[Collage by Shawnie Hamer]
“When we are willing to come back home to ourselves, we can see again.” – Sarah Vrba
What does return mean to you? For many, it brings up ideas of travel and movement. An ending. For me, it has brought feelings of defeat. To be forced to return is to go back to a place or a time that maybe we hoped to leave behind.
But the return home is never the same road taken twice. Here we find tension, resistance. Movement vs surrender. Back tracking vs exploration. But it is within these dichotomies that we can expand and permeate. And it is within this Harvest Moon, the first of two full moons in October, that we can dissolve the manicured edges we have worked so hard to file and curate, and allow ourselves to swell beyond what we ever thought possible.
I have a lot of thoughts and messages coming in about this Harvest Moon and the Blue Moon that follows on Samhain (Halloween). These two moons happening at the very beginning and the very end of the month opens a much needed lunar portal—a threshold we can enter within, and then without, this October.
Firstly, it is important to understand that the occurrence of these two full moons in this way doesn’t happen often. The next Blue Moon on Halloween won’t occur until 2039. To further contextualize, Farmer’s Almanac explains that a Halloween full moon hasn’t appeared for everyone in all time zones since 1944. If you remember your history, 1944 was the beginning of the end of WWII. I do not take this as a coincidence, but I do take it as a hopeful sign—even if that hope is tinged with fear. Perhaps this season ushers in the beginning of the end of this war (and if you don’t think we’re at war, then you’re not paying attention). Unfortunately, this might mean that a D-Day is coming prior to the official end.
It is my belief that how we learn and grow ourselves within this lunar portal will greatly influence how we continue the fight after the metaphorical bombs are dropped—how we will rebuild once the dust settles.
This offering is a bit different than my others as it's the first of two parts. In order to present all the information I am receiving about these moons in a cohesive way, I have also created some visual representations that might help serve you as we move through the month of October. These visuals are made with the infinity sign (or ouroboros) as the anchor, because I believe these moons are connecting and expanding seemingly disparate parts of the self and community on a loop. Part I will describe the Harvest Moon and the left side of the ouroboros, and Part II later this month will explain the Blue Moon and the right side. For the first offering, I encourage you to visualize the Harvest Moon as a stepping (with)in. I will explain throughout this text what I believe we are stepping into.
Harvest & Hunter | Hathor & Pakhet
[Collage by Shawnie Hamer | Original painting by acrylic-equestrian]
Etymologically, autumn and harvest are linked. The word autumn comes from the Latin autumnus, influenced by auctus or “to increase.” This full moon is in Aries, which we will talk more about in a bit, but I want to mention here that the typical Aries fire energy of increasing through tenacity, stubbornness, and even combativeness is not what this moon is serving. The increase is not so much an action of taking, but rather one of reassessment.
Have you ever been spring cleaning and were shocked to discover how much stuff you actually have? The same principle applies here. This Harvest Moon asks us to gather and take stock. To reap what we’ve had growing and percolating all year, to inventory the things we’ve stored, and look at it all with fresh eyes. By doing so, we will see how truly blessed and abundant our lives are.
Now, I know gratitude is a bit of a spiritual buzz word, but this lunar Aries energy has a clear message: do not take this moment of reassessment lightly. This action is desperately needed, especially in our current moment in history. We must be reminded of the power, comforts, gifts, hopes, love, etc. we have right now, especially as we prepare for the remainder of this year. We need to have a purposeful celebration. This moon is inviting us to feast and rejoice in the name of what we have accomplished and what has been gifted to us by our guides, not to turn off, but to recalibrate.
For this practice, we can look to the goddess Hathor. Hathor is an ancient Egyptian goddess that was considered the divine mother and/or divine feminine. Her name has often been translated to “the divine mother who revives,” and on top of being the deity for music, arts, dance, joy, love, sexuality, and maternal care, she is also in charge of welcoming and feeding the spirits entering the underworld.
And aren’t we all feeling a little like ghosts? Aren’t we all spread so thin with worry and work that our souls feel threadbare? As we step into the lunar portal, Hathor takes our coats. She gives us warm drinks and flavorful food. She pulls out chairs for us and invites the ones we love most to join. And once we are nourished, she asks us how we will continue our journey.
Again, I cannot stress enough how important this first step is. Those of you who work with magick and ritual know how important grounding practices like eating and communing are. And for those of you who don’t engage with these practices, just think about what the mamas in your life told you last time you were sick: eat and drink plenty of fluids. This is both literal and metaphorical. This Harvest Moon is the grounding reprieve that we must begin with in order to fully engage with the transformation that will come throughout the month.
These transformations will include transmuting from gatherer to hunter, or in the framework of this offering, from Hathor to Pakhet—the Egyptian hunter goddess named Night huntress with sharp eye and pointed claw. Again, be sure to check out Part II of this offering at the end of this month to learn more.
Living & Dead | Thinning of the Veil
[Collage by Shawnie Hamer | Original photograph by Gregory Prescott]
Every year, October ushers in a time when the veil between the living realm and the spiritual realm thins. This is a time when our ancestors and guides can more easily visit, communicate, and send messages. Celebrations like Samhain and Día de Muertos highlight this phenomenon, with many cultures inviting their spiritual kin to join them in celebration.
I know that some of you are now getting nervous (or even shaking your head) at the idea of spirits coming to visit. But don’t worry—they’re already here. This time just gives us the ability to pay better attention to their presence. There is a reason October is often deeply embedded in the mysteries of death, but death is nothing to fear. Instead of loss, we can think of it in the way the Tarot does—as the necessary end to a cycle. Truthfully, we cannot talk about harvest without talking about death. This is the time when the plants must be cut, when the stalks must die, and the soil must be covered in the blanket of winter, so that life can sustain in spring.
Within the lunar portal of the October full moons, this month allows us to glean a whole new level of knowledge from our interactions with spirits (and if spirits or ghosts don’t resonate with you, feel free to replace these words with things like inspiration, clarity, or muses). The point is that our senses are heightened to the messages that echo within and without. The most important being: no matter what names we call ourselves, or what boxes we put ourselves in, we can be (and already are) more.
In addition to everything else, this week Mars retrograde squares Saturn in their respective home signs of Aries and Capricorn—another rare occurrence. If this lunar portal teaches us anything, it is that everything we do vibrates and touches those around us. And if we allow ourselves the space to dissolve our edges, if we give ourselves permission to think bigger than “I am X, Y, and Z,” then we can open ourselves to energies and gifts we never thought possible. Much like our ancestors’ love extends across the veil into the mortal world, our love can extend past the confines of the death and destruction of this current moment. It can heal, and it can hunt.
As Chani Nicholas writes of the Mars Rx squaring Saturn:
The Mars/Saturn square resounds throughout the rest of 2020 and demands that we examine our burdens in greater detail; it asks us to feel their weight without shifting ours, to study our discomfort in all its intricacies. But suffering isn’t the aim; if we are to ever overcome what impedes us and justice, we have to become intimately aware of our opponents.
I believe this expansion is pertinent, and that it must happen right now, because we are entering an age where expansion and creativity have to be at the forefront if we hope to survive, let alone thrive. This will require us all to not only use our gifts for the betterment of this world, but to expand past (self)imposed disciplines. How can poets help scientists save the planet? How can stay-at-home moms help leaders create equitable systems of justice? How can farmers teach children allyship?
We are being asked to step into other realms of consciousness and belief in order to rise again ready to defend against those threatening our collective family. And at these tables with our ghosts and ancestors, while strategizing for the revolution, we must give thanks and create boundaries. As LeaAnne Howe said in her interview with CA Conrad on Occult Poetics Podcast, not all ancestors mean well. Find the spirits that want to hold and guide you like Hathor.
Aries & Libra | The Infinite Loop
[Collage by Shawnie Hamer | Original painting: Robert Heindel | The Royal Ballet dancers]
The last dichotomy to explore for this moon is that of the signs. This week we will start with Aries and Libra. The full Harvest Moon occurs in Aries, the zodiac’s cardinal fire sign. Aries energy is that of the self (I)—bursting forward as a catalyst and raw force for personal vision. Libra is the cardinal air sign and represents relationship to others (II)—a creative and balancing initiation.
Though Aries full moons are often intense, this moon isn’t asking you to charge forward full steam ahead to some new and unchartered place. Why? For two reasons: first, this moon is occurring very closely to Chiron, the wounded healer. I’ve always loved Chiron; he is a loving teacher that asks us to tend to our deepest wounds and traumas in order to reframe them as strengths. The second reason is that this moon occurs alongside Mars retrograde in Aries, which asks us to shed dead weight to find our self-respect and integrity. So, instead of bulldozing ahead like the Aries Ram, we are being asked to turn that fire energy inwards and return to the self. By returning home to the self we can heal and hone our gifts, so that when we emerge as hunter, we will be ready to fight for our Age of Aquarius, occurring December 21.
This moon happening in Libra season gives us a final infinite loop. Because Libra is a sign of knowledge, truth, and relationship, we can use this portal as an opportunity to look within and around us and find the places of imbalance. Many of us like to abandon or punish ourselves in service of others. Just as many like to abandon or punish others to defend their fragility. This Aries-Libra moon stresses to all of us the following cycle:
In this way, we can think about Libra (and this lunar portal) as the divine feminine womb space—the space to learn—and Aries as the divine masculine energy, or knowledge itself. We need both in order to achieve pure balance and growth as both individuals and the collective.
As we step into October’s magickal lunar portal, we must shed: our armor, our shame, our egos, our definitions of self/reality. As we cross the threshold, we must ground into this hyper awareness through gratitude and celebration. And when the last song plays, the last glass empties, and the chilly silence of the autumn night sets in, we must have Aries’ confidence and Libra’s level head to sit down, listen, and heal.
Tarot Reading: Knight of Wands Reversed
Knights symbolize action and exploration, and with Wands being the fire suit, this card speaks directly to the Aries energy of this moon. However, as we see in the artwork for this card, as well as it being reversed, we are being asked to turn that go-get-em energy inward, toward the shadows of the self and spirit. However, just like the wolf holds lightning in their hand, we still bring light and energy to this pursuit of our shadows.
This card reminds me of Rachel Pollack’s explanation of the word lucid in Seventy Eight Degrees of Wisdom. She writes, “The sunstruck person feels a sense of wisdom, of seeing everything with total clarity. He or she is ‘lucid’, a word which means clear and direct, but which literally means ‘filled with light’.”
Lucidity is often used in collaboration with dream exploration—a practice overseen exclusively by the moon. In this practice, a person attempts to be aware enough to engage and guide their dreams in order to understand themselves and the messages more clearly.
However, many people caution staying in this lunar shadow work too long, warning that lucidity can quickly turn into lunacy. But I would argue that staying solely in the light for too long can cause the same symptoms. As my dear friend Simone said in a text message the other day:
So much focus on only the light has corrupted that light and mainly shadows remain. But we, as individuals who have devoured so many shadows have crawled back out of them still intact, are called to help others who never had the chance or desire to express that need to heal.
We have long neglected our shadows, and because of this, the "light" we use to see has become putrid: it is impossible to discern what is true; it is impossible to see the hope. In order to restore balance, we need lucidity—the conscious and purposeful journey into obscure dimensions of the self. We must take our passion inward to examine and heal. We must find the pure light inside of us, and return from the journey to steward others towards the same action. This lunar portal is a perfect time to find love, patience, and even give names to these shadows so their power can aid us in the movement forward.
I’ll see you on the other side, my loves.
Bibliomancy: Page 10 | Fabric by Richard Froude
I have tried to understand death as related to the idea of waking. I am not certain of the name for this relation. It may be more appropriate to ask somebody better acquainted with mathematics.
We drove to a beach where the rock was said to be rich with fossils. I know about ammonites and trilobites and harbored dreams of owning a metal detector.
Fossils, like windows, are moments of discourse. Music is distinct from the measurement and transcription of sound. It is a form of recurrence.
I have tried to understand waking as the moment when the world ceases to make sense. Maybe one day everything will be collected in sequence and bound with leather.
"In Aporia" by Akilah Oliver | from A Toast in the House of Friends
"I realized everything I was doing must have been Death. It was Christmas or Labor Day—a holiday—and every time you turned on the radio they said something like 'four million' or 'going to die'"
I'm trying on ego, [a justification for the planet's continuance]. Oh
hello transgressor, you've come to collect utilitarian debts, humbling
narrative space. Give me a condition and wheatgrass,
I his body is disintegrating, I his body is ossification. Death by habit
radius, yeah yeah.
I his body can't refuse this summons. I can't get out
this fucking room. Tell me something different about torture
Tell me about the lightness my mother told me to pick the one i love the best
how it signals everything I ever wish to believe true just holy on my ship.
I jump all over this house. this is it [what i thought is thought only,
nothing more deceptive than]:
I his body keeps thinking someone will come along, touch me.
As like human. Or lima bean.
I'm cradling you to my breast, you are looking out. A little wooden lion you & Peter carve
on Bluff Street is quieting across your cheekbone. Not at all like the kind of terror found
in sleep, on trembling grounds.
It is yesterday now. I have not had a change to dance in this century. Tonight I shall kill someone,
a condition to remember Sunday mornings.
To think of lives as repetitions [rather than singular serial incarnations]. To understand your
death is as exacerbating as trying to figure out why as schoolchildren in mid-nineteen-sixties
we performed reflexive motion:
cutting out lace snowflakes, reading Dick and Jane serch for their missing mittens,
And this too, fiction. The book I would want to right.
The restored fallen, heroic.
Did you expect a different frace from the world? Or upon exit?
I'm working on "tough." They think I am already. All ready.
Who is the dead person? Is "I'm sorry" real to a dead person?
Browning grass. My hands on this table. A contentious century.
A place to pay rent. Redemptive moments.
Am I now the dead person?
Dead person, dead person, will you partake in my persimmon feast?
The body inside the body astounds, confesses sins of the funhouse.
I too have admired the people of this plant.
Their frilly, ordered intellects.
The use they've made of cardamom,
radiation as well. How they've pasteurized milk, loaned surnames to stars,
captured tribes, diseases, streets, and ideas too.
[Collage by Shawnie Hamer | Original photography by the Bohemian Collective]
Hello, dear collective. How are you holding up? I’ll be honest, the last few weeks have been something of a breaking point for me. Leo season is over and I’ve felt my lion’s optimism transform into Virgo’s sharp criticism. My fiery passion and love for humanity has mutated into hours of disgust and disdain, especially in light of Jacob Blake, the hatred and actions of white supremacist militias, and the consistently disturbing words of defense for both.
But, alas, just like every sign, extreme criticism is only the shadow side of dynamic Virgos. For all of their judiciousness, they are also badass achievers. They get stuff done, and we need this energy more than ever, with the protests raging on, the U.S. presidential election around the corner, and Black and Brown bodies still being murdered in the streets. We need the undying focus of our dear Virgos, even when we are heartbroken or just flat out done with humans.
Virgos, as sharp as they seem, are mutable Earth signs, meaning that they have a flexibility and fluidity that other signs do not. They have their feet on the ground, but can adapt in practical ways. The full moon on the 2nd is a Pisces moon, also a mutable sign. Pisces are the eldest of the signs, and being a mutable water, are able to expand and imagine emotions and dreams. These two energies colliding this week tells me that this moon is asking us to work hard, dream harder, and stay on our toes in the process. We cannot alone survive in the psychic dream world that Pisces resides in, and we can’t sustain in the purely analytical or logical. We must combine the two to practically execute the new world that we dream up together.
This is especially apt considering this full moon is also the Corn Moon. The Corn Moon is unique in that it only happens every three years when the September full moon occurs at the beginning of the month, allowing the Harvest Moon to appear at the beginning of October (near the Autumnal Equinox) and the Blue Moon on Halloween/Samhain. The Corn Moon is a moon of abundance, home, hearth, and preparation for winter. It is a much needed breath and a small prayer of gratitude before the next leg of the journey.
Though many are keeping their eyes focused on January 1st, ready to put this dumpster-fire-of-a-year in the rearview mirror, this moon and season change (to me) seems like a pre-new beginning. A student at heart, this month has always been so transformative, creating a shift in my mindset to prepare for new lessons.
And though it looks a lot different this year, with students sitting in front of screens instead in the coziness of classrooms, it IS a new school year. And even if you aren’t a parent or student yourself, I’m sure you are feeling the differences in other ways: instead of going to work, you might be home. Instead of planning holiday travels, you might be mentally preparing for holidays without family. It is sad and weird and seemingly never ending. But I do believe that this full Corn Moon is reminding us that, no matter how different things are, we can always find new ways to be grateful. We can always dream up new ways of coming (or making) homes.
And isn’t home always finding new forms? Home is not just house you live in, but also your body, your spirit, your community, your creativity. Though the idea of home in this pandemic, with so many of us in solitude, might feel claustrophobic, these homes are ours, and that alone is a gift and a privilege. In this world of dictators and fascists, we have a place that can all at once be sanctuary and workplace—a truth they can’t take from us.
So, how do we remind ourselves of this in the uphill battles? In last month’s workshop, Marie Conlan invited us to engage in delight as a form of extreme presence. During this conversation, she invoked Audre Lorde’s “Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power,” in which Lorde writes:
For the erotic is not a question only of what we do; it is a question of how acutely and fully we can feel in the doing.
Once we know the extent to which we are capable of feeling that sense of satisfaction and completion, we can then observe which of our various life endeavors bring us closest to that fullness. The aim of each thing which we do is to make our lives and the lives of our children richer and more possible.
Within the celebration of the erotic in all our endeavors, my work becomes a conscious decision, a longed-for bed which I enter gratefully and from which I rise up empowered….
I am speaking here of the necessity for reassessing the quality of all the aspects of our lives and of our work, and of how we move toward and through them. The very word erotic comes from the Greek word eros, the personification of love in all its aspects - born of Chaos, and personifying creative power and harmony.
How can we practically and methodically dream up and execute what fulfills us so that we (and our work) can emerge rested, renewed, and ready? From my understanding of this moon’s energy, Lorde’s words, and Marie’s wisdom, it is by creating routines that allow for delight—which is to say, love.
In an attempt to test this hypothesis, I accepted the challenge this morning. I was in the shower, picking imaginary fights with my partner for leaving his hair in the drain, focusing on the tasks I should or must complete. I decided right there to create a moment of delight. I began singing a song. Afterwards, instead of sitting at my desk right away, I made time for yoga and meditation. I made banana bread so that the house would smell delicious when I began work. I sat in the sun to write this to you. I purposefully shifted towards satisfaction, and by doing so, realized that I had been completely disconnected from my body and spirit the last few weeks. I am grieving this now, but I am also so relieved to have found myself again.
I don’t tell you this as some kind of pep talk, or to make it seem like I know at all what I’m doing. I don’t think any of us really know what we are doing at the moment. But I do share this as an example of the small rituals this Corn Moon offers us: momentary reprieve and reconnection.
When I hear the word corn, I can’t help but think of a hearty meal around a warm table with people I love. And, as Darrah Hewlett writes of Virgos (represented by the image of the Virgin), “In astrology, the virgin is one who serves others. She bears a staff of wheat, which stands for ‘the utilization of ideas and skills to benefit (nourish) the world.’” This is not to say we need this kind of comfort (food) all the time. I believe it is important, especially right now, for us to shed our comfort zones and level-up as allies. But we always need, as Lorde explains, to observe which of our various life endeavors bring us closest to that fullness. Even in the difficult or the mundane, we must be nourished.
For this Full Corn Moon in Pisces, I challenge you to practice making room for dreams—dreams of what the world can be, dreams of what you can be, dreams of what your art can be—and then methodically go after those dreams with Virgo’s tenacity. Remember that this doesn’t always have to be huge, global dreams. The key to sustaining in the work is to dream up fulfillment in the everyday. How can your mornings bring you joy? How can you light small sparks of loving delight in new routines?
Tarot Reading: 7 of Cups
This is one of my favorite cards in this deck. Marie White painted a black wolf to represent our wildness and subconscious—this deep, psychic part of ourselves that we often fear, or are taught to fear. But what if we coexist with her? We might not want her to run wild all the time, but she deserves to be present on the other side of the balance. She deserves to help lead us through the forest.
The 7 of Cups is a card of vision/illusion. Vision if you are willing to put the energy and grind into manifesting your intentions, illusion if you sit back and let the dream pass you by. As White writes in the deck’s accompanying text:
Reality has laws but they can be bent, like light, by changing your self. In becoming a master of your subconscious you seek to shape your reality in accordance with what you want to achieve in life, to reach your highest potential. It is a temperate theory; it isn’t just about changing yourself and it isn’t just about changing reality but a little of both meeting somewhere in the middle. To acknowledge that reality isn’t what it seems, it is actually very nuanced and complex, and at any given time our consciousness can only wakingly perceive a small portion of it, like the visible light-wave spectrum, there is much more that you can’t see.
This card alongside the full Corn Moon tells me that we might be viewing our world, our reality, and ourselves in a tunnel. We might have blinders on, unable to integrate the Piscean energy of dreaming beyond the confines of survival. And the wolf might be the part of ourselves, our fierce, passionate, creative wild that is being locked away as a result of this perception. Trust yourself (which is also the wolf) to create the most exalted and fulfilling path.
As always, I’m sending you love and glittering sparkles of delight in the coming cycle.
Bibliomancy: pg. 92 from Envelope Poems by Emily Dickinson
Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic As Power by Audre Lorde
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