The Harvest Moon has always been surrounded with a bit a romanticism and myth because it appears somewhat larger generally than other full moons and has spectacular coloration. This is a result of the tilt of the planet and atmospheric reflections. The name originates from long ago when the world was agrarian in nature. Daylight was critical to our forefathers who worked the lands, and it increased in value as the summer came to and end. The bright light of the Harvest Moon allowed growers to harvest into the evening hours and increased their success rate for storing a successful crop.
This year’s full moon occurs on September 24th, at 8:52 PM (MST), either one or two days after Mabon, the Autumn Equinox, depending on where you live. Some other names for this full moon are the Corn Moon, Wine Moon, Elk Call Moon, and Barley Moon. Full moons always have some spiritual significance associated with them, and this one is no different. It may have different meanings to different groups, but one recurring theme is that this full moon signifies “a new beginning,” which to some is a welcome change after many consecutive months of planetary retrogrades, eclipses, and other celestial events.
What You’ll Need For This Harvest Moon Ritual
This ritual is designed for a group and is best performed outside around a generous bonfire (bonfires just seem to make everything better)
What items you’ll need to collect for this ritual (as written)
Four quarter candles – yellow (east), red (south), green (north), blue (west)
Seasonal Altar Cloth
Leaves to decorate the altar and circle area
Pencils and paper
Cakes or other seasonal baked goods
Seasonal Beer and Ale to share
Goddess Candle (White)
Any portion of the ritual that is bracketed by <> symbols should be understood as instructional notes and not to be spoken aloud.
I cast this circle round and round from earth to sky, from sky to ground. I conjure now this sacred space outside of time, outside of place. The circle is cast, we are between the worlds.
Calling the Harvest Moon Quarters
Hail and welcome to the Great Spirits of the East, the birthplace of the invisible power of AIR – Your presence has no boundaries and we feel your power continuously; we seek your confidence to help navigate through the challenges that life presents each and every day <light yellow candle>
Hail and welcome to the Great Spirits of the South, where the great forges of the universe spread the immense light and heat of the element of FIRE – As we make preparations for the coming winter, we seek the certainty of all your gifts and return them with humility and praise. <light red candle>
Hail and welcome to the Great Spirits of the West, the home for the never-ending energy created by the motion of WATER – Without you, life would not exist, and no words are capable of properly giving thanks for this great gift we constantly receive, we are blessed. <light blue candle>
Hail and welcome to the Great Spirits of the North, the direction from which our EARTH calls it birthplace; Our eyes are enlightened by the beauty presented to every living being; as we sow, so shall we reap, by your will and by your protections. <light green candle>
Great Goddess, it is you who gives life to all things through your precious spark of hope, happiness, and perpetual healing. By your grace the seeds rise from the soil and provide food. By your vision the pathway to enlightenment is revealed. By your love, we are shown how to love one another without condition. Great Goddess, we humbly ask for your presence tonight under the light of this full Harvest Moon. <light Goddess candle>
Wisdom Found in the Falling Leaves
The Harvest Moon is indeed a way point for those seeking a fresh start or new beginning. After a long season of toil and possibly hardship, we’ve nearly arrived at the finish line. The days are growing shorter rapidly and thoughts are focusing on the holidays ahead as well as the impending winter. Many are experiencing a similar event happening in their spiritual lives; loose ends are being tied up, worries are being tucked away, and a new page is being turned. If you are feeling stressed, remember that the full moon is a time each month when global energy peaks and then releases in a cosmic sigh. It’s the ultimate universal deep breath of relaxation. Stop and take a moment to breathe deeply. Allow your lungs to fill with the cool night air and let the power of the elements wash away any hesitations or worries. Shake off any feelings of worry you may be harboring, even if only temporary for this night.
Before we enter into the cleansing phase of tonight’s ceremony, let’s take a few moments to learn from nature. Specifically finding wisdom in the falling leaves. As we give thanks over the next month for the bountiful harvests, all around us, leaves will be falling. As we watch our pumpkins change from green to orange and our last crops turn from green to tan, all around us leaves will be falling. As we spend the few remaining hours of evening sun tidying up our flower beds and storing our equipment, all around us leaves will be falling. They are everywhere and yet seemingly nowhere at all. They are like so many parts of our lives; present but unnoticed. Imagine if only for a moment that instead of focusing on the big things, we took time to focus on the lesser things. Imagine just doing nothing else except watching the leaves slowly dance and spin along the currents of air, as the gently fall to earth. Our minds would gather the beauty of the many colors and our senses would be on high alert to the crackling and crunching.
If we go further and look up at the mighty oaks and the majestic maples, we see the empty or nearly-empty branches in their skeletal form. Once plump and full of life, the great forests are preparing for their period of dormancy and self-reflection. Soon icy winds and blowing snow will gild the landscape and thoughts will pivot to many things other than the falling leaves and the naked trees. But before we make that leap, it’s important to listen to the lesson the falling leaves and the naked trees are speaking to us. Each leaf represents a part of the tree from which it fell. Each one has a uniqueness like no other. Multiple shapes, sizes, and colors change and then change again until the tree finally releases it’s hold on the stem and allows the leaf to float away into the abyss. The tree is cleansing itself of that which it no longer needs in preparation of a new beginning in the spring.
Some of you may be thinking that the leaves are very important to the tree and it would perish without them, so why let them go? It’s a great question and one that allows for several great answers and discussions. The leaves served their purpose during the summer; catching rain water, sunlight, and helping the tree survive, but now they are no longer useful. Notice the similarity to your own life. Each month we gather to rid ourselves of things which we no longer need; they are our falling leaves. Some of those things were quite useful, but if no longer needed they only take up space. The tree releases them and holds the space for new growth when it is ready, just as we cleanse the cobwebs from our minds and bodies and refill those spaces with something useful and productive. And just like the great trees, we hold the power to regrow new leaves when they become once again necessary.
We shouldn’t be fearful of holding on to things that we “might” need again in the future. The tree teaches us to look ahead and plan for our future needs rather than save up a bunch of dead and dried out things from our past; even if those things were once useful. As human beings, we cleanse our bodies, minds, and spiritual selves, and with practice we are able to fill those spaces in with provisions for our self-growth and future happiness. But one area we all struggle with is holding on to things based on “what could be” or other uncertainties. The lesson of the falling leaves shows us that we need to be focused on realities versus possibilities, remembering that we are in control of our future plans. The tree is looking ahead, taking care of itself during the long winter months, and preparing for a new beginning. And yes, maybe a storm will arise and break off a limb. And if that happens, the tree adapts and changes to meet that challenge. The tree is always prepared for difficulty, but it doesn’t make it part of it’s plans.
Is your tree prepared to shed its’ leaves? Are you prepared for unexpected problems but not allowing them to control your life? Do you have a plan for your future self and are you ready to exercise it when the time comes? Now is the time to broaden your thinking and also to stop being afraid of letting things go. Leaves are an integral part of life for a tree, and each year they show confidence and clarity of their own destiny by releasing them without fear. Can each of us say the same thing? Or are we letting something that isn’t part of the equation, somehow become part of the final answer? Each useless thing we hold onto, only ties up a space that could otherwise be filled with something that helps move us forward. So tonight, before we commence in our monthly cleansing through burning session, take time to think about the wisdom of the falling leaves and the great rewards found in overcoming our fears.
<Offer participants pencil & paper to write down anything they wish to permanently banish from their lives – then allow time for each person to approach the fire and burn those notes or any other items they have brought into the circle>
On this Harvest Full Moon, we must remember that cleaning and releasing is only half of the job. Do not allow negative energy to refill the spaces you’ve created. Trade the bad for something better; something enlightening and pure. Leave here with a smile on your face, the understanding that there is more to life than just existing. Stop sitting on the sidelines and engage with the things that take existence to living. Blessed Be!
Before we close the circle, I’d like to take a moment to offer thanks. We find ourselves surrounded by all that we’ve harvested, the jellies and jams we’ve preserved, the herbs we’ve dried and tinctured, the piles of logs awaiting our fires, and the pies and corn in our freezers. Mother Earth has provided all that we need
<Have everyone in the circle join hands and say with you>
“We gather tonight by the light of this Harvest Moon, to celebrate the season, and rejoice. We remember that the harvest was life to our ancestors. We offer thanks for our many blessings. May the next turn of the Wheel bring us love and compassion, abundance and prosperity, fertility and life. As the moon above, so the earth below.”
<Go around the circle, have each person share one thing they are thankful for and something they are looking forward to in the coming month.>
<Take a moment to reflect on the bounty of the season. When everyone has spoken, pass the ales, pass the cakes and share stories.>
Closing the Harvest Moon Circle
Power of earth, we offer our eternal thanks now and forever into the future for all that you provide <extinguish green candle>
Power of water, wash away all that has anchored us to a mundane life and let us swim in your energy <extinguish blue candle>
Power of fire, do not forsake our needs for light and heat as we watch the days grow shorter and the nights colder <extinguish red candle>
Power of air, stir up the falling leaves as a continual reminder that we need to release that which no longer serves us and to not fear the loss <extinguish yellow candle>
Great goddess, we thank you for your abundance, your wisdom and the unconditional love shared with us this night in our sacred space <extinguish Goddess Candle>
The circle is open but never broken!
And merry meet again