Updated: Dec 18, 2022
Harvest Gratitude and Receive with the Three of Cups and The Empress
Welcome to September! I hope everyone had a nice long Labor Day weekend, and thanks to all the birthday well-wishes!
We’ve had some mighty high temperatures here in San Francisco, even in my foggy corner of the city. In an effort to help support the grid and earn/save money I participate in ‘ohm hours’ and due to the high temperatures we’ve had several of them this week.
That means that instead of using the oven, the microwave, or the TV at night, I’ve been eating earlier and allowing my home to naturally darken as the daylight fades. It also has meant I’ve had some excellent Moon sightings while taking my dog for evening strolls.
On Saturday at 2:59 am PT we’ll get our final Full Moon of Summer, and my favorite Full Moon of the year, the Harvest Moon. We always want to wait for the New Moon to begin before our ritual work, but with the Full Moon, we get to harness that energy the day before and the day following its peak, so Friday through Sunday.
To help you honor and celebrate the Harvest Moon, I’m calling upon the Three of Cups as our anchor card today.
As you read ahead, or as you raise your own glass to September's Harvest Moon, please enjoy my very fun Three of Cups playlist!
The Empress & The Three of Cups
"Care less for your harvest than for how it is shared and your life will have meaning and your heart will have peace" -Kent Nerburn
September is a really interesting time of transition. For many folks, it is back-to-school season. Despite our current high temperatures, we are moving from summer into fall. For me, I feel both a lot of excitement and anticipation for what’s ahead, as well as a bittersweet farewell to the slowness and spaciousness of summer.
The Threes of the Tarot are ideal anchors for liminal times like this.
In the Aces, we get introduced to the nature of the element of each suit. In the Twos, we are invited to begin a process of co-creation with Spirit. When we arrive at the Threes, we’ve expanded beyond what we could have ever done alone.
We’re in a state of both creation and receptivity.
I talk a lot in my sessions about what it means to receive because most of us have forgotten how. Numberd three in the Major Arcana, The Empress is a master teacher for re-educating us on how to receive. In fact, she was the star of last year’s Harvest Moon post.
We come into this world knowing how to receive, but as we grow up, we forget. As babies, we are perfect and completely dependent. We receive everything. This learning takes place before we acquire language. When we begin to speak, we begin to form the belief that we are somehow separate.
The Empress is the matriarch of the deck. Unfortunately, in our over-culture, the ‘ideal mother’ is portrayed as selfless and self-sacrificing. What horseshit.
Just take a look at this beautiful woman. She sits comfortably on a soft pillow, adorned with a beautiful crown and scepter. Wheat fields flourish at her feet because everything wants to grow in her presence.
The Empress is supremely giving and loving because she is a master at receiving. Just as we learned from The Emperor, the patriarch of the deck, that discipline does not mean punishment, we learn from The Empress that giving does not mean sacrifice.
Similarly, when we manifest with the Moon cycle, the Full Moon is the point at which we surrender all our efforts and attachments to what we want to create and offer our inspiration up to the Divine. Then, our job is to stay present and receive, receive, receive!
Since the Minor Arcana cards are really the boots-on-the-ground experts in bringing the messages of the Majors to life, I thought the Three of Cups would be the perfect example of The Empress in action.
In the Smith Rider Wait deck, we see three women dancing outdoors. We can tell from the pumpkin in the foreground that it is harvest time. One of the women is holding a bushel of grapes and all of the women are raising their cups to each other and the heavens.
The Cups are aligned with water, which represents our heart center, our feelings, and our emotions. The Threes are a time of expansion and amplification, so in the Three of Cups, our emotions become amplified, especially when we are in community.
In the Three of Cups, 2+2=6. When something wonderful happens for someone we love, we get to participate in that joy and amplify it. When there is a hardship, the burden is lightened when it is shared.
When the Empress and the Three of Cups come up in one of my readings, I use the ‘muffin example’ to explain how giving and receiving without sacrifice really can operate…
If I were to come to your house with muffins, you would say, “Meredyth, you brought muffins! Hooray!” You would not silently be thinking, “Shit. Now I have to make repayment muffins.” I would not be worried that by bringing muffins you’d be jealous of my baking skills. I wouldn’t worry that you’d assume I thought you simply couldn’t afford your own baked goods.
This is how giving and receiving without sacrifice or guilt works in all things, especially in relationships and communities. When someone you love gets a promotion, you see their experience as an additive to your own joy. It goes both ways and all ways.
The top song on my playlist for this card is Pink’s “Raise Your Glass” not only because that is literally what the card calls for, but also for the inclusiveness of the lyrics:
So if you’re too school for cool
And you’re treated like a fool
You can choose to let it go
We can always, we can always
Party on our own
So raise your glass if you are wrong
In all the right ways
All my underdogs
When we call on the Three of Cups, it can be an invitation to celebrate with community, but you can also party on your own.
If you are an introvert and a bacchanal gathering sounds stressful, that is perfect.
The three figures can represent your inner-kiddo and your inner-elder, they can be touchstones to ancestors and they can be the divine trinity of me, myself, and I — the soul in concert with the universe.
In the Next World Tarot deck, we see the smile of someone who has surrounded themselves with friendly sea creatures and holds a receptive pose.
We can think of this card as an invitation to connect with nature, friends, and with ourselves. Renamed Joy, this image reminds us that we don’t need to be surrounded by people in order to amplify our joy and feel community and connection.
The Full Harvest Moon
If the image of the celebrants in the Smith Rider Wait deck’s Three of Cups looked familiar, you’ve likely seen them before.
In art and mythology, these women are known as the Three Charities, or the Three Graces.
Though their names have varied, they are often known as Aglaia (Beauty), Euphrosyne (Delight), and Thalia (Mirth).
For this Full Moon ritual, I’d like to call in Beauty, Delight, and Mirth as our models for receiving like the Empress and with the Three of Cups.
When we allow ourselves to delight in beauty with mirth, we regain a perspective of innocence.
This is not the same innocence of childhood naivety. It is the euphoric innocence of the spirit. The thinking mind longs for control, but the spirit giggles at that silliness of an impulse to control beauty, to control joy.
Remember, we are each born knowing how to receive because we are born inherently worthy. It is only when we believe ourselves to be separate from our inherent worth, that we begin to associate sacrifice with love.
The ego has great stories to support the fiction that we must sacrifice before we can receive, that we must suffer for joy, and that conflict leads to achievement.
The voice of the ego considers itself to be a terrific motivator, but the voice of your highest self is a leader that arrives from spaciousness and feels like an up-welling of bliss. Gratitude is the on-ramp to bliss.
If there was only one Full Moon to celebrate with others, this would be it; however, you can absolutely party with the Harvest Moon all on your own.
Make sure that everyone who is participating has a cup, and bring a separate larger bottle of water or wine.
Since our goal is to invite a cosmic perspective into our practice, you’ll want to take advantage of the literal perspective that comes from watching the Moon rise.
Watching the Harvest Moon ascend above the horizon and contrasting its size with the landscape of buildings and trees, is a beautiful way to begin our receptivity practice.
The Moon always rises in the east at dusk. Here on the West Coast, Saturday’s sunset is at 7:08 p.m. and the moonrise is at 7:43 p.m.
Once the Moon has taken her place in the sky and you’ve settled into a comfortable seat yourself, take a deep breath and close your eyes to begin a gentle meditation. If you’re with your pals, you may want to sit in a circle.
As you allow your spine to lengthen, begin to follow your breath. Feel that your body is supported along the horizontal plane by gravity and the Earth.
This horizontal plane is the geography of linear thought. In honor of this present moment, allow any thoughts or concerns of the past and any plans for the future to sink down into the soil.
The vertical plane is the geography of the limitless. Allow yourself to breathe into that spaciousness. Feel that with each inhalation you are receiving.
As you continue to breathe into this spaciousness, allow your focus to scan for all the people, animals, places, and things that you feel grateful for. It is in this space of gratitude that the two dimensions of the horizontal and the vertical join to become three. The cross becomes a triangle, with energy that both flows out and receives in.
Allow a gentle smile to grow as you feel gratitude for the perfection that is always unfolding amidst an ‘imperfect’ world. When you are ready, open your eyes. Harvest a mental image of the Moon to revisit for years to come.
Next, pour the water or wine from the bottle into your glass. As you do so, say aloud something that you are grateful to yourself for. For example, “I am grateful to myself for all the delicious food I eat.”
If you are in a ceremony with others, allow each person a turn.
Then, raise your glass high above your head and toast to The Moon. Sip from your cup and feel how your ability to receive grow.
Next, make another pour and another toast to something that you are grateful for from your community. For example, “I am grateful to all of my newsletter subscribers for supporting me in this calling.”
Once everyone has made their cheers this second time, repeat the circle for the third and final toast. This one is in gratitude for anything and everything that deserves to be surrendered to the universe. If you set an intention at the New Moon, release it with gratitude to the Divine.
For this final toast, take another drink from your cup and then pour the remainder of your glass into the earth.
As you empty your cup, know that this action represents a liberation from the ego’s addiction to the fiction that you could ever control. Allow yourself to feel the abundance of gratitude in your heart. See that this abundance spreads out all around you.
Your empty cup is now ready to be filled with love, community, and Spirit.
I hope that you are able to enjoy this Harvest Moon ritual, know that I am so grateful that you are part of my community!