Pray to the Moon when She is round,
Luck with you will then abound,
What you seek for shall be found
On the sea or solid ground.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Poetry for the Esbat: From Corn Moon to Wyrt (Wort) Moon 2012

"Luna" by Coffea at DeviantArt.
"Luna" by Coffea at DeviantArt. See her lovely gallery here.
Look closely & you'll see I am not the only creature who prays to the Moon.

Another Esbat. Round & round we go.

Last year, I called this Moon the "Corn Moon" like all the rest of the sleepy sheep. But I have been having a bad taste in my mouth for corn ever since I saw the film "King Corn" & with my mind towards bioregional Moon naming, I decided to rethink the "Corn Moon." I realize that the people who gave it this name originally were growing their own (maize more likely) & that they did it more sustainably as a community/for the community, not as a cash crop. But, with all these weird genetically modified plants & whatnot, I cannot help but look at that box of corn cereal on the kitchen counter with a certain amount of distrust. The corn just has to go.

Before I get to the renaming, let us take a look at the variety of titles bestowed upon this August Moon. Last month, I used thematic categories to list & organize the various names given to the Moon. This worked well for me, so I am going to go ahead & do it that way again. My sources are listed below.* 
Mertensia paniculata Lungwort or "Bluebells"
Mertensia paniculata
Lungwort or "Bluebells"
  • Foraging, Wild Harvest & Ripening related names are abundant, much like the gifts of this season & fruits reign supreme. Thus, some call this the "Fruit Moon," but others are more specific; "Black Cherries Moon" or "Moon When the Cherries Turn Black," "Berry Moon" or "Berries Ripe on Mountain Moon," or "Blackberry Patches Moon." There's also "Plum Moon" & less specifically, "Big Ripening Moon" or "Moon of the Ripening." "Wyrt Moon" or "Wort Moon" is my personal favourite because it emphasizes the abundance of medicinal plants during this peak season. 
  • Agricultural/Cultivation related names are relatively numerous for this month's Moon, most of which involve the popular "Corn Moon" & its variations; "Corn is in the Silk Moon," "Moon of the Green Corn," "Moon When Indian Corn is Edible" & "Green Corn Moon." Other agricultural names include the "Grain Moon" & "Big Harvest Moon."
  • Weather as a theme is already generally bioregion-specific, of course. This month there is quite a variety of such monikers. In the Carolinas this is the "Drying up Moon," while in the Great Basin, some very appropriately call it the "Hot Moon." In some regions it is called the "Full Red Moon" because of the reddish hues of this Moon as seen through a sultry August haze. More generally, we find the name "Lightning Moon," since this is the season of thunderstorms & monsoonal rains across much of North America. (Well, perhaps not so much this year.)
  • The Seasonal/Temporal names all point to the summer ala "Summer Moon," "Midsummer Moon" & "Middle of Summer Moon," "Moon of the Middle," (I presume this is a temporal reference) & "End of Summer Moon." 
  • The most widely-used name involving Wildlife is "Sturgeon Moon." The Farmer's Almanac attributes this name to the fishing tribes of the Great Lakes area where this grand & sizeable fish can be most readily harvested at this time of year. Waterfowl also contribute several lunar names this month. In the Great Plains, this is the the Moon of "Geese Shedding their Feathers" or simply, the "Feather Shedding Moon" & in the Northern Plains & Canada, some call it the "Moon when Ducks Begin to Fly." 
  • Finally, the Regionally/Culturally Specific Moon Names are as diverse as the people who gave them. For the Abenaki of Northeast Maine, it is the "Cutter Moon" & the Mohawk of the Eastern Woodlands, this Moon is the "Time of Freshness."  The Haida people here in Alaska call it the Moon of "Cedar Bark for Hats & Baskets"  & for the Hopi, it is the "Moon of Joyful" which just makes for the best name of all. If you are aware of others, please add them below. 

Northern Red Currants, Ribes triste, still ripening
Northern Red Currants,
Ribes triste, still ripening
Getting back to assuming our own bioregional Moon names & more specifically, this Alaska in August, I will have to say that there is nothing up here that conjures feelings, thoughts or images of corn. The berries are not ready yet either. However, right now this place is about as green, lush & overgrown with wild & weedy denizens as it gets. Thus, I am going to embrace the "Wort" or "Wyrt Moon" moniker for August's Esbat in Alaska. My inspiration came from this delightful webpage, The Season of the “Wyrt Moon”  which has a brief discussion of the Moon being named for healing & medicinal plants. It also has the following statement, which sounds like something I just might be inclined to say:
"You may have noticed that many herbs share similar properties... but each blend includes different mixes of plants. And, what is really in those blends? What if one of the herbs in that blend disagrees or is harmful for your individual body chemistry? Wouldn’t it be a more holistic approach, to deepen the connection with one particular plant, rather than choose a random blend of herbs? The relationship that you make with your wyrt is as important as the properties it holds." -- from The Season of the “Wyrt Moon” (emphasis mine)

Plants are rife at this time in Alaska. I have been working on learning some of the native worts & the weedy exotics as well. Knowing that I am easily distracted by fungi, I have made a modest commitment to get to know a handful of plants this season. This makes the name "Wyrt Moon" not only bioregionally appropriate, it also makes it a great affirmation of my present goals. 

Boschniakia rossica,  Broomrape or Ground Cone.       
 Boschniakia rossica,
Broomrape or Ground Cone.
Matricaria matricarioides, Pineapple Weed or  Wild Chamomile.
Matricaria matricarioides,
Pineapple Weed or
Wild Chamomile.
Geranium erianthum, Cranesbill or Wild Geranium.
Geranium erianthum,
Cranesbill or Wild Geranium.

The Moon. Deck Unknown.
The Moon. Deck Unknown.
This month's Tarot card has no relationship to worts, corn, goals or really anything already previously discussed. I selected this deck to pair with the poetry, both of which I chose nearly a month ago -- long before I had this "Corn Moon" vs. "Wort Moon" internal dialogue. The poem comes from a quirky book & is of unknown origin. The deck is also quite quirky & of unknown origin. There are no publisher's markings on the cards or box, no dates & it has no name. It is very simply called "Tarot." The artwork is mediocre in my opinion, but I purchased the deck anyway because I was a library fundraiser & I thought the cards might lend themselves well to a collage project or something. I am including images of the box & the High Priestess card to help in identification. If you know anything more about this deck, please leave me a note. Otherwise, I will wonder forever & how annoying is that?

The High Priestess, Deck Unknown"Tarot" box
 The High Priestess card & "TAROT" box. No name Tarot cards. How odd.

At last we arrive at the poetry. I have a fetish for the 'old' (this is relative, of course) "occult" books & I obsessively collect them. It does not really matter to me if they have trashy, embarrassing covers or are poorly written, pulpy, sensational, politically incorrect, cheesy or even creepy. I love them all. Except when I don't, but that happens only on very rare occasion. I recently had the good fortune of acquiring a copy of The Witches Workbook : The Magick Grimoire of Lady Sheba (a composite book akin to the Farrar's Witches' Bible Compleat, this book was previously published as Witch and The Grimoire of Lady Sheba). I am thinking that I might have had this great luck once before & have since forgotten that I already bought it, but that happens to me a great deal. Regardless, I am so pleased to have it in the queue at the bedside. 

Browsing through the pages I paused to read "Sourahaddio: Ode to the Moon." What a lovely, silver-tongued tribute to Lady Moon. What a very peculiar place to find it. It is inserted almost as if Lady Sheba, aka Jesse Wicker Bell, threw it in as an afterthought. Tacked onto the end of a chapter covering alphabets & runes, it follows the "Remnants of the Witches' Language" but precedes the Newport cigarette advert. Quirky, no?

Lady Sheba takes no credit for the poem herself, only commenting that: "This was a gift from a sea witch to an English witch to me." I tried to find more source information for this ode, but only found a single mention of it on the internet. This was on a popular social networking page where the poem was posted in full with the author listed as "A Sea Witch." I take this to indicate that the poster of the ode had also taken it from Lady Sheba. So, if you know anything more about this poem, please do tell. Otherwise, this will be yet another annoying thing for which I have no answers. 

All the quirky, unknown-ness aside, please do enjoy the poetry... & the Esbat.

Sourahaddio: Ode to the Moon

The Moon hath laid her light
In this fair place.
There lingers well the dewy Rose,
She lays her petals to the Earth,
And all the world
Sleeps in silent contemplation.
O Sourahaddio, Sourahaddio,
Thou art not so deniably unerring
That thou cans't not yet turn thy face,
Thy lovely face,
Towards the Denizens of this Earth.
Give us thy peace,
That we may be at one with Thee.

Blessings to you this Esbat, my friends.

*Unless otherwise stated, the Moon names listed come from the following sources: Farmers' AlmanacWWUPNASA, FAandPP SPACE.

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