The full Wine Moon of September: this week on the Storyteller's Night Sky

Sep 4, 2017

 

In this image from astronomer Johaness Sevelius' "Uranographia" from 1690, Virgo is shown above the constellation of the serpent Hydra, which bears Crater, the cup, on its back.

This week’s Full Moon is not the Harvest Moon. Harvest Moon is the name given to the Full Moon closest to Autumn Equinox, and this year, that Moon will happen in October. So what becomes of September’s ull Moon when it’s not Harvest Moon? 

 

In some traditions, the September Full Moon is then known as the Wine Moon. This Moon will come to Full Phase at 3 a.m. on Wednesday, September 6.

So why Wine Moon? This may be connected to the region of the sky that’s settling into the horizon after sunset at this time. 

After sunset, the constellation Virgo, goddess of the harvest, can barely be made out dropping into the western horizon. Below Virgo is the constellation of the water serpent, Hydra, and on its back is the constellation Crater, the cup. At Virgo’s right hand is the star Vindamiatrix, which is variously translated as both the female grape harvester and the cupbearer. 

So the Cup figures prominently in this region of the sky, both as the cupbearer star Vindamiatrix in Virgo, and as the constellation, Crater. 

Virgo sets when the grape harvest is coming in, which is necessary for making wine. It’s easy to imagine that the Cup also appears in this region of the sky because after the grape harvest/ comes the consumption of ritual wine from sacred cups. This is an ancient and on-going practice. But if we read things according to the stars, then this is something to be undertaken with great care, because the sacred Cup in the stars is situated on the back of the serpent, and here is a powerful caution: if you lift the Cup from the serpent’s back too soon, you arouse the serpent to action; if you wait too long, then the contents of the Cup can cause intoxication and forgetfulness.

The trick is to know when is the right time to take the Cup so you can overpower the serpent, and for this, you need a Cupbearer, which is the star situated at the right hand of the Goddess.