As we already know, for decades, we have referenced the monthly full Moons with names tied to early Native American, Colonial American, and European folklore and, traditionally, each full Moon name was applied to the entire lunar month in which it occurred and through all of the Moon’s phases—not only the full Moon.
About the November’s Beaver Moon this is, not by chance, the time of year when beavers become particularly active building their winter dams in preparation for the cold season.
Beavers are mainly nocturnal, so they keep working under the light of the Full Moon. They make dams of wood and mud and, in the middle, they build dome-shaped homes called lodges with underwater entrances.
Beavers continue to grow throughout their lives, and so do their teeth, and that’s why they constantly gnaw on wood, but because the enamel in a beaver’s incisors contains iron, their front teeth never wear down.
In any case, early natives were keenly observant of animals and their habits, they saw that the beavers began to take shelter in their lodges, and they watched animals store food in preparation for the long winter ahead.
However, beavers do not hibernate the cold months away.
Actually, they remain very active, and they go out despite the cold, ice, or snow, as they benefit from a thick winter coat—an oily, waterproof layer that keeps them warm and dry. Basically all the qualities you might want in your own cold-weather apparel!
And no wonder their pelts are prized by trappers: during the time of the fur trade in North America, November was also the season to hunt beavers for their thick, winter-ready pelts.
There used to be more than 60 million North American beavers. However, because people have hunted them for fur and their glands for medicine, among other reasons, the population has declined to around 12 million.
But also November’s Moon other names highlight the actions of animals preparing for winter and the onset of the colder days ahead.
For example Digging (or Scratching) Moon is a Tlingit name that evokes the image of animals foraging for fallen nuts and shoots of green foliage as well as of bears digging their winter dens, while the Dakota and Lakota term Deer Rutting Moon refers to the time when deer are seeking out mates, and the Algonquin Whitefish Moon describes the spawning time for this fish.
In reference to the seasonal change of November, this Moon has been called the Frost Moon by the Cree and Assiniboine peoples and the Freezing Moon by the Anishinaabe and for a good reason, as winter is right around the corner.
Because it is the final full moon before the start of winter it is often called Mourning Moon, and I can understand that, as there was a certain sadness to the upcoming cold weather and to the loss of daylight. However, the astronomical seasons do not match up with the lunar months. Therefore, the month of the Mourning Moon varies. Some years, the Mourning Moon is in November, while other years, it is in December.
On a more symbolic level, the folklore behind these nicknames speaks to the way this month’s full moon can illuminate the things we need to feel warm and safe in a time of increasing seasonal cold and scarcity.
And finally, November is the month of Thanksgiving. Like the Native Americans, hunters, and fur trappers we can take a moment and reflect on our efforts of the past year.
Well…we may not have had to gather or hunt for our food, but we can be grateful for our blessings and modern comforts!
In 2021, November’s full Beaver Moon rises on Friday, November 19, and is accompanied by a near-total lunar eclipse: 98% of the Moon will be covered by Earth’s shadow at the height of eclipse.
During a lunar eclipse, the Moon, Sun, and Earth stand in a line with the Earth in the middle, causing the planet’s shadow to be cast onto the Moon.
This gives the full Moon a reddish, coppery hue, as well as the nickname “Blood Moon.”
But is this Moon truly a Blood Moon?
We’ve heard all kind of strange theories about a “Blood Moon” and, back in 2014–2015, there was a series of four consecutive total lunar eclipses (Blood Moons) with the media hyped end-of-the-world prophesies.
Clearly, the world did not end.
But, interestingly, “Blood Moon” is not a technical term used in astronomy, but more of a popular phrase that simply refers to a “total lunar eclipse.”
Yep, that’s it.
And this near-total lunar eclipse will be visible from most of North America, reaching its maximum at approximately 4:00 A.M. Eastern Time on Friday, November 19.
Images from web – Google Research