I can always tell it’s coming, even in the broiling August heat, I can see the subtle shift in the angle of light. When the wheel turns to Lughnasadh it is time to begin the task of reaping what we have sown. It is also time to prepare for the winter which approaches far more rapidly than anyone is inclined to believe during peak summer weather. The wise ones know and they prepare. As I worked away tending my flourishing garden and applying this wisdom to my literal harvest, I also began mining the metaphor for spiritual meaning, too.
As someone who arranges a solid 90% of her life according to the cycles of the sun and moon, it should not come as any surprise that I allow the celestial orbs to dictate what work I need to do and when I need to be doing it. I was first shown the wonder of electing by the moon as a newlywed some twenty years ago. Whilst searching to make the mundane chores of running my new household a bit more magickal I stumbled into the world of electing by the moon. First, I learned how to arrange my gardening by the moon, but I didn’t stop there. Once I understood the basic premise, I expanded it into all of my domestic undertakings.
Witches know to align their actions with the moon according to her waxing and waning for their desired outcome. Really smart witches apply the zodiac to the equation for an even deeper application. People have been gardening by the moon for centuries and you can probably purchase the old farmer's almanac at your local grocery store. Choosing the proper moon phase and sign to cultivate, plant, tend, and harvest in is a practice worth investing in learning. For one thing, it works. More importantly, though, it is an elegant system that will organize all of your garden chores for you, and teach you beautiful spiritual lessons in the process.
As part of my healing mission, I seek to reunite humans with their birthright of natural wisdom. You, dear earthling, live on this planet enjoying a three dimensional, physical reality. You already inherently understand the elements which create and shape our world. By combining your innate knowledge of the elements with the practice of gardening by the moon it becomes second nature to plant, grow, tend, and harvest in this way. When the moon is waxing we plant above ground crops. When the moon is waning we focus on the root and plant root crops and perennials. When the moon is in an earth sign, we cultivate. When the moon is in a water sign, we plant. When the moon is in an air sign, we harvest. When the moon is in a fire sign we destroy pest and disease. This is only the most cursory of explanations, but it is certainly enough to help anyone choose the best times to plan basic garden chores.
What if I told you that you could create extraordinary magick in your veggie patch? You see, I apply the principles of moon gardening to my magickal practice, as well. From March to September my garden becomes an altar and I weave spells throughout my land. I grow deep and abiding love alongside my tomatoes. I pull unwanted situations out of my life while weeding the lettuce. I side-dress the squash and bolster my abundance simultaneously. Over the past two decades, I have intertwined my magical and mundane lives and there is no separation between them. This is intentional living. This is the witches way.
The rich rewards of a magickal life are always in the spiritual satisfaction of practicing deep awareness and being present in the eternal now. There are often bonuses such as prosperity, abundance, protection, and love, but these things are extra. As our society moves further away from natural cycles and rhythms in search of technology and productivity it is an act of resistance to remain rooted in the ways of our ancestors. Because I am part of this society, I am a participant in this quest for the future, but because I am also a witch I am devoted to remaining rooted to the ways of those who came before me. The sun and the moon remind me of my place as an earthling and never is that more prevalent than during the growing season.
I choose the proper times to plant and to tend, but choosing the proper time to harvest is also just as important. There are many factors that go into the decision, but let’s assume we all want our harvest to last. Choosing to pick during the waning moon means less water will be held in your produce, therefore, it is less likely to cause spoilage in long-term storage. Selecting a day when the moon is in a fire sign or an air sign will also help. There is something else to consider when deciding when to harvest and it pertains to the astrology, becoming familiar with the twelve signs of the zodiac will assist you greatly in your pursuit of becoming a moon gardener. Whatever sign the moon is in when you pick will also contribute energetically to your harvest.
So if you are doing a love spell, choose a Libra, or Taurus moon to harvest the roses you will need for it.
In order to successfully reap all that you have sown it is crucial to have a harvest plan. There is much work involved and many have failed because they did not account for the labor it would take. Metaphorically, we understand that there is much “blood, sweat, and tears” that goes into our hard-won victories. This is the tending stage while growth is happening. To steer our harvest safely into port we must have a plan through to the end. It would be such a shame to see all of your hard work wasted because of a last minute failure.
In addition to having a plan, one must have space. Are you prepared to receive? Is there literal shelf space? Do you need to ready yourself spiritually or emotionally? It is useful to stop to consider if the blocks you are experiencing in life are actually due to an unwillingness to receive. I know many people who are good “planters.” They like to start things, but they don’t always finish them. This is problematic whether trying to extract all of the goodness from one’s garden or one’s life. These are very simple questions that might yield big breakthroughs.
So how is your harvesting habit? Are you out looking for whatever is ripe and ready on the daily? Or are you reluctant to get out there with your basket to fill up with goodies? Try making harvesting a part of your garden rituals. Yes, the tomatoes will almost certainly take their time, but while you wait there must be something you can collect. The lettuces come in early, and the borage blooms all season, for example. Incorporate the habit of harvesting as much as you do watering and weeding. This signals to the universe that you ARE ready to receive and your magick will begin to blossom in the most intriguing ways. Here’s another important tip, offer something to the plants when you harvest them. It can be as simple as a song or strand of your hair but do give your heartfelt thanks for what you are about to receive.
As the wheel tips ever closer to the season of Samhain it is imperative that we complete the work of harvest so that we may enter the season of rest unencumbered by the past. Folklore also informs us that whatever is left in the fields after the beginning of November is taboo to harvest. These remnants are left for the spirits of the land instead. Gather what you may before the months end and enter into the season of darkness knowing you have done all you could during the growing season. Revel in the rest that is coming soon.
Erin Duffy Osswald is a creatrix practicing healing and fine arts. She leads an online apprenticeship program called The Wheelhouse, which is built upon a framework of the Celtic wheel of the year. Erin is also a ceremonialist who celebrates rites of passage and guides personal spiritual metamorphosis. Her Healing Practice, Wild Rose Earth Medicine, is located in North Central Montana where she specializes in shamanic techniques and moon medicine. At her online home, The Telling of the Bees, she writes about enchanting folk customs, plant magick, and living a devotional life. Erin is also a ceramicist, crafting sacred objects for ritual and ceremony.
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