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What is a Blue Moon and What Does It Mean?

Updated on September 1, 2012
Really, I saw it standing alone.
Really, I saw it standing alone. | Source

It’s not just every so often… or is it?

Really, it’s a great expression.

When I ask my wife how often she’ll do my laundry, I’ll usually get the answer “once in a blue moon”. So I buy a lot of underwear and socks. I kid. I kid because I love. In all of this, however, my wife’s meaning was not lost. Essentially, she meant to say two things: I’ll do it perhaps someday… but today is not going to be your lucky day.

In common parlance we use the expression “once in a blue moon” synonymously with “rarely”. As far as clichés go, it’s a pretty good one.

But what of real blue moons? What’s that all about? I’ve always envisioned this event to fall about as often as a full lunar eclipse. I’ve thought that when blue moons happen, I can expect the seas to part and leprechauns to come out from under their little mushrooms and sing songs to the children who live in the mountains.

Surely, this must be what it means. Boy! Was I wrong.

What is a Blue Moon and How Often Does It Happen?

As a mystic of sorts, my wife loves blue moons.

Technically a “blue moon” is the fourth full moon in a season with four full moons. That’s it. It has nothing to do with its color. The term comes from Middle English. Initially, this moon was known as the “betrayer’s moon”. The original term for betrayer was belewe. The word was bastardized to be pronounced as “blue”.

It’s the “betrayer’s moon” because it falls out of sync with the actual seasons of the moon. Spring in this case would not begin with a full moon and summer would have four. The church would use the cycles of the moon to calculate when Easter would be. In this case, it threw their calculations off for the Easter Moon and it would be a false one – or a “betrayer’s moon”.

Oh, those whacky church folk.

This phenomenon happens every few years. The last one happened in 2009. The next one happens tonight, the last day of August in 2012. After tonight, it won't happen again until 2015.

Not as long as I'd thought.

But I Heard There Are Times the Moon REALLY Appears Blue

I’ve seen the movies and I know it’s not just a special effect.

In New Jersey, though, we get really spectacular sunsets with a lot of color in the sky. Why? Our air is full of pollutants. We in New Jersey can sigh at the beauty of the sunset, cough, and say, “That’s beautiful.”

You look at the sky and you see that the sun looks red, orange, or yellow. Well, as far as the red, orange, and yellow go, I remember my parents telling me that in the summer and early fall, I could tell how warm the next day was going to be by the color the sun was when it sets.

Sometimes the moon will look red or orange. When the moon turns red, it’s called a “blood moon” and usually makes the mystics go a bit berserk. Even the Christians go a bit nuts because it refers to the Book of Revelations and comes up every so often in Mark and Mathew as a bad omen.

As you might have guessed, in actuality, the moon will turn red because atmospheric conditions will tint the moon to that reddish color. What other people interpret that to mean spiritually ranges from bad to really terrible. I’ve never heard that it’s the time to have strawberry ice cream.

Sometimes, I’ve seen the moon appear to be blue. And it really does happen.

It is rare. However, most of the time, it’s due to excessive smoke in the air – like after a forest fire or after a volcano erupts. No, I’m not joking. The fire will produce oily droplets in the air which disperses the yellow and red light spectrums – making the moon appear blue. It’s the real rare in the blue moon. It happens every so often with no amount of regularity.

Mystic Meanings of a Blue Moon

The mystical meaning of a typical blue moon is that it’s a good time to try to overcome nagging obstacles.

Yes, I’m serious.

It’s a very lucky thing. If you’ve been having trouble with a certain circumstance or are trying to accomplish something that you’ve been struggling with, those obstacles may be a little easier to bypass.

From an astrological point of view it sometimes means that this could be a time of prosperity. Money has a tendency to come from the weirdest of places. So, people who work with this “magic” may come into a bit of lucky money.

And that’s always a good thing in these times.

Final Words

I think it's really fun to use your imagination.

In this instance, I'd like you to think back when you heard the term "blue moon". In your mind, you could picture what one would probably look like - despite never having seen one in actuality. I think that's amazing. On some base level we hear "blue moon" and we can conjure up a blue moon on an October sky which lit up the ground in a silvery aura - and a werewolf somewhere on the countryside bringing a scarlet nightmare to some poor family.


When we imagine a blue moon we may think of a romantic evening or something that would sport the cover of any romance novel. Or a midnight attack from a troop of WWII soldiers skulking on enemy territory during D-day. We almost instinctively have that moon image colored blue and then either continue with that vision or go back to listening to the rest of the conversation.

We think, "Well, I've never seen a blue moon before. So whatever this person has to say it's not going to happen often." This is due to what we can envision - it's not because we all studied the deep astronomical truth about what the moon is, or how often it would appear that way.


Now, if you were a mystic, you would recognize that that image would make you feel good. So much so that perhaps the universe decided to work with you. Right thought, right mind, right idea, right feeling equals "good luck". Many religions have been created with less.

Me? I just like watching my internal shows. Even now, my blue moon is shining over the dark oceans where a sinking Titanic is lit only by the light of this moon and the reflections of the white ice bergs around it. I see the stragglers and the survivors all in some silvery tableau in my head - that I just made up.

When the moon is colored blue and we see it, we'll instantly be going through our little mental checklists on what a blue moon should look like and replace it with the true one. Such is the beauty of nature.

And such is what brings goodness to life.


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    • cperuzzi profile image

      Christopher Peruzzi 5 years ago from Freehold, NJ

      Neither do I. Just noting the poetry of the passage.

    • mollymeadows profile image

      Mary Strain 5 years ago from The Shire

      Yes, CP, I think you're correct. The book of Revelation clearly predicts a cataclysm. I just don't think a red moon means that it's imminent, and I think most Christians would agree. Have a nice evening.

    • cperuzzi profile image

      Christopher Peruzzi 5 years ago from Freehold, NJ

      Not that I follow this stuff closely but it's fun to read on Halloween.

      "When I saw the Lamb break open the sixth seal, there was a violent earthquake; the sun turned black as a goat’s hair tentcloth and the moon grew red as blood. The stars in the sky fell crashing to earth like figs shaken loose by a mighty wind. Then the sky disappeared as if it were a scroll being rolled up; every mountain and island was uprooted from its base." - Revelation 6: 16

    • mollymeadows profile image

      Mary Strain 5 years ago from The Shire

      Thanks, CP! I had wondered what all the fuss was about. And don't worry...the world is safe. If the moon goes red, I promise not to go nuts. :-)

    • Patty Kenyon profile image

      Patty Kenyon 5 years ago from Ledyard, Connecticut

      Wow that was very interesting to read and I had learned something new!!! I was unaware of the whole story behind the Blue Moon!!!

      I definitely over use the saying"once in a blue moon" I thought it came around even less than it

      Voted Up, Interesting, Useful, and Awesome!!!