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Celebrating The Chinese Mid-Autumn Moon Festival - by foreigner

Celebrate the Moon with a festival in her Honor. Invite your women friends to gather outdoors before sunset to watch the moon as she rises. Ask them to symbols of the moon, readings or poems in honor of the moon and foods that remind them of the moon. You can buy moon cakes from a Chinese bakery or make them using the recipe below from Nina Simond's book Chinese Seasons. I like to make lemon-balm tea (since lemon balm is an herb of the moon) and serve honeydew melon. Or bring the traditional plates of pomegranates, grapes, apples, melons and peaches.

Before the moon rises, set up an altar in the middle of your space with an image of the Moon Hare, surrounded by 13 moon cakes, the fruit, and any other symbols that represent the moon, like pearls, dimes, abalone shells, mirrors, water, tarot cards representing the Moon. You may want to decorate your space with lanterns.

When I celebrate with my women friends, we gather shortly before sunset, set up the altar and then worship the Moon silently as she comes up. We draw her down into our bodies, using the posture of drawing down the moon, arms open wide and held up above our heads. When we are bathed in her silvery rays, we usually sing "Neesa," a Native American song in honor of the moon, found in Kate Marks' book Circle of Song. This is followed by the reciting of the poems and readings we've brought to honor her.

I always bring a large blue bowl, which we fill with water and use to catch the reflection of the moon. Drinking the water brings the power of the moon into our bodies.

Then we sit down and feast on the moon foods and talk about our experiences with the moon over the years. I've found that most women have great stories about feeling a special connection with the Moon. As a child I always watched for her and felt that she was communicating privately with me. My most recent encounter with the Moon was during a sweat lodge under a full moon. When I lay in the meadow, naked, between the two sweats, the moon danced above me and then swooped down into my body. It was an ecstatic experience.

Our ritual usually closes with another singing of "Neesa," which works beautifully in rounds (most appropriate for the moon).

More ideas for celebrating the Mid Autumn Moon Festival:

This full moon would be the best time of the year for making Moon Water for your ritual purposes all year around. Just leave water out in a bowl under the Full Moon all night to absorb the vibrations of the moon.

Try some sort of moon-oriented divination, like scrying (looking for images in a bowl of water).

Look at the year ahead and identify your special Moons, the times when the Moon is new or full in your natal Sun sign or moon sign. Make a pledge to celebrate these days in special ways. Or figure out your natal Moon sign or natal Moon phase (you can find directions on how to determine moon phase in Astrology for Yourself) and reflect on how this influences your life.

Recipe: Sweet Moon Cakes
From Chinese Seasons by Nina Simond

1/2 cup chopped dates
1 cup chopped dried apricots (softened in hot water for 1 hr before chopping) 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup raisins
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 T baking powder
1 t salt 3 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 t vanilla extract
2 T water

1 egg, lightly beaten
2 T water

To make the filling:
Combine the ingredients, mix well and divide into 24 equal portions.

To make the crust:
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Using a large whisk or an electric mixer, beat the eggs with the sugar for about 10 minutes, until a ribbon is formed. Add the melted butter, the vanilla extract, the water and the dry ingredients and stir until a rough dough is formed. Use your hands to press the dough into a ball. Form the dough into a long snakelike roll about 1-1/4 inches thick. Cut into 24 pieces.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Using your hands, press each dough section into a 3-inch circle, with the edges pinched thinner than the center. Place a portion of the filling in the center, gather up the edges of the dough to meet in the center and pinch to seal. Roll the cake into a ball and flatten it to a 3-inch round. Carve a decorative design on top or press the cake, joined edges up, in a lightly floured moon-cake mold. Invert the molded cake onto a cookie sheet. Continue until done. Arrange the cakes 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Prepare the glaze and brush the surface of each cake lightly with it. Bake the cakes for about 30 minutes until golden brown. Remove, cool and serve.

From: School of the seasons

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