The Grain Moon
July 30 – August 28, 2011
The second full moon of the northern-latitudes summer is called the Grain Moon or, depending on the tradition involved, the Sturgeon Moon, Wort Moon, Red Moon, Dog (or Dog Days) Moon, Corn Moon, or Fruit Moon. (The latter two names are sometimes applied instead to the next moon cycle, in September.)
The Grain Moon’s name is Anglo-Saxon in origin and denotes that time of year when the first grains and fruits are harvested, mid-summer is reached, and the sun begins to noticeably wane.
This is a time of celebration, remembrance, and forethought. The first loaves from the first grains supply the feast of Lammas (“loaf-mass”), on August 1. It is a time of thanksgiving for the “sacrifice” of the sun god, who now, energy spent, starts his yearly decline.
Although the heat of summer will remain (in fact, in many areas intensify) through this moon cycle in northern latitudes, we recognize that the solar tide, so to speak, has turned, a metaphoric sacrifice has been made. This is, therefore, a time of both celebration and recognition of first intimations of a winter still far off. In urban cultures, we might feel the approach of summer’s end, when schools start again and work vacations pass.
Inwardly, this is a time, while yet celebrating, to entertain the first inner stirrings of winter, a time of retrenchment ahead. Take stock, do inventory, plan to start planning soon for the reserves needed to carry one into those cooler inner realms of quiet truths. Transition—that’s the meaning of the grain moon: a picnic on the warm-sand beach where you notice offshore clouds gathering to roll in.
If you’re south of the equator, well, spring is a gleam in your eye but no less real for that. You have taken stock or are suffering the pangs of a meager winter store. Either way, looking ahead while yet tending to the tasks at hand kindles a few embers into the glow of a coming change of heart.
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.
New Moon in Leo (7°)
19:40 GMT May 3, 14:40 EDT, 11:40 PDT
(August 1: Lammas)
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.
Let’s see—moon in Leo (fiery, passionate emotions), seated at the celebratory Lammas feast, but set upon the field of a new moon quietude. Hmm. Well, what is the cake without the egg? Flat. What is celebration without the silence? Meaningless. Which is to say, have a great time, enjoy your summer (or first thoughts of a coming spring, south of the equator), but remember the vision, the hope, the sigh that releases you of responsibility to make hay while the sun shines. We are children of Earth, receiving her bounty, sleeping in the meadow and dreaming in the moonlight. These next several days are a meaningful R&R. Snap to it! and slough off (as the sun is just beginning to do himself).
First-Quarter Moon in Scorpio (14°)
12:08 GMT, 07:08 EDT, 04:08 PDT
Okay. Naptime is over. Time to follow up on that surreptitiously-delivered and cryptically written note at the Lammas feast. I mean the pisst! from the shadows, the invitation to a moonlit dance. The moon is in Scorpio, you see, and soon to fly into Sagittarius; nothing short of grabbing life by the horns and jumping on. The week ahead, in its own modest way, insists on getting to the bottom of things. If you’re asked to clean the baking pans after the Lammas feast, at least you’ll get to scrape off the last yummies stuck to the bottoms of the tins. (I’m advising not to shy from the door you fear to enter.)
Full Moon in Aquarius (16°)
19:58 GMT, 14:58 EDT, 11:58 PDT
Hot enough for you? Did the moon rise red yet? (It often does about now, hence one of the names for this cycle: Red Moon.) Time cool off with some cool thoughts. Let your mind advance to the limits of understanding, pull back from the edge, and make camp; this is where you’re to establish yourself for now. Planning your future winters (not just the one coming) will give you a view out to the mountains that beckon; they are the strength within you needing a name and response. This full moon is about getting ideas, sorting them out, planning ahead, and building—all in one week! Can you burn your candle at both ends? Don’t worry if you can’t; the summer sun will do that for you. I just hope you’ve got your mead to drink and a few dried Lammas cakes tucked away with you—that is, the fruits of your understandings and achievements from this past spring.
Last-Quarter Moon in Taurus (29°)
22:54 GMT, 17:54 EDT, 14:54 PDT
(Sun enters Virgo on August 23 at 04:21 PDT)
You should be looking to the next harvest under this quarter moon. You’re in Taurus, the field of grain, the bull-plowed field. But that is only a quick-entry door (at 29°); Gemini rules here—the quick thought, the great plan, the inspiring filed manager exhorting field hands to make final preparations among the crops and ready the harvesters. This is doubly true with the sun entering Virgo; a sense of pride in work facilitates accomplishments. It’s time to take yourself in hand, that is, and work the magic of your own aspirations embodied in a concrete plan. What will you do when summer is over? Think about it.
August 26 – 28
Dark Moon in Leo and Virgo
(New Moon on August 28)
Drop that fruit! If you haven’t picked it till now, too late. Find your hammock and dream about it instead. This depends, of course, on whether your belly is full or not; if not, labor on. If so, sleep. By now, you should have harvested, cooked, eaten, played, thought great thoughts, and planned great plans. You should have pitched tent on the edge of a great view. You will have the right accomplishments (harvest) under your belt, and should sleep well. Tomorrow’s another pickin’ time, under the Harvest Moon.