What does the harvest moon mean to you?

Photo: Craig O Toole @craigophoto

Photo: Harvest moon at Dun Laoghaire pier by Craig O Toole @craigophoto

By Paul Carton 

As the harvest moon finishes its full moon cycle tonight there are a few questions that need to be answered about this full moon’s importance which its sweet sounding name implies has meaning not just for farmers but for life on the planet.

The harvest moon is the first full moon at the time of the autumnal equinox –which is when the sun shines almost directly over the equator. It is called the harvest moon because it was a natural cue for farmers to begin their harvest. As this moon lasted well into the early hours of the morning it allowed farmers to work under the bright light emanating from it.

There are some moon fanatics out there that will tell you that the harvest moon is also a signal to many birds to migrate. NewsFour asked ornithologist Eric Dempsey of Birds Ireland, if this was the case, “ there isn’t any direct link, birds will begin to migrate at the end of August and right now would be the peak period of migration, to say its because of the harvest moon we don’t know but what we do know is that birds will migrate in a clear sky because they use the celestial stars as maps and if its brighter as with a harvest moon or full moon well all the better for them” said Eric.

Birds aren’t the only ones to look to the celestial stars for guidance, astrologers do too. NewsFour asked local counsellor in psychological astrology Margaret Gray who runs her practice on Pembroke road about what significance does the harvest moon have to her, “Changes in seasons affect us on multiple levels as our heart, body, mind and soul have to work harder to adjust to new temperatures, colours, sounds and smells. This always involves a process of release, as we let go of either the summer or winter and face the fall or spring, depending on where we live. The Full Moon (the harvest moon) coming so close to the Equinox, extends the feeling of endings in our life, a little longer.

For me it signals the time to put on Neil Young and sit back.