‘For you there’s rosemary and rue; these keep
Seeming and savour all the winter long.’
William Shakespeare, Winter’s Tale.
September is known to have been the seventh month of the Roman calendar. The name is said to derive from ‘Septem’ the Roman word for‘seven’, so the name literally means the ‘seventh month’ as the year used to begin in March (although it is now the ninth month of the Gregorian). It has undergone a number of name change:
‘Gerst-monath’ (Barley month)
‘Herstmaand’ (Autumn month
‘Halig-monath’ (Holy month)
Saxon (after influence of Christianity)
As part of the seasonal calendar September is the time of the Harvest Moon according to Pagan beliefs and the period described as the ‘Moon of the Black Cherries’or‘Moon when the Calves Grow Red Hair’by Black Elk (Black Elk Speaks, Neihardt).
‘The cycle of growth draws near its end.’
This is the second month of ‘Lammas’ and across the British Isles this would have traditionally been when a time to consider the achievement of the community with the harvest gathered and stored, the land would quieten from the craziness of the last period, of Beltane. The sound of the wood being cut would have been common at this time, with small cracking fires burning to clear patches of brush land and to smoke meat stocks, filling the air with aromatic smoke whilst the earth would be turned and prepared for the following year. So it was not a time of rest but of back breaking hard work long before the horse drawn plough and the swish tractor was a twinkle in the eye. Traditionally man would start to withdraw from the open spaces, to the prepare for reflection and contemplation on what has passed and is yet to come. Community life would begin to settle, retracting from the fields to the warmth of the indoors. Animals would start to be brought down to lower pastures, and the need to check stores and shelter for the ‘Coming of Darkness’ (Samhain) was essential. Fruits from the hedgerow and orchard would be pickled or wrapped and put away, it was too early for many of the nuts but there was enough to do. The last few visits to friends would probably have occurred whilst you had more light and the chance of mild weather. Although some time could be afforded into the early part of the next month for collecting wood the weather could not be relied upon for other matters, and the dampness would spoil the efforts of a the whole community.
In the nineteenth century September was the final chance to visit the last few gatherings/fairs. With light already disappearing the days were growing shorter, so now was the time to settle affairs of business. These gatherings would even until the early twentieth century have continued through until early December but satisfied farmers were planning for the year anew. This was not a time to hire (as those seeking work would be advised to attend market on Martinmas or Michaelmas, were contracts were sealed with a handshake and with the ‘earnest’ or ‘yarnisht shilling’.
It was once believed in many areas of the British Isles that had a crime been committed in a field then the soil would ever after be sterile or at the very best produce poor crops. Such fields developed nicknames associated, not with the crime, but to the effort needed to work the land such as ‘Labour-in-vain’, ‘Pinchgut’, ‘Empty Purse’ and ‘Bare Bones’, whilst those that were rich and fertile became lovingly known as ‘Fillpockets’, ‘Land of Promise’, ‘New Delight’, ‘Pound of Butter’ and ‘Dripping Pan’.
As part of the astrological calendar, September has many associations. This is the month of the house of Virgo (August 24 - September 22) and the house of Libra (23 September - October 23).
Virgo is the sixth sign of the zodiac symbolised as the ‘Virgin’ and has been closely connected to the Christian ‘Virgin Mary’, mother of Jesus Christ. In ancient Greek mythology Virgo was the last deity on the earth, known as ‘Astraea’ the ‘Goddess of Justice’. On her ascension to the Heavens she became known as Virgo.
‘Mercury’ is the ruling planet of Virgo and unlike the qualities of Mercury in other realms, here, Mercury is seen as a force that is brought to earth, where ideas are grounded and rooted embodying the systematic, analytical, discriminating Virgo who is also modest, gracious, eloquent, diplomatic and yet surprisingly secretive. The Virgoan must be careful not carry anxieties with them as the depth of their concerns can cause psychological illnesses such as paranoia and depression (often known as the worrier). Mercury affects communication and so Virgo is associated with a rapid speed of learning. In ancient Egypt Virgo was known as the ‘Goddess of the Grain, Nidaba’, whilst in Roman mythology she is ‘Justitia’ who was believed to have existed before mortals and the existence of sin. The sixth phase of the journey of the Sun is experienced here, that of the mature adult who encounters many problems and delights and steadily develops strategies to anticipate or deal with these as they arise. In this sense we can see the rounding of the individual, and hence those born in this house are seen as intelligent with a strong sense of free will and control. Virgo is a mutable and negative air sign associated with the statements ‘I check every detail’, ‘I serve’ and ‘I strive for perfection’.It rules the intestinal tract and powers of assimilation. Virgo has many floral associations, with the Blackberry, Grapevine, Privet, Sage, Wintergreen and all vegetables grown under the earth (See Mystical WWW Plants, & Language of Flowers). Virgo is further associated with all nut bearing trees and more specifically with the Almond, Apple, Aspen, Chestnut, Hazel and the White Poplar (See Mystical WWW Trees). Colours associated with Virgo are brown, shades of green, indigo, silver, slate, dark violet and any colour combination of spotted patterns. The main stone associated with Virgo is the Sardonyx, whilst the main stone associated with the month of August is also Sardonyx (See Mystical WWW Mystical Time : Rhymes & Time - Language of Gems).Lucky number is five, lucky day Wednesday (See Mystical WWW Mystical Time : Days of the Week). Metal associated is quicksilver or mercury.
Libra is the seventh sign of the zodiac symbolised as ‘The Scales of Justice’. In ancient times Libra was closely associated with Scorpio, as it was believed they were as one, the scales being held between the claws, being known as the ‘Claws of the Scorpion’. Perhaps this is why also Libra has been associated with the arts which is a Scorpion trait. The Libra is highly skilled at how the individual can affect and be affected by the many roles within society. Hence comes an ability to be define roles and also to produce considered opinions, although a Libra can be judgmental at times. Views are truthful which means that they can also be controversial and once a decision has been made Libra is difficult to budge. Trying to rush a Libra into making a decision is not advised as the result could be extremely unfortunate, even spelling calamity for all concerned as time is something for Libra to control and therefore highly important.
‘Venus’ is the ruling planet of Libra and openly shows in the attention to detail spent by Libra on appearance and the need to surround themselves with things which they feel to be of beauty. In Roman mythology Venus was also known as the ‘Morning Star of War’, and the ‘Evening Star of Harlotry and Love’. Venus was the daughter of ‘Jupiter’ and ‘Dione’ and had many aspects. She was revered as a ‘Goddess of Nature’ encouraging the flowers and fruits to be plentiful in the spring, hence the varied colours, plants and trees that are associated with Libra. The qualities of Libra are seen to be a strong sense of justice, fairness, diplomacy, engaging charm, stamina and mediation. On the negative side Libra does have a tendency to be a little lazy, to procrastinate which may be a result of enjoying the pleasures of life. The sixth phase of the journey of the Sun is experienced here, that of the adult who has settled comfortably into life and is beginning to reflect on what has been and what is to come in the latter stages of life. Libra is a cardinal and positive air sign associated with the statements ‘I weigh’, ‘I search for balance and harmony’and‘You and I together’.It rules the kidneys and lower back. Libra has many floral associations, with the Blackberry, Bluebell, Cabbage Rose, Dahlia, Daisy, Grapevine, Ivy, Lilac, berry fruits and most spices (See Mystical WWW Plants, & Language of Flowers). Libra is further associated with Ash, Aspen, and the Black and the White Poplar (See Mystical WWW Trees). Colours associated with Libra are the primary colours including pale blue, midnight blue, pale green, lemon, shocking pink and pale yellow. The main stone associated with Libra is the Opal, whilst the main stone associated with the month of September is the Sapphire (See Mystical WWW Mystical Time : Rhymes & Time - Language of Gems).Lucky number is six, lucky day Friday (See Mystical WWW Mystical Time : Days of the Week). Metal associated is copper.
‘The harvest moon has come,
Booming softly through heaven, like a bassoon.
And the earth replies all night, like a deep drum.’
Ted Hughes, The Harvest Moon.
Southend, Essex, England : ‘Whitebait Festival’.
Various sites, Cornwall, England : ‘Gorsedd of the Cornish Bards’.
Oban, Argyll, Scotland : ‘Highland Games’.
First Installation of Guru Granth Sahib in Golden Temple
Sikh holiday and festival : (1997 September 2, 1998 August 23).
Sunday after September 4
Abbots Bromley, Staffordshire, England : Traditional ‘Abbots Bromley Horn Dance’ (Morris). (For further information see Mystical WWW Arts : Dance, Morris).
Usually second week in September
Braemar, Aberdeen, Scotland : Braemar ‘Highland Gathering and Games’.
Widecombe, Devon, England : Traditional ‘Pony and Sheep Fair’.
Second Thursday and Friday in September
Inverness, Inverness, Scotland : ‘Piping’ Championships.
Wednesday before September 20
Barnstaple, Devon, England : Traditional Fair.
Third Saturday in September
Egremont, Cumberland, England : Traditional ‘Crab Fair’.
Sunday on or after September 19
Painswick, Gloucestershire, England : Traditional ‘Clipping the Church’ festivities.
Last Monday in September
Dunstable, Bedfordshire, England : Traditional ‘Statute Fair’.
End of September
St. Keverne, Cornwall, England : Traditional 'Crying the Neck' activities.
Unlucky September Dates
3. 4. 6. 7. 21. 23.
According to the English historian Richard Grafton these certain dates of the month were unlucky as published in the ‘Manual’ in 1565. Days throughout the year were identified and of course could have related to any day of the week. The date was the most important point to consider. The work was reputed to have some credence with support given by astronomers of the day. Exactly why these dates are unlucky is unclear today but by looking at the calendar of days an idea of the major occurrences can be seen.