In North America, the various phases of the moon that appear throughout the year have traditional names derived from Native American and European tradition and folklore. These names (and their spiritual meanings) tend to be associated with the natural shifts and changes in the environment around the time of each month’s moon.
History of the Hunter’s Moon
The Hunter’s Moon is one of the few traditional moon names that isn’t associated with the month itself, but rather with the timing of the autumnal equinox. While the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox is always the Harvest Moon, the moon that follows is referred to as the Hunter’s Moon, and it makes its first appearance in either October or November.
The Harvest Moon tends to rise around the same time every evening around the autumnal equinox; this is a time for farmers to do the last of their harvesting before winter comes. Hunting season follows the harvest in order to gather meat to bolster the food supply. Many animals also tend to come out to feed on scraps in open fields, making them easier targets during this time. It is during this hunting season that the Hunter’s Moon appears.
Spiritual Significance of the Hunter’s Moon
While many of us do not live our lives in accordance with the moons or the harvest (and may never have gone hunting), we may still feel the particular energies of the shift in the season.
As we pass through the autumnal equinox, the days get shorter and the nights get longer. The temperatures cool down, and there is that particular earthy scent in the air as leaves begin to change color and fall. As night comes earlier and earlier, the moon is much more present in the sky for longer periods of time. We shift from the bright half to the dark half of the year.
All these changes turn our attention inside, away from the physical pursuits and sunny activities of summer, and toward internal reflection. For many Indigenous peoples, the wintertime was and still is the season for sitting around the fire where children learn from their elders. It’s also back-to-school season for many of us—a time to shift our focus to our minds, to learning, and to getting back to work.
Many people experience September as a kind of spiritual New Year—Jewish people, for example, celebrate the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, during the September New Moon. There is a freshness as the cool air sets in and a new energy that may feel quite exciting. Though most of us may not literally be hunting, this time of the year is appropriate for setting clear intentions to achieve our goals, especially in terms of work or learning, and take action on reaching those goals.
Here are some ways to help yourself align with the energy of the full Hunter’s Moon this year:
Complete your internal harvest. Take a good look at what you have been cultivating this year, what’s been working for you, and what hasn’t.
Take action on the things you need to change. Adjust your schedule, ask for help, and let go of those projects that aren’t working or are dragging you down.
Use the clear light of this full moon to illuminate your targets. What do you really want over the next few months? What are you working toward? What is your top priority?
Sit down and think about the values that drive you most. Ruminate and identify what motivates you in your life, in your work, and in your relationships. (Try the Values exercise here)
Happy Full Hunter’s Moon!