Explorations Into Liminality
“and there came an arm and a hand above the water and met it and caught it, and so shook it thrice and brandished it, and then vanished away the hand with the sword in the water.”

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Wolf Moon, The Old Moon

The ever-inspiring Fantasy Artists of Etsy are my fellow FAE collaborators in the first of this year's monthly challenges, based on lunar appellation; Moon Names. A call to conjure and create! January is known as the Wolf Moon, and the Old Moon.

The Wolf Moon moniker is obvious; with chilling intensity the pack howls outside the walls of skin, of wood, of stone in the long cold nights, perhaps ever louder as the Moon waxes.

But what of the epithet of Old Moon? In my wanderings I couldn't find any reasons why the first moon of the calendar should be nicknamed so. Certainly the Moon IS old, like 4.6 billion years old. But the peoples who made the designation most likely didn't base their decision on a such a concept.

What did ring true for me has to do with Earthshine. Reflected sunlight illuminates the Moon's night side so that along with the full bright of the crescent, a pale glow of the remaining surface is visible. This phenomenon (thank you Mr. DaVinci for pointing it out) has come to be called the old Moon in the new Moon's arms. And indeed, it is as if the crescent is a cradling arm in the darkness.

So was Ella Wheeler Wilcox, an American Victorian poet, inspired by Earthshine in her poem "The Old Moon in the New Moon's Arms":

The beautiful and slender young New Moon,
In trailing robes of pink and palest blue,
Swept close to Venus, and breathed low: 'A boon,
A precious boon, I ask, dear friend, of you.'

'O queen of light and beauty, you have known
The pangs of love - its passions and alarms;
Then grant me this one favour, let my own -
My lost Old Moon be once more in my arms.'

Swift thro' the vapours and the golden mist -
The Full Moon's shadowy shape shone on the night,
The New Moon reached out clasping arms and kissed
Her phantom lover in the whole world's sight.

AND so, gartered and girded with my musings, may you be presented with a few of the creative offerings from the FAE team.


Carapace said...

Wow, that's a post! I think this should go on the team blog. I Did Not Know That about the Old Moon! I've never noticed...though I have seen, sometimes, the dark part of the moon looking very visible! I guess maybe that's it?

Have to go look tonight!:D

Carapace said...
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jaz@octoberfarm said...

hi...just popped over from mrs. b's to say hi!

Gypsy Moon Art Studio said...

Love it!! I am so excited to be part of the team now!! Thanks for your help in making that happen. I love all the wonderful new friends I am making!

stregata said...

Lovely post - I like the thought of the New Moon and the Old Moon as lovers...

The Josie Baggley Company said...

Hello dear petal.I love the fact that the moon is the oldest timepiece known and it has held the gaze of so many over the centuries. I runinate over the way its beguiling power and movement was the core of Newgrange over 5000years ago!
I can tell you that it is also the Rowan moon in Celtic Treelore . The Rowan being the magical faery tree( I know you know this!) maybe has something to do with the changeable wolfe.
I loved your thoughful comment regarding my painting-collage and your thoughts have become quite a part of my little bloggy! I am such a procrastinator with regards to the mundane things that should be done day to day..but IT-the thing for you- was left at my little P.O just before closing this eve.
Warmest Wishes

Rue said...

Beautiful pieces, all of them!

This poem is so romantic and lovely - thanks for posting it here. I didn't know about the "old moon in the new moon's arms." I can't wait until the next new moon, to tell this story to my nieces!

Athena's Armoury said...

A captivating post, as always! Love the poem.

Linda said...

TY for dropping by, I so do enjoy reading your posts, love this one.Lindaxx

Such a Wondrous Place this Faery Space said...

Again, such magic and fun when I visit. Love the jewelry the post, it is so great! Thanks for the wonderful visit dear. Blessings and by the way, fantastic cookies!

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