Today is the Harvest Full Moon that occurs during the time of the Fall Equinox (September 22nd, or 23rd), which marks the day when the Earth is at equilibrium, when day and night are equal lengths — ushering in a time of transition as the light begins to wane as the Northern Hemisphere begins its descent into slumber for the winter.
Astrologically, the Autumn Equinox occurs when the Sun ingresses into the zodiacal sign of Libra, when the Sun is at 0 degrees of Latitude exactly above the Earth’s equator, which causes both the southern and northern hemispheres to receive the same amount of light.
Harvest Full Moon
The Harvest Full Moon is somewhat smaller than an average-sized Full Moon because of the Moon near its apogee, in a relatively distant part of its orbit around Earth. On average, the Moon rises about 50 minutes later each day. But when a Full Moon occurs close to the Fall Equinox, the Moon rises closer to the time of Sunset. For mid-temperate latitudes (such as in the United States), it rises only about 30 to 35 minutes later daily for several days before and after the Full Harvest Moon. This means that in the successive nights after the Full Harvest Moon, the Moon will ascend in the East relatively soon after Sunset. The Moon will rise during or near twilight on these nights, making it seem as if there are several full moons – for a few nights in a row – around the time of the Harvest Moon.
The Harvest Full Moon exact time is for September 25 at 02:53 Universal Time. In U.S. time zones, that translates to September 24, at 10:53 p.m. EDT, 9:53 p.m. CDT, 8:53 p.m. MDT, 7:53 p.m. PDT, 6:53 p.m. AKDT (Alaska Daylight Time), and 4:53 p.m. HST (Hawaiian Standard Time).
Autumn Equinox – Hellenistic Tradition
According to the Hellenistic tradition, the Autumn Equinox marks the abduction of the goddess Persephone (the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, the goddess of Harvest and Fertility) to the underworld by Hades, which marked the transition from Summer to Fall. The ancient Hellenistic festivities celebrate during the Roman Era (200 BC – 500 AD) celebrated the time-honored Demeter, the goddess of the harvest, and Persephone, her daughter, whose six-month annual disappearance into the underworld which was to be the cause of the barren winter season.
The Fall Harvest New Moon was a popular time to celebrate winemaking and deities connected to the growth of the vine. During the Hellenistic era, Dionysus (the Roman God Bacchus) – the god of the grape harvest, winemaking, and wine, of fertility, of ritual madness, of religious ecstasy rapture, and redemption, and theatre in ancient Greek myth – was celebrated. Therefore, celebrating Dionysus’ divine pneumatic presence through dramatic theater – that played a central role in Hellenistic Culture – and ritual consumption of red wine followed by love-making was key in constellating the Dionysian archetype during Hellenistic harvest celebrations.
The biblical Jewish holiday of Sukkot celebrated on the 15th day of the seventh month occurs during the same period of the Harvest Full Moon. Sukkot is is a seven-day festival, also known as the Feast of Tabernacles, or just Tabernacles. Sukkot commemorates the years that the Jews spent in the desert on their way to the Promised Land, and celebrates the way in which God protected them under difficult desert conditions.
During the intermediate days of Sukkot, gatherings of music and dance, take place. This commemorates the drawing of the water for the water-libation on the Altar, an offering unique to Sukkot when water was carried up the Jerusalem pilgrim road from the Pool of Siloam to the Temple in Jerusalem. The seventh day of Sukkot is known as Hoshana Rabbah (Great Supplication). This day is marked by a special synagogue service in which seven circuits are made by worshippers holding their Four Species;
- etrog (אתרוג) – the fruit of a citron tree.
- lulav (לולב) – a ripe, green, closed frond from a date palm tree.
- hadass (הדס) – boughs with leaves from the myrtle tree.
- aravah (ערבה) – branches with leaves from the willow tree
And reciting additional prayers. In addition, a bundle of five willow branches is beaten on the ground.
Autumn Equinox – Medieval Era
During the Medieval Era (500 – 1500) in Europe, the Harvest Full Moon is seen as the time at which the crops are all harvested, and considered a powerful time energetically; referred by neo-pagans as Mabon. Mabon was seen as a time of balance between the opposing forces of light and dark, life and death. The Celts in Northern Europe would conduct a mock sacrifice on this date, burning a wicker-work figure that represented the spirit of the vegetation.
Oktoberfest is a folk festival held annually in Bavaria, Germany, that is a 16-to 18-day modern harvest festival running from late September to the first weekend in October, during the period of the Full Harvest Moon. The festival started on October 12, 1810, to celebrate the royal wedding of Prince Ludwig and Therese of Saxony-Hildurghausen. In 1811, horse races were added to the festival accompanied by tree climbing, bowling alleys, and swings and other attractions, to promote Bavarian agriculture.
By 1819 it was decided by Munich city officials that Oktoberfest become an annual event. On October 1st, 1887 – during the Harvest Full Moon, the parade of the Oktoberfest staff and breweries took place for the first time. This event showcased the splendidly decorated horse teams of the breweries, traditional marksmen’s clubs, beer-tent waitresses, and the bands that play in the festival tents. This event always takes place on the first Saturday of the Oktoberfest around 9:45 am and serves as the official prelude to the Oktoberfest celebration. The parade arrives at the Theresienwiese (an open space in the Munich borough of Ludwigsvorstadt-Isarvorstadt) which serves as the official ground of the Munich Oktoberfest and the official tapping of the first keg of Oktoberfest beer by the Mayor of Munich occurs at 12:00 pm in the Schottenhammel tent.
Today the Munich festival host bear tents, festival rides, attractions, and a thriving annual fairground trade, surrounded by a city rich with history.
Autumn Equinox – Astrology
The astrological climate during the Autumnal Equinox is also revealing for it is during this time. During the Harvest Season, the Sun is in the zodiacal sign of Libra. The archetypal quality of Libra resonates to relationships; group participation; balancing self with others; bringing about equilibrium and order, and seeking something transcendent to the self. Although both Aphrodite and Astraea are linked mythologically with Libra, the Greek goddess Athene (Roman goddess Minerva) the goddess of wisdom, war and the crafts, and favorite daughter of Zeus best exemplifies the archetypal qualities of the sign of beauty, harmony, and justice.
This particular Harvest Full Moon horoscope predominant astrological dynamic is the Venus (08 Scorpio) – Mars (03 Aquarius) – Uranus (01 Taurus) T-Square alignment. This alignment augurs for the next several months’ tremendous social vitality and enthusiasm, a craving to experience fun through music and dancing, the desire for romantic excitement, temptations, desire for sexual adventure, reckless passion, and relationship breakthroughs (or break-ups).
Therefore, we can expect the themes on how one relates to others, in all kinds of relationship —from the individual to the community level— along with the need to experience romantic novelty or break from normal romantic constraints will be pronounced during this season.
Autumn Equinox – Celtic and Druid Tradition
It is believed according to Celtic and Druid tradition that the Harvest Full Moon season is a good time for practicing prosperity magic and divination magick for according to traditional sources, the veil between the spiritual and mortal worlds is particularly thin around the autumnal equinox through Samhain – Halloween. Therefore, any form of divination you partake in will be particularly revealing now. Whether you’re celebrating with a ritual, a feast, or simply by spending time outside, this is a perfect excuse to enjoy the season.
“Shine On, Harvest Moon”
Note: The name” Harvest Moon” was popularized in the early-1900s song credited to the married vaudeville team Nora Bayes and Jack Norworth that was one of a series of “Moon theme” related songs of the Tin Pan Ally era. The song was debuted by Bayes and Norworth in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1908 to great acclaim. It became a pop standard, and continues to be performed and recorded even in the 21st century.
Shine On, Harvest Moon
By Nora Bayes and Jack Norworth (1903)
The night was mighty dark so you could hardly see,
For the moon refused to shine.
Couple sitting underneath a willow tree,
For love they did pine.
Little maid was kinda ‘fraid of darkness
So she said, “I guess I’ll go.”
Boy began to sigh, looked up at the sky,
And told the moon his little tale of woe
Oh, Shine on, shine on, harvest moon
Up in the sky;
I ain’t had no lovin’
Since April, January, June or July.
Snow time, ain’t no time to stay
Outdoors and spoon;
So shine on, shine on, harvest moon,
For me and my gal.
I can’t see why a boy should sigh when by his side
Is the girl he loves so true,
All he has to say is: “Won’t you be my bride,
For I love you?
I can’t see why I’m telling you this secret,
When I know that you can guess.”
Harvest moon will smile,
Shine on all the while,
If the little girl should answer “yes.”