“Smoke hangs like haze over harvested fields
The gold of stubble, the brown of turned earth
And you walk under the red light of fall
The scent of fallen apples, the dust of threshed grain
The sharp, gentle chill of fall.
Here as we move into the shadows of autumn
The night that brings the morning of spring
Come to us, Lord of Harvest
Teach us to be thankful for the gifts you bring us
The bounty of your sacrifice
The warmth and the light of friends gathered around the bounty of the earth.
Dionysus, Osiris, Cernunnos, Dumuzi, Frey,
Lord of the grain,
SEPTEMBER ~ THE HARVEST MOON
September is the ninth month of the year. Its name is derived from the Latin word septum, which means “seventh,” as it was the seventh month of the Roman calendar. Its astrological sign is Virgo, the maiden (August 23 – September23), a mutable earth sign ruled by Mercury. September is a month of fulfillment. Kitchens are busy, as the garden’s last produce is canned and preserved. The air is filled with the cidery tang of harvest time. Squirrels hide their nuts, and chipmunks line their nests with grain. Asters raise their purple heads, and monarch butterflies add their black and orange hues to autumn’s palette. The sacred beverages of the season–cider and wine–echo the colors of nature now. The Fall Equinox, or Mabon is the major holiday of September. Mabon represents the dual nature life/death. At Mabon, we also celebrate the second harvest, say farewell to summer, and enter the dark season. For this sabbat, altar decorations include pumpkins, squash and grapes. September’s Full Moon is the Harvest Moon, perhaps the most well known of the year. It rises above the horizon and glowing in solitary splendor. She is queen of the September night. The night belongs to her, and to her alone. Honor her by raising a glass of cider of wine, then respectfully pour it onto the earth.
Mabon also reminds us of the goddess Demeter, and how her period of mourning for her abducted daughter Persephone coincides with nature’s decline. To honor Demeter, drape your altar with purple fabric, and upon it place one red apple. Meditate about what you have and what you wish for. Bury the apple as you visualize your wish coming true. By September’s end, autumn’s flame begins to burn. You can see it in the orange of the maples and in the purple wild asters. Golden September—it’s a time to dream, and a time to make those dreams come true.
—Excerpt from Llewellyn’s 2018 Witches’ Spell-A-Day Almanac
Article Entitled “September” by James Kambos
The Harvest Moon
September brings us the Harvest Moon, sometimes referred to as the Wine Moon or the Singing Moon. This is the time of year when the last of the crops are being gathered from the fields and stored for the winter. There’s a chill in the air, and the earth is slowly beginning its move towards dormancy as the sun pulls away from us. It’s the season when we’re celebrating Mabon, the autumn equinox.
- Colors: Use browns and greens, earth tones, to represent the changing colors of the fields and lands around you.
- Gemstones: Citrine, chrysolite, peridot, bloodstone, and other reds, oranges, and yellows can symbolize the colorful leaves on the trees in your area.
- Trees: Bay, larch, hawthorn, and oak are all associated with this time of year.
- Gods: Demeter, Brighid, Freyja, and Vesta, as well as other deities of the harvest, are appropriate to honor in September. You can also work with gods connected to vegetation and vines.
- Herbs: Do magic involving wheat, valerian, witch hazel, and skullcap, along with other sacred plants of the season.
- Element: Earth is typically associated with this time of year.
This is a month of hearth and home. Spend some time preparing your environment for the upcoming chilly months. If you don’t already have one, set up a hearth or kitchen altar for those times when you’re cooking, baking and canning. Use this time to clear out clutter—both physical and emotional—before you have to spend the long winter days inside.
Harvest Moon Magic
Finally, remember that the harvest moon is a season about reaping what you have sown. Remember those seeds you planted in the spring—not just the physical seeds, but the spiritual and emotional ones? This is the season where they are bearing fruit; take advantage of all of your hard work, and collect the bounty you deserve. Here are a few ways to benefit from this month’s full moon energy.
- Jessica at MoonKissed has a great suggestion for increasing your personal harvest, and says, “Increasing harvest is a two part process: first we give gratitude for the harvest we’ve already received, the abundant friends, lovers, passions, and support from the Universe. Then Ask for our cup to be full or re-filled, in balance. Anything you’d like to increase, desire more of, would like illumination about, put into this spell.”
- Use the harvest season to plan ahead for the coming winter months – stockpile magical supplies and ingredients so that you’ll have them on hand when it’s too cold or snowy to get them fresh.
- Consider the abundance you have in your own life, and start thinking about ways you can share it with others. Can you donate things to organizations that help the needy? What about setting up a food drive, or volunteering your time at a homeless shelter? Use this time of year to pay things forward, both materially and magically.
Festival: Mabon. The second harvest. Symbols include the corn dolly, bread, cornucopia, nuts, acorns, and leaves.
Moon name: Harvest Moon. Other names include Singing Moon, Barley Moon, and Corn Moon.
Astrological signs: Virgo, August 21– September 20; Libra, September 21– October 20.
Birthstones: Sapphire and lapis lazuli.
Nature spirits: Trooping fairies and gnomes.
Animals: Dogs and corn snakes.
Birds: Chiffchaff and birds of prey.
Trees: Sycamore and chestnut.
Flowers: Marigold, dahlias, and loosestrife.
Herbs: Chamomile and oregano.
Scents: Cinnamon and sage.
Colors: Orange, deep red, and brown.
Powers: A time for protection, security, and balance in all things; returning to the earth.
Other: Harvest festivals, Michaelmas Day, Goose Day, Holy Rood Day, and back to school— hurrah!
—Hedgewitch Book of Days: Spells, Rituals, and Recipes for the Magical Year
Symbols for the Month of September
September’s Festivals: Mabon
September’s Sign of the Zodiac
Virgo (August 23 – September 22)
Libra (September 23 – October 22)
September’s Celtic Tree Astrology
Coll (Hazel) (August 5 – September 1)
Muin (Vine) (September 2 – September 29)
Gort (Ivy) (September 30 – October 27)
September’s Runic Half Months
Rad (August 29 – September 12)
Ken (September 13 – September 27)
Gyfu (September 28 – October 12)
Sapphire and Lapis lazuli
September’s Birth Flower
Marigold, dahlias, and loosestrife
“If Michaelmas brings many acorns, Christmas will cover the fields with snow.”
“A dark Michaelmas, a light Christmas.”
“If dry be the Buck’ horn on Holy rood morn, ’tis worth a Kist of gold;
but if wet it be seen, ere Holy rood e’en, bad harvest is foretold.”
Folklore Courtesy – Hedgewitch Book of Days: Spells, Rituals, and Recipes for the Magical Year
Calendar of Events for September
1: Celtic Tree Month of Hazel ends
2: Celtic Tree Month of Vine begins
10: Birthday of Carl Llewellyn Weschcke
14: Birthday of Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa, author of Three Books on Occult Philopsopy, in 1486
14: Birthday of author Ellen Dugan
17: Television welcomes Bewitched in 1964
21: International Day of Peace
22: Mabon, the autumn equinox
22: Ostara (Southern Hemisphere), the spring equinox
24: Full Moon–Harvest Moon at 10:53 pm. This a season to celebrate hearth and home. Brew up some comfort food, begin storing your harvest for the winter, and settle in for a month of thanksgiving.
29: Celtic Tree Month of Vine ends
30: Celtic Tree Month of Ivy begins
The History of the Second Harvest
Two days a year, the Northern and Southern hemispheres receive the same amount of sunlight. Not only that, each receives the same amount of light as they do dark—this is because the earth is tilted at a right angle to the sun, and the sun is directly over the equator. In Latin, the word equinox translates to “equal night.” The autumn equinox, or Mabon, takes place on or near September 21, and its spring counterpart falls around March 21. If you’re in the Northern hemisphere, the days will begin getting shorter after the autumn equinox and the nights will grow longer—in the Southern hemisphere, the reverse is true.
The idea of a harvest festival is nothing new. In fact, people have celebrated it for millennia, all around the world. In ancient Greece, Oschophoria was a festival held in the fall to celebrate the harvesting of grapes for wine. In the 1700’s, the Bavarians came up with Oktoberfest, which actually begins in the last week of September, and it was a time of great feasting and merriment, still in existence today. China’s Mid-Autumn festival is celebrated on the night of the Harvest Moon, and is a festival of honoring family unity.
Although the traditional American holiday of Thanksgiving falls in November, many cultures see the second harvest time of the fall equinox as a time of giving thanks. After all, it’s when you figure out how well your crops did, how fat your animals have gotten, and whether or not your family will be able to eat during the coming winter. However, by the end of November, there’s not a whole lot left to harvest. Originally, the American Thanksgiving holiday was celebrated on October 3, which makes a lot more sense agriculturally.
Symbols of the Season
The harvest is a time of thanks, and also a time of balance—after all, there are equal hours of daylight and darkness. While we celebrate the gifts of the earth, we also accept that the soil is dying. We have food to eat, but the crops are brown and going dormant. Warmth is behind us, cold lies ahead.
Some symbols of Mabon include:
- Mid-autumn vegetables, like squashes, eggplant, pumpkins, and gourds
- Apples and anything made from them, such as cider, pies, applesauce and apple butter, or even dried apples
- Seeds, nuts, and seed pods
- Baskets, symbolizing the gathering of crops; bushel baskets are easy to find if you live in an agricultural region with a lot of orchards nearby
- Sickles, scythes, and other harvesting tools
- Grapes, vines, and wine
Feasting and Friends
Early agricultural societies understood the importance of hospitality—it was crucial to develop a relationship with your neighbors, because they might be the ones to help you when your family ran out of food. Many people, particularly in rural villages, celebrated the harvest with great deals of feasting, drinking, and eating. After all, the grain had been made into bread, beer and wine had been made, and the cattle were brought down from the summer pastures for the coming winter. Celebrate Mabon yourself with a feast —and the bigger, the better!
Magic and Mythology
Nearly all of the myths and legends popular at this time of the year focus on the themes of life, death, and rebirth. Not much of a surprise, when you consider that this is the time at which the earth begins to die before winter sets in!
Demeter and Her Daughter
Perhaps the best known of all the harvest mythologies is the story of Demeter and Persephone. Demeter was a goddess of grain and of the harvest in ancient Greece. Her daughter, Persephone, caught the eye of Hades, god of the underworld. When Hades abducted Persephone and took her back to the underworld, Demeter’s grief caused the crops on earth to die and go dormant. By the time she finally recovered her daughter, Persephone had eaten six pomegranate seeds, and so was doomed to spend six months of the year in the underworld. These six months are the time when the earth dies, beginning at the time of the autumn equinox.
Inanna Takes on the Underworld
The Sumerian goddess Inanna is the incarnation of fertility and abundance. Inanna descended into the underworld where her sister, Ereshkigal, ruled. Erishkigal decreed that Inanna could only enter her world in the traditional ways—stripping herself of her clothing and earthly posessions. By the time Inanna got there, Erishkigal had unleashed a series of plagues upon her sister, killing Inanna. While Inanna was visiting the underworld, the earth ceased to grow and produce. A vizier restored Inanna to life, and sent her back to earth. As she journeyed home, the earth was restored to its former glory.
For contemporary Druids, this is the celebration of Alban Elfed, which is a time of balance between the light and the dark. Many Asatru groups honor the fall equinox as Winter Nights, a festival sacred to Freyr.
For most Wiccans and NeoPagans, this is a time of community and kinship. It’s not uncommon to find a Pagan Pride Day celebration tied in with Mabon. Often, PPD organizers include a food drive as part of the festivities, to celebrate the bounty of the harvest and to share with the less fortunate.
If you choose to celebrate Mabon, give thanks for the things you have, and take time to reflect on the balance within your own life, honoring both the darkness and the light. Invite your friends and family over for a feast, and count the blessings that you have among kin and community.
Patti Wigington, Author
Published on ThoughtCo.com
Witchy Ways to Celebrate September
Decorate your home and altar with seed heads and berries. A bowl of brightly colored autumn leaves serves well as a focus. Burn cinnamon and sage incenses and use orange and red flowers in your decorations. A set of scales and weights can also be used to signify the time of balance.
Work with the trees in September. Collect acorns and make simple garlands to hang in the trees as offerings.
Cook with autumn berries and fruits. Start to make simple soups to celebrate the autumn bounty and the change in the season.
Connect with the earth and feel part of its cycle as it starts to die back.
Leave offerings for the spirits of the hedgerow to thank them for their bounty.
Recognize the Goddess as the Crone, and look inward to any lessons learned. And, above all, give thanks.
Invent new traditions to carry your magic throughout your life. Involve your family so they gain an understanding of what you believe.
Start to preserve your food using one of the old methods, like drying or jamming.
Hedgewitch Book of Days: Spells, Rituals, and Recipes for the Magical Year
We walk the path of the Old Gods
From this moment forth
We will not walk alone
Together, we will worship
Together, we will practice our Craft
Together, we will learn and grow
We vow to work, from this day forward
In perfect love and perfect trust
According to the free will of all
And for the good of all
Creating only beauty
Singing in harmony
Our song upon the Earth
Love is the law and love is the bond
In the name of the Goddess and the God
So do we vow, and so mote it be.
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