In the year 2010 we were treated to a Super Harvest moon, one that occurs exactly on the day of the Autumnal Equinox. That is the first time this has happened in almost twenty years.
The Harvest Moon is the full moon which occurs closest to the Autumnul Equinox. It almost always occurs in September. This is the time to harvest crops such as pumpkins, squash and corn. The Cherokee Indians call the September the nut moon the Harvest moon and the October moon the Harvest moon. However, in English Medieval times the September moon was called the Barley moon and the September moon was called the Blood moon.
The Harvest Moon appears to be more colorful, brighter, and bigger than moons of the rest of the year, and there is less time between the setting of the sun and the rising of the moon, allowing farmers of old to work their fields. This has to do with the seasonal tilt of the earth, which causes an optical illusion allowing the warm reddish tints of the moon to reach the earth more quickly. The moons of September and October are important to wildlife and hunters as well. It is also thought that most birds wait for the Harvest Moon to begin their migration to the South.
In every culture in the world the Harvest Moon is sacred, in Northern countries, it was usually the first full moon after the first frost so the Norse celebrated with gatherings and festivals to please their god, Loki, and ask to be blessed for the long winter ahead. For the Celts, the Harvest Moon was the last full moon before the Celtic New Year,Samhain. They also called it the Singing Moon because of the celebration that attended its appearance. The Singing Moon allowed for frenetic crop gathering followed by feasting, drinking, singing, and corn-husking.
The Harvest Moon is known as the Wine Moon to some pagans. This is because when the moon rises, the grapes were at their fullest and ready for harvesting. Their festivals, which often involve imbibing in the wine they made, were full of festive spirits which are thought to put the pagans in touch with the wisdom of their divine selves. After the celebrations was time for somber reflections and attempts to put themselves in touch with the divine spirit.
To celebrate the harvest moon there are many things you can do in keeping with the various cultures of the world throughout time. Wear colors of deep purple, yellow and orange to represent the richness of the harvest and the night sky, and decorate in colors of purple, yellow, and orange. Serve drinks of wine or containing grape juice. Try making an alter decorated with the herbs and vegetables of the season. Lavender is in season at the time of the Harvest Moon, so light lavender candles. Burn lavender, sage, and allspice incense. Whether or not you have Celtic roots, consider the Celtic new year of Samhain and take this time to contemplate life and the cycle of the harvest and prepare yourself for the long winter ahead.