Friday the 13th, Dante, and the Eve of Harvest Moon

Whenever a month begins on a Sunday, then there will always be a Friday the 13th, and this month, that date falls on the eve of Harvest Moon.

Harvest Moon is the Full Moon closest to Autumn Equinox, and it will happen this week overnight Friday the 13th to Saturday the 14th, at 12:34 am.

That night also happens to mark the anniversary of the death of Dante Alighieri, the 13th century Italian poet whose “Divine Comedy” is considered one of the most important poems of the Middle Ages. Dante called his work “The Comedy”, which, according to translator Mark Musa, was a reference to it being a “rustic song, as opposed to a tragedy, which begins tranquilly but comes to a sad end. A comedy,” he says, “may begin under adverse circumstances, but always has a happy ending.”

Dante’s Comedy takes place in one week’s time, described in three parts: the Inferno, Purgatory, and Paradise. Three is a significant rhythm in the poem, especially as it refers to the three iterations of the divine feminine that serve as guardians over Dante the pilgrim; and the three advents of the Christ which are significant to the narrative.

The activity of the Comedy takes place at Eastertime, but it’s fitting to consider it the eve of Harvest Moon, because now greater darkness falls over the northern hemisphere. At this time of year, the human being wakes from the summer dream, and the inner life becomes more active for facing the outwardly darker journey ahead.

Watch the Harvest Moon rival the Sun on Saturday morning, not setting in the west until after the Sun has risen in the east, and think of Dante, who managed to end all three parts of the Divine Comedy with the word stelle, which is Italian for ‘stars’.

We climbed, he first and I behind, until, through a small round opening ahead of us I saw the lovely things the heavens hold, and we came out to see once more the stars.

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