This year the Harvest Moon, the full moon closest to Mabon, comes to us on 1st October 2020. The Harvest Moon is at its’ brightest at around 10.05pm BST, when the moon is in full opposition to the sun – bringing us an overwhelmingly important message – balance.
By now we have all surely noticed the cooler days, chilly evenings and darker nights. I’m writing this at 7.30pm BST and it’s pitch black outside, which personally I love as it means the lanterns on my hearth are lit up, candles are burning and the cats are all asleep in the same room as us. Try to get them all together like this in the height of summer and you might as well, to quote my dad, try to knit fog.
The Harvest Moon is probably one of the most well known of the full moon names, with popular songs named after it, and obviously, the Harvest coming to a close around this time. We are fully into Autumn now with leaves on the ground around our feet and bracing breezes whipping our hair and clothes up around us as we step out out of our doors. We are faced with beautifully warm colours, spicy smells and rich decadent tastes. What’s not to love.
So what does the Harvest Moon represent? The first thing the Harvest Moon reminds us to do is to rest and recover from the hard work and dedication of our endeavours this year. In a literal sense we see this referring to the long difficult days spent in the fields reaping the harvest and stocking up for the dark snowy days ahead. However this same lesson can resonate with us in many ways.
Take stock at this time and let our Luna Lady amongst those most beautiful stars show us that we can sit and reflect on the hard work we have put into any of our tasks and ambitions this year. It doesn’t matter what we have dedicated ourselves to as long as we have owned that dedication, moved forward authentically and either have our results or a plan in motion to achieve our goals.
At this point in the year, allow yourself to lie back, take a deep breath of crisp autumn air and close your eyes to rest a while; you do not have to be constantly in motion, your mind does not have to be constantly thinking, and you do not have to be constantly doing things for others. You are allowed to rest, you are allowed to empty your mind, you are allowed to say no thank you and not today. You are allowed to put yourself first and look after you.
The Harvest Moon symbolises new beginnings, (which is a contradiction to the usual time for new beginnings – the New Moon), and is the perfect time to plan new ventures to begin once your rest is complete, or to plan the progress of existing endeavours once the dark days have passed us by again.
The Harvest Moon is also the time to assess and cleanse; is there something you are carrying with you emotionally, spiritually or physically that is no longer serving you, is feeling heavy or dragging you backwards or down? This is the time to cleanse yourself of such things. Make magical moon water under this full Harvest Moon to cleanse crystals and other magical tools. Use it to ritually cleanse yourself by adding it to bath water or cleansing your hands and face with it. Clear out clutter from your home just as you would at Ostara, after all, we are at Ostara’s opposite at this time of year.
Physically, the Harvest Moon is when the moon looks closest to us in the sky, it appears bigger to us and rises closer to sunset than any other full moon in the lunar year.
A short blog for you this time around, I’ve been very busy and will certainly be taking heed of my own words and giving myself some downtime to rest and take care of myself over the coming month or two, with some time dedicated to some fabulous blog content for the run up to Samhain and Yule.
This year, in 2020, Mabon falls on Tuesday 22nd September, and I for one cannot wait. I have a definite passion for this time of year; the cooler days and longer nights that are on the horizon completely resonate with my soul and fill me with an overwhelming sense of peace and calm.
What is Mabon?
Mabon is the autumnal equinox and marks the official start of the season of Autumn. As with Ostara, the vernal equinox in March, Mabon is one of two points in the year when the hours of light and dark are equal; the day and night are perfectly balanced at Mabon and allows us time to pause and recognise that same balance within ourselves.
From the summer solstice the in June, the days begin to shorten, and by the time we reach Mabon here in the middle of September, the increased hours of darkness are noticeable and the coolness is starting to creep back into the night air. The Earths natural endless cycle is approaching it’s time of slumber as that which grows has matured and we give our gratitude for the plenty we are provided with.
For our ancestors the Autumnal Equinox was one of four points in the year (the Vernal and Autumnal Equinoxes and the Summer and Winter Solstices) and four cross points (Imbolc, Beltane, Lammas and Samhain) representing the cycle of seasons, all of which marked an important point in the cycle of nature and foretold the changing of the weather. To our ancestors these markers in the year were essential as they kept (and keep to this day) the wheel of agriculture, planting and harvest in motion.
In this seasonal and agricultural respect, which was of course the most important part of life for our ancestors, Mabon marks the middle of the harvest; the full moon closest to Mabon is named the Harvest Moon, and crops, fruits and vegetables were all brought into stores to see communities through the cold and dark months ahead.
But Mabon is more than just a marker in the days of the harvest, it is a time for deep reflection and appreciation of the darker side of life and the slow and restful days to come. Look back witches, at your book of shadows, look back, pagans, at the practices, rituals and manifestations of Ostara, and remember the goals you set for yourself, the spells you cast and the intentions you put out into the ether. For Ostara is the opposite of Mabon, the other side of this spoke on our ever turning wheel, and the work we set out on then is perfectly considered at it’s universal opposite.
I’m not saying everything should have been achieved, not at all, as whilst the Ether, the Wyrd, the stardust and sunbeams make up who we are and run through our veins and into our very bones, we are only human. If you have made a plan to achieve a goal, if you have written the first line of a spell, if you have decided you need to take a course of action, if you have started anything at all towards any of your Ostara intentions, Mabon is the time to sit with your progress and remind yourself that what you have done is exactly what you should have done. You have accomplished. Let it simmer within you, write down your progress in a book of shadows, a journal to hibernate it over the dark months. Or maybe these are the months when your progress and intentions will manifest and come to life; if so, write significant words on a spell candle or write whatever feels right to you on a piece of paper to burn, to bring light to your intent and diffuse your progress so far in to the universe and realms around you.
As with all things in nature, animals and plants alike, this is a time of year to wind down your pace and bring peace and rest into your heart and mind.
We see the trees become bare, plants and flowers return to bulb and seed to sleep, and animals build warmer dens and burrow, or migrate to warmer shores.
If, like me, your spirit feels malnourished without plants around you inside of your home and in your garden, this is the time to start bringing evergreens into these areas. My personal affiliations are with Ivy and Succulents, Rosemary and Fir.
Fill your hearth, light your candles and slow down. Take deep breaths, breathe in the ever chillier ait outside of your front door. Take moments to hear the sound of vibrant fallen leaves crunch beneath your feet and enjoy the feeling of warm soft fabrics and the closeness of loved ones and familiars. Immerse yourself in magical, ghostly and heart warming stories. Make sumptuous broths and stews, toast marshmallows by burning fires and drink decadent hot drinks to warm your hands and soul.
One of my favourite things to start doing at Mabon is taking a basket to the woods to collect fallen acorns, pinecones, vines and wood to make autumnal and Yule decorations for my home and for friends. Mother nature has so many wonderful gifts for us if we take the time to look and to give thanks.
Decorate your Alter
One of the first preparations most pagans make to honour any of the eight points on the wheel of the year is to prepare their alter. An alter doesn’t need to be anything expensive or big, it is simply a space of your own that you adorn and decorate with the items you use in your craft, to honour your chosen deities (if any) and with items to recognise, give thanks for and honour the sabbat. Some Pagans have large chests or tables, others have outdoor spaces and some will decorate a window sill or mantle. It may be simply lighting a particular coloured candle.
Being the start of autumn, Mabon brings with it a kaleidoscope of warming colours, comforting foods and cosy clothes. We can start to look forward to dusting off snuggly jumpers, slipping into fur lined boots and lighting fires and candles to tell enchanting tales around.
And amongst this cacophony of colourful change in the earth around us we see alters adorned to reflect this time of transition into autumn. Ivy, rosemary, pine cones, red and green apples, seeds and pomegranates, along with grains and corn all represent the abundance of the harvest. Set some or all of these on your alter to show reverence for the plenty the Earth has provided us with.
Spells / wishes / hopes and intentions can be laid on your alter, written in colours of the season such as oranges, yellows, browns, reads and dark greens. Let your instincts take over and decorate your writings with your own patterns and in colours that speak to you.
Burn a candle in one of these Mabon colours and carve a Sigel or Rune that you are working with into it (if you work with either), or carve a word to represent your hopes and spells for the coming season. Be sure to use a candle that you will continue to burn until it is completely finished if you carve into it; small spell candles are best. I never blow out a candle adorned with a spell, however you can snuff the candle if you need to, just be sure not to blow your intention away.
If you feel a connection with scents and aromatherapy you will enjoy anointing your candle with a dreamy autumnal scent. Either make your own with some of your favourites or chose something that fills you with feelings of warmth and cosiness. At this time of year I enjoy the captivating smells of spiced apple, pumpkin, vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, frankincense and lavender.
If you don’t want to anoint your candle its nice to have an oil burner sending out these autumnal feels or to have some incense burning in these comforting undertones. There’s no reason why you can’t mix and match these uses of scent or use all three at once.
Scent can be a real mood setter, can trigger memories and can help to heal our bodies, minds and souls. If you can work the wonderful gifts that nature gives to our sense of smell, you should absolutely work it one way or another into your alters, rituals, spells and every day witchy life.
Healing Crystals & Stones
If you work with healing crystals, Mabon is a good time to add Lapis Lazuli, Topaz, Magnetite and Shamanic Dream Stone to your alter.
Lapis Lazuli is a stone I work with and wear all year round. It is very much associated with balance and embracing the darkness and the light in life; placing this crystal on your alter will bring balancing energies into your alter space, into your meditations and into your life.
Topaz is a stone that vibrates with energies of healing and abundance, both of which are very relevant at Mabon as we are very aware of the abundance of the earth, and, as the harvest begins to come to an end, we can find time to rest and rejuvenate during the coming darkness.
To add Magnetite to your alter also brings balance into your space, but with that balance you will also find a sense of grounding and connection to the earth.
The last stone I would add to my alter is Shamanic Dream Stone which, again, has energies working to balance our bodies and minds. It promotes introspection and during this time of rest guides us in our journeys within, assisting us in Chakra balancing and completion of tasks and manifestations set at Imbolc and Ostara.
I don’t want to say too much about deities as all pagans follow different paths and all honour different (or no) deities for different reasons.
What I will tell you, is that for me, Mabon is the time I feel the connection with my Goddesses deepen. I work with the dark goddesses Inanna, Persephone and Ereshkigal, all of whom have their journeys rooted in not only living and surviving in, but flourishing in the underworld, in the darkness, in rising from deathly situations to be wiser and more divine than they had previously been. Stripped of themselves and violated, both Inanna and Persephone rise to become the ultimate in feminine divinity and to be more whole and balanced than their former selves. They were stolen away into the darkness, yet embraced that darkness, walked through it, descended into it, let it engulf them and became sisters with it; and the darkness did not kill them. Whilst they missed the light, there was healing and rest to be had in their dark days. Their descents into their underworlds gave them time to see into the blackness and understand that without it, there cannot be light. In order to see the day, we must make friends with the night. Without the night, we cannot see the stars or our Luna Goddess high above us. Without descent there is no ascent. I will tell their stories fully in later posts, however for now my pagan sisters and brothers, I wish you a very Happy Mabon 2020 and hope that your rest and journey through our coming darkening days is a filled with magic, plenty and laughter.
As with all of my posts, I have included the work of some amazing artists whose work I very much admire and covet. Below are links to their online spaces.
….. falls on 2nd September. And if you’re anything like me you’ll be thinking thank goodness it’s September.
I’m sure you’ve all noticed the days getting shorter and the nights getting cooler as the wheels spins us rapidly towards the dark half of the year. That is why right now, I can be found in the back garden, on a clear night, on the very last day of August, enjoying one of the few nights left this summer where it is practical to sit outside and write.
It is very much in my nature to be outside whatever the weather; waterproof Gazebos and sheltered fire pits are my friends. However even I won’t sit and shiver my way through writing a blog post in the very coldest and darkest of days.
I relish the crackling of the fires, the lights adorning houses and gardens, the celebrations of All Hallows Eve, Bonfire Night and Yule. My dark goddesses come into their own and remind me in furtive whispers of the lessons they have taught me and make their promises that they will continue to walk with me just as I promise to continue honouring them.
But let’s leave these tales of darkness here for now; we will continue talking about this in my upcoming Mabon blog post. For now, we turn our attention to our beautiful lady of the sky in all of her bright and full glory.
The ceaseless and unforgiving spin of the wheel is the reason our September full moon is either named The Full Corn Moon or The Harvest Moon. The Harvest Moon falls in September two in every three years, and is always the full moon closest to the Autumnal Equinox. This year, in 2020, it is the full moon on 1st October which is closest to the Autumnal Equinox, making our September Full Moon the Full Corn Moon instead of the Harvest Moon. This happens every third year.
This year the Autumnal Equinox falls on 22nd September at 14.30 in the UK.
Our ancient ancestors tracked their time and seasons using the night sky; both the stars and the moon, and they named the monthly full moons to guide them through the practical activities they relied upon, such the dawning of the time of year to harvest their crops, and on what they saw in the natural world around them (for example the Sturgeon Moon or the Buck Moon are named after significant activities of these animals at particular points in the year).
This is the time of year to harvest and fill up on stores to last through the harsh winter months. Our ancestors saw more brutal and unforgiving winters than we do. They did not have the home luxuries that we have such as central heating to keep them warm and safe against the frosts. They did no have shops to provide them with all of their needs. Instead communities relied upon not only successful harvests of grains, fruits and vegetables to last them many months, but on gathering wood for fires and straw for roofs. The coming of the Corn Moon (or Harvest Moon) was an important marker, a vital indicator of this notch on the spinning wheel.
And whilst the coming days and months are filled with preparations for winter, it is also delightfully true that the days leading to winter are days for the warmth of flames, cosy blankets and heart warming tales; these are my favourite times of the year. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the changing seasons and find joy in the Spring and Summer, walking with the May Queen and Oak King along their path of virility to their place of slumber, however the darker days are my domain.
Civilisations across the globe have had many names for the full moons, and, through the ages, the name The Full Corn Moon has been generally accepted as the name for this particular September Moon, with alternatives being The Barley Moon, the Fruit Moon and the Honey Moon. The name comes to us from wise tribes of Native Americans, who recognised many moos ago that this was the time of year to begin thinking about harvesting the crops, bringing in the grains, and making stores for the colder months ahead. This year our Full Corn Moon is the last full moon of the summer, a reminder to us that colder days are close on our tails.
As we journey into the coming annual darkness we find ourselves with more time to reflect and to complete the thoughts of where we want our path to lead us though the next few months and of the things we would like to bring into our lives. These many faceted thoughts that come to us in fragments through the excitements and adventures of the long summer days never seem to feel fully formed. The Full Corn Moon is the perfect time to sit with these thoughts and allow them to complete their transformation into plans and goals.
During the Full Corn Moon, when you’re sitting with these thoughts, focus on your emotions, on healing your body and mind, on bringing balance into your life. These are the areas that will reap the most benefit from soaking in the moonbeams, whether real if you’re outside or metaphorical if you’re inside, of the homely and generous Full Corn Moon.
Don’t forget that all full moons are of course magical times to recharge healing crystals, to make moon water, to cast spells and set manifestations for abundance and healing. Just remember that it is during the Full Corn Moon, when the focus of the natural cycles of our Mother Earth is to harvest, to store, to bring into life and home the things needed to survive the coming winter, that that your wishes and intentions for abundance are in perfect symmetry with the flow of the year and are particularly strong.