Hekate And The Harvest Moon

Hekate And The Harvest Moon September 20, 2018

While the Fall Equinox can be acknowledged with the sun’s fiery energy, I prefer to make the transition to fall under the bright light of the Harvest Moon. It’s the time when Hekate, like the natural cycle of the earth, transitions from lightness to dark. Hail the return of the Dark Mother while celebrating the harvest under the light of her Harvest Moon.

Although celebrating the Autumnal Equinox, known by many different names including Mabon, is a lovely practice, I’ve never felt that it was witchy enough. It’s a problem I’ve had with the other parts of the Wheel of the Year as well. The seasons, like most of nature, don’t follow rules imposed on them by man, including the calendar. For the sabbats, the emphasis is always on the sun. While I’ve got nothing against the giant ball of fire that gives us all life, it’s not my preferred celestial object. The moon has always claimed me for her own.

 

The Harvest Moon

As the transition to fall occurs, it is not the sun that is the most brilliant, but the full moon. The Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the Autumnal Equinox, falling either before or after depending on the year. This full moon is typically brighter than most of the others because of the position of the moon in relation to the earth.

The Harvest Moon represented the true seasonal shift for people living in places where the land was turning fallow. For the Ancient Greeks, it was the time of the second sowing. How very different from the ancient societies where this moon indicated the beginning of frost. Such is what this moon represents in all the places that I have lived.

Searching for inspiration for an article about the commencement of autumn, I thought about the months of increasing darkness. The time when Hekate returns to her role as a Chthonic Goddess. To me, she is the Dark Mother, Queen of the Witches and the Torch Bearer wandering the night. My thoughts turned to Aleister Crowley’s vision of Hekate which led to me wandering around in old files on my computer. Alongside my file containing Crowley’s ode was my own that I had written to Hekate on the Harvest Moon when I had just begun my journey with Hekatean Witchcraft.

I knew that this was no accident, that I had been guided to find this long-forgotten ritual. A decade ago when I wrote it, I had almost no knowledge of the rich history of my favorite Goddess.

Hekate & The Harvest

However, I did know quite a bit about the Harvest Moon back then. Since ancient times and across cultures, the Harvest Moon has included a long day of bringing in the crops and celebrations. Pre-Hellenic Hekate was a Goddess of the Harvest, remnants of this are found in Hesiod’s rhapsodic description of her powers, such as in this excerpt:

“Hecate, whom Zeus, Cronus’ son, honored above all others: he gave her splendid gifts-to have a share of the earth and of the barren sea, and from the starry sky as well she has a share in honor, and is honored most of all by the immortal gods.”

While Hesiod links Hekate to the harvest, he fails to mention her connection to the moon.

Hekate & The Moon

The ancient Greeks and the bordering lands where Hekate was venerated typically had a very different perspective about the moon. Notably, Selene, the Greek goddess of the moon, was a very minor deity with limited powers. Hekate became strongly associated with the moon in the centuries after Hesiod’s epic, particularly in her bestowing upon her witches’ the power to draw lunar energy into their spells. Poor Selene lamented to Medea about this situation:

“How many times . . . have you disorbed me with your incantations, making the night moonless so that you might practice your beloved witchcraft undisturbed.” – From Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica

Read more: Medea: Her Story, Themes, Correspondences, Rituals, Spells and More

While witches today often follow Medea’s approach to lunar witchery, there is a vast difference between the common modern pagan view of the moon and that found in ancient Greece.

I’ve written several articles about Hekate and the Moon. Here you can read an introduction about Hekate as a Moon Goddess, in this blog you can discover the importance of the Dark Moon in Modern Hekatean Witchcraft and this one is all about the New Moon. Yes, they are different to us Hekateans.

In Search Of An Ancient Connection

While the Greeks used a lunar calendar, they didn’t celebrate the moon itself. After I found the old ritual, I wanted to reconcile our contemporary view with how the ancients would or could have honored Hekate during the time around the Harvest Moon.

Although Hekate wasn’t celebrated during this season, many of her closest companions were. The seasonal shift into autumn was observed through festivals to Demeter and Persephone. The most famous being Eleusinia ta Megala. The Eleusinian Mysteries began on the third week of the month that’s usually our modern September. Since the ancient Greeks used a lunar calendar, this would have been on the day of/after the Full Moon. Another harvest fall festival was held the following month. This celebration, known as Thesmophoria, was a time of gender reversals in addition to a celebration of the mother and daughter goddess duo.

Read more:

Demeter: Fertility, Fury and the Fall

Persephone: Emotional Warrior Goddess, Persephone: Queen of Pain, and Re-imagining Persephone.

Hekate’s closeness with the mother-daughter duo is evidenced in many different ancient depictions. She is portrayed as Persephone’s guide and companion on her round-trips to and from the Underworld, but she is also linked with them in other stories. Perhaps only Artemis is more connected with Hekate. Artemis was celebrated at a festival in Agrae during the month of Boedromion that overlaps with our September for her favor that led to the victory in Marathon. There is one reference that Hekate was publicly honored during this festival.

Read more: Artemis, Wild Goddess: Her Story, Themes, Correspondences and More

Beyond this weak connection, I couldn’t find any direct ancient reference to a Hekatean festival during the full moon of September, although there are other modern sources connecting her to the Harvest Moon. However, Hekate is a goddess much older than the ancient Greeks, perhaps there were festivals prior to them or maybe the records no longer exist. Like the moon she governs, her true face is often hidden in shadows.

The Two Faces of Hekate & The Harvest Moon

Hekate of the Harvest Moon has two facets. She is a Goddess of the Moon shining over the last of the summer. In our contemporary understanding of Hekate and the Harvest Moon, she can be celebrated and petitioned as The Dark Mother of the Moon providing bounty through her light, the eternal torch bearer. Her early followers knew her as a goddess of the life cycle and viewed the moon’s phases as symbolic of the process of life, death and rebirth.

The Harvest Moon shines brightest, it is the last great light before the descent into the season of the Underworld, the decline towards the season of death. As we move into this time of darkness, our energies turn inward to our Lower Self and the power of emotions. Before sinking down into this energetic shift, celebrate the last of the summer’s bright light and the bounty of the Dark Mother, Hekate while honoring the profits of your actions.

Hekate Chthonia emerges as the Harvest Moon wanes, bringing back the energy of her deeply emotional side. The Season of the Witch begins with our Queen guiding us to our internal darkness as the natural world around us descends into the earth. The plants we use decay back into the ground, trusting that their fallen leaves while nourish the soil, eventually bringing about their rebirth. The animals prepare for their descent into their winter lairs. For me, I prepare for my retreat into warm clothes and fires, protected from the harsh climate. This is the Hekate who is both the nightmare and our protection from the terrors of the dark.

“The Hekate of Sophocles’ ‘root gatherers’ seems to have drawn her attributes and nature from the moon, the earth and the lower world; for the moonlight was her spear, and her brows were bound with oak leaves and serpents.” – from Cults Of The Greek States Vol.3 by Lewis Richard Farnell (1907)

The Harvest Moon hails the return of Hekate in this form. Signalling to me the beginning of The Season of the Witch, a sort of onset of the darker energies of mystery and magick, bringing me closer to them and to spirits. As my Harvest Moon guide, Hekate points me in the direction of these roads that lead to Persephone, Queen of the Dead, who may reveal some of her secrets.

The Harvest Moon is when autumn truly begins for this witch.

Hekate & The Harvest Moon Ritual Suggestions

I’ve provided the text I wrote all those years ago below, revised a bit. It may inspire you to create your own honoring Hekate on the Harvest Moon or you may wish to follow mine. Replace the plural with the singular if doing on your own. I say it as plural since Hekate is our household matron and I am blessing all of us. Adapt otherwise as you feel led.

Read: Drawing Down Hekate’s Moon

Suitable offerings: representations of the harvest in your area, such as grain, corn, rice. Local wine can be offered in the cup and objects representing her chthonic aspects, like blood and bones.

Stand before an image of Hekate and/or prepare a special Harvest Moon altar.

Colors: Red for the Full Moon and blood. Signifies the energy of the Middle Self, realm of actions coming to an end. Black for welcoming the Under World, and the Lower Self, realm of emotions. White symbolizes the power of creation, use to symbolize all that you are harvesting. Land is red, sea is black, and sky is white. Offering bowl can be any of these colors as can the cup.

Ode To Hekate, Goddess Of The Harvest Moon

Hail to the Harvest Moon,
Bright Light of Hekate, The Dark Mother,
Watching over her realms of
Land, Sea and Sky.
All that is revealed and hidden even in this bright light.

Hekate, The Dark Mother,
Who wanders under the moon
Protecting those who are in her favor.

Great Hekate’s Harvest Moon,
Far above,
Watch over us,
As we harvest our crops,
And prepare for the dark times ahead.
Great Hekate’s Harvest Moon,
As near as our shadow,
We now receive the benefits
Of our efforts,
Accepting both our light and darkness.

Dark Mother, Queen of the Darkness,
Guardian of Witches, Guide of the Underworld,
Open the gates to your mysteries.
Guide me inward to reveal them to me.

Other Season of The Witch Articles To Date:

Hekate And October: Hail The Goddess of The Witches

Hekate And September: Beginnings, Endings And The In-Between (Suggestions for Correspondences, Rituals and More)

A Simple Elemental Ritual Welcoming Autumn

Walking With The Spirits: Tips For Finding And Working With Spirit Guides

 

 

About Cyndi
Cyndi Brannen is a witch and spiritual teacher, a trained energetic healer, psychic and herbalist. Merging together her training in shamanism, Tarot, past life work, meditation and psychology, she teaches and writes about better living through witchcraft. She founded Open Circle Witchcraft about a decade ago now offering online courses, including Hekate's Modern Witchcraft. Keeping Her Keys: An Introduction to Hekate’s Modern Witchcraft explores Hekate from her ancient origins to modern understanding through magic and personal development is available now for pre-order from Moon Books. True Magic: Unleashing Your Inner Witch uses the magic of the elements and the three realms to activate your true witch powers and will be available later in 2019 from Moon as well. Connect with her on Facebook or at keepingherkeys.com to learn more about her teaching and writing. Cyndi lives in rural coastal Nova Scotia with her two sons where she can often be found wandering the cliffs or wild foraging plants. She lives what she teaches: fierce love, emotional courage and true magic. You can read more about the author here.
"It's a lot like the pureblood debate in Harry Potter, eh? I wonder how many ..."

Witchcraft is a Practice, Not a ..."
"I'm a witch. I've been practicing since the 1980's. I'm not "born a witch" or ..."

Witchcraft is a Practice, Not a ..."
"Great review, Cyndi. I put it in my cart at Amazon!"

“The Title of Witch Belongs to ..."
"Great article. Where can I find your course? 🌙Blessings!"

You Call Yourself a Witch? Then ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


TRENDING AT PATHEOS Pagan
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Chelle Thomas

    Another awesome article! Thank you 🙂

  • R. V.

    Hello, I noticed on Amazon you are going to publish a book, will there be a ebook version? Thank you.

  • Yes. The book will be available to the public on Amazon and absolutely everywhere in paper and an ebook near the end of April. Pre-ordering the book before December 1 will get you access to bonus content. Learn more on Keeping Her Keys on Facebook. Thank you for your interest in my work.

  • Nathan Race

    Above you said that Hesiod fails to link Hecate’s connection to the moon, but if you read the full passage from where you get your excerpt you’ll see that he mentions her parentage and her honours which suggests her connection with the moon:

    “Asteria of happy name, whom Perses once led to his great house to be called his dear wife. And she conceived and bare Hekate (Hecate) whom Zeus the son of Kronos (Cronus) honoured above all. He gave her splendid gifts, to have a share of the earth and the unfruitful sea. She received honour also in starry heaven, and is honoured exceedingly by the deathless gods. For to this day, whenever any one of men on earth offers rich sacrifices and prays for favour according to custom, he calls upon Hekate. Great honour comes full easily to him whose prayers the goddess receives favourably, and she bestows wealth upon him; for the power surely is with her. For as many as were born of Gaia (Gaea, the Earth) and Ouranos (Uranus, Heaven) [i.e. the Titanes] amongst all these she has her due portion. The son of Kronos did her no wrong nor took anything away of all that was her portion among the former Titan gods : but she holds, as the division was at the first from the beginning, privilege both in earth, and in heaven, and in sea. Also, because she is an only child, the goddess receives not less honour, but much more still, for Zeus honours her. Whom she will she greatly aids and advances : she sits by worshipful kings in judgement, and in the assembly whom she will is distinguished among the people. And when men arm themselves for the battle that destroys men, then the goddess is at hand to give victory and grant glory readily to whom she will. Good is she also when men contend at the games, for there too the goddess is with them and profits them : and he who by might and strength gets the victory wins the rich prize easily with joy, and brings glory to his parents. And she is good to stand by horsemen, whom she will : and to those whose business is in the grey discomfortable sea, and who pray to Hekate and the loud-crashing Earth-Shaker [Poseidon], easily the glorious goddess gives great catch, and easily she takes it away as soon as seen, if so she will. She is good in the byre with Hermes to increase the stock. The droves of kine and wide herds of goats and flocks of fleecy sheep, if she will, she increases from a few, or makes many to be less. So, then. albeit her mother’s only child, she is honoured amongst all the deathless gods. And the son of Kronos made her a nurse of the young who after that day saw with their eyes the light of all-seeing Eos (the Dawn). So from the beginning she is a nurse of the young (kourotrophos), and these are her honours.” (THEOI.com)

    You might also like reading what Kerenyi (a mythologist) has to say about Hecate.

  • Pingback: Hekate, the Witches Goddess | Tara Greene,Tarot Reader, Astrology, Psychic()

  • I am very familiar with the full text, which, of course, doesn’t directly link her to the moon. Perhaps reading some of my other articles could shine a light on my knowledge of Hesiod.