Harvest Moon is celebrated in almost every culture, and the bounty of the season is marked in a myriad of ways. Harvest Moon touches the Equinox, the festival of Janus, the culmination of Homowo, the “crying of the neck” in Cornwall, and the Women’s Festival of the Moon. This is a day that celebrates abundance and beauty, fertility and progress, and the light of this full moon blesses new undertakings and reunites lost loves.
The Harvest Moon, by definition, is the Full Moon that falls closest to the Autumnal Equinox, and thus, it shares some of that Sabbat’s characteristics. This Full Moon was thus named because it rises within half an hour of the sun’s setting, in the Northern Hemisphere, and at this time farmers are able to work longer into the night by the light of this Moon. As the year draws to a close, the Full Moon rises an average of fifty minutes later each night, with the exception of a few nights surrounding the Harvest Moon, which only rises 10-30 minutes later. This moon is also, to the human eye, the fullest and largest of the year’s Moons, hanging gloriously huge, yellow and low in the night sky, and many lunar illusions play tricks our eyes at this time.
The Harvest ushers in many celebrations, including the Equinox and the Festival of Janus, God of Doors. Janus is the Roman Lord of Gateways, beginnings and endings, and transitions. Thus, the Harvest Moon is a time for blessing new ventures, the onset of new and progressive phases in one’s life, and rites of passage into adulthood. This time of year also marks one of the Festivals of Dionysus, Lord of Ecstasy and the Vine.
This Harvest lunacy combines the autumnal scents of dry leaves, mulling spices, balsam fir and spruce tips, cedar, juniper berry, clove, saffron, wild apple, sage, yarrow, and lily twined with Dionysus’ sacred grapes and ivy, a bounty of blackberry and pumpkin, deep russet sunflowers, the amaranth and lingum aloes of Janus, all touched by a gentle breath of festival woodsmoke and sweet wine.