The Howling Moon is a term I have coined while writing my current WIP, the second in my Deathly Insanity Series, Death Becomes Me.
You would be forgiven for thinking it is a reference to wolves. You would be doubly forgiven for assuming it relates to werewolves, being as I am a writer of Urban Fantasy, Gothic Punk, and Paranormal fiction (all of which tend to contain werewolves).
Ironically, the book in question does contain werewolves, however they have nothing whatsoever to do with The Howling Moon.
For The Howling Moon is a moon of melancholy and woe, and not one of supernatural origin. It has nothing to do with magic in the strictest sense, although it is (for the MC of Death Becomes Me at least) an almost-full-moon, and much magic occurs on or around the full moon.
So what exactly is The Howling Moon?
For Evelyn Dempsey, protagonist in Death Becomes Me, The Howling Moon occurs two nights before the full moon, every month. That’s the thing about The Howling Moon – it’s as regular as clockwork and as predictable as every phase of the moon. The strange thing about it is that it’s different for different people.
Have you ever had a night in your life when something truly horrific happened? Something so traumatic that you found yourself running in fear for your life, guided by nothing but the sparse light of the fickle stars and moon? The Howling Moon is the phase of the moon, or more specifically the exact day in the lunar cycle, when you find yourself running through the night. You might be lucky and find it fat and full and giving of as much light as possible to guide you. Equally you may find it dark and stingy, giving up only the tiniest sliver of light, or no light at all. Whatever night in your life you find yourself running in such a manner is your own personal Howling Moon (and I will concede that if you’re particularly unlucky it could happen multiple times, if this is the case The Howling Moon is the moon that occurs on the worst of these nights). For the rest of your life, every time you notice the moon is in the same state it was in on the night in question – and believe me, you’ll remember – you will experience The Howling Moon. When the light from the moon is the difference between life and death, you recall every subtle detail of what it looked like.
Think of it like a flashback. If you’ve ever experience one of these you know how traumatic they can be and you know that many things trigger them. Triggers are usually sensual – a smell, a taste, or a particular image.
The Howling Moon is extremely powerful because it can transport you from wherever and whenever you are right back to the worst night of your life. It is called The Howling Moon, not because of the infamous sound wolves supposedly make in the presence of a full moon, but because of what occurs within us when we have suffered a trauma.
This could be literal – you might cry, or scream, or howl like a banshee – or it could be figurative. Either way it makes you feel as if someone or something is tearing you asunder from the inside out.
Some of us are crippled by The Howling Moon. Every time we have that flashback we are reduced to a quivering wreck on the floor, and it takes days to recover. Some of us are indifferent, and do not even notice except of rare, rare occasions.
Others are more defiant.
The welcome the sight of The Howling Moon, for it does not remind them of a night when they nearly died, or lost someone, or something, but rather of a night when they lived, against all odds.
These are the ones who lift their noses to the sky, and bay at the moon in friendly greeting.
These are the ones who survive to fight another night.
Evelyn is quite definitely a howler, and not in the sexual sense (although to be honest, she’s a bit of a screamer in that department too).
When you see your Howling Moon do you cower? Or do you lift your voice and howl in return?