Creating your own Full Moon names
It’s always nice to add a bit of full moon work to your Tarot rituals (or Tarot work to your full moon rituals!) or even just celebrate a new moon phase with a nice image on instagram. Yonks ago, I found a common set of full moon names in the Farmers’ Almanac and pretty much stuck with them until a couple of years ago when it really began to feel uncomfortable for me.
The reason for my discomfort was that the names I was using were the full moon names used by the Algonquin who are native peoples of Canada.
Now, *holds hands up peaceably* I’ve not really been a big believer in cultural appropriation – honestly you can hail from anywhere in the world and your husband can wear my national dress to a wedding and I will be thrilled to see him do so, not insulted. I do not get my (French?) knickers in a twist when a burlesque stripper does a routine dressed as a French Maid and who is not actually French. And hey, I’m Scottish so my national symbols are things like – kilts, heather, Robert Burns, haggis, shortbread, Irn Bru, deep-fried Mars Bars, tartan and bagpipes. Truly, it’s my opinion that the more we share cultural reference points, the harder it will be for horrible people to neatly divide us up and persecute one group over another. Cultural reference points are learning and teaching opportunities too, so really, I’m pretty happy when I see my national symbols being used (in a good way!) all over the world (Hello Burns Societies!). Your experiences may lead you to believe entirely the opposite is true. That’s also cool. Like I said, this is just my opinion. Mostly. Until it wasn’t.
In taking the Algonquin tribal names and applying them to my own moon work, jeez, that just didn’t feel right AT ALL. I asked myself, why am I using the Full Moon Names of a people that I have absolutely no interaction or link with? Is it because they have been used for a long time by these folks? But what is authentic for them or my American cousins, is not for me. Their lived experience is not mine. I live on a tiny island off the west coast of Scotland; it does not feel authentic for me to co-opt their culture and history into my practices. What common point has a Sturgeon Moon for me? Well, that’s maybe a bad choice, seeing as how our First Minister is called Sturgeon, but you get what I’m driving at!
This led me down the rabbit hole of exploring other cultures’ names for the Full Moons – and they are indeed very beautiful and lovely, but they are still not mine. There are, of course, Celtic names for Full Moons, but I think they are Druid Revivalist names (ie not that ancient). But I haven’t researched them extensively, so am prepared to be corrected. Feel free to shout out.
Eventually I decided to come up with my own Full Moon names so that they are authentic to me because they reflect the natural world around me, just as the Algonquin names reflect the seasonal markers in the natural world around them.
It took more than a year for me to come up with the names because I wanted something that marked the month, exclusively for that month, preferably from the natural world – and I am notoriously fickle when it comes to journalling, so some months were a bit of a blank lol!
For example, where I live, the trees around me begin to shed their seeds in August (2019, 2020 and 2021 at any rate) so the August Full Moon is for me ‘Tree Seed Moon‘. Thus my Full Moon names really do act as a kind of calendar for me – just as they probably did to the original users because they are based on my own experience of my own environment. However, if you live farther south than me or in a different hemisphere, your Tree Seed Moon might not be August – it’s not one size fits all. Likewise, if you live on the coast, your natural reference points may be vastly different to someone who lives inland.
Create your own Full Moon Names
Have you considered creating your own Full Moon Names? If not, and you fancy creating your own personalised Full Moon Calendar, why not start right now?
The key question that I asked myself was: ‘what is absolutely beginning this month or happening only during this month‘.
Keep them private to you, as part of your magical workings or even just as part of your nature journalling calendar.
If you use the Wheel of the Year, you could give yourself a head start and call eight of the moons by the Festival held that month – February’s full moon would be the Imbolc Moon, June’s the Litha Moon or Summer Solstice Moon etc. But if you DON’T use the Wheel of the Year (because hey, that might not feel authentic for you, in your part of the world!) pick another method of naming them; this is all about creating something that is useable by YOU, meaningful to YOU. Not something that you are going to have to google every time you need to refer to it.
And if you don’t want to rely on the natural world for your Full Moon Names, and the Arts (for example) are important to your inner world, use them. I could absolutely call August’s Full Moon ‘Festival Moon’ because the Edinburgh Festival (and our own island Crime Writing Festival) does indeed take place every August.
Despite it no longer meaning what it used to mean, I still use Blue Moon if there are two full moons within a month. I call that second full moon a Blue Moon. Why? Because I like the name and because it has to be a name that can slot in at any part of the year. Blue will do just fine.
If you use astrology, you can work out what House the Moon is in when it is full. For example, in the UK this year, the September Full Moon falls on 21 September 12.54am, the day before the Autumn Equinox so it’s going to be pretty potent for work! ** Note: I originally wrote this post in early September 2021, but didn’t post until November 2021 **