The maiden, the wheat, and the threshing moon

The end of summer has a way of drawing our attention to the passage of time: the quickening days, the turning of the wheel.  Today was the first day of September and of a new moon, a turn towards autumn marked also by an annular solar eclipse drawing its own wheel in the sky.

©Photo. R.M.N. / R.-G. OjŽda

September (calendar detail), Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, 15th c.

Almost exactly six years ago, I was reflecting on what these cycles represent for me, and I attempted to sketch out a lunar calendar, an activity that Cory and Laine very recently revisited on the New World Witchery podcast.  It’s an engaging exercise, digging into the symbols of the seasons and what about them calls to you personally.  In these last six years, though, I’ve realized that even the calendar I put together for myself has lost some of its meaning, and I’m excited to revisit – in a much deeper, more methodical way – the significance of each month and moon as I experience them.

Septembers have almost always been a time of really positive energy for me.  Admittedly, I loved the first day of school, no matter how nervous it made me.  I would lay out all my school supplies and my head would just fill with plans and aspirations, my heart with the anticipation of new and renewed friendships, and the optimistic promise of a clean (sometimes literal) slate.  Unlike the emotional struggle and sluggishness I feel at the start of springtime, fall brings liberating movement.  The autumnal equinox for me isn’t a calm, quiet balance.  It’s that sparkling moment when you’re suspended at the top of the Ferris wheel, tense with joyful anticipation, pure potential energy.

It moves fast.  The relief from the stifling heat you feel with that first hint of cooler weather accelerates into the vibrancy of fall colors; the release of your exhale starts to rush out as exhilaration, enthusiastic dreams for the future, and confident motivation for a fresh start that threatens to go on without you.  You’ll have to work to keep up.


Virgo (detail from Anatomical Man), Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, 15th c.

In my original list of moon names, for September I had written, “Harvest Moon.”  In my climate, the time for harvest has nearly passed by September.  This is the season of the first cold rains, the first damp scent of fertile decay.  And the energy isn’t so much one of gathering abundance, but of clearing out, letting go, starting over.  Harvest seems to apply more to the hearth-y warmth of August.  After that harvest, but before the winnowing winds of October, September instead brings to mind the interim step of threshing.

In early September the new moon rises in Virgo, typically represented by a maiden, sure of the promise and purity of youth, holding firmly onto shafts of wheat – the staff of life.  She may look gentle, but Virgo can be a harsh mistress.  The end of summer return to routine can be tough, and she can have exacting expectations.  The process of threshing is violent by nature, beating the harvested wheat with flails to separate the grain from the chaff.  It’s tough work, but it releases what is truly good and necessary from the burden of what is not useful – or what must be removed to be re-purposed so that both parts reveal their highest value.

Part of my determination to revisit the moon names was to identify associated practical, magical, and spiritual workings for each cycle.  I see September as a prime month for self-improvement, and the exercise of threshing can help us shape many aspects of ourselves: breaking free from unhealthy constraints, habit disruption and reformation, a physical clearing out of our homes and bodies.  First, reflect on everything you have gathered around you like a casing over the previous year.  Find that seed within yourself that holds your maximum potential, that which pulses with future plans.  Call up all of your maidenly conviction and willpower to manifest your true desires, and break apart the wanted from the unwanted with vigor and determination.  Beat the drum, stomp your feet, build the rhythm.  Labor with purpose, peel away what’s holding you back, and cast off the chaff.

In September, the threshing moon calls us to embrace the sweat and toil that releases us, and the autumn equinox invites us to step over the threshold of the year for a new start.

Wishing you productive labors,


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Cara (@Xandara)
    Sep 06, 2016 @ 04:17:41

    “The autumnal equinox for me isn’t a calm, quiet balance. It’s that sparkling moment when you’re suspended at the top of the Ferris wheel, tense with joyful anticipation, pure potential energy.” Oh my gosh, YES!!! That’s such a great way to describe it!


    • arrowclaire
      Sep 06, 2016 @ 07:22:25

      :D Thank you for commenting! Sometimes I feel like my experience of the seasons is sideways relative to how the wheel is typically described; it’s great to know I’m not the only one who feels that way.


  2. Trackback: The labor of spring and “sprucing up” | Wandering Arrow

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