“Equal dark, equal light
Flow in Circle, deep insight
Blessed Be, Blessed Be
The transformation of energy!
So it flows, out it goes
Three-fold back it shall be
Blessed Be, Blessed Be
The transformation of energy!”
– Night An’Fey, Transformation of Energy
SEPTEMBER – 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 21 – September 23), 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 beverage of the season–cider and wine–echo the colors of nature now. The Fall Equinox, or Mabon, is the major holiday of September. At Mabon we celebrate the second harvest, say farewell to summer, and enter the dark season. Days grow shorter as the Great Son, Mabon returns to Mother Earth. For the 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 glows 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 or wine, then respectfully pour it onto the earth.
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: Browns and greens, earth tones
Gemstones: Citrine, chrysolite, peridot, bloodstone
Trees: Bay, larch, hawthorn
Gods: Demeter, Brighid, Freyja, Vesta
Herbs: Wheat, valerian, witch hazel, skullcap
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.
Thanks to science, the Harvest Moon does things a little differently than some of the other moon phases. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, “The usual behavior of the Moon is to rise distinctly later each night —an average of about 50 minutes later… But around the date of the Harvest Moon, the Moon rises at almost the same time for a number of nights in our intermediate northern latitudes.” Why does this happen? Because “the Moon’s orbit on successive nights is more nearly parallel to the horizon at that time, its relationship to the eastern horizon does not change appreciably, and the Earth does not have to turn as far to bring up the Moon. Thus, for several nights near the full Harvest Moon, the Moon may rise as little as 23 minutes later on successive nights (at about 42 degrees north latitude), and there is an abundance of bright moonlight early in the evening, a traditional aid to harvest crews.”
In China, the harvest moon holds a special significance. This is the season of the Moon Festival, which is held every year on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month. In Chinese mythology, Chang’e was married to a tyrannical king, who starved his people starved and treated them brutally. The king was very afraid of death, so a healer gave him a potion that would allow him to live forever. Chang’e knew that for her husband to live forever would be a terrible thing, so one night while he slept, Chang’e stole the potion. The king figured out what she had done and ordered her to return it, but she immediately drank the elixir and flew up into the sky as the moon, where she remains to this day. In some Chinese stories, this is the perfect example of someone making a sacrifice to save others.
The Chinese Moon Festival is considered a family event, and entire extended families will sit up to watch the moon rise together on this night, and eat Moon Cakes in celebration. Our Chinese Food Expert, Rhonda Parkinson, has more information about this festival, including links to recipes for making your own moon cakes.
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.
The Pagan Book of Days for the Month of September
September is so called because it was the seventh month of the old Roman calendar. The names of the three following months, October, November, and December, also bear old Roman month numbers, eight, nine and ten, respectively. The Goddess Pomona, patroness of fruit and fruit-bearing trees, is the ruling deity of the month of September. This is the Irish month of Mean Fomhair. Its Anglo-Saxon name was Haligmonath, “holy month.” This is rather paradoxical, as the first part of the month has significantly fewer sacred festivals than most other months do. To the Franks it was Witumamoth, “wood month,” in which wood was gathered in advance of the approaching winter. To modern Asatru, it is the month of Shedding. The backwoods moon of September is the Harvest Moon.
The Celtic tree-calendar month of Coll ends on September 1. From September 2 until September 29 is the vine month of Muin, sacred to the God Lugh, with “variegated” colors. Gort begins on September 30. This is the ivy month, sacred to the Goddess Brigid, with the color of sky blue. the month of Gort is a time for the development of the self, a period when one can see beyond the everyday world to that which lies within and beyond. It symbolizes the spiral ascent of the spirit from the plane of Abred (the material world) to Gwynvyd (the world of enlightenment). The Goddess calendar month of Hesperia runs until September 5, giving way to the month of Mala on September 6.
The stone for September is the sapphire:
A maiden born when rustling leaves
Are blowing in the September breeze,
A Sapphire on her brow should bind,
‘Twill cure disease of the mind.
September is most notable for containing the autumnal equinox, the Mabon of Celtic tradition, the Alban Elfed of the Druids, and the Winter Finding of the Norse. Movable days that occur in September (or October) include the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah), Yom Kippur, and Simhat Torah. Weather lore for September says that the month is one of extremes. It is able to either dry up wells or break down bridges. “If it be fair on the first day of September, it will remain so at least to the beginning of October.” It is said in East Anglican lore that there are three very windy days during the mid-September Barley (barley harvest). These are the equinoctial storms associated with the period. “September blow soft, till the fruit’s in the loft’ is the spell against potential wind-borne disaster during the first harvest of the month.
––The Pagan Book of Days, A Guide to the Festivals, Traditions, and Sacred Days of the Year
Correspondences for the Month of September
NATURE SPIRITS: trooping faeries
HERBS: Copal, fennel, rye, wheat, valerian, skullcap
COLORS: Brown and yellow
FLOWERS: narcissus, lily
SCENTS: storax, mastic, gardenia, bergamot
STONES: peridot, olivine, chrysolite, citrine
TREES: Hazel, larch, bay
ANIMALS: the snake and jackal
BIRDS: Ibis, sparrow
DIETIES: Dementer, Ceres, Isis, Nephthys, Freyja, Thoth
POWERS/ADVICE: A time to rest after the labors of the last two months, a time of balance of the light and dark.
This is also the time to clear up mental clutter and get thoughts back into perspective.
Symbols for the Month of September
The Goddesses of September
Menkhet, Hathor, Pomona, Mala, Ishtar, Yemaya
September’s Sign of the Zodiac
Virgo (the Virgin): August 21 – September 20
Libra (the Scales): September 21 – October 20
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 Flowers
Marigold, dahlias, and loosestrife
Other Novelties of September
Harvest festivals, Michaelmas Day, Goose Day, Holy Rood Day, and back to school–hurrah!
Pagan Calendar for September 2016
- 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 in 1486
- 14: Birthday of author Ellen Dugan
- 16: Full Moon — Harvest Moon at 3:07 pm
- 17: Television welcomes Bewitched in 1964
- 21: International Day of Peace
- 22: Fall Equinox or Mabon
- 22: Ostara (Southern Hemisphere)
- 29: Celtic Tree Month of Vine ends
- 30: Celtic Tree Month of Ivy begins
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.
In 1863, Abraham Lincoln issued his “Thanksgiving Proclamation”, which changed the date to the last Thursday in November. In 1939, Franklin Delano Roosevelt adjusted it yet again, making it the second-to-last Thursday, in the hopes of boosting post-Depression holiday sales. Unfortunately, all this did was confuse people. Two years later, Congress finalized it, saying that the fourth Thursday of November would be Thanksgiving, each year.
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 and gourds
*Apples and anything made from them, such as cider or pies
*Seeds, nuts and seed pods
*Baskets, symbolizing the gathering of crops
*Sickles and scythes
*Grapes, vines, wine
*You can use any of these to decorate your home or your altar at Mabon.
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, Paganism/Wicca Expert
Article originally published on & owned by About.com
Top Tips for Using Autumn’s Spoils
With the hedgerow at its bountiful best in September, it’s hard not to run outside and gather anything and everything to eat. But you can do much more with what’s out there— from beauty treatments to magical protections. Now is the perfect time to put your harvest spoils to good use!
Home protection. Gather rosehips, haw berries, or rowan berries and thread them onto wire to create simple home-protection charms.
Ritual garlands. Collect acorns to make garlands of thanks to the trees.
Wood polish. Use oily nuts like walnuts to polish up wood. Blend the shells into a powder. Mix a spoonful of powder with water to create a cleaning paste.
Walking sticks. Turn a fallen branch into a wonderful walking staff. Take it home and personalize it with stones and ribbons.
Bookmarks. Collect beautiful leaves and varnish them to use as bookmarks.
Bird food. Gather nuts and seeds to mix with fat in empty yogurt pots. Use these to feed the birds throughout winter.
Home décor. Collect pine cones to dry ready for Yule decorations. Or make a gorgeous display from seed heads and leaves for an autumn feast.
Fabric dye. Experiment with using berries to dye fabric and wool.
Skin treatment. Use rosehips steeped in almond oil as an anti-aging skin treatment.
—Hedgewitch Book of Days: Spells, Rituals, and Recipes for the Magical Year
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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