September Full Moon: Discover the Origin and Meaning of the Harvest Moon

Written by Sammi Caramela
Updated: September 6, 2023
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Full moons occur roughly every 29.5 days — typically once a month, rarely twice. When it does occur twice in one month, the second full moon of the given month is called a “blue moon.” Each full moon has its own name depending on the month it occurs during and other factors (e.g., whether it’s the second Moon in the same month, how close it is to Earth, etc.) This month, we will experience a Harvest Moon, which is what experts call the full moon that occurs closest to the start of the season of autumn/autumn equinox. 

Typically, the Harvest Moon falls during the month of September. However, there are times (once every few years) when the Harvest Moon will fall during early October. In those cases, the September moon is then called the “Corn Moon,” corresponding with the harvesting of corn during this time.

The upcoming Harvest Moon will occur on September 29 in the astrological sign of Aries. Aries is a fire sign associated with charisma, passion, and boldness. During this full moon, you might find clarity by reflecting on your life and your emotions. The Harvest Moon is also a great time to celebrate how far you have come and express gratitude for all the good things you have called into your life.

This article will cover the origin and meaning of the Harvest Moon, including its timing and appearance in the sky.

Exploring the Fascinating World of Full Moons and Their Significance

Full moons are significant celestial events that usually occur once (sometimes twice) a month. The entire lunar cycle consists of the new moon, waxing crescent, first quarter, waxing gibbous, full moon, waning gibbous, third quarter, and waning crescent.

Full moons happen when the Moon is completely illuminated from our view on Earth. During this time, the Earth is situated between the Sun and the Moon. 

Full moons represent transformation and release. Spiritually, they embody our emotional states, often eliciting intense feelings. That’s why many people will say they’re feeling more sensitive, nostalgic, or even erratic during full moons.

New moons, which occur when the Moon is invisible from the Earth due to its conjunction with the Sun, mark the beginning of a new lunar cycle. On the other hand, the full moon is seen as the peak of the cycle. From Earth, we can easily see the full moon in all of its bright glory. During different months, the full moon will hang lower or appear bigger and brighter than others. The Harvest Moon is especially large and radiant.

Across various cultures, the full moon is a time to celebrate and acknowledge life’s abundance across cultures. Spiritually speaking, many view it as an opportunity to release what no longer serves us. This creates room for us to call in new manifestations.

Silhouette of a man looking at the Moon and stars over sea ocean horizon.

The lunar cycle has eight different phases.

©m-gucci/iStock via Getty Images

What Is a Harvest Moon?

A Harvest Moon is the full moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox. Typically, this full moon happens during September, but it occasionally will fall during early October. It’s called the “Harvest Moon” because it indicates the end-of-summer, early-autumn harvesting time for farmers.

The Harvest Moon is also known to be one of the brightest and largest full moons (aside from supermoons, of course). In fact, festive to autumn, it often gives off a yellow, orange, or sometimes reddish glow. This is a result of atmospheric particles scattering the moon’s more blueish components, thus highlighting the redder ones. This moon is also especially low-hanging, making it appear larger and more visible for many nights.

Origin of the Harvest Moon: The Cultural and Historical Origins of the Name

The Harvest Moon’s origin dates back to a time pre-electricity when farmers had to harvest crops using moonlight rather than man-made light. Since the Moon rises shortly after sunset, which is typically earlier during this time of the year, it allowed farmers to harvest despite the lack of Sun in the sky. Additionally, this Moon tends to appear brighter and fuller for multiple days, giving farmers extra time to harvest.

The beginning of the fall season is a popular time to harvest summer-grown crops like corn. In fact, another name for the September full moon is “Corn Moon” for this very reason.

Ripe corn on the cob

The Harvest Moon is often associated with the harvesting of corn.


Date and Timing of September’s Harvest Moon

The next full moon will take place on September 29 at 10:57 a.m. Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). In the U.S., that’s 5:57 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT). This moon takes place in the sign of Aries.

While the Harvest Moon will reach its peak during the times listed above, its energy will pick up a few days before and last for a few days after. This gifts you a full week of its positive, abundant energy. Additionally, as mentioned earlier, it will appear large, full, and bright for multiple days in a row.

Lunar Traditions and Beliefs: Understanding the Symbolic Meanings and Interpretations Associated with the Harvest Moon

The Harvest Moon holds many symbolic meanings and spiritual interpretations. Here are a few of the most common meanings associated with this upcoming full moon.

The Harvest Moon will be visible in the sky for multiple nights.

© Hamblen

Abundance and Prosperity

Spiritually speaking, the Harvest Moon often represents abundance after a period of hard work. As farmers harvest crops during this time, we can harvest our manifestations and reap what we sow. In other words, if you’ve spent the last lunar cycle focusing on your healing, visualizing success, and taking the proper actions toward your goals, this might be your time to shine.

Celebration and Gratitude

Many believe that in Native American cultures, the Harvest Moon represents celebration and gratitude. Because this full moon signifies a time to harvest, it reminds us to express thankfulness for our fruitful lives and fulfilled manifestations. This is a time to celebrate what we have and release what no longer serves us.

Spiritual Growth

The Harvest Moon is an energetically potent time for spiritual growth and healing — whatever that might look like to you. Because it’s associated with the start of autumn, a season of change, preservation, and release, these themes are especially highlighted during the Harvest Moon. Spiritually, you might feel more compelled to reflect on your life over the past few months. 

Additionally, all full moons — but especially the Harvest Moon — represent letting go of what is no longer in alignment with us and our paths. This might mean transformation is upon you, and changes must occur for you to get where you are meant to be.

Closure and New Cycles

In many regions, the Harvest Moon occurs during a time when trees and other vegetation around us are dying. While many associate autumn with death, it actually carries the positive symbolisms of closure and “a new leaf.” Sometimes, we must let parts of ourselves die in order to grow new, more aligned parts that will better serve us. Gaining closure helps us move forward with hope and a fresh perspective.

What to Expect from September’s Full Harvest Moon

The Harvest Moon at the end of September will help mark the beginning of autumn and the end of summer. It’s a great time to reflect and turn inward, as well as enjoy the fruits of your labor. If the weather allows, be sure to look for this low-hanging full moon in the sky and bask in its bright light. Happy full moon and autumn equinox!

The photo featured at the top of this post is © 13Ports/

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About the Author

Sammi is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering cats, nature, symbolism, and spirituality. Sammi is a published author and has been writing professionally for six+ years. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Writing Arts and double minors in Journalism and Psychology. A proud New Jersey resident, Sammi loves reading, traveling, and doing yoga with her little black cat, Poe.

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