Harvesting the Light: The Waning Lughnasadh Moon

Ritual complete, feasting finished, and hugs all around, I drove home under the waning moon on Lughnasadh Eve and was struck by it’s beauty. It struck me that we were not losing light. It was not being diminished. It was being harvested.

Although I’ve tried not to invest too much meaning in the waning and waxing phases of the moon, I have felt their influence particularly strongly this year. Perhaps it’s the economy, but the waning of the moon just seems to be a tougher time for me. I’ve felt it was my perspective more than the moon itself but how do I change my perspective? I was at a loss. The symbolism associated with the moon is old, simple and elegant.

Then staring up at the moon hanging over a cow pasture on Lughnasadh Eve it struck me that the light that had been sown during the waxing of the moon, matured and ripened with the fullness of the moon, was now being gathered in a bit at a time, in the order it was planted. Instead of viewing this as a season of loss I should be considering this a period of gain. This is when the light I have tended and nurtured in my own life becomes gathered back into me.

Of course, the reverse is also true. The waning moon is a time for sowing that which is dark, hidden, secretive, occult and chthonic, which matures and ripens in the dark, starry blackness of the new moon, and harvested during the waxing moon. Instead of a single cycle of give and take, it is the ebb and flow of two energies, working in harmony with one another. Instead of waxing and waning, try different names for the cycles:

Life and Death
Beauty and Strength
Youth and Age
Power and Compassion
Love and Duty
Pride and Humility
Yin and Yang
Desire and Fear
Giving and Receiving
Mirth and Reverence
Right and Left
Outward and Inward

It’s an interesting way to look at it, isn’t it? Not only does it remove the illusion of loss, for we are merely swaying back and forth between two energies which are never lost to us, but deepens our perspective of the moon. The moon has not changed. It waxes and wanes, spends it’s nights dancing between darkness and light. Yet now I have new songs by which to enjoy that dance.

I really like this idea and I am so grateful the Lughnasadh Eve moon gave it to me. I’m going to sit with it for awhile. Maybe I’ll assign a set of polarities to each moon of the year. Either way, it’s a lovely way for me to focus on the energies of the harvest every time I look up into the night sky.

I hope your Lughnasadh/Lammas/First Fruits weekend if fabulous! The Wild Hunt has a nice post on the holiday with links to other blogs and the latest A Darker Shade of Pagan podcast has some lovely holiday music, as does the “13 Songs” post and video playlist on the Pagan Portal here on Patheos.

May your harvest come in abundant, safe and with the blessings of the season!

About Star Foster

Polytheistic Wiccan initiated into the Ravenwood tradition, she has many opinions. Some of them are actually useful.


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