If they say the Moon is Blue

We must believe that is true

Tomorrow, March 30, the Moon will be Full in Libra, at 01.25 pm, Wollumbin time. Some call this a Blue Moon, meaning that it is not the first and only Full Moon happening in the month of March 2010. We had already a Full Moon, in Virgo, on the First of March.

The popular tradition that states the Blue Moon to be simply the second Full Moon in a calendar month is apparently very modern and originated from a misunderstanding of its usage in the old Farmers’ Almanac by an American folklore expert in 1943! This wrong interpretation is now so widely accepted though that has become part of our modern folklore. It cannot pretend however to belong to any ancient tradition.

What is the real origin of this tradition of the Blue Moon then? And why is it Blue and nor Pink, for instance? And what could the astrological significance of a Blue Moon be? In this post i will try to answer at least the first question.

The term Blue Moon apparently comes from traditional Lunar Almanacs, that used to define in this way the third Full Moon in a season that contained four Full Moons. Let me explain: normally there are three Full Moons in each season, twelve a year. The lunar year of twelve New and Full Moons however is 11 days shorter than the Solar year of twelve months. This discrepancy causes an extra Full Moon to occur every two to three years (seven times in each 19 years cycle of Eclipses). In antiquity each Full Moon of a season had a special name, such as the September Harvest Moon or the July Hay Moon, but the Full Moons had also a more generic name, according to their seasonal sequence: the first Full Moon of the season was called the Early Moon, the second the Mid-Season Moon (Mid-Summer, Mid-Winter etc.) and the third was the Late Moon. When a fourth Full Moon occurred during one season, in order to keep the traditional titles in the proper sequence, the third Full Moon was called a Blue Moon. This meaning is very old, about 400 years, but the tradition itself is certainly older, because the ancient star gazers knew their Moon Phases and Cycles very well indeed and needed to account in some way for these odd lunations. All these extra Full Moons occur about a month before the Equinoxes and Solstices and not at any other time of the year (20-23 of February, August or November).

The need to identify every Full Moon with a specific name had practical reason for the Christian Church scholars who had the task of building the religious calendar in post-Roman times.The date of Easter  for early and modern Christians is based on the tropical (seasonal) year, not our modern year beginning in January, but one that starts on the 21st of March every year. This is the same year astrologers use to cast their horoscopes. This is the time of the Aries Equinox, when the Sun appears to cross the Celestial Equator moving North; one of the major seasonal festivals celebrated all over the globe since pre-historic times. It became the Passover and Feast of the unleavened bread to the old Hebrew tribes and Easter as the time of Jesus’s resurrection to the Christians. A specific Full Moon every tropical year was to set the timing for these festivities. In the Northern Hemisphere, where the tradition generated, this was the beginning of spring, time for those religious festivals and rituals that meant to assure the season’s renewal and fertility. The Christian Church needed to know when to begin the Lent period, those 46 days preceding Easter that were meant for fasting and purification before the new season arrival. Following clues in the Bible Easter has to occur after the 22nd of March (to make sure the Sun had crossed the Equator) but before the 25th of April (when the Sun is already in a new Sign, or seasonal portion of the year). Easter always is made to happen on the Sunday following the first Full Moon (known as Lent or Paschal Moon) after the Aries Equinox.

This late March Moon 2010 is our Lent Moon.

Read more about the Astrological Blue Moon in my next post.

Links to Articles on the Blue Moon:

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