Supermoons, Eclipses, and Blood Moons, OH MY!


lunar eclipseLast night’s lunar eclipse was beautiful and the astrology and astronomy-buff in me would like to explain a few things to help clear up some stuff I’ve seen being circulated around the web:

Sometimes the moon is closer to earth and sometimes it’s farther away. When it’s closer it’s called perigee. When it’s farther it’s called apogee. This happens because the moon’s orbit around the earth isn’t a perfect circle. It wobbles, based on the gravity from the earth and sun pulling it one way or the other. When things are closer they can appear larger, which is where the Supermoon name comes from. This is actually pretty common and happens frequently in lunar cycles. It’s still very impressive when it does occur, but it’s not an “Ooooh… ONCE IN A LIFETIME!!” thing.

In my opinion, calling it a ‘Supermoon’ sounds less magical. I’m not a fan of the term because I prefer calling it the ‘perigee’. This could be because one of my favorite movies as a kid (when I wasn’t busy with my nose in a book) was “Bedknobs and Broomsticks.”  Hearing the witch Eglantine Price, played by Angela Lansbury, recite the chant that turned a roaring lion into a bunny convinced me those words were important and coming across them in other things, like my astronomy books and star charts as an excited 10-year-old, locked it in my mind. So, later when I explored Witchcraft, I knew this was good stuff.


I also hate shoddy work, Eglantine. 🙂

The next Lunar Perigee Full Moon is… wait for it… NEXT MONTH IN OCTOBER!! (the 27th) It’s not an eclipse, but it is another “Supermoon”.

In January 2018, we will be treated to some impressive lunar activity as well. We will have two full moons in that month. This means the second full moon is a Blue Moon. A Blue Moon is the second of two full moons occuring in the same calendar month or fourth full moon occuring in a season, depending on your preference for calculation. This second full moon will also bring on a total lunar eclipse (so watch for BLUE BLOOD MOON hype — that should be fun. The first full moon of January will be another perigee or Supermoon. So, yes… these events happen regularly.

The next “Supermoon Bloodmoon” eclipse will be in eighteen years, not 30, or 50, or 500 as I’ve seen being touted around the internet.

The term ‘Blood Moon’ also has a specific meaning to folk magicians and Witches and it doesn’t necessarily mean the time of a lunar eclipse. In my training and education, I learned that a Blood Moon is the full moon closest to Samhain (Oct. 31-Nov.7, depending on different traditions and ways of calculating the date) and has to do with the agricultural timeframe of culling herds in preparation for winter or hunting because the crops were all but completely harvested by this time. In fact, in most traditional folklore and practice it was considered terribly uncouth to harvest anything from the fields on or after Samhain. The spirits and fae own those crops after Samhain and consider it theft if humans claim them. Perhaps this is part of the origins of spooky stuff surrounding Halloween.

The full moon of September is typically called the Harvest Moon, because it provided abundant light for farmers who were working hard to bring in their crops before the frost started, or in smaller circles, I’ve heard it called the Deer Moon.

During a lunar total eclipse, the entire moon is covered by the earth’s shadow. The shadow appears as a darkish red-brown because of earth’s atmosphere. The same principle puts all the pretty colors in the sky for a sunset. It’s the way the light from the sun bounces through our atmosphere on earth before hitting the moon. Since the eclipse is earth’s shadow over the moon, our atmosphere gives it that particular hue. This is what typically happens during a lunar eclipse and is not a rare phenomenon. You’ll see it pretty much every time there is a lunar total eclipse unless there’s something else funky going on with the atmosphere.

Lunar eclipses, either total or partial, happen ALMOST EVERY TIME that there is a full moon. They might not always be visible from the same places on earth, but by virtue of what an eclipse IS, happen frequently. So, no, it has NOT been 30 years since the last one — as we had three eclipses last year, (remember all the crazy hype about those?) the most recent being in April, 2014.

There is one particular FACT about lunar patterns that I enjoy: It takes 19 years for a moon to cycle through phases (new, crescent, quarter, full, etc.) and end up in the same phase on the same day. This means that the next full moon that will take place on September 27th won’t happen again until the year 2029. This is called a Metonic Cycle. It’s not precisely exact, because the calendar we use is a solar-based one, not lunar-based, but you can expect that in the short span of a human life, it’s going to fall into this nineteen-year holding pattern.

There is no universally accepted belief among magical practitioners as to what an eclipse (solar or lunar) means. Just as there’s really no universally accepted meaning among believers of any of the world’s religious or philosophical traditions. Last year the eclipses were viewed as signs the earth would end, that a spiritual awakening would occur, that aliens would return to reclaim their offspring and make contact with us (or was that supposed to be Jesus?) and a bunch of other stuff. What is universally accepted is the sense of wonder and beauty that these events evoke. Being able to look at the sky and watch phenomena like an eclipse or a planetary conjunction is breath-taking.

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Please don’t clutter these spectacular events with nonsense and diminish it with unresearched babble.

Learn the truth of these occasions, how they occur, when they occur, and then determine what you think the purpose or meaning is — if any. And if you don’t subscribe to any particular mystical feeling about eclipses or full moons or anything, at least look into when they happen so that you aren’t passing along misinformation.

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