Celebrate May’s Full Moon


According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, today is the night and day of May’s full moon. The May Moon is known as the Full Flower Moon, in the moon naming tradition that was used by the Native Americans, largely Algonquins, who lived in the Northeast U.S., from New England to Lake Superior in the Midwest.

The Full Flower Moon received its name because of the abundant flowers that carpeted the land during its time. It’s also been called the Full Corn Planting Moon and the Milk Moon.

I’ve long been quite entranced with the full moon names and their variations. Of course, they reflect both the need to mark passing time and the way that time was experienced by people who were living close to the land. Lunar time-keeping pre-dated our modern calendars (and some calendars, like the Jewish and Chinese calendars, are still lunar-based.) The Farmer’s Almanac has a good list of Native American full moon names and how each came to be.

Other, even older, cultures have had moon naming traditions, too. This site lists full moon names from Chinese, Celtic, Pacific Island, Native American, Pagan, and other cultures.

Lots of people garden using the phases of the moon. The good news is that there isn’t one best time to plant — Each aspect of planting has an associated moon phase, based on how much moisture is pulled up through the soil by the monthly pull of the moon (much the way the moon influences the tides.)

The time just after the full moon is an especially good time for planting root crops, as the gravitational pull is high (adding more moisture to the soil) and the moonlight is decreasing, contributing energy to the roots. For this reason, the waning moon is also a good time to plant bulbs and transplants.

One great moon is known to all farmers, late September or early October’s Harvest Moon (also known as the Blood Moon, Blackberry Moon, or Hunter’s Moon), which traditionally shines its all-night beacon to help farmers gather their crops. In the Northern Hemisphere, it happens to be an especially close, bright moon, in addition to sometimes lighting up the sky for days. I wrote about the Harvest Moon here.

The Farmer’s Almanac offers a wonderful moon phase calendar for the U.S. that allows you to plug in your location and get the exact time of your local full moon.

Enjoy the Full Flower Moon!

Photo: Matthias Kobel

3 responses to “Celebrate May’s Full Moon

  1. yes, the moon names and hist are interesting. sailor’s moon is around the time of the harvest moon – possibly an alternate name. it’s orange, due to hanging low on the horizon.

    i still remember a large moon one nite at lincoln ctr. it was a summer evening, and the moon hung low, by the bldgs (which it sometimes does in there) amplifying its size. lincoln ctr was having an outdoor swing dance. it was one of those rare and magical nites. a midsummer’s eve.

    this is the moon immortalized in “moonstruck”.

    this may moon has an unusually large pull. probably why u were inspired to write about it. i’ve been feeling it all this week. it’s a high nrg summer moon. the waxing period of the moon is an optimal time to get things accomplished. the waning period is optimal for review & finishing old projects.

    western society was on a lunar calendar until pope julian instituted the julian calendar, which we still use. probably part of converting the pagans. (sun = son, symbolically: julian calendar is solar based). our biorhythms are pegged to the moon (women like their menstrual [some young women call it their moon time] to be in sync with the moon). its unnatural for our bodies to follow a solar calendar (julian). and it doesn’t work perfectly, as seen by the leap year.

  2. Great blog post. I love Farmers Almanac & get them on Twitter also!

  3. Hello Kath and Weekend Cowgirl — fellow full moon and Farmer’s Almanac appreciators! I’m back after a long Memorial Day weekend with family and friends and thrilled to be greeted with your nice comments.

    Kath, I remember some huge orange moons, too, looming seemingly right at eye level. The Harvest Moon was that way, here, last October.

    The moon never fails to be alluring to me, in all its varieties, mysteries, and changes .

    That’s also really interesting about this May full moon having a particularly strong pull. It seemed to be on a lot of people’s minds this year! I hope to absorb some of it’s get-the-project-done energy — but then, I could use that most any time.

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