Blue Moon, as once in a blue moon!
That was a long wait for the rare celestial event called Blue Moon…Even though I knew that there’s nothing blue about it, the element of excitement was no less. This cosmic phenomenon took place on the 31st of July, but to my dismay a bunch of clouds got a bit too envious and hid the rising moon. I was quite fascinated by the various names given to the full moons by farmers and have been researching. In Cambodia it was a pleasure to marvel at the splendour of the full moons as the skies are vast and open. Here, in Saigon I got to see the blue moon late in the night.
The blue moon put high spirits in me …I was over the moon the next morning too!
A few days back I mentioned about July’s blue moon to my quick-witted sister and promptly she asked me, if Chandrettan would turn into Neelettan!! (whether big bro Mr.Moon would turn into big bro Mr.Blue)…
He DID NOT, but my foot and I did turn blue the next day!! The morning that followed the blue moonlit night started off as a normal one but turned out to be an eventful day as my right foot accidentally hit a sturdy sofa leg. My little toe got dislocated and the painful day ended up with a splint and a big fat wrapped up foot! Literally ‘dragging my foot’ I will have to ‘moon around’ the house and ‘moon about’ next couple of weeks. The distance from my room to the kitchen seems like moon miles now…
It is interesting that moon brings with it an array of meanings. ‘moon’ as in
‘ to act or wander listlessly’, ‘to remember nostalgically”, ‘to gaze dreamily’ or as in ‘mooning’ it means ‘exposing one’s buttocks/ the practice of exposing through a moving vehicle as a sign of protest’ (Lunatics aren’t they?!!)
It is August now, the month named after Augustus Caesar. The word august, meaning noble refers to ‘augury’ the act of telling the future, derived from ‘augurs’, the Roman sooth sayers….!
I came across this interesting definition ‘auguste’ that refers to a type of circus clown, who usually wears battered clothes and brings ill luck! My moon god! I sincerely wish that this blue moon and August would not bring me bad luck, with this battered looking foot of mine.
Strangely I feel like a Greek hero now… In place of an ‘ Achilles Feet’, I have this majestic ‘Auguste Foot’
What a start to this honourable, august month August!
The Moon is distant from the Sea –
And yet, with Amber Hands –
She leads Him – docile as a Boy~ Emily Dickinson
How poetically Dickinson has put forth the idea!
From time immemorial a magical, romantic fascination towards this bewitching silvery orb called Moon prevails among humans.
Greek philosopher Aristotle advocated that brain is the moistest part of the body hence the Moon that affects the ocean tides influences the human emotions too. Later many philosophers and psychiatrists favoured this view. The human body is said to contain 70-80% of water, hence some of them felt that the possibilities of moon playing some magical mischiefs on humans couldn’t be ruled out as the alignment of water molecules in the nervous system could be disrupted by moon.
Slowly, silently, now the moon
Walks the night in her silver shoon;~ Walter de la Mare
As the moon triggers the emotions in an illogical and irrational way people fall in love, and become ‘moonstruck’ during full moon time, romantics and poets affirm this!
Next time check out the ebb and flow of your emotions around the full moon time. Experts say take note of your moods and behavior with the changing phases of the Moon (seriously!).
Shakespeare in his Othello says:
‘’ It is the very error of the moon
She comes more near the earth than she wont
And makes men mad’’
‘There must be a full moon out there’ …
It was a clichéd phrase those days ‘There must be a full moon out there’ when something unnatural and weird happens at night! People believed in ‘The Transylvania effect’ or ‘Lunar lunacy effect’ when humans were transformed into vampires and werewolves during full moon day!
That thought gives me a creepy feeling…Let me move on to some happy moon tales now…
A day time moon-softly shining on the deep, dark blue
To the Greeks, the Moon goddess is Selene ( hence, Selenography and Selenology). She is one of the Greek triple Goddess of the Moon, Artemis – Waxing Moon, Selene – the Full Moon and Hecate – the Waning Moon. In the maiden-mother-crone aspects of the Goddess. Selene is the mother Goddess, Artemis is the goddess of hunting and wilderness and Hecate the Crone is the goddess of witchcraft and magic.
For the Romans, moon goddess is Luna a name that is familiar as the prefix of the words ‘lunatic’ -a person of unsound mind, ‘lunacy’ -insanity. Goddess Luna can drive people mad. The symbols of Luna are the crescent moon and the two yoke chariot.
In Indian mythology, among hundreds of our gods, Moon is Chandra, a male god. He was born, along with goddess Lakshmi when the Ocean of Milk was churned to get ‘Amrit’ ( the nectar of immortality). The crescent moon adorns the matted locks of Lord Siva. When we were children at the sight of the first crescent moon, after the dark phase we used to look up and recite,
Ksheera saagara sampanna/Lakshmi priya sahodara
Haram makuta vaasanam/Baalachandra namo namah:
[ Oh young lord Chandra, who was born of the Ocean of Milk (who spreads the milky moonlight), who is the brother of goddess Lakshmi, the one who adorns Lord Siva’s head, I bow to thee]
and offer a white thread to the baby moon, symbolic of white cloth to the new born lord and also to thank his benevolent presence. He is a pleasant god, pleasing, friendly, radiant and handsome; favourite god of moony eyed lovers and poets. He has that family-member-kind of an aura about him, and children of our generation have heard him being mentioned as Ambilimama or Chandamama (Uncle Moon).
He has many names Soma, Sasi, Shashank (as a hare is believed to sit on his lap-shasham= hare, ankam= lap), Thinkal to name a few. He is the god of vegetation and fertility, he rides an antelope. Monday is Moon’s day. Women fast on Mondays to please him and Lord Siva.
Another hymn in praise of Lord Chandra is
Dadhi shangha thusharabhaam/Ksheerodaarnava sambhavam
Namami shashinam somam/Shambhor makuta bhooshanam
(I greet you lord Soma, who resembles the colour of yoghurt, conch shell and snow, who rose from the Ocean of Milk and who adorns Lord Shiva’s head, my salutations!)
Moon plays a major part in Indian traditions, festivals, astronomy and vedic astrology. It is believed that the movement of the sun, the moon and seven other planets across the lunar and solar houses plays an important role in the destiny of man.
First glimpse of this year’s moon – in Saigon (Jan’15)
Like other celestial bodies moon travels through the solar houses as well as the lunar houses. Moon’s orbital period is 27 days. In mythology Moon is married to 27 nakshatras, daughters of Daksha (the 27 lunar mansions). Rohini, ( the lunar house Taurus where he is exalted) is his favourite and he waxes as he gets closer to her and wanes as he goes away from her. On the 28th day when he is alone without the feminine presence, the sky is dark.
There’s one day when no one wants to look at the handsome moon; that is on Ganesh/Vinayaka chathurthi day. The story goes like this, once Lord Ganesha, so fond of food and sweets, was returning after a sumptuous feast at Kubera’s house. On his way back he tripped and fell. An embarassed Ganesha looked around to check if someone had seen him falling down. The Moon, Chandra Deva, brightly shining in the sky could not suppress his laughter at this sight. The hot -tempered Lord Ganesha cursed him that on that particular day, whoever sees the moon would have to experience baseless allegations and disrepute the entire year. The spotlessly bright moon god got his blemishes on that day. On Ganesh chathurthi day we never ever dare to look up the sky!
Let me move from mythology to some full moon facts I gathered from the old farmers’ almanac.
The full moon of May 4th of this year was the second full moon since the spring equinox on March 20. This moon is commonly referred to as the ‘Flower Moon’ or ‘Planting Moon’. I hardly thought I would enjoy a moon rise so splendid in Saigon! I stood agape at the bright orange coloured moon! What a sight to marvel at!
“The moon, like a flower
In heaven’s high bower,
With silent delight
Sits and smiles on the night.”-Blake
I was over the moon when I could click this splendid Flower moon!
The first Blood Moon of this year happened on the total lunar eclipse day, and that was in April. A blood moon is when Earth comes in between the sun and the moon. The moon appears to be red as the sun casts a red shadow on the moon. I was in Kerala and I could enjoy the orange red moon rise standing in front of our home ‘Kousthubham’. The whole atmosphere felt so still and chilling. All my clicks went haywire and the images were out of focus! But I could capture the red hue.
It was one of the four tetrads of the 21st century, that is four of the total lunar eclipses (blood moons) in a series ( April 15, October 8 2014 and April 8, September 28 of 2015)..Verse 2:31 of Book of Joel prophesies the moon turning red before the dreadful day of the Lord!
Blood Moon, April 8, 2015
The Blood moon that went out of focus!
The first blood moon of the series of four, on the 8th of October 2014 too was equally eerie!
“Harvest moon” is the name given to the September full moon because it was said to light farmers’ fields allowing them to work into the night at harvest time. This one coincided with lunar eclipse. In India too the harvest festivals occur in September.
The moon is hidden by a silver cloud, fair as a halo —Christina Rossetti
Harvest Moon…September 8, 2014
The full moon of June 2014 , Strawberry Moon was also called a ‘spooky Moon’ as it coincided on Friday the 13th!! The next full moon to fall on Friday the 13th is not expected to occur until Aug. 13, 2049, that is after 35 years!! That makes it extra spooky. It’s also called the ‘Honey Moon’ because of its honey or amber colour.
Shine on, Honey Moon!
I really loved the soft and ethereal ‘Frosty Moon’ of November 5th, 2014, seen through the bamboo foliage in my backyard…
Buck moon or Thunder moon of last July
Buck moon, as bucks begin to grow new antlers and Thunder moon as thunder storms frequent this month.
That was a lengthy piece of lunar musings. Ironically my post on radiant full moons looks pitch dark and eerie on my blog page because of the theme settings! Nevertheless, here’s to many more resplendent moonlit skies, followed by radiant and splendid dawns!
[Articles referred: ‘Lunacy and the full moon’ and ‘Blood Moon Prophecy’]