Full Moon Observances: July 20 2016

Last night we witnessed a gorgeous full moon in our sky of stars! It was bright and seemed to light up the whole sky like a sun. It was an incredibly clear night (at least by my house!) so you could make out the stars easily. As the moon began to rise, it became harder to see the stars because of how much light the moon was reflecting.

This moon is named many things. The most common in America is the Buck Moon, which is because July is the month that male deer (bucks) begin to grow their antlers. Another name for this moon is the Thunder Moon because thunderstorms happen often during this month. Both of these names were given by Native Americans and the early European settlers adopted them. Hay moon is also another common name, because this is the time that farmers begin to store their hay.

Now here’s the most interesting name: The Hungry Ghost Moon. In China, they hold a traditional Buddhist and Taoist festival on the 15th day of the 7th month (this festival is celebrated on the 14th day in Southern China). This festival is called the Ghost Festival, otherwise known as the Hungry Ghost Festival.

In Chinese culture, the fifteenth day of the seventh month in the lunar calendar is called Ghost Day and the seventh month in general is regarded as the Ghost Month, in which ghosts and spirits, including those of the deceased ancestors, come out from the lower realm. Distinct from both the Qingming Festival (in Spring) and Double Ninth Festival (in Autumn) in which living descendants pay homage to their deceased ancestors, during Ghost Festival, the deceased are believed to visit the living.

On the fifteenth day the realms of Heaven and Hell and the realm of the living are open and both Taoists and Buddhists would perform rituals to transmute and absolve the sufferings of the deceased. Intrinsic to the Ghost Month is veneration of the dead, where traditionally the filial piety of descendants extends to their ancestors even after their deaths. Activities during the month would include preparing ritualistic food offerings, burning incense, and burning joss paper, a papier-mâché form of material items such as clothes, gold and other fine goods for the visiting spirits of the ancestors. Elaborate meals (often vegetarian meals) would be served with empty seats for each of the deceased in the family treating the deceased as if they are still living. Ancestor worship is what distinguishes Qingming Festival from Ghost Festival because the latter includes paying respects to all deceased, including the same and younger generations, while the former only includes older generations. Other festivities may include, buying and releasing miniature paper boats and lanterns on water, which signifies giving directions to the lost ghosts and spirits of the ancestors and other deities.

All in all, a very beautiful moon. If you’re a stargazer, and you missed a day, don’t worry about it. Usually I skip my star gazing routine (or at least cut it short) but last night interested me very much so. Thank you for reading. Every full moon I hope to be doing a observation and to tell all of you about it. Good luck with you spiritual, mind, and heart ascension. I am with you.

-Eva Manda

Sources:

  1. Wikipedia
  2. Discover Hong Kong
  3. China Highlights
  4. South China Morning Post

 

 

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