The Choctaw knew today’s full moon as the “Cooking Moon,” while the Chinese traditionally call it the “Wolf Moon.”
Choctaw tribes are considered among the oldest on the North American continent, peaking between 800 and 900 A.D. and their homestead was in the place we now call Mississippi. Lore says they were the first in the land and that a relationship existed between the Choctaw and the Mayan, Toltec, Incan and Aztec civilizations. Research appears to back this up.
The Choctaw divided their time with the light – day was day and night was night. But, if a wrong was committed at night, it might be seen by Mother Moon, a Star Child or The Fire, and you would be reported for your indiscretion and called to answer for it. The Choctaw considered fire to be a gift from the Sun deity Hashtahli, for the Choctaw to be used to cook their food, ward off wild animals and furnish needed light during the hours of darkness.
There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls ~ George Carlin
The moon was called Hashi Ninak Anya, which means “little sun that shines at night, and was considered to be the wife of Hashtahli. The Choctaw had their own explanation for the cycles of Moon Mother, with the New Moon seeing her house clean. As she rested from the work of cleaning up after her children, or the stars, the stars would make the house messy again and the cycle would repeat itself for 13 times, or Moons, in a year. The name they used for January’s moon was Hash Haponi or “Cooking” Moon.
Like other civilizations of that time, the Choctaws needed to stockpile as much food as possible against the winter. Since there was no canning or freezing in those days, vegetables had to either be cooked, dried, or stored in a way that they had a reasonable chance of remaining edible through the coming winter. Using the tools and knowledge they had at the time, many vegetables including beans, sweet potatoes, acorns, berries, persimmons, nuts, squash, peas and onions were made into breads, as bread could be stored and kept mostly edible, sometimes retaining their flavors for several months.
Choctaw “trading words” and hand signals are still recognized by such tribes as the Rogue Indians of Oregon, the Sioux, the Hopi, the Navajo, and the Apache just to name a few.
The Chinese Wolf Moon is also known as the Quiet Moon, Chaste Moon, or the Moon of Little Winter. Ch’ang-O, Chinese goddess of the bedchamber and protector of children, is honored during the Full Moon of January. The New Year in China begins the first day of the New Moon, after the Sun enters Aquarius – sometime between January 21st and February 19th.
When I admire the wonder of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in worship of the Creator ~ Mahatma Gandhi
The word January comes from the word meaning “month” and was named so in honor of the god who has two faces, Janus. Janus rules over beginning and end, past and future. Since January is recognized as the first month of a new year, the connection with Janus is appropriate. It is a perfect time to let bygones be bygones, and make room for new personal growth. Part of the Chinese new year celebrations include settling old debts, honoring ancestors, and having family reunions. They also have parades where they carry paper dragons and set off fireworks to ward away evil and misfortune.
Tsao-Wang is the Chinese deity of the kitchen, hearth and domestic comfort and a picture of him usually hung above the stove. He is also acknowledged as the protector of the family and recorder of the words and deeds of the family. The report given to the heavenly Jade Emperor is believed to determine the future fortune of the family. A few days before the new year, the family would traditionally burn the old picture of Tsao-Wang and put up a new one.
The Ancient Chinese believed that that the Moons were made of water and that there were twelve Moons coinciding with the twelve months in each year. Chinese people also believed there were ten Suns, because there were ten days in the Chinese week. The twelve months and the ten suns had the same mother, known as Heng-O.
At the first of each month, Heng-O, washes her children in a lake at the furthest Western end of the world. After their baths, each Moon, one at a time, would travel in a chariot for a month long journey to reach the far East side of the world. Once there, the Suns would begin their journey back to the West.
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