As we all know, this Thursday, as being New Year's Eve, is also hosting another event: a Blue Moon. We all know that a Blue Moon is when a 2nd full moon occurs in the same month, but what about the term, "once in a Blue Moon"?? I found a great article over at Suite101.com, that explains some of the lore of this phenomenon.
According to folklore, the term "blue moon" has been around for at least 400 years. The earliest known reference to this lunar event referred to an unlikely occurrence or something that could never happen. Over time the expression has evolved to mean something that rarely, if ever happens, thus the expression "once in a blue moon" became common place.
What is a Blue Moon?
Contrary to the name there is no physical difference in appearance during this lunar occurrence, the moon does not actually appear to be blue. According to most sources, a blue moon occurs when there is a second full moon in the same calendar month. But there are a few sources out there who claim that originally the name blue moon was given to the third full moon in a season where there were four full moons. A blue moons cycle is approximately once every two and a half years.
This lunar event occurs because a complete lunar cycle, the time between the new moon and a full moon, is 29.5 days. Since each calendar month is a little longer than the moons full phase, the full moon occurs little earlier than than the previous month. Approximately every two and a half years, there is a month with two full moons. The second full moon is called the blue moon.
Once in a Blue Moon
The origin of the term "blue moon" is not truly known but is steeped in folklore and its meaning has changed several times. Historically, each full moon throughout the year was given a folk name to help people remember to prepare for the upcoming season.
For example, the name harvest moon was given to the full moon that occurred closest to the autumn equinox. This usually occurred at the peak of harvest and the light of the full moon allowing farmers to work late into the night. This also signaled the time to gather the season’s harvest and to prepare for the upcoming winter.
Many folktales place significance on the blue moon. According to some folktales during a full blue moon, the moon was said to have a face and talked to those in its light. Some pagan beliefs hold the second full moon in a calendar month holds the knowledge of the Goddess and contains very powerful three-fold the energy of a regular full moon. Special rites and rituals were held only on a blue moon night.
Sill other traditions believe the different moon phases represent the transition of knowledge within the Goddess. The maiden is represented by the quarter moon, the new moon represents the mother goddess and the full moon the grandmother goddess or crone. When the blue moon enters a cycle it is said to be the transition of the crone to the divine level of existence or the great transition.
When is the Next Blue Moon?
The next blue moon will be visible on December 31, 2009 – New Year’s Eve. The next time this beautiful celestial event will occur is in the year 2012.
Very rarely there will be a year of two blue moons. Due to February being a short month, this event usually occurs during the months of January and March. The last time there was a year with two full moons was back in 1999. This rarity is not scheduled to happen again until the year 2018. The following dates are when the next blue moons are scheduled to occur.
- 2009: December 31 (Blue Moon on New Year's Eve)
- 2012: August 31
- 2015: July 31
- 2018: January 31 March 31(Two Blue Moons in One Year)
- 2020: October 31
Astrology and the Full Moon
Astrologically the energy of the full moon works to integrate and harmonize the contradictions in the self and others. During a full moon, the seeds sown at the last new moon are ready to be harvested and utilized. Traditionally, the full moon is seen as a time for meditation and particularly for personal issues and global concerns.
During the blue moon this vibration is said to be three-fold. In some cultures the second full moon was considered a very holy and auspicious day. A time when the veil between heaven and earth is thin and the ability to communicate with the gods and goddess is very powerful. It is considered a very spiritually significant time for prayer and meditation going back thousands of years.