January’s Full Wolf Moon reaches peak illumination on Monday, January 17, at 6:51 P.M. EST.
Each month's moon has its own name and legend. The January full moon is called the Wolf Moon. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the wolf moon is named because of legends from long ago. “It’s thought that January’s full Moon came to be known as the Wolf Moon because wolves were more likely to be heard howling at this time,” it says.
Wolves were once assumed to be howling because of hunger; however, now it is understood to be a way to mark territory, hunt, and find other pack members. Since wolves may have to travel farther to find food, they are often separated from their pack. Howling is a communication tool.
The howling of wolves has long been associated with a full moon. Ancient Roman and Greek mythology point towards the association of wolves and the moon. While others state that Wolf Moon is a Native American name, but still other sources claim that it has Anglo-Saxon origins.
Wolves are nocturnal creatures and are mostly associated with darkness and the moon. When they howl, they face the sky. This special position of looking upwards while howling resulted in a myth that they send out a message to the moon.
January’s Wolf Moon indicates the transition between winter and spring. Even though the weather is still cold, and the land is still barren, it is in the month of January when wildlife begins to emerge from their hibernations. Wolves similarly wake from their slumber and begin their pursuit of food.
The Wolf Moon is a symbol that we, as humans, need to take our time to recuperate and be ready to tackle the new year head-on when our energy is restored.
The Journal of Affective Disorders, states that before modern lighting, the moon played a larger role in people’s sleep-wake cycles, and so the light of a full moon may have kept people up at night, leading to sleep deprivation that could have caused other psychological issues.
So, pairing the howling of wolves and possible psychological issues of a full moon, superstitions and legends are born.