Blue moon, Pink moon, new moon, supermoon… keeping track of all the moons and what they mean can be difficult! Especially when multiple terms can apply to the same full moon. For example, August’s full moon this year is both a Sturgoen Moon and a supermoon.
The full moon in August is always called a Sturgeon Moon (check out this post to learn more about how it got that name). But why is it also a supermoon?
In this article, you’ll learn what makes some full moons “super,” how many supermoons to expect in 2023, and how that spiritual energy will impact your full moon rituals.
What Is the Definition of a Supermoon?
The moon’s orbit around the Earth is an ellipse. The farthest point in the orbit is called the apogee, which is approximately 253,000 miles from Earth. The closest point is the perigee at an average distance of 226,000 miles.
A supermoon, also known as a super full moon, occurs when the perigee of the moon’s orbit coincides with a full moon, making the moon appear bigger and brighter in the night sky. The moon is about 12%-14% closer to Earth at perigee than at apogee, and so a super full moon at perigee would be around 25% brighter than one at apogee.
The term “supermoon” was coined in 1979 by astrologer Richard Nolle, who wrote that “a full moon which occurs with the moon at or near (within 90% of) its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit (perigee)” met the criteria to receive the “super” moniker.
Nolle went on to claim that the supermoon could be linked to extreme weather and natural phenomena such as earthquakes. However, scientists have failed to find any direct connection.
How Many Supermoons Are There Each Year?
This answer depends on two definitions for what qualifies as a supermoon.
The strictest definition of a supermoon refers to the true perigee of the moon’s orbit, which means there can technically be only one super full moon and one super new moon per year. Only the full moon closest to the perigee counts as a supermoon.
(Most people don’t count the super new moon since it’s essentially invisible to the naked eye.)
However, Nolle’s broader definition expands the term to include 90% of the perigee. This allows several supermoons per year. Most people use this guidance, especially because it gives the media a chance to hype up multiple supermoons every year. In 2023, we’ll have four super full moons within 90% of the perigee.
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2023 Supermoon Dates: When Is the Next Full Supermoon?
Here are the four supermoons of 2023 with dates, peak times, and distance from the Earth:
|Distance from Earth
|July 3 at 7:40 A.M. EDT
|224,895.4 miles (361,934 km)
|August 1 at 2:33 P.M. EDT
|222,158.8 miles (357,530 km)
|August 30 at 9:37 P.M. EDT
|222,043.3 miles (357,344 km)
|September 29 at 5:58 A.M. EDT
|224,658.0 miles (361,552 km)
|Perigee distance data by Fred Espenak, www.Astropixels.com.
*Indicates the closest supermoon of the year.
Harnessing the Full Moon’s Energy and Spiritual Meaning
A regular full moon, even one in apogee, is already a powerful force for lunar-based rituals. Many modern-day witches, Pagans, and Wiccans pay homage to the full moon each month, but anyone can take a moment to appreciate the beauty of the full moon and pray to any gods/goddesses you worship (or none at all if you simply want to take in the energy of the amazing universe around you).
Since ancient times, people have associated the full moon with death, rebirth, and a sacred natural cycle. Each full moon typically emanates a unique kind of energy and symbolism.
Winter moons, for example, are often viewed as a beacon of light in the dark part of the year while we rest, recharge, and start thinking about our intentions for spring. Summer and fall moons are usually based on the harvest seasons and represent our goals coming to fruition.
For a list of all the full moons and their names, dates, and spiritual energy, check out this post.
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How Spiritual Energy Changes During a Supermoon
The supermoon amplifies a full moon’s natural energy. It brings incredible restorative power to charge crystals, make moon water, and intensify our connection with the earth around us. You may be more in tune with your emotions and creative muses.
Prayer, meditation, and ritual baths can help you focus on this energy and use it to recharge your body, calm your mind, and set meaningful intentions. (Hemlock Park crafts beautiful aromatherapy candles and spa packages, handcrafted with natural ingredients. They offer crystal candles and organic coconut wax candles with wood wicks. They partnered with One Tree Planted to focus on reforestation, which means that a tree is planted for every order placed!)
Fire is a powerful addition to any meditative activity, so consider choosing specific candle colors to match the focus of your intention-setting rituals for maximum impact. Making earth-to-skin contact through the practice of grounding will help you feel even more connected to the energy flowing around you.
To make the most of a supermoon’s intense energy, remember to align your rituals based on the full moon’s spiritual meaning. The energy from a Snow Moon, for example, will be very different than the energy from a Harvest Moon. You can usually tell what kind of spiritual energy to expect from a full moon based on the corresponding Wheel of the Year celebrations happening around the same time.
However you choose to honor the power of the supermoon, just remember to be respectful of its spiritual energy. Don’t fight against it. Let it flow through you and guide your intentions. If you’re struggling and feel like you need extra guidance to understand what the universe is trying to tell you, maybe it’s time to bring out your runes, tarot cards, or oracle deck.
Award-winning fantasy author, freelance writer, spiritual explorer, and sole founder of Green Witch Lunar Witch. She created her first website in 2016 and published her first novel two years later. Sara spends most of her time writing, creating, and daydreaming.