[AUTHOR’S NOTE: Due to circumstances beyond my control I’m a day late with this month’s full moon post. The September full moon was yesterday. I hope you got a change to enjoy it.]
Fall is here. OK, not really. The specific geometry that officially marks fall from a seasonal aspect doesn’t arrive until September 22nd, but in so many ways, it is becoming apparent to me that fall is here.
Probably the most unique sign of the changing seasons to me is the almost light switch-type change in traffic in the area. During the summer months getting home from work on Fridays can be a time consuming proposition as “beach traffic” clogs I-95 as well as most other roads that filter off of it. But with Labor Day weekend being the “unofficial end of Summer” (complete with a Jazz funeral at Bethany Beach where “Summer” is carried down the boardwalk in a casket) as far as Delaware beaches are concerned, Summer traffic disappears like the head on a poorly carbonated beer in a dirty glass, and last Friday I found myself getting through my 9-mile section of I-95 without barely touching the break pedal.
Looking more towards nature, it is also apparent that Autumn is on the way. Around here, some leaves are already beginning to start their annual color change, storms have pushed out what (we hope) is the last of Summer humidity, and annoyingly, squirrels are staining my deck with their constant need to open and eat black walnuts on it. Really? What’s in those things?
But while Autumn trumpets the coming of hopefully nothing more than annoying activities for us in the modern world; leaf raking, snow blower tuning, and that horrible reality that your local supermarket has started piping in Christmas music on November 2nd, to those living in earlier times this was when all the energies of everyone in the village turned to tasks they had been preparing for all Summer. Because
….and harvest time is here. And very appropriately, this month’s full moon is known as the Harvest Moon.
And I do mean this month. The Harvest Moon, the name given to the full moon closest to the Autumn Equinox can actually occur anytime between September 8th and October 7th, so sometimes September looses out (the last such time was 2009 and the next doesn’t occur until 2017). Known for giving extra light to farmers which aided in the yearly harvests, many of the names that refer to the moon this time of year are almost universally agricultural; the harvest moon, the nut moon, the corn moon, and (let’s get a “Hey Now”!) the barley moon.
If we could transport this moon back in time, those farmers would have had the benefit of any extra light that comes from the fact that the moon this month reaches perigee (its closest point to Earth in its orbit) within 24 hours before it turns full at 9:38 Eastern Time on September 8th which means that it will be the third (and last) supermoon of the year.
But if this is the harvest moon, and the harvest moon is close to the autumn equinox than that means…yep. Mabon, the second of three Pagan harvest festivals (Samhain [Halloween] is next) is right around the corner. Mabon is the name for the festival on the Wheel of the Year that corresponds to Earth’s annual transition into the fall season. Although the tradition of the festival goes back to ancient times when people used it to celebrate the harvests and share in their good fortune to gain favor with the God and Goddess during the coming winter; the name of the festival was actually coined in 1970 after a character in Welsh mythology.
The celestial geometry that officially moves the Earth into fall happens at 10:29pm on September 22nd which means that, as you’ve always been told, the day and night are of equal duration that day. Sadly, you’ve been lied to. The sun “rises” when the first edge of it’s disk breaks the horizon and conversely, sunset is when the last edge of the disk falls below the horizon. Because of this, the day is technically a little longer than the night on the 22nd, and in fact they won’t be actually close to the same length until the 25th and 26th. However, from an astronomical stand point, it’s the center of the sun that’s the reference point of interest, it spending equal time above and below the horizon.
Those who follow the Jewish faith will be celebrating this month as well as Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, arrives at sunset on September 24th and continues until nightfall on September 26th. Sometimes referred to as The Feast of Trumpets, the holiday begins the Ten Days of Repentance which continues afterward and concludes at the ending of Yom Kippur. Rosh Hashanah is also know as “the day of judgement”, which signifies the casting of each person into a certain book, either the wicked, the righteous, or the intermediate. Those in the intermediate book are said to have ten days to reflect and repent so that they may be moved into the book of the righteous.
Since fall is basically here in everything but name (and pumpkin-filled pastries called rodanchas are common at the table during Rosh Hashanah), I guess it’s OK to start looking at all those pumpkin beers that have been sitting on the shelf since the end of July. I know many of you have probably already had several as it’s hard to resist them when you see an end cap of say, Pumpking, at your favorite beer stop. But I do resist, knowing full well that I might actually miss out on a few, because I just can’t force myself to rush autumn here any faster that it already seems to arrive (I mean really? Wasn’t it just July 4th?), but I’m OK with that. I guess I’m just an unyielding opponent to this seasonal “creep” that craft beers seem to be exhibiting.
And of course, those of you lucky enough to be growing your own hops are probably beginning to think of your own up coming harvest. Maybe you should consider doing it under the light of the September moon. After all, traditionally, that’s what it was used for.