As we approach the Harvest Moon, which is the Full moon that signifies the first Harvest of the season. Because Not only in Wicca but in several traditions of Witchcraft, we honor the seasons. There are lots of reasons we do this not just because we are fruit-nuts that do weird shit. We honor the seasons because the seasons are markers for different parts of the life cycle. The cycles of the Moon and Sun are connected to how we perceive life and related cycles of our lives. Such as the Moon representing the three different phases of life. Youth, parenthood, and old age. We designate them as maiden, mother, and crone.
We look at the moon as feminine because she controls water which we are mostly water and water is connected to the emotions. Emotions are generally connected to women. The cycle of the Moon is a 28-day cycle which we can connect to a woman's menstrual cycle which is generally 28 - 31 days on average. Menstruation is directly connected to life through childbirth and motherhood.
During the fall season when all that we have toiled and sewn; we've spent the summer tending and nurturing it, it comes a time when what we have worked so hard for is ready for harvest. The first harvest is usually in September. The full moon in September is the Harvest Moon. I truly enjoy celebrating and honoring life, all life, including my own life through honoring the God/dess. When it comes to harvesting actual plants such as my herbs, I have a ritual for doing so.
I prefer early morning or dusk to harvest my plants. I try to make it during the coolest times of the day. This makes it best for me and the plants because I live in Southern California where the temperatures soar well into the 100s. By September, my sunflowers are ready to harvest. Since Sunflowers are annuals, I have a specific ritual for harvesting them.
The Sunflower is perfect for magick and rituals concerning the Sun Cycle, to attract joy and happiness, energy, and things we see as light. It is Fire energy. The sunflower follows the sun across the sky throughout the day. The smaller multi-flowers are great for decorating the altar while the giant sunflower with its drooping head has seeds we use as food. Sunflowers are generally very fibrous and can be used for making different things or its stalk can be used for wands or staves because of the fire energy it makes terrific tools.
For the smaller flowers, I harvest the flowers all summer as they come and go. At the end of the flower's life cycle, I will harvest the entire plant, roots and all.
Ritualistic Harvesting around the Harvest Moon
- When I prepare to begin, I wear my working clothes that I can get dirty. I try to wear clothes that are cool and comfortable. My tools are my trowel, a small container of water, watering can, and pruning shears or boline.
- Clip the fresh flowers to use for decorating first. It helps to talk to the plant which is sort of like praying. It helps our perception of the plant when we give thanks to the plant for all that it has provided in its life cycle and what it will give after its death. Clip the flowers and place them in the container of water to keep them fresh while you work.
- Then begin to loosen the soil around the base of the plant with my trowel. The idea is to harvest the roots of the plant in tact. Gently work the soil until you can get the entire plant roots out of the soil without breaking them. I do this for a reason. I don't want to waste any part of the plant.
Preparing it for drying to use for a Harvest Moon Ritual
- Once the plant is fully out of the soil I begin to prepare it for drying. I rinse the plant well. the leaves, stalk, flowers, and roots. I get all the bugs and dirt off the plant. Sunflowers can be wrought with ants, aphids, and spiders. At my house, we have black and brown widows. Don't want to get bit or bring them in my house.
- Best to clip, trim and use the fibers you are not going to use in magick or ritual for mulch in your planters/pots around the property. Collect the petals of the flowers that you are not going to use for decoration to dry and used for magick. Depending on what you are going to use this plant for such as a wand or staff or whatever; will determine how to prepare the plant matter for drying.
Last year I harvested my sunflower to perch at my front door. This year, I harvested the stalk to make a staff. It is now dry and ready to use for the project.
When it comes to herbs that are used for health or healing, such as Valerian root, or for tea such as mint or chamomile; I use certain parts of the plants for healing and the rest I use for magick. That depends on the plant and how it is harvested. When to harvest a plant depends on what type of plant it is such as the difference between a perennial and annual.
Gourds are one of those plants that produce an ornamental fruit that is often used to make rattles and decorations. There are many reasons we grow plants. For my teas, I like Stevia. This plant is more like a shrub and we harvest the leaves. It is more like pruning but preparing the leaves for use also takes a ritual. To me, much of my life is a ritual. Bottom line, when harvesting plants for magickal use, it is important to do it in a way that honors you, the plant, and the magick.
The Harvest Moon isn't just the harvesting of plants but of goals that we have set, toiled and worked towards. The harvest can signify a time to reap what we have sewn. The results of all our hard work are starting to emerge and we can see what our efforts can yield.
How you see the Harvest Moon as a time for honor, preparation and ritual or just a cool full moon is up to you. I find that keeping a ritual in all things I do helps to energize my herbs, teas, and life with magickal meaning.
I hope you have a great Harvest Moon. For all who are celebrating this full moon; may your celebration be blessed with success and harmony.
In Love and Light,