It’s that time again. I love full moons, and this Sunday, 12 March 2017 sees the third full moon of the secular year.
‘You have to be able to appreciate these things. How many people can say it was a full moon last night and appreciate it?’ Sandy Miller
Moon: This full moon will be in the constellation of Virgo, on the cusp of Leo, and in close proximity to the Virginids – a timely meteor shower that seems to originate (its radiant) from the constellation of Virgo. The moon’s brightness, however, may ‘overpower’ the meteors (expect about 5-10 per hour) and dull the spectacle somewhat.
To those of (medieval) England this full moon was/is known as the Lenten moon, to others it was/is known as the Chaste moon, or the Fish moon. To ancient and latter-day Celts, Christian Celts, Druids like myself, many know it as the Moon of Winds.
The full moon will be very near the bright star, Alaraph, sometimes called Zawijah. The name ‘Zawijah’ comes from the Arabic phrase meaning ‘corner of the barking dog’. That star is slightly larger and more massive star than the Sun, and is comparatively metal-rich (that is, it has a higher composition of elements heavier than helium).
‘The moon looks upon many night flowers; the night flowers see but one moon.’ Jean Ingelow
Planets: And, a few days later, for those interested in the planets, there is a conjunction of the moon with the planet Jupiter in the very early hours of 15 March.
Story: There are a number of fables and myths about the moon. Here’s one story from the Buddhist tradition, and which is prevalent in China, Japan, South and North Korea.
This tale is about a monkey, an otter, a jackal, and a rabbit who decided to extend charity on the day of the next full moon, believing they would receive a great reward. At that time, an old man met them and begged for food.
When the old man asked the monkey for food, it gathered fruit from a tree and gave it to him. The otter collected fish and presented them to the old man. The jackal stole a lizard and a pot of milk, and gave them to the old man. When the old man encountered the rabbit, the rabbit was embarrassed and upset that he only knew who to gather grass and believed the old man wouldn’t welcome that as food. Immediately, the rabbit threw himself into a fire – self-sacrifice, to provide the old man with some tasty food. However, the rabbit didn’t die, and wasn’t even burned!
The old man then revealed himself to be Sakra – the embodiment of the Universe or Heaven – and blessed the rabbit. In honour of the rabbit’s intention, Sakra drew the likeness of the rabbit on the Moon for all to see, for all eternity.
Though we look up at the full moon and see a benevolent face looking down at us, many Asian people see that rabbit. Interestingly, China’s first probe to land on the moon in December 2013 was called Yutu, translated as Jade Rabbit.
‘Praise Him, sun and moon; Praise Him, all stars of light!’ Psalm 148:3, The Book
Celebration: You may want to celebrate this full moon. I do, and I’d heartily recommended it. In many ways the best way to celebrate and/or give thanks is to go out and gaze in awe and appreciated the wonder of that full moon, and the One who made it, in the stillness of the night. But, in addition, you might like to:
- say a few words out loud or to yourself – perhaps one of the phrases/quotes in this article, in gratitude, or
- remember a loved one who has passed-on, and bless them, and remember good things about them, or
- send up good-thoughts or a prayer about an upcoming event or for someone known to you that might need energy, expecting the One Behind It All to hear and respond.
Ofcourse, you might like to (re-)arrange a home altar, and indoors (or outside) have a more elaborate ceremony. There are some occasions when this is good, but don’t feel that you have to do something elaborate. In many cases I prefer simplicity – realising that elaborate and wordy ceremonies can sometimes detract from simple, dare I say ‘child-like’, wholesome and deep praise of the moment.
‘When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the creator.’ Mohandas Gandhi