I used to pay attention to the cycles of the moon but in recent years I fell out of the habit. Celebrating the 8 festivals (Wheel of the Year) became more important to me. I began exploring Chaos Magic alternatives, linking the festivals to the 8 colours of magic. Doing so definitely added a breathe of fresh air to my magic. I can not stick to doing the same thing over and over too many times. I like change, innovation and creativity. I also realised that I miss something about playing with the moon even if all it means is having a dedicated glass of wine. I used to like the sense of timing and rhythm that came with it. I decided to rekindle my relationship with the Moon and September proved an excellent time to do it.
In China and few other Asian countries people celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival around the time of the full moon each September. One of the main traditions is baking mooncakes and they became so strongly associated with the festival that many know it as Mooncake Festival.
I tried them last year during the moon eclipse. I was passing through Bristol and visited my favourite Asian Supermarket late in August. The cakes were displayed together with paper lanterns and few other festive specialities. I bought couple and really enjoyed the experience of celebrating an eclipse with them.
Traditionally mooncakes have an egg yolk in the centre to symbolise the full moon. In addition to eating them people go outside to drink tea and watch the moonrise until they see the moons reflection in their teacups. They also light up lanterns, special fire structures and play games re-enacting different elements of the Legend of Chang’e and the Jade Rabbit.
Like many legends these stories seem pretty strange and have many alternative versions. I found some really good ones on youtube. The Legend of Chang’e tells a story about an Archer who shoot down 9 suns from the sky in order to save the earth from scouring heat they produced. In return for this he was offered an elixir or a pill of immortality but his wife Chang’e drunk the elixir /ate the pill instead of him and she flew off to the moon where she still l lives.
Another associated story tells how the Jade Rabbit got its name and ended up living with Chang’e on the moon.
After baking the cakes myself and Anton decided to set up the altar. We chose a selection of moon cards from different tarot decks and combined them with a selection of seasonal magical object we like to take out of the cupboards this time of the year. We had just enough time to light up all the candles and lanterns before the moon began to rise.
We raised a cup of ritual sake to honour the moon and admired its golden round shape travelling through the sky. The evening birdsong and scent of fresh garden herbs added to the magick. Soon we had bats flying over our heads and the chill of an autumn night chased us back inside where we could gorge ourselves on the lovely mooncakes.