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Fruiting Vine Moon

This is the Ripening Time, the time of coming to fruition. In the Northern Hemisphere, many are vacationing, one of the harvests of a long work year, providing space for enjoyment of beautiful landscapes and experiences. Perhaps we are working at a gentler pace and enjoying the homespace that normally contains our life, in a more relaxed way. Even though it can be a time of relaxation, it is still an energetic and creative time of year, and thus a time and space to think bigger thoughts, particularly about what is fruiting in our lives.

For gardeners, it is a particularly rewarding time. After all the work — garden planning, soil augmentation, careful seeding, caring for vulnerable seedlings, consistent watering, weeding, vigilance for diseases and insects, and wariness of amount and delivery style of rain, sun, cloud and wind — the shape of the main harvest is now appearing. We have passed the height and highest heat of the Sun and while all species bask and soak in the sun this time of year, it is now, bit by bit, losing its power. It is still however the period of the Sun’s maturity, its fire, that is ripening the fruits of the Earth and pumps energy through us.

Tomatoes ripening on the vine and salmon swimming up rivers and streams to spawn are all coming into their fullness and purpose. While we will have been grazing on food plants for months now, as well as drying and storing things like herbs and medicines as they reach the appropriate maturity, the next two moons are considered the moons of harvest time, the early and then the main harvest.

There are many First Fruit Festivals – some dedicated to the first roots or to the first berries found in the Wild. For agriculturally based peoples, the cycle of food plants governs the year. Various stages of growth are accompanied with ceremonies, dependent on the primary grain/grass crop – whether corn, wheat or rice for example. Among many traditional Indigenous people, there are not one but two times of communal thanksgiving. At this time of year, for the Hopi and many other corn growing societies throughout Turtle Island, for instance, this is the time of the Green Corn Ceremony. Corn has been grown extensively throughout what became the “Americas,” from 50 degrees north in Canada to 40 degrees south in South America, adapted to deserts, mountains, plains and jungles.

The Hopi have a particularly complex cosmology, with a mirror image unseen world and a detailed and demanding round of spiritual tasks and ceremonies, many of which remain secret. A basic understanding of the Green Corn ceremony is related to the leaving of the Kachinas. These ancestral spirits exist with the people for only half a year, the growing part of the year. This first thanksgiving celebration is for the first fruits of the harvest that they ushered in and is considered a new year.

In corn societies, the Medicine people determine the time for the ceremony based on the development of the corn, as the first ears mature, as well as other signs. No one eats from the new fields until after this ceremony. The first of the new crop is sacrificed as proper thanks to the Kachinas and to the plants themselves, who go on to mature, hopefully in abundance. Prayers are offered for one last big rain. This way of being is called an offering or gift culture, contrary to our taking culture. Nothing is taken without permission of the spirit world.

For the Muscogee and Creek People, households are cleaned and repaired, and old clothing and unrepairable furniture is cleaned out and burned ceremonially. All the ashes on the cooking hearths are swept clean and fires put out. A feast using the remainder of last year’s food, in our case this would be all the frozen, canned and dried food from last year’s gardens, is enjoyed.

Then, these communities enter a time of fasting and dancing. A ceremonial fire place is arranged in a main square, with the old ashes from all the hearths communally combined, laid out in a way that honours the sun and the four directions. The dances, such as the Ribbon Dance and Feather Dance, the fasting and ceremonial drinks all focus on purification and cleansing. All members are encouraged to forgive minor offenses from the year and to be purified of what they have done that fostered ill-will, except for murder and rape, which are considered banishable offenses. While only some members do the ceremonial fasting and dancing, all participate in the cleansing including a restricted diet and acts of forgiveness, to move into a fresh beginning.