Nature Wisdom: Musings on the Moon

Pat Tuholske

By Pat Tuholske

The sun has dipped beyond sight. First star lights appear overhead as the sky moves closer to the earth. Night awakens. The wind stills as shadowed hues appear around hills and leafless trees.

I search for its glow through the dense cover of trees. As it clears the forest canopy at last, I gaze up into its face, as if the answers I seek will be revealed. Mostly, I am deeply comforted by its presence and can’t resist the temptation to wander with the Moon.

Our human tribe has been regarding the Moon for millenniums – planting crops by its phases; harvesting and preserving foods; planning religious ceremonies; navigating the tides; observing fertility cycles; contemplating dreams and superstitions. 

The Moon is the most noticeable object in our night sky and was studied by ancient astronomers seeking to decode the mysterious universe. By the third century, Aristarchus estimated the distance between the Earth and the Moon with surprising accuracy at 239,000 miles. By the Middle Ages, astronomers had realized that the Moon was not luminous but reflected the light of the Sun. As the quality of telescopes improved, the Moon’s surface has been mapped in great detail. Modern space travel confirmed its composition is similar to our own planet and served to demystify the Moon. 

The few days when the Moon is not visible in the clear sky is called the New Moon. The Moon is between the Sun and the Earth and is imperceptible. The Moon rises and sets with the Sun and, even though we can’t see it, is in the sky all day. Ancients felt that no Moon represented the force of death and decay. I’ve always felt the New Moon is a good time to go inward and to cleanse unwanted trappings from my life – be they things, thoughts, feelings or even people.

The waxing Moon encompasses the first and second quarters – the phases during which the visible portion of the Moon is increasing towards full. We see this Moon as the crescent setting just before sunset and as the half Moon high in the south at noon. As the light grows, it’s a good idea to start new endeavors as the Moon’s energy may help to carry the project forward.

About two weeks after the New Moon, the Moon is opposite the Sun and we are blessed with a Full Moon. Nothing compares to a Full Moon rising as the Sun sets and it may startle you if it catches you unaware. I try to mark the occasion by sitting, waiting and watching for that orange orb to grace the horizon. 

This month’s Full Moon is called the Wolf Moon. Here in the Ozarks I like to think of the spirit of wolves who ran these forests are still here, still howling. I swear I’ve heard a lone wolf deep in the night. It seems that the Wolf Moon shines silver and brighter when snow blankets the ground casting tree shadows in a timeless dance.

We’ve all felt the affects of the Full Moon once or twice in our life. Its pull can cause a bit of erratic behavior, wild ideas and vivid dreams.

The waning Moon is seen as the visible portion of the Moon decreases towards the New Moon once again. The third and fourth quarters are the phases during which the Moon rises later each night and appears slimmer. It’s a good time to finish up projects and to be introspective. 

The Moon circles around the Earth every 28 days, giving us twelve Full Moons each year. However, every two to three years, we have thirteen Full Moons. The “extra” Moon is called a Blue Moon. 

You can view the Moon on any cloudless night even under strong city lights. Watching the Moon through each phase helps you get in touch with the natural cycles you are part of. It can be a constant during every phase of your own life and a catalyst to exploring the vastness of creation and the psyche of your spirit. Bathe in the moonbeams and remember you are part of something much bigger. Enjoy the dance.

See Pat’s Wild Wreaths, Twig and Feather Art crafted from Ozark native flora and fauna at WillowRainHerbalGoods.com and at Green Door Art Gallery. Check out her Field Journal for musings on the Human-Nature relationship.