Earth is here so kind, that just tickle her with a hoe
and she laughs with a harvest.
— Douglas Jerrold (1803-1857)
Over this weekend, I suggest that you to prepare for the brilliant, loving energy of the coming Harvest Moon. These are the last few days of the increasing Moonlight, a time of expansion and increase. For many, this may be the last waxing lunation of the growing season, for by our next Full Moon, October 14, many in the northern lands will have seen their first frost or freeze.
The Harvest Moon is the year’s climax of abundance. It is the Full Moon closest to the Autumn Equinox, a time for balancing and entering the dark half of the year. Gather to yourself all the treasures that you have created, blessing and storing what you will need in the days ahead, and sharing generously what you are able, with those who are not so fortunate.
For our ancestors, this time was absolutely critical, the culmination of months of intense labor. Its outcomes meant life or death for the frozen months to come. They wisely understood that man is not separate from Nature, so they were in a co-creative relationship with the Spirits of the land, and the energies of Sun, Moon and sweet Earth.
Thus, there were countless rites and practices to encourage harmony with the land and the beings that lived upon Her. One common custom was the honoring of the corn dolly, as I mentioned on Wednesday.
As I explained earlier, in Europe, the word corn can refer to any cereal grain. And by the way, contrary to some popular beliefs, the words “dolly” and “doll” do not come from the word “idol.” (You can look it up in the Oxford Etymological Dictionary of the English Language).
Corn dollies have been made throughout history for various reasons, dating back as early as ancient Egypt. Usually, a dolly would be made with the last or the best shafts of wheat straw, to represent the spirit of the harvest. Often the little dolly made out of the straws would be kept and honored, eventually being given back to the land.
Simple corn dollies are incredibly easy to make. Or you might try your hand at fashioning the artful, more complex creations that are popular in folk craft.
To make a simple one, you only need some wheat straw, if possible, with the seed heads still attached. It’s best to get it while it’s almost ripe, but not totally dry. It will probably be green at the bottom. If you don’t have access to wheat straw, you can use raffia, which is commonly found at craft stores and will resemble flattened straw.
Throughout the dark cold months ahead, let your dolly remind you that when we honor and cherish the Earth, She will nourish us, and provide us and our families with what we need.