The Thumbelina Moon: This week on the Storyteller's Night Sky

Jun 5, 2017

This week the Moon comes to Full Phase, and because it’s the farthest away and smallest Full Moon of the year, I’ll call it the “Thumbelina Moon”.


The exact Full Moon moment is 9:10 am on Friday, June 9th, which is about 15 hours after it has reached the place on its orbital path that is farthest away from the Earth. This is called “apogee”, which means, literally, “off earth distance.”


The Moon comes to apogee every month, and once each year it will reach Full Phase close to this spot. In 2017, that happens this week. So it brings to mind things that are teeny and tiny, like Thumbelina, the little child that came to the little old woman on a barley-corn blossom.


Now even though the child was scarcely half a thumb in height, she had many great and harrowing adventures that usually resulted in her being captured because of her beauty and offered in marriage; first to a toad; then to a mole; until finally she was freed by a swallow and taken to the land of the Flower King, a handsome fellow as tiny as Thumbelina, whom he preferred to call May Blossom.


This classic tale from 1835 is by the Danish storyteller Hans Christian Andersen, who was a master of weaving tales out of the elemental forces of nature. The joy of his stories is not only that he created such happy imaginations, but that he was aware of the human being’s role in the kingdom of flowers and birds where witches and toads ride moonbeams and lily pads. That role is to tell stories, because the engagement of a human imagination in bringing about happily ever after is as necessary to nature as the forces that bring flowers to bud and blossom. The Moon will not necessarily seem teeny tiny on Friday; and beautiful little children might not appear wrapped in flower petals, but there’s nothing that says we can’t imagine it to be so!


Try your hand at happily ever after Thursday night, eve of the “tiniest” Full Moon of the year, when it rises up in the east at 8:32 pm, an hour before the big ole Sun sets in the west.