The Significance of the Moon & Stars to Native Americans

by Rose Kerr
The seasons come and go with some help from the moon.

The seasons come and go with some help from the moon.

Native Americans live in close symbiosis with nature. Their culture, customs and traditions are all an ode to nature. They understand the importance of respecting life and try their best to co-exist with all life forms on Earth. The moon and stars have a special significance to Native Americans.

Significance

Native Americans used the moon to tell time by counting from one new moon to the next, known as a lunar cycle. Native Americans assigned names to the moon for each month to keep track of the seasons. Each name is a symbol of what the moon meant to Native Americans by virtue of its use, guidance and influence in their daily lives.

Winter Moons

In December, the full moon is named "The Cold Moon" or the "Full Long Nights Moon." This is the time when the nights are dark longest and the days are coldest. January is named the "Wolf Moon" because during the cold nights wolves would howl hungrily outside the Native American villages. February's moon is the "Snow Moon" because at this time the native places were hit with heavy snow falls. At such time, both humans and beasts had to go hungry, for hunting was difficult.

Spring Moons

The March full moon is named "Crow Moon" because, as winter ends, the crow is known to caw as if wishing goodbye to the cold weather. This moon is also known as "Worm Moon" because it is at this time that the birds start catching worms. The full moon in April is named "Egg Moon" because of the spouting and renewal of the nature. The May full moon is aptly called "Flower Moon." Native Americans believed that during this month, the flowers grew and danced at night in honor of the moon.

Summer Moons

The June full moon is known as "Strawberry Moon," for this is the season when strawberries ripen and are plucked. The natives believed that picking strawberries in the night would ensure a bountiful crop in subsequent years. "Thunder Moon" is the name given to the full moon of July. At this time, there were many thunderstorms. Also, at this time the buck deer would start forming its antlers; hence the name "Buck Moon." August's full moon is known as "Red Moon." The moon in this month is not only huge but also reddish as it reflects the rays of the sun, even at night.

Autumn Moons

The September full moon is known as "Harvest Moon," for it is during this month that most of the crops are harvested. "Hunters Moon" is the name given to the full moon of October, when foliage is full grown and the deer would be plenty and slow to move. November's full moon is called the "Beaver Moon" because the beaver population peaked during this month, and natives would set traps to catch them.

Stars

The meaning of the stars might not have been easily understood by non-tribal people. Natives used the stars to tell time, navigate the rivers and seas and predict the future. However, from studies of the drawings and interpretations of historians, it may be inferred that the natives thought of stars as the spirits of their ancestors and they honored each with a name and symbol. Some sources mention that Native Americans used stars' positions to indicate specific seasons or events of the year such as harvest time, planting time, buffalo hunt time and so on. Their interpretation and use of the star positions and constellation vary significantly from the astrology of the modern world.

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