My sister-in-law tells a story about the man her company hired to sweep the leaves outside their building. He spends most days dancing around the courtyard in a graceful pas de deux with his gas-powered leaf blower while recalcitrant leaves scurry around him. “He’s not very efficient,” she says, “But he seems to be having an absolutely wonderful time.”
Which is more important: results, or process? At this Full Moon, the Sun in Virgo argues for efficiency and results. But across the zodiacal wheel, the fully illuminated Moon in the opposite sign, Pisces, makes the case for enjoying the process of life. For dancing with the leaves and having an absolutely wonderful time.
This Full Moon in Pisces, the closest to the autumnal equinox (this year, the equinox falls on September 23), is called the Harvest Moon. At the Harvest Moon there is a virtually seamless segue from sunset to moonrise, traditionally extending a farmer’s day just when it was sorely needed, at harvest time. This is a hard-working Moon of results, of work, of the fine Virgo satisfaction of filling bushel baskets with produce and silos with grain.
My father, a Capricorn farmer with a serious Moon in Virgo, would surely have made the most of the Harvest Moon. No swirling, aimless dances for him – baskets, I assure you, would have been filled. His children would have been in bed long before he trudged onto the back porch, dirty and tired and covered with mosquito bites.
He was a hard-working man, and gruff. But he had a sweet side, as I found out years later when I discovered some letters he wrote to my mother one summer when they were apart. “I miss you and the kids so much,” he wrote – and those were not the kind of things he tended to say, at least not to anyone other than my mother. Those letters let me imagine a more reflective side to my father. To imagine him pausing on those long summer twilight evenings, looking west toward his little family visiting relatives in far-away California, and resting his chin for a moment on the steering wheel of the combine. I wonder whether his hard-working heart took note of the fireflies, and the crickets buzzing in the wheat. Whether the Harvest Full Moon called to him with a longing melody, beckoning him to dance a few furtive steps with the long, waving rows of grain.
Most of us don’t spend our days in the fields. For many, our work is sedentary and its results intangible. Yet all of us seem to be so busy! Preoccupied with work and family, distracted by smart phones and dumb politicians, worried and cross, not sleeping well, enjoying little of our ever-increasing productivity. Years ago, I wrote this essay about inviting the mysterious and unseen into our lives by making rituals of the demands on our time. I stand by that advice; it offers a fine, lyrical approach to the practical affairs of daily life.
But there are moments when the soul demands that we cease our labors and pause a bit. These are moments made for perching on the porch steps in the gathering twilight under the harvest moon, bidding farewell to another summer. In the magical instant between dusk and dark, it’s possible to glimpse an enchanting Oz where we’re free from the demands of daily life. A Virgo type myself, I’ve always had a hard time grasping Pisces; but at a late summer twilight, I almost manage it. If I half-close my eyes, I can see the ghosts of hardworking farmers dancing across the fields, free at last from their labors and from the tyranny of their self-discipline.
At this Harvest Full Moon, instead of wringing productivity from the last hours of light, why not pause your labors and celebrate the bounty of what’s already been harvested? Since the Virgo New Moon two short weeks ago, you’ve probably done enough work for an entire month. Your bushel baskets are already full to overflowing, and the winsome Full Moon is beckoning.
So to celebrate this Pisces Full Moon, gather friends and family around for a hearty harvest supper of roasted vegetables and fresh bread. And when the meal is finished, don’t rush to clear away the dishes. Just push back the table and chairs, hand someone a guitar (or for that matter, a broom), and dance a little.
And have an absolutely wonderful time.