Moon Phase Names in the Southern Hemisphere

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If you live in the southern hemisphere, consider celebrating the moon phases based on local markers. Image by Yves ANDRE/Moment/Getty Images

In most neo-Pagan and Wiccan traditions, the names given to the various moon cycles are based upon a couple of different sources. Some come to us from the Native American tribes of North America, and others are rooted in Celtic and western European mythology. In the Native American tribes, the moon cycles were used to keep track of seasons, and thus designated different agricultural markers. If you live in the southern hemisphere, however, your seasons are directly the opposite of those in the northern hemisphere, and so it wouldn't make any sense for you to celebrate an September harvest moon if September is when you do your planting, rather than your harvesting.

Because of this, people who live in the southern hemisphere would have to calculate their moon names based upon seasons. A lunar month is only 29 days long, so the full moon falls different days each year.

If you want to use the common neo-Pagan names for the moon phases, you can calculate what they'll be based upon the timing of the equinoxes and solstices. The autumn equinox is in March, in the southern hemisphere, so the moon nearest that would be the Harvest Moon. The next one, which would fall in April, would be the Blood Moon, followed by the Mourning Moon. The next month would be June, which is the time of the Winter Solstice in the southern hemisphere, and corresponds to the Long Nights Moon, and so forth.

It's important to recognize, though, that the names we generally use - at least in the northern hemisphere - are based upon a blend of northern Native American culture and western European tradition.

If you live in South America, Australia, or some other place, it may not make sense for you to use a naming system that was originally designed by cultures and groups on the other side of the planet.

Blogger Springwolf says, "Because Europeans settled in both the North and South, many of the moon names traveled with them to new lands and continents.

In many ways this does a dis-service to the original peoples of the land in question and the names they came to know and associate with the Moon phases. Like the Tribal Nations in America, each group has its own language... Many words for the moon in other nations associate the moon with masculine energy. And that’s just Australia. The Maori are the first people of New Zealand... They didn’t assign a name to only the Full Moon phase of each month. Every night of the Moon had a name. And these told the early Polynesian people when they could or could not eat certain food, when was the right time to plant or harvest certain crops and when to conduct certain rituals. Their Moon Calendar played an integral part in their economy, commerce and observances."

Moon naming varies from one region to the next, however, so if you're one of those folks who lives below the equator, you may want to look at some of the naturally occurring biological cycles in your area. Another option would be to look at some of the local cultures -- perhaps the people indigenous to your region had their own names for moon phases, which would make far more sense than using the names of people who lived on the opposite side of the world, and who viewed their life experience through a different cultural and social lens.

There's also some great information about the moon and how it's seen in the Southern Hemisphere at Southern Sky Watch.