We’ve gone pretty far afield these last couple days from the original intent of the October Thoughts.
Traveling in that big blue van with the one red fender through Wisconsin so long ago, these shared daily themes were simple: the color orange, those awful peanut butter taffies that ended up in your trick-or-treat candy when you weren’t paying attention, the full moon. We wrote no essays, we linked no websites. It’s a changed world.
Tonight is the full moon for October. I’m pretty sure this one is the Hunter’s Moon since September’s full moon was closer to the autumnal equinox, making it the Harvest Moon. No, I don’t keep this stuff in my head. I have to look it up every year. This year, I’ll even admit to counting on my fingers so I’m pretty sure I’m right. There: I’ve completely blown my cover and now y’all know I’m not really an expert on all things October. I’m only an expert on most things October.
The Farmer’s Almanac also refers to the October full moon as the Blood Moon or the Sanguine Moon which I actually prefer. Lends a little more drama, I think, especially when we’re moving into the part of October when we start gearing up for Halloween.
Sadly, this year’s Sanguine Moon is expected to be the smallest of the year, appearing 12.3% smaller than the full moon in March. The difference? a change in distance from the Earth of merely 30,000 miles. (Please note that the article linked here incorrectly identifies tonight’s moon as the Harvest Moon. Someone didn’t count on their fingers.)
The moon figures prominently in the rituals of many cultures but, with the passage of time, our more industrial world has moved away from looking to nature (and the phases of the moon) for guidance. The moon still has some pull (hello, semidirunal tide) and still holds sway over some religious holy days but, for the most part, it’s just another rock in the sky.
Pliny the Elder and Aristotle both argued that the moon made crazy even crazier. Because the brain is made of mostly water, it only made sense to them that, if the moon could affect the tides, it could obviously exert the same pull on the brain. Crazy? The full moon makes you crazier.
For a more contemporary pop culture reference to the effects of the full moon, we need look no further than the werewolf. We’ll leave our discussion of him for another day, but I will point to the December 2001 issue of the British Medical Journal where they presented two sides to the discussion of whether emergency rooms see more dog bite admissions near and during the full moon. There’s a ton of good stuff in there (as well as the tiniest bit of Brit humor) if you’ve got way too much spare time on your hands.
Happy October, people. Enjoy the Sanguine Moon.