Gleðilegt Fullt Tungl!
(“Happy Full Moon” in Icelandic)
Welcome to Issue 4 of Volume III of the Earth, Moon and Stars blog!
(Formerly the Full Moon Lore newsletter.)
Historically, the Algonquin tribes from New England on west to Lake Superior kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to the recurring full moons.
North American indigenous peoples speaking the Algonquian language historically called the April full moon the Pink Moon…
…because this full moon heralded the appearance of the moss pink, or wild ground phlox — and thus spring — because phlox is one of the first spring flowers.
Other peoples named this month’s full moon Sprouting Grass Moon, Seed Moon, Waking Moon, and—among coastal tribes—the Fish Moon, because this was the time that the shad swam upstream to spawn. The English called it the Egg Moon.
[Refs: The Old Farmer’s Almanac. Wikipedia. Obscure Names.]
THE PASCHAL FULL MOON
The April full moon this year is also the Paschal Full Moon — the first full moon of the spring season. The first Sunday following the Paschal Moon is Easter Sunday, which indeed will be observed the following Sunday, April 24. (See Determination of the Date for Easter below for more details.)
April’s full moon:
Monday April 18 02:44 UT (Sunday April 17 10:44pm EDT, 7:44pm PDT)
May’s new moon will occur Tuesday May 3 06:51 UT (2:51am EDT)
May’s full moon will occur on Tuesday May 17 11:09 UT (7:09am EDT).
Passover: begins at sundown Monday April 18
Easter: Sunday April 24
The major moon-related celebrations this month include the Jewish festival of Passover and the Christian holiday of Easter. Even though most people in Western countries are familiar with these holidays, I present a brief synopsis of each below, followed by an explanation of how determination of their calendar dates relate to the moon’s cycle.
Passover (or Pesach in Hebrew) is a major Jewish festival commemorating the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, as recorded in the Book of Exodus in the Torah (the Jewish bible).
The Hebrew word pesach means “to pass over”. During Passover Jews take part in a ritual meal known as a seder, which incorporates the retelling of the story of the Exodus and of God’s deliverance from bondage in Egypt when the Angel of Death “passed over” the houses of the Israelites. Hag HaMatzah (Feast of Unleavened Bread) and Yom HaBikkurim (Firstfruits) are both mentioned in Leviticus 23 as separate feasts; however, today Jews celebrate all three feasts as part of the eight-day observation of Passover.
The Torah refers to this festival as Chag he-Aviv, or the Festival of Spring. The holiday also celebrates the birth of the Jewish nation after being freed by God from slavery in Egypt. Today Jews all over the world take this time to celebrate and thank God for being able to observe their religion freely. On a more spiritual level, many Jews make the holiday relevant to today by celebrating the freedom from the bondage of a worried and anxious mind that reliance on God provides.
Determination of the Start of Passover
The Hebrew calendar is a lunisolar (lunar/solar) calendar, used in modern times to determine when Jewish holidays occur (and for some other liturgical purposes). The Torah dictates that Passover is to begin at sundown on the evening before the 15th day of the month of Aviv/Abib (now called by its Babylonian name Nisan), which is the first month in the Hebrew calendar. Since each Hebrew month begins on a new moon, Passover always begins on the night of the full moon in Nisan. While this is usually the first full moon following the Spring equinox, it is sometimes the second one.
The reasons for the “sometimes” are somewhat complex, since they relate to the age-old attempt to keep lunar calendars more or less in line with the seasons. Because the seasons are determined by the Earth’s journey around the sun, and not in any way by the Moon’s revolution around us, attempts to reconcile solar calendars with lunar calendars have always been approximate at best.
Whereas the Hebrew calendar was originally observational, based on a number of factors that were used to empirically determine when Spring had actually arrived, this practice ended back in 350 CE when Hillel II standardized the Hebrew calendar to be fixed by mathematical calculation.
The Christian holiday Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ following his crucifixion, and is the oldest and most important annual religious feast in the Christian liturgical year. In a larger sense, Easter celebrates the triumph of the new life of Spring over the death of Winter, both literally and figuratively.
Easter also refers to the season of the church year called Eastertide, or the Easter Season. Traditionally the Easter Season lasted for the forty days from Easter Day until Ascension Day but now officially lasts for the fifty days until Pentecost. The first week of the Easter Season is known as Easter Week or the Octave of Easter. Easter also marks the end of Lent, a season of fasting, prayer, and penance.
The earliest known observance of Easter, called Pasch, occurred between the second and fourth centuries. These celebrations commemorated both Jesus’ death and his resurrection at once, whereas today these two events have been split up between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
Determination of the Date for Easter
For Western churches, Easter is calculated as the first Sunday after the paschal full moon, which occurs on or after the vernal equinox. If the full moon falls on a Sunday, then Easter is the following Sunday. The holiday can occur anywhere between March 22 and April 25.
The Western church does not use the actual, or astronomically correct date for the vernal equinox; instead it uses a fixed date (March 21). And by full moon it does not mean the astronomical full moon but the “ecclesiastical moon”, which is based on tables created by the Church. These constructs allow the date of Easter to be calculated in advance rather than determined by actual astronomical observances, which are naturally less predictable.
The Council of Nicaea in 325 established that Easter would be celebrated on Sundays; before that Easter was celebrated on different days in different places in the same year.
The Eastern Orthodox Church uses the same formula to calculate Easter, but bases the date on the (older) Julian calendar rather than the more contemporary Gregorian calendar that is most widely used today.
Unlike the Western Church, the Eastern Church sets the date of Easter according to the actual, astronomical full moon and the actual equinox as observed along the meridian of Jerusalem, the site of the Crucifixion and Resurrection. Consequently, both churches only occasionally celebrate Easter on the same day.
The Connection Between Easter and Passover
The Jewish holiday Passover and the Christian holiday Easter have been intertwined ever since the Last Supper which, according to some versions of the story, was a Passover seder. The Last Supper took place just before the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, thus interlocking the two holidays. The word Pasch, from the Hebrew for Passover, came to mean Easter (Pascha) as well.
Christian celebrations of Easter were originally tied to Jewish celebrations of Passover. Similar to Passover as a celebration by Jews of their deliverance from bondage in Egypt, Easter for Christians is a celebration of deliverance from the bondage of death and sin. Jesus is the Passover sacrifice, and since in some narratives of the Passion the Last Supper of Jesus and his disciples is a Passover meal, Easter can be seen as the Christian Passover celebration. Both holidays resonate with the celebration of new/everlasting life.
ASTROLOGY and FOLKLORE
In her Planetary Cycles column in the Life Connection magazine, Carola Eastwood has this to say about this month’s full moon:
A full moon in Libra on April 17 sheds light on our progress with clearing up old business and completing projects and communications. The sun illuminates our path, revealing the future direction our life will take through flashes of insight and attunement to higher knowing. Somehow, the resources and connections needed for fulfilling our goals are simply provided; we are “in the flow”. The full moon brings the promise of successful outcomes for those following their highest truth and taking appropriate action.
See Carola’s full Planetary Cycles article for lots more good stuff.
Carola Eastwood provides in-depth personal astrology readings that open the doorway to fulfilling your life-purpose. Her office is in San Marcos. 858/259-1590. www.HumanDesignForUsAll.com.
Molly Hall’s full moon page this month is titled:
“Full Moon in Libra – Walking Your Talk”
Here are some excerpts. (Link is below.)
The Libra full moon in ordinary times might be one to celebrate all things artful and harmonious. It’s a peak when the instinct to balance out relationships is strong. But this is also an extraordinary time of choice. We can re-create the old dramas, but with dangerous intensity. Or we can choose to see the blank canvas, and our freedom to draw forth new possibilities.
That makes this a powerful time to trust what’s originating so strongly, from your own instincts and innate intelligence. It’s here you’ll find your treasure, your faith, viable pathways.
Use this full moon to tune in to your inner navigational system, and be brave in making changes that keep you aligned with it. Get past OMG and WTF, to making a commitment to being present to this remarkable moment.
Here’s wishing you and yours a most blessed Springtide, however you may celebrate it. See you for the full moon in May!
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INTENTION FOR THIS EARTH, MOON AND STARS BLOG
The Earth, Moon and Stars blog is published once each full moon with (hopefully interesting) facts and lore about our moon and other sky phenomena. My wish is that you will have fun learning a bit more about our one and only natural satellite and how all of us — people, animals, plants, water, even rocks — are affected and connected by her.