Dead.
November was the ninth month in the old Roman calendar. The goddess Hecate had many celebrations throughout the year, but November 16 was known as the Night of Hecate. Hecate is celebrated throughout Pagan religions as the Crone Goddess, Goddess of the night, ‘the distant one’, Queen of the Night, Goddess of the crossroads.  People who worshiped Hecate honoured Her by performing Magick and holding a supper at what they believed to be the Crossroads. Food was left there as an offering to her. Hecate was known to rule the passages of life and transformation, birth and death. Hecate’s Moon therefore could be an appropriate name for this November moon. Although strictly speaking Hecate is Goddess of the dark moon, I still think that Hecate’s moon is a good name for the full moon this year that is so close to her feast day.

The Chinese name of White Moon is possibly named for the Goddess Chang-O or Change’e. Chang-O is celebrated at the full moon closest to the Autumn equinox. Yutu is a white pet rabbit accompanying the goddess Chang'e on the moon in ancient Chinese myth, thus the name White Moon could come from association with this rabbit belonging to Chang’e the Moon Goddess.

What name would you give this moon in November? Perhaps you have a family tradition around this time of year or a particular plant that you see close by you?