Luna and the 13 Moons


They say that the turtles that are native to North America have 13 segments on their back. Certain tribes would count the annual lunar cycles using the turtle shell.

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been mystified and intrigued by these slow moving creatures…  Maybe it’s because turtles moved slow enough for me to watch them closely for minutes without them running away?  Maybe it was their patience with me as they pulled in their head, arms and legs and huddled inside their sealed shell as I innocently picked them up to look at their bellies?

Whatever it was that drew me in, I was fascinated with them and how they moved on this earth.  I’ve had this particular turtle shell since I was very young.  It has traveled with me North, South, East and West…  And, I still have that shell.  I keep white sage and red cedar in its bowl and use them to cleanse the air when I feel like it.

Yesterday, as I was walking to water the garden and feed the chickens, I crossed paths with a lovely turtle with a dried mud-caked shell.  As I neared her while walking around the lake, she didn’t tuck in her arms or move.  She looked really exhausted, actually.  I noted that the hole near the hawthorn tree had gotten bigger and thought that it was hers.

It wasn’t until today that I began to connect the dots.  A friend posted a picture on the internet today that showed a giant sea turtle going back to sea after laying eggs during last night’s epic, Super Moon.


I then thought of the exhausted turtle I saw last night.  She must have just laid eggs in that hole that she had dug.  The hole was partially filled with water, so I am not positive that’s what she was doing.  However, she did have somewhat of a birth “glow” about her (smile).

It doesn’t surprise me that turtles would be laying eggs along with this abundant and powerful Super Moon.  Turtles have long been associated with the lunar cycles and lunar pulls.

Referring to the first picture on this blog, the turtle shell was commonly used by the American indigenous communities to teach the young ones about the lunar cycles and patterns.  The outer ring of the turtle shell has 28 segments which is the length of a full lunar cycle from full moon to full moon.  And, there are 13 interior segments that mark the 13 lunar cycles within a year.

A great children’s book on this topic is called “Thirteen Moons on Turtle’s Back.”  And, one of my all-time favorite adult books on this topic is “Full Moon Feast:  Food and the Hunger for Connection.”

13 Moons Cycle in the Katuah Bioregion

When I moved to NC in 2009, I lived in the mountains and was in the thick of Winter. I pulled out the book Full Moon Feast to read it, once again, and started drafting the 13 moon cycle in my area (with some tips from Jessica’s book).

The 13 moon cycle has become an exploration for me. I call it ‘seasonal intelligence.’ The brilliance behind the intelligence of the seasons is that, similar to nature, each season brings us what our bodies need. And, each season has its own intelligence of helping us live our lives better if we pay attention to what part of the cycle of life we are in.

For example, the liver gets bogged down in the temperate part of the world because of the traditional reliance on rendered animal fat (lard) and such during the Winter. Typically, Winter foods are heavier and allow us to last through a time of ‘less’ from our forest/garden/agriculture food-base.

When Spring rolls around, its time to cleanse the liver (Spring is liver season in Traditional Chinese Medicine, for example) and “move” the lymph fluid. So, sassafras root tea was used in Appalachia to cleanse the liver and move the lymph…loads of fresh greens (weeds, mustard greens, poke sallet, etc) were also used to get the system cleansed and moving again for the new cycle.

Finally, I am reminded of an Ayurvedic sadhana (life-way) practice described by elder, Maya Tiwari in her lovely book, “Women’s Power to Heal:  Through Inner Medicine.”  She calls this practice “Moon Basking Sadhana.”  It is practiced on the 2nd or 3rd night of the full moon in the late evening.  You are not to practice this, though, if you are menstruating, bleeding, or during mourning…

full moon kiss

Can’t find original source for this!  Artist?

An old Vedic practice, women would convene on this night to bathe, walk in the moon-light, or simply sit together in meditation in the light of the full moon.  You can also anoint yourself with pure, aromatic oils and sing songs.  Sitting near water to catch the reflection of the moon is also ideal.

Tiwari writes that “the full moon affords limitless opportunities for women to beautify themselves, exercise their sensuality, and reap abundance.”  Practicing certain sadhanas during the waxing moon (new to full moon) help “nourish the spirit, strengthen the Shakti (primordial feminine) energy, and revitalize the memory of abundance.”

Whether you decide to count the segments on a turtle shell or immerse yourself in a local body of water on the night of a full moon, just keep this in mind…that the most powerful, life-affirming aspects of our reality are free to enjoy and embrace.  All we have to do is remember and focus our awareness on the abundance that we already have.

5 thoughts on “Luna and the 13 Moons

  1. Thanks for sharing. Very interesting. I love turtles even have one tatooed on my foot and my daughter and I love looking at the moon. Ive always loved the moon and now my daughter does to.

    • That’s such a sweet experience to share with your daughter, Niki… Thanks for writing your thoughts here……..

  2. Pingback: Zine: Seasonal Living with Herbs & Food of the Deep South | Madhupa Maypop

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