Lunar Cycles

2023, a year of 13 moons

Women have a special connection with Grandmother Moon. She is associated with all the divine feminine qualities such as nurturing, intuitive, cooperative, being rather than doing, creative, emotional and focused on one’s inner world. And the energies our menstrual cycles (even when pre-menarche or post-menopause) are aligned with her months.

And let us remember that each of us has both the Divine Feminine and the Divine Masculine within us! And each of those parts of us has a unique relationship with the moon’s energies and qualities.

Raising our awareness to the moon’s cycles — and then charting our cycles of rest, energizing, peaking, waning and rest (again) — can help us understand how our energies align (or not!) with that of the moon, and help us plan the best time for our activities.

Our first lunar month

The coming new moon in Aquarius on January 21 at 20:53 UTC marks our first full lunar month in 2023, although that statement quite possibly reveals an inherent cultural bias! In most lunar calendars, the New Moon marks the beginning of the lunar month but that is not true for all. Some see the beginning of the lunar month as the Full Moon. 

Going down the rabbit hole . . .

Because a lunar month is a repeating cycle, perhaps we should start with a definition. So, what is a Lunar Month? Per TimeAndDate.com it is “the time it takes the Moon to pass through all of the Moon phases, measured from one New Moon to the next New Moon”. But that starting point is a choice. They key concept in the definition is going through all phases, from one phase to the next same phase. And that could be the Full Moon, the Waxing Crescent, or even the Quarter Moon (aka the Half Moon). 

Some Lunar calendars begin with the Full Moon. And even though many do start with the New Moon, that too has varying definitions. Most lunar calendars are aligned with the astronomical new moon, that time when Grandmother Moon is completely devoid of reflection of the Sun. For me, that is the Dark Moon, a time overlapping with the previous lunar month and the coming lunar month, and a time of rest and reflection. My New Moon is the first glimmer of the waxing crescent, when the moon is visible in the sky.

How do you measure the lunar month? And what do you name them?

Naming the Full Moons

Colleen Quinnell, The Old Farmer’s Almanac

Our ancestors were likely much closer to the changes of the Moon than most of us are today. The Moon — and the position of the sun, and the stars in the night sky — were their calendars and their guides for planning activities, especially Grandmother Moon herself as she moved through all her phases to create a “moonth”. And the 12 or 13 lunar months were very closely tied to Father Sun’s annual journey, the solar year.

Each New or Full Moon brought change, and was often a marker for activities such as planting, harvesting, composting, fishing, and hunting. The major phases within the lunar month were also important for farming activities, with certain activities conducted at the waxing phases (such as planting) and other activities at the waning phase (pruning, harvesting, etc). They named the Moons to differentiate each one throughout the year, typically a name that reflect their activities and/or the activities of the world around them.

Many of us are familiar with the Moon names from the North American First Nation traditions (as pictured above, sourced from The Old Farmer’s Almanac), but many (most?) cultures followed this practice.  The names reflected the traditions and beliefs of the culture, as well as some insight into what was happening with Mama Earth at that time (Moon of Ice, Sap Moon, Corn Moon, etc) in their locale. Some names, such as the Harvest Moon, reflected not just the time of year but an association with an astronomical events such as an Equinox (in this case, the Autumnal Equinox). 

I like to name my own Full Moons, as that name will reflect my locale, what’s happening with Mama Earth and all who inhabit her, and may also reflect my own activities at that time. For instance, I tend to think of the June Full Moon as Yellow Flower Moon, as I am harvesting St John’s Wort around the June solstice. August for me is Blackberry Full Moon, as that is when I start collecting wild blackberries. October is Mushroom Moon, as the landscape around me sprouts with all kinds of fungi!

What is happening around you at this New Moon? For me, it is the Witch Hazel moon as that is my earliest sighting of this winter blooming tree flower. 

How will you name your moons?

For me, the answer is simple: observe. Look around you. Raise your awareness to the cycles of nature in your locale, and consider the activities that you undertake each month. Perhaps you seed plants each year at the same time. Perhaps you go mushroom hunting in the autumn. Perhaps you gather tree fruits such as apples in autumn. Perhaps you harvest strawberries in early summer. Perhaps this month you are seeing the emergence of snow drops or a crocus.

Journal your observations and let them inspire your name for the lunar month (or just the full moon itself). And do cconsider how you can bring what is happening around you into your monthly soul work, rituals and practices.

One of my favourite ways of capturing my observations is by creating a phenology wheel. Click here or the image below to read more about phenology wheels and how to create them in the Inner Journey Events blog.

Oak Phenology Wheel per Partners in Place

Mark Your Calendars: Lunar Special Events in 2023 

Please note that all dates are for the UTC Time Zone. Visit TimeAndDate.com to view in your timezone, as these dates may shift a day in our locale.

How will you celebrate the lunar months?

What will you introduce into your practice?

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3 thoughts on “2023, a year of 13 moons”

    1. That one always makes me chuckle too! But I do remember, as a child, having what I used to call “wormy sidewalk months”. When the spring rains arrived, the worms would always be on the sidewalks / pavement in the puddles. Not sure why! Question for you… if my recollection is correct, you are in Australia? Are there moon naming traditions amongst to indigenous Australian peoples? Here in Canada, the names vary amongst various First Nations. I was just starting to research this and found a great resource for Maori lunar months but looking now for Australian references. https://teara.govt.nz/en/maramataka-the-lunar-calendar/page-1

      Liked by 1 person

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