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Happy Moon Year!

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11th Feb 2021

The ball drop in NYC heralds in a new year for many; but, with todays Lunar New Year, societies (past and present) will be celebrating the new year in February. Time, it seems, is relative and how we calculate the passing of the days depends on whether or not a culture is looking at the moon…or the sun…

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Full Moon over Hanalei Bay, Kauai, Hawaii
The United States, and much of the rest of the world by default, for example uses the ‘Gregorian Calendar’. It is named after a Pope and was established relatively recently in the 16th century. The civil version of this calendar focuses on the sun, its position, and the sun’s relation to the other stars behind it. Seasons are then based on the equinoxes, March and September 22nd-ish respectively. This is when the suns declination is at zero degrees. The logic behind this time recording model is that there are 365.2425 “days” that add up to a larger measurement, “years”. Remembering this calendars origin, the Christian holiday of Easter requires knowledge of moon phases in order to announce Easter Sunday’s date every year. Easter is defined as the first Sunday after the Paschal Full Moon, or the first full moon after the vernal equinox and the start of spring in the northern hemisphere. Easter’s calculation makes the Gregorian calendar also a lunisolar calendar! 

Nepal Sambat, pre-Islamic south Arabia, Javanese, Yoruba, Igbo, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Mongolian, Egyptian, Hindu, Thai, Tibetan, Iranian, Hebrew, Ancient Greek, Jain, Kurdish, Burmese, Incan, Celtic, Babylonian, and Mayans are all Lunisolar Calendar Societies - that means that calculating the passing of a ‘year’ is an observation of monthly lunar phases, new moon/first quarter/full moon/last quarter- also known as ‘lunation’.

Lunation is approximately 29.5 days. Each society slightly differs in how to treat uncounted or excess days that don’t ‘fit’ into the 12 month rubric, like having a year with 13 months every 2 to 3 years. Gregorian calendar users can sympathize with that problem when having a ‘leap year’, or extra day in February every 4 years. The annual difference between days in a year for solar and lunar calendars is approximately 11 days.      

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Hawaiian Lunar Day Names
Humans are inseparable from the effects of the moon. Trees, ocean tides, menstruation, agriculture harvests, and intuitive processes all feel the pull of the moon force. The four phases of the moon are energetic pulses that resonate through different aspects of life, knowledge of the moon cycles makes harmonizing with nature’s rhythms possible.

For example, three to four days following a full moon is the best time to harvest bamboo. The higher gravitation of the moon in this phase coincides with the bamboo photosynthesizing and transporting starches from the roots to the leaves in the morning. The farmer that cuts their bamboo recognizing these phenomena will have a piece of bamboo with less bug enticing starches in the nodes of the cut. Farmer wisdom? Hoax? The moon deals in subtleties and requires a keen discernment for interpretation of lunar wisdom. 

To everyone ushering in a new year today, Happy New Year! Cheers to the continuation and evolution of time on Earth, peace and prosperity to all!


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January 2021 Full Moon