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        Go For a Supermoon Walk

        Journalist and folklorist Eleni N. Gage explores how the upcoming supermoon makes parenting magic out of the mundane with a walk in the moonlight.

        Altınay Dinç
        Written By
        Eleni N. Gage

        I remember, so clearly, riding home from a family wedding as a child, staring out the car’s back seat window at the full moon. “It’s following us!” I told my mother. She replied, “That’s because you’re so pretty.”

        At the time, I thought, “that can’t be right,” but a little shiver ran through me, asking, “can it? Could the moon really be following me?”

        Today, that story makes me think, bless my mama’s sweet, misguided heart—I wouldn’t tell my own daughter the moon’s stalking her for her beauty; I’m wary of implying that pretty is an important thing to be.

        But I definitely want to clue both my children into the idea that a full moon has magic so enchanting it could give you shivers of excitement. (The fact that the moon’s gravitational pull on the ocean is what causes tides is just one of the many instances that prove, to me, science and magic are often the same thing.)

        All full moons are important. Like the sunset, they’re a gorgeous natural occurrence that you can be awed by regularly if you just take the time to look. Astrologically, they’re the peak of the lunar cycle, thought to bring a culmination of all the growth during the moon’s waxing cycle. (This is why it’s considered good luck to get married during a waxing moon or rising tide, so that a couple’s luck is always increasing.)

        A full moon is considered a good time to manifest hopes or wishes, a moment full of portents for the future. Ancient Romans practiced the art of scrying, staring at the moon’s reflection in a bowl of water as a means of divination, to see what images appear and assess what they predict. Today, people who work with crystals charge them with energy by leaving them in the light of a full moon. (As someone who loves the rush of finding a plug available at the coffee shop to charge my laptop, I can only imagine how excited crystal users get about the full moon.)

        But the August full moon is an extra-special one; it’s when the moon looks largest in the Northern Hemisphere. In Ancient Greece, the Olympics always started on an August full moon. Some scholars believe that the reason the games were held every four years—a unit of time known as an Olympiad—is because that adds up to 50 lunar months, and Selene, the moon goddess, traversed the sky 50 times to visit the shepherd Endymion, bearing 50 daughters by him. In modern Greece, archeological sites are open to the public, free of admission at night, so that everyone can view the antiquities glowing in the light of the moon.

        Native Americans call the August moon the Sturgeon Moon because that’s when it’s easiest to catch those fish in the Great Lakes. This year’s Sturgeon Moon, August 11th, is the last supermoon of 2022. (There are three or four supermoons a year, when the sun is directly opposite the moon as seen from earth, so the face of the moon is fully visible.) Some bars even mix specialty cocktails or host parties to view the moon.

        For Hindus, this August full moon is Shravan Purnima, an auspicious day to perform a variety of rituals, notably the Raksha Bandhan festival, which celebrates the bond between brothers and sisters, symbolized by the sun and the moon. (The celebration takes place during the full moon of the fourth month on the Hindu lunar calendar, which sometimes falls in July, but this year, it’s all about August 11!) Raksha Bandhan means “bond of protection,” and sisters tie sacred thread bracelets around their brothers’ wrists to represent said bond, while brothers give gifts to their sisters.

        If I could get my children to celebrate being related to each other in any way, that would be a true miracle of the full moon. Almost four years apart, they’re in a fighting stage; all he wants is her attention. All she wants is to be left alone. If only they could see how much they have in common, bonds of delight if not protection.

        One thing that delighted them both—and me in reading it—was the children’s book I Took the Moon for A Walk by Carolyn Curtis and Alison Jay. It follows a little boy “guiding” the moon around his neighborhood. Their favorite part was a drawing that shows the moon bouncing his butt on a church steeple and the words “I warned the Moon to raise a bit higher/ so it wouldn’t get hooked on a church’s tall spire.”

        Scraped moon-butt aside, the boy and the moon have all sorts of adventures. The last few pages read, “Then as we turned back, the moon kept me in sight/ It followed me home and stayed there all night. And thanked me by sharing its sweet, sleepy light/ When I took the moon for the walk.” At almost 11 and seven, my kids are too old for the book now, but I refused to give it away in a recent clean-out of their shelves. We all had too many happy nights reading it.

        The book inspired my big plan for this August’s magical sturgeon moon. The kids and I will take the moon for a walk, wandering around the neighborhood wherever we may be—on vacation, at home, at grandma and grandpa’s—to see how everyday things look magical when you are lucky enough to see them in a new light.

        I hope it’ll be a marvelous night for a moon dance. But if it rains? Or we get busy and forget to notice the Sturgeon moon? No big deal. Part of the magic of the full moon is that you get to enjoy its beauty every month. And September brings the Harvest Moon, complete with Harvest Moon festivals and moon cakes we’ll seek out in Chinatown bakeries, and Tsukimi, the Japanese moon-viewing festival. Mark your calendar for September 10th, whether it’s a do-over or a brand-new chance to take the moon for a walk.

        Eleni N. Gage

        Eleni N. Gage

        Journalist, folklorist, and mother of Greekaraguans, Eleni N. Gage is the author of two novels, a travel memoir, and the gift book Lucky in Love: Traditions, Customs, & Rituals to Personalize Your Wedding.