lunar eclipse seen fron the moon by Lucien Rudaux

red moon

lunar eclipse seen from the moon by Lucien Rudaux

Thy shadow, Earth, from Pole to Central Sea,
Now steals along upon the Moon’s meek shine
In even monochrome and curving line
Of imperturbable serenity.
Thomas Hardy, At a Lunar Eclipse

It is the very error of the moon,
She comes more near the earth than she was wont,
And makes men mad.
William Shakespeare, Othello Act 5 Scene 2

Over the mountains
Of the moon,
Down the valley of the shadow,
Ride, boldly ride
Edgar Allen Poe, Eldorado

Under blue moon I saw you
Echo and the Bunnymen, The Killing Moon

I saw the crescent
You saw the whole of the moon
The Waterboys, The Whole of the Moon

Over Sarusawa Lake when the mist is thick
The rising and setting of the moon
No man knows
Trevor Leggett, Zen and the Ways

What has the sword to do with poetry about the moon? What inspirations is the swordsman expected to get from viewing the moon as the day dawns? What secret is here?
Daisetz T Suzuki, Zen and Japanese Culture

Last week there was an eclipse of the moon. Over Japan the moon became a faded red.

I have always liked the moon. It’s in the name of my blog. Moon in the water. The moon in the water is an idea from zen and Japanese swordsmanship. The moon is free of emotion. Water is free of emotion. If there is a reflection of the moon on the water or if there is no reflection of the moon on the water it’s all the same. In zen and in the martial arts your mind must always be free. Never getting stuck on one point.

Monday in English means moon day. The day of the moon. Strangely it’s exactly the same word in Japanese. Getsuyoubi. 月曜日. げつようび. The day of the moon. And by the way Sunday – the day of the sun in English – is also the same as the Japanese. Nichiyoubi. 日曜日. にちようび. The day of the sun.

The word month also comes from the word moon. In modern Japanese months are numbered simply from one or first month to twelve or twelfth month. The old Japanese names for months are very interesting. December is shiwasu 師走 しわす priests (or teachers) running. Because priests have to rush around at the end of the year performing ceremonies.

In English the names of the months come from Latin. The fifth month of the Roman calendar was eventually renamed for Julius Caesar – July in English. The sixth month was renamed for Augustus Caesar – August in English. September means seventh month, October means eighth month, November means ninth month and December means tenth month. There were only ten months originally. Winter was a period without months. That’s such an interesting concept. It’s like a ma ai – a critical distance – between the end of autumn and the beginning of spring. Eventually January and February were added. January is named after Janus, the god of the gate. The god with two faces. One face looking back to the old year and one face looking forward to the new year.


total lunar eclipse
Total lunar eclipse by Sean Kelly

This photo is from 2010 but it is the closest I could find to what the eclipse over Japan looked like on 10 December 2011


Free e-books
Thomas Hardy, Poems of thePast and Present
William Shakespeare, The Complete Works
Edgar Allen Poe, The Complete Poetical Works
Eldorado is from Poems of Later Life

Echo and the Bunnymen, The Killing Moon
The Waterboys, The Whole of the Moon
Claude Debussy, Clair de Lune – Moonlight – from Suite bergmanesque
Ludwig von Beethoven, Moonlight sonata

News article on the eclipse over Japan

Wikipedia articles

painting of lunar eclipse seen from the moon by Lucien Rudaux

photo: Total Lunar Eclipse by Sean Kelly

Aqui la traducción en español.

Hier die Deutsche Übersetzung.

my columns on aikiweb:
Martial Arts in Manga and Animé
Indigo Blue
Improvised Weapons No.1: The Umbrella
Unbalance – Feet of Clay
Half a Tatami
Zen in the Art of Aikido

I have an essay in a charity e-book put together by some writers and photographers to raise money for victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Tohoku on 11 March 2011. It costs $9.99.

© niall matthews 2011


  1. niall

    Thank you Yaron. Happy new year.

  2. yaron armon

    Beautiful post

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