Fall Harvest Moon (I changed this name when I discovered the Harvest Moon was the closest full moon to the Fall Equinox)
by T. E. Hulme
A touch of cold in the Autumn night
I walked abroad,
And saw the ruddy moon lean over a hedge
Like a red-faced farmer.
I did not stop to speak, but nodded;
And round about were the wistful stars
With white faces like town children.
This Equinox I’m offering some resources from around the web that speak to this, the second harvest holiday. This is the liturgical fall, as I said yesterday, as opposed to the meteorological fall which occurs September 1st.
The crone aspect of this holiday strikes me especially this year. Why? Because it honors the triple goddess [maid-mother-crone] in her final form of three. The final form, that is, until the new year begins. She begins the year as the maid, shifts with the beginning of the growing season into the mother and then, with the coming of fall enters the crone.
I don’t go further with the triple goddess idea (from Robert Graves) than its emphasis on the seasons recapitulating the main phases of human life. In this way the fall turn of the goddess into the crone, the wise woman/healer, marks the seasonal reminder of the Third Phase.
My own version of the three is: Student, Family (householder in the Hindu tradition), Third Phase (retirement in the Hindu tradition, but in a different sense than our own, about which there is no cultural consensus. Hence, for me, the third phase). The crone encourages an inflection in the third phase that I like i.e., a sense of fulfillment, of gathered wisdom, of grace gained from an expected and welcomed transition.
This is also the season of age passing onto death. Death marks the end of the third phase and since it does, preparation for dying is an essential aspect of the third phase. An essential, perhaps the only essential, realization here is that death is and that it comes for us all. Though essential, this is a truth difficult to grasp in its deeply personal sense and once grasped, to accept. It requires wisdom, patience and gentle resignation, all characteristic of the crone as I have come to understand her.
She could just as well be he. A wise old man, the one on the block that others come to.
This is the season of harvest. Enjoy the fruits of your labors.
The triple Goddess – worshipped by the Ancient Britons, is now in her aspect of the aging Goddess and passes from Mother to Crone, until she is reborn as a youthful virgin as the wheel of nature turns.
At the Autumn equinox the goddess offers wisdom, healing and rest.
To honour the dead, it was also traditional at Mabon to place apples on burial cairns, as symbolism of rebirth and thanks. This also symbolizes the wish for the living to one day be reunited with their loved ones.
Mabon is also known as the Feast of Avalon, deriving from the meaning of Avalon being, ‘the land of the apples’.
The Wicker man
There was a Celtic ritual of dressing the last sheaf of corn to be harvested in fine clothes, or weaving it into a wicker-like man or woman. It was believed the sun or the corn spirit was trapped in the corn and needed to be set free. This effigy was usually burned in celebration of the harvest and the ashes would be spread on the fields.
‘The reaping is over and the harvest is in,
Summer is finished, another cycle begins’
In some areas of the country the last sheaf was kept inside until the following spring, when it would be ploughed back into the land. In Scotland, the last sheaf of harvest is called ‘the Maiden’, and must be cut by the youngest female in attendance.
To close: a prayer, written by Kathleen Jenks of the wonderful website Myth*ing Links:
Kathleen was a professor at Pacifica and is now a private consultant.
As autumn returns to earth’s northern hemisphere,
and day and night are briefly,
balanced at the equinox,
may we remember anew how fragile life is —-
human life, surely,
but also the lives of all other creatures,
trees and plants,
waters and winds.May we make wise choices in how and what we harvest,
may earth’s weather turn kinder,
may there be enough food for all creatures,
may the diminishing light in our daytime skies
be met by an increasing compassion and tolerance
in our hearts.