Bill Jarosin Presents: Moon-Phase Astrology at Tree of Life

The Harvest Moon
August 28 – September 27, 2011

Unlike all the other moons, this one, the Harvest Moon, is not identified by its location within the seasons (such as, “third full moon of summer”). It is, rather, the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox, and usually, this will be in September (and therefore, indeed, the third—and last—full moon of summer), but occasionally it falls in October. The Harvest Moon does have other names, by the way, depending on the tradition involved: Barley Moon, Nut Moon, Corn Moon, or Fruit Moon. (Some of these names are also applied, at times, to the previous moon.)

The Harvest Moon is so-called because it lights the way for long hours of northern-latitude harvesting. Due to the inclination of the earth at the equinox, the moon rises earlier than usual each night, providing longer lit-night hours. This is the second harvest, by the way, of fruits and the vine (the first, last month, was of grains).

Equinox means balance; days and nights are equal in length. It is time to consider such balance in one’s own life, the equanimity resolved from harmonious day and night within oneself. Are your outer (day) activities in accord with your inner (night) self? That which is harvested at this time of year is core value, the fruit of the vine (wine, or the blood of life). What have you sowed and tended in the last six months that you now prepare to carry into autumn and winter? What will feed you as the days grow cold?

You have a light in the dark: the unusually lingering moon, our guide at this hushed time of year, from summer (solar and left-brained) to autumn (lunar and right-brained). It is “hushed” in the same way that things hang expectantly at the moment the tide changes, or when a pendulum seems to hang unmoving at the furthest reach of its arc, before it swings back.

If you have reached completion with this or that activity, then set it down, store it away. If there are things to do to answer needs left unmet, do them now. It is a time of celebration of work completed, but also time to start the pulling inward, slowing down, acknowledging the seasonal change of pace.

If you’re in the southern hemisphere, spring is about to begin, and you might consider another kind of tide-turning When your autumn arrives in six months, what do you wish to have cultivated, to have put by as nourishment for colder days? Now’s the time to plan, plant, and protect the new shoots of hope and intention.

The Phases

As mentioned in the introduction, the four quarter phases are discussed here. They are 1. new (in the heart of the dark moon, though some argue that “new” should refer to the first sign of the crescent sliver), 2. first quarter, 3. full, 4. last quarter, and 5. the dark moon. The crescent phases are incorporated, where noteworthy, into the quarter information. (Complete information about the phases and this column as a whole is in the Introduction.)

Dates given below are for the “height” of each phase, based on angle to the sun. Exact times on the 24-hour clock are given for GMT (Greenwich Mean Time: London), EST (Eastern Standard Time: New York), and PST (Pacific Standard Time: Los Angeles). Note though, that Daylight Savings Time begins on March 13, and the listed Pacific and Eastern times will reflect that; Greenwich time does not change.) In practical terms, there is no precise delineation from one phase of the moon to the next. Expect about one day either side of the date for a “coming into” that phase and a “passing onto” the next. Allow two days either side for the full moon.

August 28 / 29
New Moon in Virgo (16°)
04:04 GMT August 29, 23:04 EDT August 28, 20:04 PDT August 28

New moons cannot be seen; they are “held inside” the sun—conjunct, in astrological jargon. From the Earth’s viewpoint, the sun and moon are aligned (though usually not precisely with the Earth; that would be a solar eclipse). The day before and for about a day afterwards here (August 27–29), a New Moon is more specifically called the Dark Moon, a time to retrench, rest, re-imagine, and get ready. This is not primarily physical, except as our spirit and emotions are carried in energetic patterns within the body. It is a time for introspection, a retrospective upon the previous cycle. Should you actually stop the day and withdraw? No. This phase is a time or remembrance, a time to include reflection in (and on) one’s daily activities.

Virgo is the queen of harvests, precise and productive. Appropriate, then, that our new moon of the harvest cycle begins here, conjunct the sun—in harmony, taking time to consider, evaluate, and rest. What is being harvested during the new moon is memory. Turn it around in your heart and mind, shuck the husk, and preserve the kernels for popping. This should take a few days, though some of us spend a lifetime shucking for a popping in a future unnamed.

September 4
First-Quarter Moon in Sagittarius (12°)
18:39 GMT, 13:39 EDT, 10:39 PDT

Okay. You’ve been nap-resting, dreaming of sand dunes, picnic lunches, and body-boarding the waves. Suddenly the alarm goes off; it’s Monday morning and pedal-to-the-metal time. Sagittarius fires us up, add a hint of coolness to the air, sum: re-invigoration. What has been back-burnered but needs to be put on the higher flame now? Maybe the trees are edging gold; think fire. You have a new enthusiasm to do It (the Big Job) this week and a certain intensity as well (as the moon travels on through Scorpio). Ride this wave, a new kind of body-boarding. Like a sled down piles of autumn leaves, you anticipate autumn and have the neck scarf and lawn rake at hand.

September 12
Full Moon in Pisces (19°)
10:27 GMT, 05:27 EDT, 02:27 PDT

Get drunk but stay sober. Huh? It’s the grape harvest, after all, and a hush settles over the vineyard: a slight haze lazily hugs the ground in front of the bluishly gentle distant hills, all dipped in the shadowless white light of the biggest moon rising that you have ever seen. That’s drunk.

But sober? Well, as you swoon with the view just described, you sit at a table with twenty friends to enjoy the harvest: baked, sliced, diced, baked, prepped and spread. Yummy—if you in fact sowed, watered, pruned, and cut. Did you? Were you the grasshopper or the ant? Maybe a bit of both? That would be good, axtually, as the moon begins with Pisces here; the dreamy moon. (I think of that big moon over Manhattan in the opening credits of Moonstruck, with Dean Martin singing “That’s Amore.”)

But we move on this week through Aries and Taurus—fired up and bringing it home. You rise to the alarm clock and go out to make bread and bring home the bacon. Now you can feast. (Are you taking all this as metaphor? The food is for soul; this is moon-phase astrology, after all. What nourishes the inner you? You had six months to find out. Now put a share by for the cold months and find a him or her to share the rest with now.)

September 20
Last-Quarter Moon in Gemini (27°)
14:39 GMT, 09:39 EDT, 06:39 PDT
(Sun enters Libra on September 23 at 02:05 PDT. Autumnal Equinox. Mabon, or Harvest Home)

Okay. Roar. Or perhaps a big burp would do. You’re in Leo (after the last few minutes of Gemini anyway). Satiated? Nice round full-moon belly? Good. Now what? Clean up, of course. Wash dishes, carry trash (very Zen). And bake bread, can fruit—all for winter stores. Which is to say, time to count beans for your travel through autumn to winter, spiritually speaking. Do you have what you need to feed yourself, clothe yourself, and bed yourself down against the storms to come? No prognosticating here, just the astrological time to think (Gemini) of what ya got, claim yourself for what you are (Leo—and you are what you eat, huh?), and do the labor required to feel you have ground to stand on, a path to trod, and a goal in mind (all Virgo, which returns us to the New Moon—how harmonious, sweet music to the Libra sun).

September 25 – 27
Dark Moon in Virgo and Libra
(New Moon on September 27)

Double burp. But you might be burning the midnight oil while doing this. Virgo and Libra seek fruits of the labor well-applied. Industry and Harmony. “But it’s the New Moon,” you say! “I should be resting!” Well, first things first. Make sure your i’s are dotted and t’s crossed. Make sure the shelves in your larder are labeled and ready for the last harvest, next moon. Then, only then, but importantly then, sweet corn-husker dreams.