The Mourning Moon is upon us. As the days grow shorter and the sun’s life-giving fires are banked, sometimes it seems so dark we feel the light will never return. This moon, however, is a reminder that death is just a part of the endless cycle of life, death, and rebirth.
It’s also known as the Fog Moon or Snow Moon, depending on where you live. Some Native American tribes referred to it simply as The Moon When Deer Shed Antlers (although in most regions it’s more accurate to say they’re shedding their velvet – a buck doesn’t usually lose antlers until later in the winter, unless you’re very far north).
- Colors: Gray, blues
- Gemstones: Lapis lazuli, turquoise, topaz
- Trees: Cypress, alder, hazel
- Gods: Bastet, Isis, Kali, Hecate, Astarte
- Herbs: Thistle, betony, verbena, fennel
- Element: Water
In the early Celtic society, November was the beginning of the new year, and so it makes sense to use the magic of this moon phase to celebrate new beginnings.
This is a time of washing away the baggage of the past and letting it go. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to focus on the joys of the future. During the Mourning Moon phase, say goodbye to bad habits and toxic relationships, and get a fresh start for the new year. Work on developing and strengthening your connection with Spirit.
The new moon is sacred to the goddess Hekate, and these cakes are ideal for use in rituals honoring her, as well as for Hekate Suppers, or an offering to leave at a crossroads. Many of the ingredients are sacred to the Dark Goddess, additionally there are 3 x 3 ingredients, using the number three which is also sacred to Hekate.
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup of soft butter
- 1/4 cup of honey
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp black poppy seeds
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 1 tsp anise seeds
(If possible use organic ingredients and free-range fertile eggs.) Sift the flour, salt and baking soda together. Cream the butter, honey and egg. Blend the two mixtures together and add the remaining ingredients. Shape into small thin crescent shapes. Place with space between the shapes to allow for spreading during baking on a cool, oiled baking tray.
Bake at 350 F for about 12 minutes or until lightly golden.
~Sue Bowman, Keys to the Crossroads
The Dark of the Moon, those few days where the moon is not visible, just prior to the rebirth of the New Moon, are controversial. Some traditions will not cast spells during this period. Others. particularly those devoted to Dark Moon spirits like Hekate or Lilith, consider this a period of profound magickal power which may be exploited as needed.
In Arabic folk custom, it’s recommended that you keep an eye on moon phases. Whatever you find yourself doing at the moment when you first catch a glimpse of the brand new moon is the right thing for you to do.
More New Moon Lore:
- Almost every culture believed that if the New Moon came on Monday (Moon-day) it was a sign of good weather and good luck.
- Two new moons in one month were said to predict a month’s bad weather.
- Any new moon on a Saturday or Sunday was said to predict rain and general bad luck.
- Good luck will come your way if you first see the New Moon outside and over your right shoulder. You can also make a wish that will be granted. The best luck came from looking at the Moon straight on.
- In some parts of Ireland, upon seeing the New Moon, people bowed or knelt, saying: O Moon, leave us as well as you found us.
- Upon seeing the New Moon, bow to her and turn over the silver or coins in your pocket. This will bring you luck in all your affairs.
- If the New Moon is seen for the first time straight ahead, it predicts good fortune until the next New Moon.
- To encourage luxuriant growth, cut your hair on the New Moon.
- Wood cut at the New Moon is hard to split.
- The English had a saying that if a member of the family died at the time of the New Moon, three deaths would follow.
- Although the Koran expressly forbids worshiping the Sun or Moon, many Muslims still clasp their hands at the sight of a New Moon and offer a prayer.
From: Moon Magick and other sources
Traditionally, the each of the first ten days after the New Moon has it’s own attributes and qualities. Here’s the folklore on each of those days:
First Day: A good day for new beginnings. To fall ill on this day means the illness might last a long while. A child born at this time will be happy, prosperous, and live long.
Second Day: A good day for buying and selling and for starting a sea voyage. Also a good time for hoeing and sowing.
Third Day: Crimes committed on this day are certain to be found out.
Fourth Day: A good day for building, construction, and home renovations. Also a good day to be born on if you want to enter politics.
Fifth Day: The weather on this day gives an indication of what to expect for the rest of the month. It’s a good day for a woman to conceive.
Sixth Day: The best day for hunting and/or fishing.
Seventh Day: A good day for meeting and falling in love.
Eighth Day: A sickness begun on this day was thought to be likely to cause death.
Ninth Day: If the Moon shines in your face on this day, you may have twisted features or go mad.
Tenth: People born on this day are likely to be travelers or have a restless spirit.
Other Days: A New Moon on a Saturday or Sunday indicates rain, as does seeing the outline of the whole Moon at the same time as a New Moon. Furthermore, should the horns of a New Moon point upwards then the weather will be fair for the next lunar cycle, but if they point down, you can expect rain.
Here is a traditional recipe for the Mid-Autumn Moon Cake
- 1 can (17-1/2 ounces) lotus seed paste
- 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2-cup non-fat dried milk powder
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup solid shortening, melted and cooled
- 1 egg yolk , lightly beaten
- Mix lotus seed paste and walnuts together in a bowl; set aside.
Sift flour, milk powder, baking powder, and salt together into a bowl. In large bowl of electric mixer, beat eggs on medium speed until light and lemon colored. Add sugar; beat for 10 minutes or until mixture falls in a thick ribbon. Add melted shortening; mix lightly. With a spatula, fold in flour mixture. Turn dough out on a lightly floured board; knead for 1 minute or until smooth and satiny. Divide dough in half; roll each half into a log. Cut each log into 12 equal pieces.
To shape each moon cake, roll a piece of dough into a ball. Roll out on a lightly floured board to make a 4-inch circle about 1/8-inch thick. Place 1 tablespoon of lotus seed paste mixture in center of dough circle.
Fold in sides of dough to completely enclose filling; press edges to seal. Lightly flour inside of moon cake press with 2-1/2 inch diameter cups. Place moon cake, seam side up, in mold; flatten dough to conform to shape of mold. Bang one end of mold lightly on work surface to dislodge moon cake. Place cake on ungreased baking sheet. Repeat to shape remaining cakes. Brush tops with egg yolk.
Bake in a preheated 375 degree F. oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a rack and let cool. Makes 2 dozen
Copyright Yan Can Cook, Inc. 1991.
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup salted butter
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup strawberry (or your favorite) jam
(traditionally red bean paste is used so if you want a more authentic version, you can use a can of red bean paste instead of the jam)
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Combine the butter, sugar and 1 egg yolk and stir.
- Mix in the flour.
- Form the dough into one large ball and wrap it in plastic wrap.
- Refrigerate dough for half an hour.
- Unwrap the chilled dough and form small balls in the palms of your hand.
- Make a hole with your thumb in the center of each mooncake and fill with about half a teaspoon of jam.
- Brush each cake with the other beaten egg yolk and place on a cookie sheet.
- Bake for about 20 minutes or just until the outside edges are slightly brown
The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, is a popular East Asian celebration of abundance and togetherness, dating back over 3,000 years to China’s Zhou Dynasty. In Malaysia and Singapore, it is also sometimes referred to as the Lantern Festival or “Mooncake Festival.”
The Mid-Autumn Festival falls on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month of the Chinese calendar (usually around mid- or late-September in the Gregorian calendar), a date that parallels the Autumn Equinox of the solar calendar. The moon festival is celebrated on the full moon closest to the Autumn Equinox, which sometimes falls in October. This is the ideal time, when the moon is at its fullest and brightest, to celebrate the abundance of the summer’s harvest. The traditional food of this festival is the mooncake, of which there are many different varieties.
The Moon Festival is full of legendary stories. Legend says that Chang Er flew to the moon, where she has lived ever since. You might see her dancing on the moon during the Moon Festival. The Moon Festival is also an occasion for family reunions. When the full moon rises, families get together to watch the full moon, eat moon cakes, and sing moon poems. With the full moon, the legend, the family and the poems, you can’t help thinking that this is really a perfect world. That is why the Chinese are so fond of the Moon Festival.
The Moon Festival is also a romantic one. A perfect night for the festival is if it is a quiet night without a silk of cloud and with a little mild breeze from the sea. Lovers spend such a romatic night together tasting the delicious moon cake with some wine while watching the full moon. Even for a couple who can’t be together, they can still enjoy the night by watching the moon at the same time so it seems that they are together at that hour. A great number of poetry has been devoted to this romantic festival. Hope the Moon Festival will bring you happiness.
Farmers celebrate the end of the summer harvesting season on this date. Traditionally, on this day, Chinese family members and friends will gather to admire the bright mid-autumn harvest moon, and eat moon cakes and pomeloes together. Accompanying the celebration, there are additional cultural or regional customs, such as:
- Eating moon cakes outside under the moon
- Putting pomelo rinds on one’s head
- Carrying brightly lit lanterns
- Burning incense in reverence to deities including Chang’e
- Planting Mid-Autumn trees
- Collecting dandelion leaves and distributing them evenly among family members
- Lighting lanterns on towers
- Fire Dragon Dances
- Shops selling mooncakes, before the festival, often display pictures of Chang’e floating to the moon.
Stories behind the festival can be found at Widdershins:
The Moon Cake Uprising
In late Yuan Dynasty (1271 – 1368 AD), people in many parts of the country could not bear the cruel rule of the government and rose in revolt. Zhu Yuanzhang, founder of Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644 AD), united the different resistance forces and wanted to organize an uprising. However, due to the narrow search by government, it was very difficult to pass messages.
The counselor Liu Bowen later though out the great idea of hiding notes with “uprise on the night of August 15th” in moon cakes and had them sent to different resistance forces. The uprising turned to be very successful and Zhu was so happy that he awarded his subjects with moon cakes on the following Mid-Autumn Festival. Since then, eating moon cakes has been a custom on Mid-Autumn Festival.
What follows is a list (in alphabetical order) of the names given to the October moon. Also listed is the tradition and/or origin of that moon name:
- Blood Moon ~Mediaeval English, Neo-Pagan
- Blood Moon Falling ~Janic (full)
- Corn Ripe Moon ~Taos
- Falling Leaves Moon ~Arapaho
- Full Dying Grass Moon ~Algonquin Native American, Colonial
- Harvest Moon ~When closest to the Autumnal Equinox
- Hunter’s Moon ~Neo-Pagan, Algonquin, Native American, Colonial
- Kentenha ~Mohawk
- Leaf Moon ~Janic (dark)
- Leaf Fall Moon ~San Juan, Native American
- Long Hair Moon ~Hopi
- Moon of the Changing Season ~other
- Shedding Moon ~other
- Snow Moon ~other
- Spirit Moon ~other
- Ten Colds Moon ~Kiowa
- Travel Moon ~Algonquin, Native American, Colonial
- Tugluvik ~Inuit
- Vintage Moon ~other
- White Frost Moon ~other
- Windermanoth ~other
- Wine Moon ~Mediaeval English
- Winterfelleth Moon ~other
- Winter’s Coming Moon ~other
The Hunter’s Moon is so named because plenty of moonlight is ideal for hunters shooting migrating birds in Northern Europe. The name is also said to have been used by Native Americans as they tracked and killed their prey by autumn moonlight, stockpiling food for the winter ahead.
Traditional association with feasting:
In the northern hemisphere, the Hunter’s Moon appears in October or November, usually in October. Traditionally, it was a feast day in parts of western Europe and among some Native American tribes, called simply the Feast of the Hunter’s Moon, though the celebration had largely died out by the 18th century. There is a large historical reenactment by that name in Lafayette, Indiana during the early part of October 2010
Variation in time of moonrise:
In general, the moon rises about 50 minutes later each day, as it moves in orbit around Earth. All full moons rise around the time of sunset. The Harvest Moon (full moon closest to the Autumnal Equinox) and Hunter’s Moon are special because — as seen from the northern hemisphere — the time of moonrise on successive evenings is shorter than usual. The moon rises approximately 30 minutes later, from one night to the next, as seen from about 40 degrees N. latitude, for several evenings around the full Hunter’s or Harvest Moons.
Thus there is no long period of darkness between sunset and moonrise, around the time of these full moons. In times past, this feature of these autumn moons was said to help hunters tracking their prey (or, in the case of the Harvest Moon, farmers working in the fields). They could continue tracking their prey (or bringing in their crops) by moonlight even when the sun had gone down. Hence the name Hunter’s Moon.
The reason for the shorter-than-usual rising time between successive moon rises around the time of the Harvest and Hunter’s Moon is that the orbit of the Moon makes a narrow angle with respect to the horizon in the evening in autumn, leading the Moon to higher positions in the sky each successive day.
Brightness and distance:
The Hunter’s Moon is not brighter, smaller or yellower than during other times of the year, but all full moons have their own special characteristics, based primarily on the whereabouts of the ecliptic in the sky at the time of year that they are visible.
The full moons of September, October and November, as seen from the northern hemisphere — which correspond to the full moons of March, April and May as seen from the southern hemisphere — are well known in the folklore of the sky.
Since the Moon’s sidereal period differs from its synodic period, the perigee of the Moon (the point where it is closest to the Earth) does not stay in sync with the phases of the Moon. Thus the Hunter’s Moon does not correspond to any special timing of the Moon’s distance from the Earth. This is why the Hunter’s Moon is not, in general, brighter than any other regular full moon.
October’s full moon is often referred to as the Blood Moon, or Sanguine Moon. The Blood Moon takes its name not from blood sacrifices, but from the old custom of killing and salting down livestock before the Winter months made it impossible to feed them. Only the choicest stock was kept through the cold season.
The leaves are falling from trees, the deer are fattened, and it’s time to begin storing up meat for the long winter ahead. Because the fields were traditionally reaped in late September or early October, hunters could easily see fox and other animals that come out to glean from the fallen grains.
Coming right before Samhain, it’s a time when the nights are crisp and clear, and you can sense a change in the energy around you.
- Colors: Dark blue, black, purples, Deep Blue Green
- Element: Air
- Scents: strawberry, apple blossom, and cherry
- Gemstones: Obsidian, amethyst, tourmaline, opal, beryl, turquoise
- Herbs: Apple blossom, pennyroyal, mint family, catnip, Sweet Annie, thyme, catnip, uva ursi, angelica, burdock
- Flowers: Calendula, marigold, cosmos
- Trees: Apples, yew, cypress, acacia
- Birds: Heron, crow, and robin
- Animals: Stag, jackal, elephant, ram, scorpion
- Nature Spirits: Frost and plant faeries
- Gods: Herne, Apollo, Cernunnos, Mercury, Ishtar, Astarte, Demeter, Kore, Lakshmi, The Horned God, Belili, Hathor
- Powers/Advice: A time to work on inner cleansing, letting go karma, reincarnation, justice and balance.
This is the time when the veil between our world and the spirit world are at its thinnest. Use this time for spiritual growth — if there’s a deceased ancestor you wish to contact, this is a great month to do it. Hold a séance, work on your divination, and pay attention to messages you get in your dreams.
Probably because of the threat of winter looming close, the Blood Moon is generally accorded with special honor, historically serving as an important feast day in both Western Europe and among many Native American tribes.
The Blood moon focuses around connecting with animals, and our animal totems and guides. Those who practice looking at the degrees of the lunar cycle may realize that this is the last time the moon will be at a later degree. This conjunction will allow many to look at life differently every time the new moon approaches and allowing us to look at past and the future at the same time.
This moon also forces us to look at love completely differently and ask the questions:
- What is love?
- Is the love you have unconditional?
That love does not have to be just in the areas of relationship but also our interaction with people, it can even be love of work and things you have acquired.
Additionally it means to be able to let it go of someone or something no matter how much you love it because it needs to be set free. The past years have reminded us that changes need to happen that this kind of life is no longer tolerant and peaceful. We will be reminded once again we can no longer walk in other people’s shadows.
Because this moon focuses around our animal nature, some of us may become very aggressive in what we say or do. It may cause many people to act out. This type of moon has been known for violence, suicides and domestic disputes over things that may or not exist – another reason it is known as the blood moon.
A Ritual For The Blood Moon
Here’s a nice little ritual to do for the Blood Moon.
You will need:
- A special glass or chalice – something pretty
- Rose water – or spring water
- White cotton cloth
- Red wine
- Ripe pomegranate
- Silver spoon
For this ritual it will be nice to dress up a little. Wear white or silver, and if you have it, silver jewelry with carnelian, or moonstone. Use a special glass or chalice.
Rinse the chalice with rose water and dry it with a clean white cotton cloth. Pour the cup of red wine into the chalice, slice the pomegranate in half and squeeze the juice into the wine. Add a teaspoon of honey, and stir with the silver spoon.
Go outside. If you are doing this with friends, form a circle. Lift the chalice in the direction of the moon and say a few words of praise, thanks, appreciation, whatever feels appropriate and right. Then take a sip of the wine and pass the chalice clockwise around the circle (if there is one). Each person “toasts” the Blood Moon and drinks.
When the circle is complete, pour the rest of the wine on the ground as a “libation” or offering to the earth.
Collected from various sources including: PaganWiccan.About.Com