What Harvest Moons Really Mean, Plus How To Work With Them, According To Experts
Each year around the autumn equinox, the Earth is graced with a Harvest Moon. Associated with the energy of fall and, subsequently, the "harvest" of the year, here's what to know about harvest moons, plus how to work with their energy.
What is the Harvest Moon?
The Harvest Moon is the full moon that peaks closest to the autumn equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. During this time of year, the moon seems to shine extra bright near the horizon just after sunset, offering up a bit of extended light into the evening, according to the Farmer's Almanac.
This extra light not only makes it seem like there have been full moons for a few nights in a row, but it's also long provided farmers with more light to harvest their summer crops—hence the name "Harvest Moon." (Not to mention this is the time of year when farmers harvest the last of their crops ahead of winter.)
And along with being a significant moon for farmers of the past, this moon also has significance spiritually, with the autumn equinox representing the halfway point of the astrological year and full moons being a time of great release and transformation.
The significance of the Harvest Moon.
From a spiritual perspective, you can think of the Harvest Moon as a time to "harvest" the things you've been working toward since the spring. This moon represents the end of a six-month cycle, and the start of a new one.
As astrologer Molly Pennington, Ph.D., explains to mbg, equinox moon cycles (aka the full moons closest to the fall and spring equinox) represent a larger marrying of the two halves of the year. In the case of the Harvest Moon, in the six months leading up to it, we experience the height of the year's energy on the summer solstice, with a slow but steady decline to equilibrium on the fall equinox.
Then after the equinox, she explains, we experience the shortest day of the year on the winter solstice and the slow but steady lengthening of days until another day of equal light and dark on the spring equinox. And the cycle continues.
"So the Harvest Moon is when you can take stock, see where you are, and acknowledge your growth," Pennington explains, adding, "And then on the other side, you've reaped the benefits and you can enjoy them before it goes quiet, before the new birth again at the solstice in spring."
What to do around the Harvest Moon.
Generally speaking, this moon is going to be a good time for reflecting on the past six months and setting intentions for the next six months. But depending on whether the Harvest Moon falls in September or October, as well as under the sign of Pisces or Aries, there are some nuances to consider.
As the AstroTwins previously wrote for mbg, September's full moon is always known as the Corn Moon, while October's is known as the Hunter's Moon. And if September's full moon is closer to the equinox than October's, the Harvest Moon that year would be a Corn Moon.
Under a Corn Moon, the twins say, you want to focus on "celebrating agricultural fertility and feminine energy." If October's full moon is closer to the equinox, on the other hand, the twins say a Hunter's Moon is a good time to "Reflect on the summer months and set autumnal intentions," they say.
In addition to which month the Harvest Moon falls in, it will also fall under a particular astrological sign and season. Harvest moons always take place during either Virgo or Libra season, and under the sign of Pisces or Aries, respectively.
That's because every full moon will fall under the opposite sign of the current astrological season. Or in other words, the full moon during Virgo season is always in Pisces, while Libra season's full moon is always in Aries.
And according to the twins, an Aries full moon is a time to "celebrate what you love about yourself and release any negative vibes around your self-image," while a Pisces full moon "represents mystical oceanic waters" and is a good time to "visit a large body of water, take a dip, or listen to waves via audio recording."
Keeping those themes in mind, here are some more things you can do to lean into the energy of the Harvest Moon:
- Make moon water
- Host or attend a full moon circle
- Journal about the past six months and what you'd like to unfold in the next six months
- Take a ritual full moon bath
- Make a vision board
- Do a releasing ritual
- Make a list of what you want to let go of and (safely) burn it
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The Harvest Moon represents a time of reflection as well as reaping what you've sown. As the days continue to get short and winter draws near, revel in all you've accomplished this year and prepare to go within for the season.
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.