From the time I was a child, I’ve been obsessed with the moon. My parents and I lived with my grandmother and her brother when I was small, and in those days, security wasn’t a big issue. You could see through the lace panels on my bedroom windows—the windows were a single sheet of glass. I loved to look at the moon on nights when it was visible. I still do. Last night I walked outside and found a view, but it was a view with a twist.
The so-called hunter’s moon was big and bold in the night sky. It was so bright you could understand why it would be a boon if you were hunting or dressing game. I’ve often wondered if my moon obsession has to do with ancestry—if there’s a way for your blood to remember what the oral histories in your family have deleted over the years.
I know, based on well-kept family records on my father’s side, that some of my ancestors were likely Helvetian. On both sides, there’s a direct link to a Celtic heritage. Most accounts, scant on details though they are, suggest the sun and moon figured heavily in whatever faith they practiced before being conquered and, once all the Druids were eliminated, converted to Christianity.
October is a perfect month for the hunter’s moon, and the play of light and dark outside at night can often create some interesting images. Last night after I snapped several photos of the moon nestled among the trees out back, I saw a rather unusual image within the photograph. I showed it to my family to see what their reaction would be—they all saw the photo the way I did.
To my eyes, just to the right of the moon, in the foreground of the photo, in the area above the gate, the outline of the trees and shrubs creates the illusion of a rather ominous looking figure. My husband is still laughing at my impression, although he saw exactly what I was talking about. Considering the bizarre unprovoked mishaps my family has experienced over the last month, I admit that image gave me a bit of discomfort.
If you grew up in the South, regardless of color or creed, and you still have elderly relatives alive, it’s likely you’ve been exposed to superstition. I know I was, and even though I don’t hold too much faith in it, I admit doing things like knocking on wood for luck. That knock dates to antiquity, by the way. If you watched ‘Game of Thrones,’ and you’ve read any history about the Celts, you may, as I did, perceive the author drew on some of those old myths and legends from various Celtic cultures.
This month we’ll also celebrate Halloween, a holiday evoking the ancient Celtic observance of Samhain when great fires were made and the people dressed in costumes, believing spirits of the dead wandered around. This period of the year preceded the hard, cold winter, and the modern version of it makes it a fun day for all despite the fact most of us don’t have to worry about starving or freezing to death. Despite being conquered and having the priest-ruler class obliterated, and despite wandering and warring for centuries, the culture of my long dead Celtic ancestors still has a strong grip on my family. That culture has figured in much of my poetry and creative nonfiction.
I like that. And I think about it a lot, and also those long dead ancestors, when I gaze at an amazing moon like I saw last night.
(Kay B. Day/Oct. 15, 2019)