The February full moon is known as the Storm Moon. In my random, pre-article web poking, I discovered that Storm Moon is not the most popular name for this Esbat. The most common name appears to be the Quickening Moon.
This name is associated with the season of Imbolc and the quickenings of new life – in animals and in the earth Herself. The first signs of spring are starting to appear, and we use this moon to work our fertility or growing magics.
The other more popular name is Snow Moon. This is likely due to the fact that in much of North America, more snow tends to fall in February than in any other winter month.
January’s full moon is commonly known as the Wolf Moon. This name has been attributed to Native American tribes, but it would appear that this attribution is somewhat of an urban legend. According to Wikipedia, the Algonquin name for the January moon translates to:
“sun has not strength to thaw”
While there is only speculation as to where the term Wolf Moon came from, it is believed in some circles that the wolf represents the ‘night’ of the year.¹ Other names for the January full moon include Old Moon, Snow Moon, Alder Moon and Cold Moon.
From our earliest childhood we are mesmerized by the silvery beauty of the moon. As large in the night sky as the sun is in the day, the moon has provided inspiration to artists, musicians and magic workers for thousands of years.
I remember the first time I pointed out the full moon to my little one. She sat staring up at it through our frost covered window for a good ten minutes, chanting “Moon! Moon!” over and over. Eventually she fell into silence, but would not let me close the curtain. She wanted to watch the moon.
Now she is in love with the shapes of the moon and stars. She is always the first to spot a crescent moon anywhere and on anything (including the cat’s claws). She has a toy that projects stars on to the ceiling in the dark, and won’t go to sleep until she has picked out the moon amongst them.
The waning crescent. The waning moon is a time of banishing, endings and release. It rises in the east only a few hours before dawn, and sets before sunset. This leaves the nights of the waning moon dark and mysterious.
The waning or old moon represents the Goddess in her crone aspect, or deities who tend to wear the guise of a crone – think Cerridwen, the Morrighan or Hecate.
This is the perfect time to work magic related to contraction or endings – break bad habits, release negativity, end destructive relationships or reverse any spell work that is no longer needed.
Inner journeying or shadow work will also be particularly powerful during the waning moon. Turn your focus inward and meditate on issues of self-development. This will help to set the groundwork for the energies of the new moon.
The waning crescent lasts roughly 7 days between the 3rd quarter and new moon. The easiest way to tell if the moon is waning is to go out and look at it. If you can cup it in your left hand, the moon is waning. If you can cup it in your right, it’s waxing.