The Harvest Moon

A mandala of the Harvest Moon. Crops in reds, greens, and yellows grow in front of the moon. Original Mandala by Anna Loscotoff.

Tonight we welcome the full moon, the Harvest Moon, the moon closest to the autumn Equinox.  The moon will rise along the eastern horizon just after sunset, bringing extra light to the sky, traditionally allowing farmers extra time to harvest their crops as the weather began to turn cold.  

October brings us a rare two full moons, the next falling on Halloween.  A full moon has not fallen on Halloween since 1944.  This next full moon is also a Blue Moon (the second full moon in a month) and the Hunter’s Moon (tied to the equinox as the moon always following the harvest). 

Mandala on black paper. A landscape. Yellow grain grows at the bottom, with purple hills rising behind. The sun, shrouded in fog as it rolls over the hills. Original artwork by Anna Loscotoff.
Mandala of a Harvest Moon coming up over a field of grain. Original art by Anna Loscotoff.

Ritual of the Full Moon

I think of the full moon as a time of letting go.  As the moon loses her roundness, so we release the things that no longer serve us.  

  • Think about the things that are no longer serving you, the things that are hurting you, the things you no longer need in your life.
  • Write the things you wish to let go on small slips of paper or bay leaves.
  • Using a fire safe bowl in a fire safe space, a fire pit, a fireplace, burn these things that you wish to release.  
  • Watch the flame, thinking about these weights being released from you. 
  • When the fire has been extinguished, your thoughts burned, reground with a bit of chocolate, or in honor of the Harvest Moon, hot cider, cinnamon, or tree nuts. 

To learn more about the Harvest Moon, check out these links:

The Old Farmers Almanac

Full Moons in October – CNN

Manzanar

The rays of a sun shine out to the upper right and lower left as it sets behind a hill

I love the feel of the air as it changes into fall.  There is a dry whisp of a scent.  Two different temperatures; a warmth to the front of the breeze but something colder just behind.  I find myself thinking of the interment camps of WWII, and what it was to be taken from your home, to watch a sunset in a place unfamiliar to you.  To watch the sun set behind Mt. Whitney from Manzanar as the weather turned cold. 

The last rays of a sunset come through the weeds in silhouette
The last rays of the sun shine on Sept 28, 2020.

The Japanese internment camps of WWII have been present in my thoughts the last few months.  It started with reading, “Snow Falling on Cedars” in April.  I knew about the camps, but that book, so beautifully written, re-awoke me to the time in our country when land was taken, Japanese immigrants and citizens imprisoned (anyone with Japanese ancestry classified as “enemy aliens”), families torn apart.  This weekend I finished reading, “Daughter of Moloka’i” which also explores the Japanese-American isolation of WWII. I didn’t understand how the land was worked and developed in Florin (Sacramento), California by Japanese families.  I didn’t realize the early relocation camps involved housing people in dirty horse stalls at race tracks. I didn’t understand how businesses were sold for nothing, that there were no options allowing those of Japanese ancestry to hold on to what they had built.

I didn’t know that residents in internment camps were asked to fill out forms which, depending on their answers, could label them “loyal” or “disloyal”.  Question 27 asked if you would be willing to serve as a soldier or a nurse in the war.  Imagine the fear in making this decision; to say no could mark you as disloyal, to say yes could mean leaving your young children or your elderly parents in the dire landscape of internment.  Question 28 asked “Will you swear unqualified allegiance to the United States… and forswear any form of allegiance or obedience to the Japanese emperor, to any other foreign government, power or organization?”  For those who were immigrants, forbidden US citizenship, would it leave them without a country?  If Japan won this war, would they be killed or tortured for signing this form? If they didn’t sign the form, would they ever leave the camps?

My daughter will be reading “Farewell to Manzanar” this year, an unexpected assignment again connecting us to this time and place. She broke down last nigh, feeling like she has been betrayed by history in that this is something she is only learning now.  I explained that I’m learning too. 

A yellow and orange light around the Tehachapi Mountains after the sun has set
The last colors of the sunset on Sept 28, 2020

And so I watch the sun set, and think about how it must have been almost 80 years ago, with the wind shifting towards winter. 

Links:

Japanese Internment from The History Channel

Japanese Americans and The US Constitution – The Questionnaire

Books:

Snow Falling on Cedar by David Guterson

Daughter of Moloka’i by Alan Brennert

Farewell to Manzanar by James D. Houston and Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston

A Daily Sunset

A sun sets to the left of the frame, disappearing behind a hill. There is a field of golden light in the front.

On May 29th there was one of those sunsets where you can’t help but watch and dream. It split the sky; light and dark, orange and gray and purple. On that night I made a commitment to myself, to spend time each evening watching the day fade away. To take a photograph of each sunset. To acknowledge the transition from day to night. To slow down and participate in the rhythms of nature.

A dramatic sunset of oranges, grays, and purples.  The sunset is split with clouds, creating an image both dark and light.
Sunset on May 29th, Tehachapi Mountains, California

Since that night, I have not missed a sunset. There are nights I’ve been a bit early, others where I have been a tad bit late. I’ve taken a photo of every one. Through the month of July, the sunsets were straight forward and the sun dipped behind a hill with very little color or drama. In September, the sun took a new color with the smoke of California’s fires. One evening the smoke was so thick, the sun just disappeared into the haze. I have watched the sun travel south, down my horizon from it’s summer point furthest north.

The sun is a small red ball disappearing past a hill, surrounded by California wildfire smoke.  The landscape looks red.
The sun sets in California wildfire smoke, September 7, 2020.

These are the dailies; the raw, unedited footage of my life. A flower I thought was pretty. A line of ants marching on. A quote, a thought, a sunset.