Friday, 2 October 2009

Gathering the harvest by moonlight

There is a full moon this Sunday, October 4, at 7.10am UK time.

According to the online Pagan Calendar, the Celtic name for this full moon is Harvest Moon - and that is also the name it is most correctly given today.

If you read A Bad Witch's Blog regularly, you may remember that last month I admitted to making a mistake.

When I wrote about the full moon on September 4, I mentioned that one name for September's full moon is the Harvest Moon. Then a few readers of my blog pointed out to me that the dictionary definition of the Harvest Moon is "the full moon nearest the Autumn Equinox". Although it normally falls in September, about once every four years it occurs in October - as it does this year.

That is also the definition given in Wikipedia, and it points out that there is something very special about the Harvest Moon.

Normally, the full moon rises about 50 minutes after the sun sets, but the Harvest Moon rises only about 30 minutes after sunset, meaning that although the nights are drawing in, people out in the fields gathering the last crops could continue working under moonlight. This effect is noticeable for several days before and after the full moon.

Many witches believe that herbs gathered by moonlight are most effective so, if the warm autumn weather continues into this weekend, it is an ideal time to pick what you might need for spellcasting or for making incense, before the first frosts.

The Harvest Moon can also appear larger than normal. However, this is an optical illusion. When the moon is low in the sky, close to the horizon, the human brain thinks it looks larger than a moon that is high in the sky. Nevertheless, it can make autumn nights under the full moon seem even more magical.

The picture shows Harvest Moon over Worcester Cathedral. 2006. art print 47x30 cm by MirrorPix available through Amazon


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