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Algonqin Phases of the Moon

The Algonquin Indians are today the most populous and widespread of all North American Native tribes. Originally, these tribes numbered in the hundreds, and several dozen related dialects were spoken. Presently there are about 8,000 Algonquin living in Canada distributed between 10 Great Tribes, nine of which are in Quebec and one in Ontario.

Socially, the Algonquin followed a strictly patriarchal order, with men leading the tribes spiritually as well as militarily. Territorial rights to prime hunting grounds were passed from father to son. Perhaps the most important male figure in the Algonquin social structure was the shaman, who was held in extremely high regard as a communicator with the spirit world. Because the Algonquin afterlife consisted of a parallel world in which the spirits of the dead were in constant contact with the living, the shaman was revered for his abilities to speak to and even influence the dead. A Great Spirit, or supreme being, ruled the spirit world, but the spiritual hierarchy also consisted of scores of lesser spirits which controlled the elements, evil spirits which brought death, misfortune, and disease, and benevolent spirits which could be persuaded to bestow good fortune and health. The shaman was often called upon by tribesmen for help in appealing to the world of the dead. He was also responsible for the interpretation of dreams, which the Algonquin considered to be direct, if often shadowy, communication from the spirit world. The shaman's job included divining the types and symbols inherent in dreams as well as performing healing rituals in which he called upon benevolent spirits for their help.

These ceremonies in which the spirits were contacted depended upon many conditions, the most important of which was the current phase of the moon. The Algonquin were acutely aware of the moon's powers, both as a barometer for seasonal activities such as planting, harvesting, and migration and as a portal to the spirit world. The names given to each month reflect both the seasonal/agricultural significance of the time period, but often include the names of important spiritual animals used as shamanistic guides. With few variations, the same Moon Names were used throughout the Algonquin tribes from New England to Lake Superior and are still used today in the remaining Great Tribes.

Names Month Other Names Used

Full Wolf Moon January Full Old Moon Full Snow Moon February Full Hunger Moon Full Worm Moon March Full Crow Moon, Full Crust Moon, Full Sugar Moon, Full Sap Moon Full Pink Moon April Full Sprouting Grass Moon, Full Egg Moon, Full Fish Moon Full Flower Moon May Full Corn Planting Moon, Full Milk Moon Full Strawberry Moon June Full Rose Moon, Full Hot Moon Full Buck Moon July Full Thunder Moon, Full Hay Moon Full Sturgeon Moon August Full Red Moon, Full Green Corn Moon Full Harvest Moon* September Full Corn Moon, Full Barley Moon Full Hunter's Moon October Full Travel Moon, Full Dying Grass Moon Full Beaver Moon November Full Frost Moon Full Cold Moon December Full Long Nights Moon

* The Harvest Moon is always the full Moon closest to the autumnal equinox. If the Harvest Moon occurs in October, the September full Moon is usually called the Corn Moon.

Chart information copyright 2001 by "The Old Farmer's Almanac", Yankee Publishing Company. All other information collected from various Algonquin Tribal research.

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