Celebrating the Full Wine Moon with the Star Lore Historian: this week on the Storyteller's Night Sk

Aug 31, 2020

The Sun sets on late Summer evenings toward the constellation Virgo, goddess of harvest, where we find the star Vindemiatrix, known as the grape gatherer. When the Full Moon opposite this region comes early in the month it is known as the Wine Moon.

This week I’m celebrating at “The Storyteller’s Night Sky” because it’s been eight years since I started doing these weekly segments about the stars for Interlochen Public Radio, looking into the celestial world around us through the lens of the humanities, rather than the lens of the telescope. 

I’m Mary Stewart Adams, and I undertake this work as a Star Lore Historian, a title I created in order to describe that my work is about looking for the human relationship to the stars through the stories we tell ourselves about our place in the macrocosm~whether it be through art, poetry, myth, fairy tale, science, even architecture, or agriculture or ceremonial practice.

This week, my celebration occurs by the light of the last Full Moon of the summer, which arrives Wednesday, September 2nd at 1:30 in the morning. You might think that this September Full Moon is the Harvest Moon, but technically, Harvest Moon is the Full Moon closest to Autumn Equinox, which arrives this year on October 1st. When this happens then in Celtic tradition, the September Full Moon is known as the Wine Moon.

In rooting around for why this name, what I have come to imagine is that the Wine Moon is so-named because the Sun is setting right now in the vicinity of the constellation Virgo, where we find the star Vindemiatrix. Vindemiatrix is the grape gatherer, described as the “fruit-plucking herald” which suggests that wine bears a secret message. So to honor this week’s Full Wine Moon, here’s a fitting contemplation from the German mystic poet Novalis: 

Have courage, for life is striding

To endless life along;

Stretched by inner fire,

Our sense becomes transfigured.

One day the stars above

Shall flow in golden wine,

We will enjoy it all,

And as stars we will shine.