Conquerors and social organisers have always been with us, but so has the imaginative Moon, encouraging the integration of mind, body and spirit. Near the Autumn Equinox of the Northern Hemisphere, where it is known as the Harvest Moon, the Monk Moon travels the valleys in the proximity of the high country of the Circlet Of Pisces, signalling the time for the herds to come down for the winter, and exhorting the blessed to share preparations for hard times with the less-fortunate.
Around the dawn of the Current Era, the Moon noticed that the proper motion of the stars behind him when the Earth was directly between him and the Sun in Leo had formed a circle. At that time, as Greece and Rome flourished, the inner voice of the gods’ authority was beginning to lose its grip on the human psyche, and the Moon was eager to symbolise the new spiritual age. He chose the Crown of the Circlet of Pisces.
Every nineteen years—the Metonic Cycle—for about 150 years, there it appeared to Earthlings, whether they were believers or not, receiving for their edification a heavenly crown. Unfortunately, this phenomenon of individuality outshining its grace, we might say, depends on the relative positions of Sun and Lunar Nodes—one goes forwards through the Zodiac and the other backwards—and for its impact, on observer latitude; and of course the moment of full moon must be visible overhead at night. The ecliptic latitude of the Circlet centre is +6º, which the Moon, let alone the Full Moon, only gets to with the help of parallax in the northern sky of the Tropics and the Southern Hemisphere.
In short, the Monk Moon offers only a tenuous sense of human immortality—but look for it in other guise before First Quarter when the Southern Descending Node (Northern Ascending), which is in Taurus now, working its way backwards at the rate of a constellation every 18 months or so, is near Sagittarius, for example at nightfall in 2028 on January 3. (You’ll need a dark sky, or binoculars, to see the Circlet.)
Furthermore, history records many occasions when the benefit of a Full Moon in the Circlet must be called into question. The glorious bloom of Romanticism, which occurred during the cycle of 1693-1845, coincided with the invasion of Australia.
The sentimental purloining of the Circlet in these pages to locate the lost love haunting the ruin of “Les Sablonnières”, the publication of Le Grand Meaulnes in 1913, and the death of its author in the First World War, have taken place during horrific times between cycles. This may have given the Moon an excuse for eschewing the weight of the crown. Perhaps, in these intervening centuries, he is doing battle with his uselessness, his privilege, his masculinity and his ego. I wonder, in this time of global pestilence and environmental destruction, what Earth the next Full Moon in the Circlet will bathe in 4-500 years, in this flux we call the Universe. Is the glass half-full or half-empty?