The Thirteen Moons Teaching Cycle

The Anishinaabe calendar follows the moon cycles. There are Thirteen Moons within the year and each moon reflects changes in the environment. Traditional teachings are attached to each of the moon’s phases, providing guidance on how to establish mino bamaadaziwin (the good life). The names differ by region and often from community to community.

Durham College is situated on the traditional territory of the Peoples of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nations. Below is a description of both common names for the Thirteen Moons in this region, as well as, an explanation of what is happening in the natural world each month.

Manidoo Giizis (Spirit Moon, January)

  • The first moon is the Great Spirit Moon. This is the time when we are encouraged to sit in silence and reflect o our place in creation.

Mkwa Giizis (Bear Moon, February)

  • The Bear Moon reflects the time that bears would be having their cubs.

Namebin Giizis (Suckerfish Moon, March)

  • The Namebin Giizis moon phase is the coldest and most difficult time for people to access food. The sucker fish is said to offer itself to the Anishinaabe as a way to ensure their survival.

Ziisbaakdoke Giizis (Sugaring Moon, April)

  • This moon phase is when the maple syrup is running. During this time, we should reflect on the sweetness of life, understanding how we need to be in balance, just as we need to keep our blood sugar in balance.

Waabgonii Giizis (Blooming Moon, May)

  • During this moon all the plants display their Spirit sides for the world to see. We are encouraged to explore our own spiritual sides.

O’demini Giizis (Strawberry Moon, June)

  • This is the time of year when the strawberry plants are in bloom. The strawberry plant is known as the “heart” berry and they teach us about reconciliation and letting go of past hurts.

Msikomini Giizis (Raspberry Moon, July)

  • During this moon phase the raspberry plants provide their fruit. By learning gentleness and kindness, like the raspberry canes, we may pass through the thorns and harvest the fruits. Learning gentleness and kindness is especially important in raising our families.

Manoominii Giizis (Ricing Moon, August)

  • The Ricing Moon represents balance, harmony and the future. This is a time when wild rice is typically harvested and a ceremony is conducted. Wild rice is known as the “good berry” and is highly nutritious.

Waabaabagaa Giizis (Changing Colours Moon, September)

  • This is the time of year when the leaves are changing colour. We experience that beauty as we welcome the next season.

Bnaakwii Giizis (Falling Leaves Moon, October)

  • During this moon phase, the leaves are falling from the trees. It is a time of reflection and introspection when we should be consciously making the decision to stop putting energy into things that no longer serve us, letting go as the leaves let go of the space on the trees.

Baashkaakodin Giizis (Freezing Moon, November)

  • This moon phase is the time of year when the earth and creatures are preparing to fast and slow down reminding us to prepare ourselves spiritually for the coming months.

Manidoo Giizoons (Little Spirit Moon, December)

  • This is a time for healing and focusing on good health, so that we may achieve mino bamaadaziwin. It is a time to spread positive energy to our friends and family.

Mndoons Giiziis (Big Spirit Moon)

  • The Big Spirit Moon’s purpose is to purify us and to heal all of Creation.

We encourage you to learn more about Thirteen Moons cycle by visiting the First Peoples Indigenous Centre to speak with an Elder or Traditional Knowledge Keeper. For more information, please contact