The Significance of the Harvest Moon and the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival

Full Moon over El Matador

This Wednesday, September 22nd will be the Harvest Moon — the biggest and brightest full moon of the year. For over 3,000 years, the Chinese have celebrated this special day as the Mid Autumn Moon Festival. It is one of the major holidays in the Chinese lunar calendar.

This moon has special significance. For farmers it marks the end of the summer harvesting season. It is a time of abundance, a time to spend with family and friends, and a time to harvest the results of the hard work put into the spring and summer growing seasons. Unlike other full moons, this full moon rises earlier and provides more light after sunset so farmers can continue finishing harvesting their crops.

The significance of the harvest moon doesn’t just apply to farmers. Most of us don’t grow crops but we all grow and nourish other things that are important in our lives: dreams, ideas, relationships, love, family and children, work, passion… This is a time to slow down our frantic outward activities, rest, and reflect inward on our life’s journey so that we can continue to stay on our golden path.

As the sap of trees move into their roots, leaves change color, and animals begin to store food for the winter, this is the time of year for us to start focusing on internal cultivation.

According to Chinese Taoist philosophy, the Fall season is associated with the metal element. Metal corresponds to the Lungs and Colon and the emotions of grief and compassion. It also represents the characteristics of clarity and organization.

Grief and Compassion:
Seasonally, Fall represents the end of summer — a farewell to warm weather, the beach, sunny skies, outdoor parties, laughter and fun. In nature, signs are beginning to show that the cold and barren landscape of winter is fast approaching. It is a reminder that nothing stays the same and that all things have a beginning and an end. We react to this realization with a sense of sadness and grief. This is why the Fall season is closely associated with these emotions.

When we are sad and grieving, it affects our lungs. Grief causes our Qi to descend. Our lungs feel heavy and deflated. It is hard to take deep breaths. But it is important to remember that grief and sadness are normal human emotions. It is ok to experience it from time to time in our lives when life has hit a rough spot or a loved one has gone away. By not denying these feelings and by accepting them as part of the cycle of life, we can move through the grief to cultivate compassion. Experiencing and dealing with a deep sense of loss allows us to understand and be compassionate about the suffering of others.

Lungs and Colon:
This is the time of year that a lot of people come down with colds, sore throats and respiratory issues. Constipation, skin problems, and allergies are more prevalent now. Make sure to dress appropriately for the weather, eat well and take care of the health of your lungs and colon proactively. You can learn more by taking my upcoming class on Eating Healthy for the Fall Season.

The metal element represents clarity — like the mirror-like finish of a polished piece of metal or the crystal clear reflection off the surface of a lake. After the growth and expansion of the spring and summer months, oftentimes there is a lot of chaos left behind. The mind can get scattered and distracted by the joys of summer. It is important now to find clarity in the aftermath of so much outward activity. Like harvesting crops, this is a time to sort out the seeds, fruits, and other useable parts in our lives from everything else that should be returned back to the earth. What was all that activity for? What did you gain? What lessons did you learn? In what areas did you grow wiser in your life? Are you still on your golden path? These are some of the questions to contemplate at this time.

The metal element also represents organization. It’s time now to organize your life and get your house back in order. No more slacking off or getting distracted. Finish gathering all your acorns and start storing them in a safe place. The warm weather is nearing an end and the cold winter is fast approaching. Nature is shifting from expansion to contraction. Get yourself prepared physically, mentally and emotionally for this big shift in activity and energy.

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