“Draw Close The Curtaines”

“When thou goest to thy bed… draw close the curtaines to shut out the Moone-light, which is very offensive and hurtfull to the braine, especially to those that sleepe.”

-   A guide to healthy living, 1621

I did not see the blood moon last week, even though I tried to.  Slightly after midnight  I stood outside – night gowned and barefoot – but all I saw was a dark sky blushing orange, as if the moon was too shy to show herself in her red, blatant flesh.

A blood moon carries with it a weight of myth and symbolism.  Such an anthology of legends is so heavy that it is a wonder that a satellite cloaked so stridently has the strength to rise to its proper lunar height.

The scientific explanation is simple enough.  When the earth is in alignment between the moon and sun, it casts a shadow on the moon, a disc-like fragment obscuring its metallic phase.  That is the eclipse.  But on the other side of the earth, the sleepless sun is casting its rays through the earth’s atmosphere.

Obligingly, the blues and violets – the colors of the daytime sky – are filtered out.  But the furnace-cast of reds and oranges travel through this atmosphere, bent through a prism of dust and ash that extends for thousands of miles.  By the time the color reaches the moon, the palette is arranged for her scarlet, saucy profile; for her misplaced sunset.

But before science took the upper hand, men found other explanations for the tarnished shadow floating above them. A moon running red with blood signified the coming of the end times, of the Bible’s terrible prophecies, of dark suns and the “terrible day of the Lord”.

According to the Ecclesiastical tables this bloody moon was a Paschal (Passover) full moon. As it was the first full moon after the vernal equinox – it was also a herald for Easter, the Sunday immediately following the Paschal Full Moon.

A red moon during the harvest was a sign of the huntsman, of his prey run to ground and his bloody catch. It was a time of feverish activity, when forests rattled with hunter, horse and hound, and a successful outing would guarantee a healthy season of food for all.

Priests, shamans, mystics and story-tellers did their best to explain why the moon burned like a flushed sun in the latest corner of the night, at the very height of her languors.  But it was science that discovered that every few years, when earth, moon and sun were aligned in an astral set dance, the moon was able to experience her own sunset:  a rare closing of bronze and tawny curtains as she begins her nightly, silver vigil.

All of this I missed on that soft night. And it was a shame, really, but since that night I have given the moon and her amours a great deal of thought. And I have found that there are times when memory adheres more firmly to matters of reflection than vision. And that no matter how closely the “curtaines” are drawn, the moon and her stellar court will wait on your drifting contemplation.

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9 responses to ““Draw Close The Curtaines”

  1. Thank you for these reflective musings. :)

  2. there are times when memory adheres more firmly to matters of reflection than vision … as evidenced in these marvellous words. The moon is always worthy of reflection.

  3. A red moon is considered bad luck in Japanese culture. I don’t believe in bad luck-good luck superstitions, but interestingly, a series of irritating events occurred this past week—nothing horrible, but bad enough to make me shut off my phone, draw my own curtains, and go to bed early (because nothing bad can happen to you when you’re in your pajamas, in bed, right?). I’m hoping this heavy rain and fog we’re getting will wash out this moon’s effects, or at least dampen it!

  4. I missed the blood moon, too – it was overcast here.

    I must respectfully disagree with the 1621 guide to healthy living. I make a point of opening the curtains and sleeping in the moonlight, especially when she is full!

  5. all i saw was a grey moon which, when i stretched my imagination, had a weee bit of orange tint. but my neighbors were out and i got to talk with them so it was time well spent!

  6. For once, it was beautiful here. A storm passed through and cleared the skies, and although it was cold and windy, the moon was unperturbed.

    The superstition about sleeping in moonlight tickles me. Once a year, the moon aligns with my bedroom window for a month or two in such a way that the light of the full moon streams in. Sometimes it wakes me, it’s so bright. I smile back at it, and go back to sleep. Whether my brain’s been affected, I can’t say.

  7. Lovely writing Aubrey

  8. SalvaVenia: One can hardly look up to the moon and not reflect – she demands our attention!

    fifepsychogeography: Who knew that a satellite could bring such wisdom and joy?

    Hangaku Gozen: Perhaps the mood was a bit moody during that awful week? Hopefully that awfulness has been solved and is safely out of your life. And I do like the idea of flannel jammie armor!

    Barbara: Sleeping while awash in moonlight. How refreshed one must feel in the morning!

    leendadll: It was all the moon’s plan. She’s quite wise, and clearly meant for all of this to happen!

    shoreacrers: Moon Madness – what could possibly be wrong with that? I like the idea of you smiling at the moon, making a demure connection with such a pretty satellite.

    Alex: Thank you so much!

  9. That is by far the loveliest explanation of the blood moon I’ve seen.

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