Is it Really a Blue Moon? What is a Blue Moon anyways?
So this year there’s been a lot of hype about the fact that we have 2 Blue Moons. So I decided that I’d like to connect with you all because while that statement is technically correct, there’s a story behind that you may find interesting.
As an initiated and practicing Wiccan High Priestess, my own practice has brought me into a deeper connection and desire to understand the cycles of the moon. From the personal connection to the astrological and astronomical perspectives, there is just so much to be interested in and learn!
Most of us are familiar with the phrase ‘once in a blue moon’ signifying that something occurred that was uncommon but not unheard of. Blue Moons happen once every 2-3 years so we know that they occur, just not with enough frequency to be considered normal from our scope of time.
Today, there are 2 commonly accepted definitions of a Blue Moon. One is called a Seasonal Blue Moon and the other is called a Monthly Blue Moon – this is the one that most of you are familiar with. A Monthly Blue Moon is when 2 full moons occur in one month. Given that a complete moon cycle is 29.5 days, there is the odd month where this occurs such as this past January when the 2 full moons happened in January, skipped over February entirely (in some parts of the world) and now in March we once again have 2 full moons.
In places like Australia however, the full moon did occur in February…so how could it be a Blue Moon in some parts of the world and not others?
This is where things get interesting…
What many of you don’t realize is that the Monthly Blue Moon is actually a definition by surrender. The Monthly Blue Moon is a mistake (yes, a mistake) that has been repeated and perpetuated so many times that astronomers stopped trying to correct it. It originated with a magazine article and the mistake was repeated on television and in the Trivial Pursuit game. As you can tell, the mistake was perpetuated to such a degree that for most people, this is the only definition that they know!
So if the Monthly Blue Moon is a mistaken definition, then what did a Blue Moon mean originally?
The Seasonal Blue Moon is the original definition and because of the relative amount of knowledge needed to understand what it really is, I can see why not many people are familiar with it. I will do my best to explain to you. Given that a moon cycle is 29.5 days that generally leaves us with 12 full moons in a year with an extra 11 days going into the new cycle. The original definition of a Blue Moon has to do with the seasons that are established by the equinoxes and solstices.
12 full moons / 4 seasons = 3 full moons per season
These full moons have names such as Strawberry Moon, Wolf Moon, Sap Moon, etc. These names helped us to understand where we were at in the cycle or Wheel of the Year (as it’s called in the Wiccan Tradition). These full moons (as understood by their names) have traditional activities and events associated with them as dictated by their place in the Wheel of the Year.
Every once in a while there comes a season with 4 full moons instead of 3. If we continue to name the full moons in order, we throw off the order and start to do things out of alignment with the seasons. As the 3rd full moon in that season with 4 is the one that throws the others off, it was given the name of Blue Moon to indicate that it was the extra of the season.
So a (seasonal) Blue Moon put very simply is the 3rd full moon in a season with 4 full moons.
So while we have 2 Monthly Blue Moons this year, we do not have a true Blue Moon. In fact, the next (seasonal) Blue Moon does not occur until May 2019!
So like I mentioned, while technically correct that the upcoming full moon on March 31st is a Blue Moon – it is a Monthly Blue Moon. So if you really want to cause a scandal, correct people and tell them it’s not a Blue Moon…because that is technically correct as well given the original context and meaning of the term.
Just wanted to put that out there…more info on the Libra Full Moon coming up soon!