Many cultures are celebrating Moon Festivals today as part of the Mid-Autumn Full Moon that represents, from the Feng Shui perspective, the harvesting of our many blessings of family, romance and the bountiful supply of food.
The symbology and folklore around this particular Mid-Autumn Full Moon is especially significant to most people of Asian descent since it honors ancestors, family members, the annual harvest and romance.
The Moon Festival celebrates the end of the autumn harvest by gazing at the Full Moon, consuming mooncakes and drinking wine, especially with your loved-one. The Full Moon is the full moon of the 8th month of the Chinese calendar and is held on the 15th day of that month, which in the Gregorian culture arrives during the months of either September or October depending on when the Chinese New Year started.
This is a time of giving thanks for the blessings bestowed upon the family – the plentiful harvest that has been given to them by their ancestors – and is sometimes called the Chinese Thanksgiving. Most of the Asian cultures honor their ancestors in many ways including making sure the Feng Shui is burial site is correctly placed for the deceased’s spirit to bring peace and contentment to the spirit.
Gravesite Feng Shui was one of the first types of Feng Shui practiced and is still in extensive use today. In fact, many memorial parks around the world have been designed to accommodate the beliefs to correctly place and honor the ancestors of the Asian cultures as well as ancestors of Hispanic, European and Portuguese cultures, to name a few. In the San Francisco Bay Area we have several memorial parks with which I personally have been involved to support family members in order to feel comfortable with their decision on site selection.
When the spirit of the ancestors is happy, the family is happy. When the spirit of the ancestor feels loved and honored, their spirit, in turn, watches over the family bringing many blessings to them.
Moon Festivals are a time to honor this connection to the ancestors and give thanks for their support of the harvest as well as the love of life. In fact, some of the folklore about the Moon Festivals directly relate to romance.
Some say the celebration of the autumn full moon dates back to the Shang Dynasty (c. 16th to 10th century BCE). It is believed harvest celebrations originally began with worshiping the Mountain Gods after the harvest.
An important part of the ceremonies is moon worship. The ancient Chinese believed rejuvenation is associated with the moon and water. One subculture has a fable saying the sun and the moon are a couple and the stars are their children. When the moon is pregnant, it becomes round. It becomes crescent-shaped after having given birth to a child.
Another story states that a hero named (Hou) Yi who was an excellent marksman, shot down 9 of the ten suns that rose one year causing great disaster. An immortal admired Yi and sent him the elixir of immortality. Yi did not want to be immortal without his wife, Chang’e, so he let Chang’e keep the elixir. When Yi went hunting in August, an apprentice who knew Chang’e had the elixir came to get it. Chang’e refused to give it to him.
“Instead, she swallowed it and flew into the sky. Since she loved her husband very much and hoped to live nearby, she chose the moon for her residence. When Yi came back and learned what had happened, he felt so sad that he displayed the fruits and cakes Chang’e liked in the yard,” according to a story in Lihui Yang’s Handbook of Chinese Mythology.
Ever since, the folklore about looking at the moon while eating mooncakes, rice cakes, almond cookies and drinking wine with your loved-one while holding hands, has prevailed. It is even said that if you can’t be with your loved-one in person, you are joined in love when you both look at the moon from wherever you are in this world.
When I read this part, I got those wonderful goose bumps and a shiver up my spine. Being invited and participating in a dear friend’s wedding on Saturday – a time the Moon Festivals were being celebrated here in San Francisco – became even more meaningful as we all held hands in honor of their marriage, danced and gazed at the beautiful moon.
As I harvested the romance of sharing this special evening with my love, Hilory, I was so honored to be aware and conscious of all that was happening around me. This Chinese Thanksgiving and the Moon Festival associated with it have given me a special gift – the blessing of a bountiful life filled with amazing people and a world filled with myth, magic and moments to remember.