The final quarter of the second moon cycle in the Choctaw season onáfa began today in Chahta i̱ Yakni, land of the Choctaw, at 2:33am. The third quarter started with rain and ended with cool temperatures that lasted all day. The cold mornings are here for good. The moon was in the Leo constellation when the third quarter ended.
The next moon is called Kowi Chito.
The fourth quarter is a time to plan for new projects, or new parts of bigger projects, to start with the new cycle. Onáfa is a good time to listen to elders and stories, and to learn.
Starting the day today with the closest brightest moon Earth has seen in near 70 years. It is the brightest full moon to be seen for many months and seasons to come. The Choctaw month, Hohchafo Chito, is the second moon cycle in Onáfa, winter season. The second quarter temperatures were finally remaining lower, with morning sunrise temperatures in the mid and low 40s. This first day of the third quarter began at 7:52am in Choctawland, when hashninnak a̱ya, moon, reached 100%. It was also much cooler this morning with the sunrise temperature at 36 degrees.
The first quarter of the Hohchafo Chito moon ends around 1:51pm today. The end of the quarter was also the end of daylight savings time so the sun will start setting before 5pm this next quarter. In the next quarter the moon will be moving into the perigee-syzygy of the Earth-Moon-Sun and it will be the closest and brightest full moon in over 60 years.
The week was warm and more leaves are changing and falling from the trees. The trees with leaves changing are the tall sycamores, yellow poplar, and maples. The trees that are still pretty green are the oaks, elms, hickories, the sweetgum, and the two holly trees and pines of course. There is a young red mulberry with a few leaves left. A sapling cedar and black willow can be found in the underbrush with the many other sapling oaks, pines, and hickories and the enemy greenbrier. The phoenix sassafras has a new inhabitant, a big green spider, and the leaves are barely turning red. It’s self grafted base is looking shabby. With the new warming climate and lack of rain it will be interesting to watch the resilience of all the iti alhíha these next few months.
The second moon cycle of the Choctaw winter season, Onáfa, starts today. The new Choctaw lunar month is called Hohchafo Chito. This is based on an alignment of the Choctaw months with the a lunisolar calendar, and the new season beginning the first new moon after the autumnal equinox. Using this system the Choctaw year could be counted as seen in this workbook1-2
The summer season, Toffa, would start on the first new moon after the vernal equinox. The Choctaw had an intercalary month, which accounts for the extra moon cycle before the equinox every few years. All the dates in the workbook are aligned with the Choctaw homeland as reported at this site by the U.S. Naval Observatory.
When was the Choctaw New Year? Perhaps the Choctaw did not celebrate a single new year. Did they put more emphasis on the beginning, or end, of two longer seasons? Onáfa hicha Toffa, Winter and Summer. This line of thinking can be justified somewhat etymologically. The names Onáfapi hicha Toffapi, Fall and Spring, are derivatives of the names for Winter and Summer. They mean something like stem of Winter, and stem of Summer. But if the Choctaw season Onáfa was known to start with the autumnal equinox, and Toffa with the Vernal equinox, then the names for Fall and Spring may have just been created to match outside cultures that named four seasons. It requires a shift in perspective to answer the initial question. There is still more shifting ahead. Keep looking to the moons!
Early in the morning on the 21st fichik hika, a shooting star, streamed across the sky above the house. Hashninnak A̱ya was still high in the sky, but it’s bright rays could not hide the flaming wonders of the Orionids Fichik Híli, Orionids Meteor Shower.
In the early 1980’s, a few articles were published in the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma’s Bishinik that suggested the Choctaw of ancient times divided their calendar into two seasons. Writer Len Green discussed the timing of the seasons as well as the need for an intercalary time, as is necessary with lunar calendars.
The year was divided in two parts as indicated, with Tek i Hvshi beginning around the time of the vernal equinox (about March 22) and Chvfiskono beginning around the autumnal equinox (September 22).
…to keep the months in harmony with the ripening of fruits and other seasonal events, every two or three years an additional month, Luak Mosholi (extinguishing fire) was observed to take up the slack. It is not known at this time when that month occurred, or whether it was in the summer or winter, but that’s the way they used to do it.
Full articles are transcribed here. Another seasonal question then: When was the Choctaw new year? A more important question, because it may be hard to ever answer the previous one: who knows the sources from where each of the above suggestions may have been derived?