PEKELANEW – The Moon That Turns the Leaves White (October)

This time of year, around the new moon in the month of October, is traditionally known as PEKELANEW – The Moon That Turns the Leaves White.

This is the moon of the turning white season (frost). This moon brings the first frost. The leaves lose their colours and turn pale. Deer hunting is the activity during this moon. The earth is cooling down and the people turn their efforts to hunting.


The longer, cooler nights can lead to frost on the leaves and the ground in higher country.


The W̱SÁNEĆ people began splitting the cedar logs they had felled in the Spring. The completion of the canoes was Winter work. They would rough out their canoes in the forest making them easier to carry and move them to the villages.

Seals and Sea Lions were hunted in the San Juan Islands. Cod fishing tapered off toward the end of this moon and grouse hunting ceased. Preparations were made for the Fall hunt of the deer and elk. Deer were in their rutting season and easily fooled because they were not as cautious as normal.


  • What does ‘rut’ mean and why would deer be more easily fooled?
  • What are various methods of hunting seals and sea lions?
  • How is or was steam used to make canoes and bent wooden boxes?

This illustration of the W̱SÁNEĆ calendar, SḴÁU ȽTE, by artist MENEŦIYE is located on S,DÁYES (South Pender Island). The illustration depicts the four seasons, the 13 moons and the culturally important plants, food, medicines, animals and marine life.

Based on the sacred interconnectedness of all things, the observation of the 13 moons is part of W̱SÁNEĆ natural law. Each of the 13 moons provides guidance as to what cultural and economic activities are best suited for the time of year, as well as what weather to expect and what food is most abundant.

Artist Briony Penn, copyright Tsawout First Nation.

“It was not our way to separate these activities when we lived a traditional life because all was sacred to us. Our art, language, spirituality and our everyday activities were all one. In our homes and in our longhouses we continue to observe the wisdom of the past.”

~The Saanich Year, by Earl Claxton (YELḰÁTŦE) and John Elliott (STOLȻEȽ).

The 13 moons don’t line up exactly with the Gregorian 12-month calendar, but loose associations between months and the moons can be made, as shown above.

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