Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Spooky Reads: Scary or Not?


So it's Hallowe'en and every Hallowe'en I try to get in the spooky mood by reading some classics of the horror genre. (Operative word here - try.)

I've been accosted by 'The Best Hallowe'en Reads ' in every newspaper this week, but they're all so.... I don't know, not that scary. (Check them out here)

The scariest book I ever read was when I was around 7 years old. It was a story about vampires that I'd borrowed from the library and I remember getting to a part where a vampire were knocking on a young boy's window (pre-cursor to Let the Right One In, I wonder?) and that was it: spooked. I was so freaked out by the thought of a goblinesque vampire (as they were described in the book) knocking on the window that I heard phantom imaginary knocks on my own bedroom window and so, I flung the book under the bed, where it was never to be seen again until it had to be returned on the due date. 

That's the only time a book scared me out of my wits.

As a teenager I had a penchant for the popular Point Horror Scholastic series which didn't really live up to its genre title - they were mostly teen murder mystery stories with human perpetrators rather than any supernatural elements. The paranormal books I did get to then were more para-romance than anything else, with glamorous witches and vampires stuck in forbidden love affairs (a precursor to Twilight..?) I even happened upon Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart and found it riotously entertaining, with all the suspense and drama of a play, but sadly, no fear factor. I even bought a collection of real-life Spine-Tingling Ghost Stories but found all the facts and dates boring. 

When I was a bit older I finally got to the master of horror, Stephen King, in the adult section of the library. I can't remember what book it was, but it didn't scare me. I found it slow and pedantic. (Sorry Mr King!) I gave it up then for something more literary and exciting. (But in fairness, I didn't dip into any more of his oeuvre, maybe one day I will).

Then along came Bram Stoker's Dracula in a gothic fiction seminar I did in college. It had the spooky atmosphere - the gothic genre's finest maybe, but I'll admit, I was scared a little - until the critical analysis came along and debunked all the fear into political metaphors and essay ideas. I loved the creepy descriptions of Jonathan Harker's trip to Transylvania to meet with Count Dracula, his strange stage-coach ride through the darkness to Dracula's castle: 'By the roadside were many crosses, and as we swept by, my companions all crossed themselves... Soon we were hemmed in with trees, which in places arched right over the roadway till we passed as through a tunnel; and again great frowning rocks guarded us boldly on either side. Though we were in shelter, we could hear the rising wind, for it moaned and whistled through the rocks, and the branches of the trees crashed together as we swept along.'

His arrival at the castle is spine-tinglingly described - the uncanny howling of the wolves all around (whooo) and 'just then a heavy cloud passes across the face of the moon, so that we were again in darkness... I stood in silence where I was, for I did not know what to do. Of bell or knocker there was no sign; through these frowning walls and dark window openings it was not likely that my voice could penetrate. The time I waited seemed endless, and I felt doubts and fears crowding upon me. What sort of place had I come to, and among what kind of people? What sort of grim adventure was it on which I had embarked?... Just as I had come to this conclusion I heard a heavy step approaching behind the great door, and saw through the chinks the gleam of a coming light. Then there was the sound of rattling chains and the clanking of massive bolts drawn back. A key was turned with the loud grating noise of long disuse, and the great door swung back. '

Oohhh. If you want to know what comes next - Count Dracula himself - read the book! This year the Bram Stoker festival is going on in Dublin to honour the author, rightly so, by all sorts of spooky goings-on. It is the classic gothic horror novel, the one from which all vampires have sprung. And it is authentically spooky. But - not that scary. Interesting and intriguing more than scary. Look at all the allegories that have since been attributed to it - poltical, sexual, cultural, racial, material - goodbye chills, hello literary thrills! And it's the same with most vampire fiction. (You can read my previous blog all about the metaphorical uses of vampires here:  Vampires 101)

Nope, I think film has a superior advantage in providing scares over books. You can always close a book, but with a film, there's no looking away, no cloud of words to disguise graphic images, no escaping the grotesque mangled corspse on a big screen in front of you, whereas in a book, underlying meaning always eclipses the momentary grisly imagery. 

Maybe it's because every 'horror' fiction is at its core, a commentary on reality and this is more easy to see in text rather than on film where we are distracted by all sorts of effects. Stephen King even admitted that most of his stories are based on his own real life troubles. Drug-taking is at the heart of The Tommyknockers and many more of his novels, including Misery - how something or someone can take over your mind and your body, a veritable haunting in the real sense of it as King came to know in his own life. (He writes all about it in On Writing.) 

From my critical analysis training in literature, I can't come to a book without analysing it (my curse and my blessing ha).  And in horror narratives, the bigger and badder the baddies, the ghosts, goblins, demons, the more interesting their meanings. I can't look at a horror story without seeing behind its mask: what real life issue it's really getting at, making it more obvious and entertainig by dressing it up in supernatural robes. 

No horror book scares me but I have to admit, dystopian literature gives me the heebie-jeebies! Those nightmare visions of the future that seem so real and very plausible - presenting as they do, a picture of humanity that is vile and cruel and beyond all redemption. Cormac McCarthy's The Road gave me nightmares for weeks after I'd read it, all that grimness and hopelessness. That's what I find really scary. Not monsters or ghosts or hauntings, but the evil and depravity humanity is capable of. 

And there's another genre that gives me goosebumps: fairytales. Not the Disney soft and cuddly kind, but the real deal - the stories of Grimm and the likes. Have you read some of these 'real' fairytales? They are gruesome and grotesque, with extreme violence and overt sexual content. Bluebeard and his gruesome murders of all his wives - mutilated and hung in a closet to name but one. The German and Scandanavian myths of dark dwarves that live beneath the earth and drag children to the underworld for eternal slavery. The scary woodsman in Little Red Riding Hood besides other aspects (maybe the creepiest fairytale of them all).
Because these stories were at their core, warnings to children against the very real horrors of the world that were lurking around every corner: charming but devious suitors, animalistic serial killers, depraved misogynists, paedophiles - essentially, the villainy of human nature.  All with the implicit intention of hammering home issues of morality.  (A book to really frighten you is Angela Carter's deliberate perverse take on classical fairytales - The Bloody Chamber. Never again will you look at fairytales the same way...)

Horror novels - not that scary in my opinion. Or maybe I just haven't read the right ones. Any you would recommend?

For now though, I'll go back to Stoker and enjoy the gothic thrills of Transylvania. Or maybe Anne Rice, another master of gothic grandeur. Stick with the vamps. And leave the scares to the creepy-tuned  films.

Happy Hallowe'en!

~ Siobhán

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Sunday Morning Musing: Hilary Mantel, Booker Prizewinner

Congratulations to Hilary Mantel who won this year's Booker, the only woman to have won the award twice (once for her book 'Wolf Hall', a historical novel about Cromwell, and this year for the sequel 'Bring Up the Bodies.')

The New Yorker this week has an interesting profile on her (Read entire article here). While reading it I was struck by her description of the writing process, how she finds an aspect of it unreliable - that mysterious creative aspect that all of us writers treasure, but are also unsure of:

"I don't think one ever quite learns to trust the process. I feel, What if I wake up tomorrow and I can't do it anymore? I know I'll always be able to write, in the sense of having a robust style that's sufficient to the occasion, and I know that books can be got onto the page by craft, but the thing that makes a phrase that fizzes on paper - you always fear that may not be there any longer, because, after all, you did nothing to deserve it. You did nothing to contrive it. It's just there. You don't understand it, it's out of your control, and it could desert you."  

'the thing that makes a phrase that fizzes on paper...' That inexplicable spark that comes and goes and illuminates a piece of work is held highly by all writers. And it's true that all writers - even successful award-winning ones - are aware of its power and afraid that it will desert them.  

Part relief to know this! 

~ Siobhán

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

On Reading

This week I came across a lot of random quotes on reading, so I'm going to share some of them here, as they're just too good not to! (in a nice little picture arrangement)

I feel so passionate about reading and encouraging reading to people! Unfortunately we live in a modern age of technology that offers so many distractions to reading books. And it's such a shame, it really is. 

Because look what books can do! Rudyard Kipling once said 'words are mankind's most powerful drugs' and in books, we see their true power. They are proof that humans can work magic as Carl Sagan says. And as CS Lewis and George RR Martin suggests, when we read we live more than our own life, we live thousands. And in the process, learn so much more about life.  As Ursula Le Guin says (of which I couldn't find an image...): 'We read books to find out who we are. What other people, real or imaginary, do and think and feel…it is an essential guide to our understanding of what we ourselves are and may become.'

Oh, I could go on all day about the joys and benefits of reading, but I won't. I'll leave that to the writers below who have already said it so eloquently.

So read! Read, read, read! The wonders are untold! (Here's some of them below...)


Saturday, 13 October 2012

Writing & The High-Life: An Ode to Sex and the City & Carrie

Ah, after an welcome indulgence in the world of fashion, I'm feeling quite creative again. Why? Because fashion is most certainly one of the creative arts, is it not? 

I happen to be of the opinion that fashion is the best creative outlet for visibly expressing one's individuality. How we dress speaks volumes about who we are. It is perhaps the first defining aspect of self we manifest to the world. It's how we present ourselves to the world, a form of visible communication about who we are, our mood and personality indicators.

And well, all this leads me to Sex and the City. (This and the fact that it's autumn - and I always get to thinking of New York in autumn...)  Yes, it's finished its television run, but I've still been re-watching - as I'm sure countless others have! I remember in my college days when the series was just starting to be en-vogue, looking forward to a Thursday night to sit down and watch it, with a bowl of popcorn and a notebook for post-show inspiration. For not only was it empowering to women on so many levels - it was also inspiring to writers too, women writers especially, freelancers most especially!

What girl hasn't dreamed of living the life of fabulous, glamorous Carrie Bradshaw? But what writer hasn't dreamed of that life too, of the successful columnist/writer??

Sex and the City was not just a show, it was a culture phenomenon. You see, at the heart of all that fashion and dating subject-matter, was a powerful positive feminist and self-empowerment message for women. And at the heart of all the surface frivolity of fashion, there was the deeper underlying facet of life revealed. The show revolved around its main character Carrie, a New York columnist and writer. And holding every show's story, every episode together, was a new column by Carrie.  

Carrie was my TV idol writer then; I mean who else was there? Meddling and annoying Jessica Fletcher on Murder She Wrote? Those shadowy male aide-de-camp writers on crime shows? There weren't that many writers on TV then, and Carrie was both a successful woman writer and living the high life in New York. What wasn't there to admire? 

(I remember when I used to write a weekly column for my local newspaper post-Sex and the City. There were a few people who flung some Carrie comparisons at me - and it was truly a compliment (if not an exaggeration! - what I was writing about was not sex and dating and fashion and cosmopolitans - it was more focused on the light-hearted side of rural living...) Why did they use that reference? Because it was the only popular culture comparison/female writer role-model relevant I suppose - well, apart from Lois Lane maybe... but she was a bit dated by then.)

It was this primary aspect that attracted me to the show (the feisty feminist attitude second). I LOVED the idea of being a writer in New York! How glamorous and inspiring! All those cafés within a short stroll to nestle in with a portable Mac and the grandest variety of coffees available. (What other public space in the world is so inviting to writers other than an American Starbucks I ask??) Not to mention a desk (in a trendy, cosy apartment) at an open window looking out onto a tree-lined New York street, with all those horns and sirens blaring in the distance - the pace of hurried busy happening life tapping out its infectious rhythm as your soundtrack. Or even, if the notion took you- perched on a fire-escape, journal in hand, writing frantically, with the city below you. In New York, even a short stroll offers multiple muses: regret bumping into old lovers, rainy days in museums, donuts in the park, walking the windswept leafy streets in autumn, leaves twirling to the ground in front of you, the changing city a veritable ubiquitous metaphor for life's incarnations - (Carrie @the end of episode #'I Heart NY').

And then there were all those posh book releases and publishing parties to attend and sip champagne at, bumping into writers (and possible dates) at every polished marble bar counter. To have your picture grace the side of a bus (ok, well, maybe not...) and be the talk of the town for controversial read-by-everyone columns. But mostly, I think it was the idea of writing in a place that had a thriving literary scene, where it was OK to say you were a writer (it even could get you VIP passes!), where it was welcomed and embraced that really got me. 

Oh and of course - the most incredible bit - being able not only to live on, but to splurge on the income from a once-weekly column like Carrie. My, that would be the life! (Sadly, this has to be the most unrealistic aspect of SATC...) To be a part-time writer and decked out in designer gear - it just ain't plausible! But oh it is appealing.

Ahhh, New York writing daydreams... 

But it wasn't only that aspect of the writerly life that appealed to me - it was Carrie's columns. Whatever other criticism the show got, the framing device of Carrie's writing couldn't be faulted. Every column took its neat shape from the episode's storyline and vice-versa; starting off with a flash of inspiration and Carrie typing a specific statement/question relating to life, love, relationships, fashion, friends, preceded by the infamous words 'I couldn't help but wonder...'

While her ruminations weren't literary classics, they were memorable and true, even bordering on the profound at times and put in an easy bitesize enlightening way, that ensured their impact with all viewers, not just the writing ones! While the episode started out with a query, the subsequent events in Carrie's and her friends' lives led to the end outcome; the show finishing with a voiceover from Carrie, closing both her column with a newly-acquired (and sometimes hard-won) enlightened view and the episode's storyline. 

Some of these conclusions were admirable witty gems, affecting and inspirational, others would make good quips for bumper-stickers!  Especially in the last ever episode of the series where Carrie delivered her final verdict on relationships - an affirming and self-empowering statement that summed up the whole show's message (see last quote posted below), complimented by the swelling chords of The Source's song 'You Got the Love' in the background. 

The ending was my favourite part of every show. It showed the illumination writing is capable of offering. And what was best - how your own life could offer up so much inspiration for writing. You didn't have to live an exciting one, just an ordinary one, but armed with the curiosity to delve into it and see all the questions and answers it contained. Basically, that writing was a way of pondering the world and understanding it. That it was redemptive. And all of Carrie's column conclusions were ultimately empowering and enlightening and added an extra dimension to the entertainment character of the show.

So I'll leave you with some of my favourite column quotes below, to muse and mull over (and also, so just for a moment, whilst typing them, I can feel like Carrie Bradshaw...!) 


~ Siobhán  

 ~ 'When real people fall down in life, they get right back up and keep walking.' (after a fall on the catwalk as a 'real people' model at a charity fashion show)

~ 'That night I started to think about belief. Maybe it's not even advisable to be an optimist after the age of 30. Maybe pessimism is something we have to start applying daily...like moisturizer. Otherwise, how do you bounce back when reality batters your belief system, and love does not, as promised, conquer all? Is hope a drug we need to go off of, or is it keeping us alive? What's the harm in believing?'

~ 'The past is like an anchor holding us back. Maybe, you have to let go of who you were to become who you will be.'

~ 'Why do we let the one thing we don't have (a partner) affect how we feel about all the things we do have? Why does one minus a plus one feel like it adds up to zero?' 

~ 'After all, computers crash, people die, relationships fall apart. The best we can do is breathe and reboot.'

~ 'Maybe the best any of us can do is not quit, play the hand we've been dealt and accessorize what we've got.' 

~ 'Life gives you lots of chances to screw up which means you have just as many chances to get it right.'

~ 'Maybe some women aren't meant to be tamed. Maybe they just need to run free 'til they find someone just as wild to run with them.' 

~ (On Fate) 'That crazy concept that we’re not really responsible for the course our lives take. That it’s all predestined, written in the stars. Maybe that explains why, if you live in a city, where you can’t even see the stars, your love life tends to feel a little more random. And even if our every man, every kiss, every heartache, is pre-ordered from some cosmic catalogue, can we still take a wrong step and wander off our own personal milky way? I couldn’t help but wonder, can you make a mistake and miss your fate?'

~ 'When it comes to relationships, maybe we’re all in glass houses, and shouldn’t throw stones. Because you can never really know. Some people are settling down, some people are settling and some people refuse to settle for anything less than butterflies.' (on the peer pressure to get married)

~ 'Being single used to mean that nobody wanted you. Now it means you’re pretty sexy and you’re taking your time deciding how you want your life to be and who you want to spend it with.'

~ 'I'm someone who is looking for love. Real love. Ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming can't-live-without-each-other-love.' 

~ 'Why is it that we only seem to believe the negative things people say about us, no matter how much evidence there is to the contrary? ...Odd, but when it comes to life and love, why do we believe our worst reviews? The truth is, at any given moment someone somewhere could be making a face about you. But it's the reviews you give yourself that matter.'
~ 'Later that day I got to thinking about relationships. There are those that open you up to something new and exotic, those that are old and familiar, those that bring up lots of questions, those that bring you somewhere unexpected, those that bring you far from where you started, and those that bring you back. The most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you find someone to love the you you love, well, that's just fabulous.'

Friday, 5 October 2012

Everything is Fiction

I came across this really interesting article in The New Yorker recently, from a writer who makes the point that all of life is fiction. Of which all of us partake in, not just readers and writers. Life as a series of stories that we all tell ourselves. And it is indeed true. We do! 

We writers see fictional possibilities in everything: people passing us on the street, an overheard conversation, a newspaper story, a stranger's face, a stray dog, a tone of voice, a change in the weather. We also use our own life as fuel for the fiction furnace that burns within us. We see plot in problems, characters in friends, conflict in real-life dramas, poetry in love affairs. But not only that, we, like other non-reading, non-writing people invent stories to tell ourselves. Stories that explain the strangeness of the world to us, stories that soothe and enlighten and entertain and keep us attuned to our lives.

In other words, our lives are narratives we continually tell ourselves and others as a means of validation and recognition, but mostly, understanding and belonging. 

Here's an excerpt from the article by Keith Ridgway:
'And I mean that - everything is fiction. When you tell yourself the story of your life, the story of your day, you edit and rewrite and weave a narrative out of a collection of random experiences and events.  Your conversations are fiction. Your friends and loved ones - they are characters you have created. And your arguments with them are like meetings with an editor - please, they beseech you, you beseech them, rewrite me. You have a perception of the way things are, and you impose it on your memory, and in this way you think, in the same way that I think, that you are living something that is describable. When of course, what we actually live, what we actually experience - with our senses and our nerves - is a vast, absurd, beautiful, ridiculous chaos.
So I love hearing from people who have no time  for fiction. Who read only biographies and popular science. I love hearing about the death of the novel. I love getting lectures about the trivality of fiction, the trivality of making things up. As if that wasn't what all of us do, all day long, all life long. Fiction gives us everything. It gives us our memories, our understanding, our insight, our lives. We use it to invent ourselves and others. We use it to feel change and sadness and hope and love and to tell each other about oursleves. And we all, it turns out, know how to do it.' (Read the full article here)

We all know how to do it, we do. And those of us who profess we have no interest in reading or writing fiction are still partaking in fiction on a daily basis! Who doesn't lie in bed at night and go over the contents of their day, editing and re-reading it at will? And who doesn't go about their day without some concept of a bigger plot unfolding? Ready to welcome and be hooked by the adventures and pitfalls that may or may not occur, the advancement of some idea, some storyline arc that has sprung up - be it a love story, suspense story, or new drama. And we all hang on for the resolutions. And when they come and go, yet another story begins. 

We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live is the title of a book by writer Joan Didion which explores this idea.  Of course we do. Life would be random and meaningless chaos without story to gather and define its significance. Stories help us. Didion's book exploring and explaining her grief over her husband's sudden death - The Year of Magical Thinking - went on to become a bestseller and a profound favourite with readers everywhere. Not only was it cathartic for her, but found resonance with millions of people. She  is a person who has come to know the true value of story. In this excerpt from her essay We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live, she briefly outlines this idea:

'We tell ourselves stories in order to live. The princess is caged in the consulate. The man with the candy; will lead the children into the sea. The naked woman on the ledge outside the window on the sixteenth floor is a victim of accident, or the naked woman is an exhibitionist, and it would be 'interesting' to know which. We tell ourselves that it makes some difference whether the naked woman is about to commit a mortal sin or is about to register a political protest or is about to be - the Aristophanic view - snatched back to the human condition by the fireman in priest's clothing just visible in the window behind her, the one smiling at the telephoto lens. We look for the sermon in the suicide, for the social or moral lesson in the murder of five. We interpret what we see, select the most workable of multiple choices. We live entirely, especially if we are writers, by the imposition of a narrative line upon disparate images, by the 'ideas' with which we have learned to freeze the shifting phantasmagoria which is our actual experience.' 

We live entirely, especially if we are writers, by the imposition of a narrative line upon disparate images... It is this 'narrative line' that thus shapes our world, that makes it unique and engaging, and can even at times, prove as tough as a rope, a precious golden thread to hang onto when all else is unravelling. Just as bedtime stories have soothed children since Time began, self-recounted tales about one's own life can be curative and comforting. 

You just need glimpse the blurb for Booker winning novel of some years ago Life of Pi by Yann Martel, to see this powerful aspect of fiction at play. The novel is essentially about the redemptive power of fiction to transform our world and make hardships bearable. * Spoiler alert* -The story revolves around a young shipwrecked boy set adrift in the Pacific ocean with only his fictional animal companions - namely a tiger - for company and as we will see, sanity and survival against all the odds. It ends with the revelation that Pi's adventure was a story he told himself in order to survive, but confronts the reader with the idea that life is just a story too: 'Doesn't the telling of something always become a story?... The world isn't just the way it is. It is how we understand it, no? And in understanding something, we bring something to it, no? Doesn't that make life a story?'
Lots of fiction writers have explored this personal reflex to fictionalize in their work, most recently Julian Barnes in his novel The Sense of an Ending: 'How often do we tell our own life story? How often do we adjust, embellish, make small cuts? And the longer life goes on, the fewer are those around to challenge our account, to remind us that our life is not our life, merely the story we have told about our life. Told to others, but - mainly to ourselves.' Life is a story. And even more interesting, our life is not our life, but merely the story we have told about it - to others and ourselves. We are all the writers (and readers) of our own lives.

This is an idea that also intrigues one of my favourite writers Jeanette Winterson: 'We mostly understand ourselves through an endless  series of stories told to ourselves by ourselves and others. The so-called facts of our individual worlds are highly coloured and arbitrary, facts that fit whatever reality we have chosen to believe in...It may be that to understand ourselves as fictions, is to understand ourselves as fully as we can. ' (From Art Objects: Essays on Ecstasy and Effrontery)

To understand ourselves as fully as we can - we use fiction. Fiction is a modus of self comprehending. We may read for pleasure, but it is also for understanding. Same with writing. Same, with our own personal fictional sagas. 

So the next time you're accused of living in a fantasy world (a common affront thrown at writers!) - take no offence - for we all are, to a degree. We are all living in a world of our own making, our own telling. The more 'fictions' we spin from reality, the more entertaining, enlightening and redemptive our lives will be.

And whenever you hear someone dismiss fiction as frivolous and irrelevant - pah! -you may gleefully interrupt them by pointing out their own personal fictions. For everyone has their stories - love stories, coming-of-age stories, career stories, scary stories, fairytale stories and day-to-day guts-of-a-novel stories - they tell to themselves. Aware of it or not, we live in a world where everything is fiction and we are all storytellers extraordinaire. And writers by extension - are merely those who choose to record theirs in ink rather than air. 

~ Siobhán

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Almanac of Moons & Music

More moon lore... I dont know about you but I find the names of the full moons fascinating. And what's more, have you noticed how many songs there are about the moon or influenced by the moon? It's quite remarkable really!

Just this weekend, we had the Harvest Moon - the biggest and brightest and best-known of all the full moons. The Harvest Moon is the full moon that occurs closest to the Autumnal Equinox, which falls on September 21st. It has a distinct orange golden glow and appears low-hanging on the horizon and as such, really big - especially when we look at it across the horizon, where the more atmosphere its light travels through, the bigger and more coloured it appears (the moon illusion). Ask anyone about a full moon that really caught their eye and chances are it was the Harvest Moon. Big and brazen and bold! 

The Harvest Moon gets its name from the corn harvesting season in which it occurs. Its bright long-lasting light allowed farmers to stay up all night to harvest their crops. The full moon names originate from the Native Americans, who named them accordingly to keep track of the seasons. The Farmers Almanac, published in North America since the early 19th century, is another source for the names given to full moons.

Anyway, here are the most common of the full moon names:

-January: Wolf Moon - This moon gets its name from the howling of wolf packs outside Indian villages around this time of year.
-February: Snow Moon - The heaviest snows at this time of year led to this name. Usually a bright white moon too. 
-March: Lenten Moon - so called since Lent always fell in this month. Native Americans called it the Worm Moon, since it was the time when earthworms began to appear again after the ground thawed.
-April: Pink Moon - Nothing to do with its colour, this moon was named after the flowers that appear first in April, most notably pink moss or wild ground phlox. I love all the connotations of the pink moon - Spring flowering forth and a warm blush enveloping the land.
-May: Flower Moon - An acknowledgment of the flower season beginning. 
-June: Honey Moon - Ah, this one you may know! Yes, the wedding 'honeymoon' got its name from this moon, as June was (and still is) the most popular summer month for weddings. The name itself refers to the bees gathering honey at this stage of the year. It was also known as the Strawberry Moon to the Native Americans.
-July: Buck Moon - For Native Americans, this was the month when the new antlers of buck deer appear. 
-August: Sturgeon Moon - The Indian fishing tribes are given credit for naming this moon since sturgeon - a type of fish - were regularly caught during this month. Other tribes named it Red Moon, as the full moon sometimes appeared with a reddish tinge at this time.

-September: Harvest Moon - the corn harvesting season gave this moon its well-known name. It is the name given to the full moon which occurs nearest the equinox, which can mean that it sometimes falls in October. Personally, I find the name quite relevant to this time of year - a time of reaping what one has sowed and moving on, new beginnings and renewal. (Read more here)
-October: Hunter's Moon - Native Americans named this moon after the hunting season which began at this time. It was generally accorded with special honour, because of the threat of winter looming close. 
-November: Frosty Moon -  Pretty self-explanatory - relating to the weather at the time! The frosty moon is so aptly called - you''ll notice that it appears whiter than the rest of the moons like pure ice, and shining just as bright. It usually appears very high in the sky. 
-December: Cold Moon - Again, relating closely to the weather! Also known as The Long Nights Moon referring to the darkest and shortest days of winter. 

So which is your favourite moon? The Harvest Moon perhaps is the most famous - everyone knows of it.  An unique  book I came across recently about the moon, well, really - a journey in search of moonlight (it was in the travel lit shelf) - 'Nocturne' by James Attlee, acknowledges the harvest moon as his inspiring starting point for the book. Here's an excerpt from the preamble where he recounts a memorable experience of seeing a harvest moon:

"I was walking with a friend one hot August... As we rounded a corner we were both halted mid-stride by what lay before us. Looking out across the ocean we saw what appeared to be the lights of a great ship approaching, glowing orange across the water. We had been idly tracking the movement of vessels all day, as visitors to the coast will do, pleasure craft and small fishing boats mostly; we had seen nothing of this size. As we watched, we realized our eyes had been playing tricks on us. What we were seeing was the rim of the harvest moon emerging from the sea, a monstrous, swollen apparition, its shape distorted by the atmospheric conditions; glowing and pulsing like an ember, craters and canyons were clearly visible on its surface like purple veins. We stood for a few minutes before hurrying back along the path to the house where we were staying and calling our friends outside to toast the moon as it wobbled up into the sky. Later that night I was woken by the mournful bellow of a foghorn. Going to the window I saw that the moon had changed colour from tangerine to silver and was casting a blade of light over the perfectly still sea, across which a solid wall of fog was advancing towards the shore. On this night at least, in this distant corner of our crowded, congested archipelago, the moon still reigned supreme."

It does indeed.  And just look at its influence on music! How many moon songs can you name? Almost too many to mention! (More than the sun I dare say!) And it seems they all come with the corresponding moon themes: melancholy, madness, romance. Posted below are some of the most well-known ones as well as my own personal favourites. 

So many of us go about our day-to-day lives blind to the beauty of the world that surrounds us. But the moon, the moon, is a constant reminder, hanging in the sky like a miraculous glowing footnote, impossible to ignore. A reminder of some wonder that still remains intact in this often jaded world. The moon never fails to enchant us and never more so than when in its full shining glory. And I'm always surprised by how many people it affects, how many people actually stop to marvel at it, how many people it shines its light on. It's quite heartening.

So how about you? What's your favourite moon or moon song?? Do share in the moon musing!!

~ Siobhán