What is a Harvest Moon? The September Full Moon’s Name & Meaning

What is a Harvest Moon? The September Full Moon’s Name & Meaning

Each month contains at least one full moon, and each moon has a name. September’s full moon is called the Harvest Moon.

Native American tribes named each full moon in consideration of the tribe’s seasonal activities, such as hunting, fishing, and harvesting crops, and also based on the flora and fauna active during a particular time of the year.

The Harvest Moon is also sometimes referred to as the Barley Moon, Yellow Moon, or Leaf Moon.

Fall apples in a basket
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When is the Harvest Moon?

The Harvest Moon is the full moon that falls closest to the autumnal equinox. Usually, the Harvest Moon is in September, but every three years, it appears in early October instead.

The Harvest Moon comes after the Corn Moon, when the fields are full of tall green corn starting to turn brown, and the Hunter’s Moon, when game is fattened for winter and fields have been cleared of crops, making it easier to hunt.

This year, the Harvest Moon will peak on the night of September 20, 2021.

Full Harvest Moon Meaning

The Native Americans dubbed this moon in celebration of the great harvest before winter.

The light of the Harvest Moon allowed North American farmers and gatherers to work late into the night to harvest acorns, beans, birch bark, blackberries, blueberries, cattails, corn, cotton, cranberries, fish, grapes, honey, meats, milkweed, mint, pawpaws, peas, pecans, peppers, persimmons, potatoes, pumpkins, sassafras, squash, sunflowers, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, walnuts, wild rice, and more.

This time of the year is often celebrated with feasts and acts of thankfulness. The earth has yielded a bounty before the cold of winter sets in, and food is abundant.

How to Celebrate and Honor the Harvest Moon

The full moon in general represents a time of climax and fruition, but this is especially true in the autumn months around the three harvest festivals in the Wheel of the Year: Lammas (August), Mabon (September), and Samhain (October).

September’s full moon is a time of prosperity when we reap the rewards of our hard work, but also a time when we prepare for winter’s rest. Just as ancient civilizations both rejoiced in their abundance with feasts and proactively stored food away for the cold months of scarcity ahead, we need to apply this same mindset in our full moon meditations.

Be grateful for all of your hard work. Reflect on your journey and successes (journaling is a great way to do this). But begin to turn inward and slow down. Everything needs rest, including you. This is the time to start mentally preparing yourself for a recharge as the days get shorter and cooler.

Celebrating the Harvest Moon often brings us outdoors. Harvest from your garden if you have one. If not, visit your local farmer’s market and fill your home with seasonal flowers, fruits, and vegetables. Make music, dance, and be creative in whatever ways work best for you. Make moon water.

Common altar colors for the Harvest Moon are the finery of autumn: browns, dark reds, burnt oranges, ambers and golds, dark greens, and other earthy tones.

The best crystals for the Harvest Moon are citrine, tiger’s eye, amber, smoky quartz, ruby, garnet, and aventurine.

The Harvest Moon altar can be decorated with early fall leaves; pumpkins, gourds, and other squashes; seasonal fruits like apples and peaches; corn; grains such as wheat or barley; seeds and nuts; flowers; and any other scavenged items you find.

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A subscription box is a fantastic way to celebrate the full moon!

This article was originally published on October 1, 2020 and last updated on September 21, 2021.

For more information on full moons, see the 2021 full moon calendar with names, dates, and meanings here.


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