Harvest Moon

The full moon nearest the Autumn Equinox is known in folklore as the Harvest Moon (sometimes also called the Hunter’s Moon). The earliest recorded use of the term “Harvest Moon” is from 1706, but it is almost certainly an earlier name. This year’s Harvest Moon was especially close to the Equinox, due to the Equinox being slightly late (23rd September), with the Harvest Moon on the 24th-25th September.

Due to the shortening days, the moonrise is reasonably close to the sunset, allowing for near-continuous brightness early in the evening; useful for farmers getting the last sheaves of the harvest in!

This year’s Harvest Moon seemed to me at least to be especially bright and striking. I manged to see it rise above the clouds and was just awe-struck by its beauty. Knowing the moon is an orbiting rock in space, a mirror of the sunlight (not as ancient people thought a light itself), and that people have walked on its surface, does not lessen that awe for me, it increases it.

Full moons are always a good time to take a moment out of the everyday world, the world of clock-time and calendar-time, and return to a sense of awareness of the natural cycles of time, of the earth, the sun and the moon; to see our place in the great dance, and to relax into the rhythms of nature.

Books and websites will give you literally thousands of full moon rituals to perform, invocations to say, magic to work, but for me, the simple act of standing outside, gazing at the moon and being still is enough.

The moon may be waning now (“waning gibbous” to use the technical term) but if you go out tonight it will still appear almost full and still bright.

Of course, the waning moon has its wonders too, and traditionally is a time for working to decrease anything you want less of in life, such as anger or stress. As the moon gets smaller, visualise your negativity also getting smaller until at the dark moon, it is gone completely. And then enjoy the spectacle of the new moon growing larger as it waxes to full once again.

The cycle turns, the year slips into darkness, the nights overtaking the days. Now is the time of the moon, now is the season of the Witch.

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