One theory is that hunters tracked and killed their prey in the autumn moonlight. Now, my dad was an avid hunter when he was still able, and I can’t recall a single time when he went hunting by the light of the moon. Believe me, if it had been a major tactical advantage, he would have certainly given it a go; but as memory serves, he only tracked deer in the daylight when they were feeding. It’s tough enough to hit a target with a bow and arrow by the light of the sun, so I’m thinking a person would have to be one superb shot to bag a deer at night, even under a full moon.
Another theory is that livestock were slaughtered at this time to ensure a good supply of meat until spring. I can buy into this one, especially in colder climates. My papaw raised hogs and always referred to those bone-chilling nights up in the mountains as “hog killing weather.” It makes sense that if you were going to do a lot of butchering, you would wait until the temperature dropped so the meat wouldn’t spoil.
Last but far from least, we have the science behind why a full moon can appear red. During a lunar eclipse, the moon enters earth’s shadow, but this shadowy area isn’t pitch black as you might expect. The atmosphere still glows red, even on the dark side of our planet, so the moon reflects the only light that is there…which happens to be an eerie russet shade. I can imagine how the ancients must have freaked out over a blood-red moon in the sky. It explains why they began to equate it with bad omens and such. Eclipses don’t always happen at the full moon in October, however, so I’m going to support the second theory—the Blood Moon was so named because it was simply the time that herds were thinned out to prepare for winter.
Here’s a deeper question: How can we work with the Blood Moon metaphysically?
We can see it as the absolute final harvest. The crops have been gathered, and now the more difficult task of letting go…of sacrifice…must occur. I have never raised an animal—not even a chicken—with the knowledge that I would one day have to take its life and serve it up for dinner. I can only imagine how that would feel, and I don’t think I could do it with complete detachment.
So we can use this model of nurturing and letting go in our spiritual development on the upcoming Blood Moon, which falls on October 29th this year. Have we fed and sheltered old hurts and fears that we can now release? Here’s another way to work with this moon’s energy: What have we sacrificed this year for our dreams…our livelihood…our peace of mind? Maybe it’s time to honor those as we head into the winter months of rest and reflection.