“With freedom, books, flowers, and the moon, who could not be happy?” – Oscar Wilde.
Tonight is marked by the last full moon of the summer, the first before the Autumnal Equinox. Traditional cultures from around the world have long had different names for the different full moons of the year. The ones you may see around the internet are often compiled from a variety of Native American peoples (stripped of their cultural context as a homogenised form of “native spirituality”), but in some traditional Celtic and medieval British sources, the August full moon is known as the Grain Moon, as the grain in the fields is being harvested around this time of the year. Of course, this year, the majority of the harvests came in early due to the extreme heat of the summer, but some crops are still hanging on in my local area.
Druidry is often seen as a solar tradition, with major festivals at the times of the Summer and Winter Solstices, and rituals held “in the eye of the sun”. By contrast, Witchcraft has long focused on the lunar cycle, holding rites at the full moons to work magic. Of course, this is a simplified picture, and both Druids and Witches can and do celebrate both the solar and lunar cycles, and I feel that as a modern Pagan, it’s important to do both.
While the solar festivals only occur four times a year, or once a season, the full moon gives us a point to check in with ourselves and our practices every month or so.
Kaitlyn Wylde, writing for Bustle, says:
With so many of us living our lives inside and hunched over screens, a full moon is a great opportunity to get outside and simply look up. Spending time in nature and appreciating the sight of a full moon is important. If the full moon does nothing more than inspire you to go outside and look at the sky for a while, it’s done something profound. It’s also a humbling and a meditative time to let the moon’s light shine on what’s inside, too.
In Druidry, the full moon is traditionally associated with peace. The Druid Network has a Full Moon Peace Intention Ritual which is performed each full moon by Druids from around the world, each one adding their intention to create a web of peace. You can also simply say the Druid’s Peace Prayer as used in rituals of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids:
Deep within the still centre of my being
May I find peace.
Silently within the quiet of the Grove
May I share peace.
Gently within the greater circle of humankind
May I radiate peace.
As the last full moon of the summer, this seems a good point to take stock of the year so far, and prepare for the Autumn and Winter ahead. It’s close to “back to school” time for a lot of students, and as I work for a large and busy University, I’m looking ahead to the hectic period of the new Term as well.
So tonight may be a good time to simply pause, stand out under the full moon (if it’s dry, or indoors in front of a candle flame if wet), with a cup of your favourite tea and find peace in this moment, here and now.