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Living in Season Newsletter

Living in Season
The official newsletter of the School of the Seasons
Volume 1, number 13
September 1, 2003, Greek New Year


  • Welcome
  • September Calendar Up!
  • Update: More Mars
  • Living in Season: Mid Autumn Moon
  • On the Net: Moon Names
  • In the Library: World Holidays
  • Current Offerings: Harvest Packet
  • Signs of Autumn
  • Copyright
  • Subscribe - Unsubscribe

Welcome to my semi-monthly newsletter featuring ideas for bringing the beauty of the current season into your life. Please forward this newsletter if you enjoy it.

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September Calendar Up!
The September calendar is now updated for 2003. Thanks to the two new books I found on world and Chinese holidays (see In the Library), it features new ideas and some new holidays.

Update: Mars Approach
I hope you got a chance to see the Red Planet bright in the sky. Did you notice anything unusual in the days that surrounded its close approach?

I ran into Gretchen Lawlor, who writes the astrology sections of the WeMoon almanac at a swing dance, and she sent me her thoughts on
the Mars approach:

Mars so close to Earth brings war, rage and aggression, accidents, emotional outbursts and the overheating of the land and of our bodies.

Last week the local paper reported an unprecedented number of homicides, most incited by quarrels. A few days later, while walking to the library, I saw a house on fire, with smoke pouring out of the wall, which reminded me of the fires raging in Canada.

Gretchen writes "it is important…to be the warrior or the adventurer" in your own life, "to be bold and courageous," otherwise other people will co-opt your Mars energy. Since Mars is retrograde, you may feel more like getting rid of old patterns and relationships that aren't working and not move forward with new energy until the end of September.

Gretchen also writes:

Mars in Pisces is best applied to artistic and musical inspiration, for healing work and for causes which benefit others. Make sure you have a place in your life for art, music, healing and great causes- that?s where the force is presently.

For more about Gretchen, see her website at:

Also at Mything Links, a fabulous website created by Kathleen Jenks that is a veritable cornucopia of mythology and folklore, I found an update on Mars from an astrologer, Melissa Stratton, followed by Kathleen Jenks' comments on the agricultural origins of the war god, Mars, plus great
pictures of Mars on old Roman coins:


Living in Season: Mid Autumn Moon
August and September are usually the hottest times of the year here in Seattle, so I'm really looking forward to one of the coolest festivals of the year, the Mid Autumn Moon Festival, celebrated on the full moon closest to autumn equinox, the moon that we in the West call the Harvest Moon, because it falls at the time of the harvest when the brightness of the moon allows the harvesters to work in the fields late into the night.

In China, the mid-Autumn moon is the first full moon in the dark or feminine half of the year and so it is celebrated by women, getting together in courtyards to honor the moon. Li-chen quotes a Peking proverb:

"Men do not bow to the moon. Women do not sacrifice to the God of the Kitchen."

So in China this holiday is celebrated by women who gather in the courtyards where they create altars to the Moon, decorated with images of the rabbit in the Moon, and offerings of incense and foods associated with the Moon like melons, grapes and moon cakes. When the Moon rises, just as the sun sets, the women bow to Her, light incense and recite poems in Her honor.

I've celebrated this holiday many times with women friends and it is a fine thing to sit outside under a full moon, sipping wine or tea, eating watermelon and singing songs in praise of the Moon (like "Neesa," a Native American moon song found in Kate Marks songbook).

If you want to have a celebration that includes men as well as women, the Mid-Autumn moon is often treated like a Harvest festival in other parts of Asia. An account from Hong Kong in the 1980's relates that families often take their young children to parks where they picnic under the moon on moon cakes and fruit, on a blanket surrounded by candles and small lanterns. In Japan, people gather at lakes or in special moon- viewing pavilions and eat "moon-viewing noodles": thick white udon in broth with an egg yolk floating on top.

Li-chen, Tun, Annual Customs and Festivals in Peking¸ translatedby Derk Bodde, Peking: Henri Vetch 1936
Marks, Kate, Circle of Song, Lennox, MA: Full Circle Press 1993

On the Net: Moon Names
Looking for a good site on the web for moon names, I found two that might interest you. The famous Farmer's Almanac site publishes a brief list of the full moon names (most derived from Native American traditions) with brief explanations for each at


I liked Keith Cooley's moon site much more. He has a more extensive list of naes (although sadlyno references). The September full moon is variously the Chrysanthemum Moon (China), Nut Moon, Mulberry Moon, Moon When Calves Grow Hair, Singing Moon and Barley Moon. His links section provides moon poems, moon recipes (for moon cakes and moon biscuits) and a comprehensive list of moon links.


In the Library: World Holidays
While I was doing research for my flower of the month article on the lotus, I found an online reference to a Chinese lotus festival attributed to the a book on holiday folklore edited by Margaret Read MacDonald.. So I requested a copy from my library. What a find! This is a book any serious student of holidays should own.

MacDonald has compiled accounts of holidays from a variety of sources and put them in roughly chronological order. Of course this format doesn't work well for the moveable feasts so you'll still need my calendar to figure out the exact date of the full moon of Shrawan or sixth day of the sixth Chinese lunar month. I also found a few mistakes, for instance, she lists Ramadan as circa February- March but the Islamic holiday calendar is one of the only truly lunar calendars in the world (that is, never calibrated to match up with the solar year) and so Ramadan could
fall at any time of the year.

That said, everything else about this book is wonderful. Each entry comes from a reliable but often obscure source and it contains a wealth of information from China, Africa and India, cultures usually under-represented in holiday folklore. You'll see a lot more of these holidays in my calendar now — but you probably won't recognize where they came from since MacDonald does a superb job of crediting her sources.

For instance, if I provide details on how the Amharic people of Ethiopia celebrate St John's Day on September 11 by gathering wild flowers and processing with torches, I'd be able to give you a reference complete with page numbers (61-2) from Donald Levine's book Wax and Gold: Tradition and Innovation in Ethiopian Culture, published by the University of Chicago Press in 1965.

It was also the research for the lotus article that sent me to my local University library looking for an old book on Chinese holidays written by Tun Li-chen around 1900. Organized by lunar month, it's full of delightful accounts of the holiday customs observed in Peking. The book is full of many items of interest including lovely illustrations and an explanation of the Chinese calendar but my absolute favorite part is an appendix listing names of fireworks, pigeons, crickets and chrysanthemums. Wouldn't you like to see these firecrackers? Falling moons. Peonies strung on a thread. Lotus sprinkled with water. Lanterns of heaven and earth. Silver flowers.

Li-chen, Tun, Annual Customs and Festivals in Peking¸ translated by Derk Bodde, Peking: Henri Vetch 1936
MacDonald, Margaret Read, The Folklore of World Holidays, Gale Research Inc, 1992

Current Offerings: Harvest Packet
My Harvest holiday packet contains over 50 pages of ideas on how to celebrate the Autumn Equinox, including the:

  • Ancient celebrations of Harvest and Michealmas
  • The meaning of the Harvest Moon
  • The September Full Moon holidays of Mid-Autumn Moon & Sukkoth
  • Transformation mysteries of beer and wine
  • Recipes for gingerbread, ginger beer and other traditional Harvest foods
  • Instructions for creating wheat weavings and a basket to honor Demeter
  • And much more.

$9 plus $2 shipping and handling. Please allow ten days for delivery. An email version is also available for $7. It will be sent as an attached Word file within three days of receiving your order. You can order through our store.

Signs of Autumn
This is the time of year when I really start to notice the ripening of the berries here in Seattle. Bright red clusters of rowan berries high on the trees. The flame-colored berries of pyracantha bushes, so thick on the branches that they almost brush the ground. The seductive crimson berries of the deadly nightshade.

What are the signs of this season where you live? Send them to me and I'll post them on the website under Signs of the Season.

Copyright ©Waverly Fitzgerald 2003.
All rights reserved. You may reprint material from Living in Season in other electronic or print publications as long as you credit me and provide a link to: http://www.schooloftheseasons.com. Please send me a copy of the publication.

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