Friday, November 20, 2009

Lunacy - Experiencing the Pull of The Moon

Today was sheer lunacy...all about the moon.   Here is one more powerful element in the divinely choreographed dance of the Universe.  We small beings, hoping to grow food and flowers and medicinals, are part of that dance, and Wendy Johnson asked us to consider the full cycles of the moon, and the influence those stages may have on our work in cultivation.  She gave us an overview of the ancient Cross Holy Days and of the pagan harvest festivals.  Holy Days, in all religions, are rooted in a relationship with the moon and the sun and the harvest.  From Hallows Eve in October, to St.Brigid's Day in the spring, from the Celtic tradition of Lugh, or "bread basket," in August, to Christmas, at the Winter Equinox... these celebrations represent a history of farming within the rhythms of the seasons.

Wendy encouraged us to cultivate an awareness of the tides in all aspects of the environment.    Throughout time, sugarers, drawing maple syrup from their trees, have said "the sap flow is faster in the bright of the moon."  Alan Chadwick would tell Wendy, "The moon pushes and the sun pulls."  There is a reason the Farmer's Almanac has always included specifics about the behavior of those two great spheres in the sky.

"The Bright of the Moon" (such a beautiful, lyrical phrase) is the 14 days when the moon is "waxing," in a period of inclination.

"The Dark of the Moon" is the 14 days when the moon is "waning," in a period of declination.

Biodynamic Farming was developed by Rudolph Steiner, the founder of Waldorf Education.  This method involves an extensive awareness of the moon.  Here is a link to the National Sustainable Agriculture Association with more information about Biodynamic Farming, as well as a list of astronomical gardening calendars.

Biodynamic Farming and Compost Preparation

Planetary Influences

Lunar and astrological cycles play a key role in the timing of biodynamic practices, such as the making of Biodynamic preparations and when to plant and cultivate. Recognition of celestial influences on plant growth are part of the biodynamic awareness that subtle energy forces affect biological systems. A selection of resources are listed below. On examination of the variations in agricultural calendars that have sprung from the biodynamic experience, it is apparent that differing viewpoints exist on which lunar, planetary, and stellar influences should be followed.

Stella NaturaThe Kimberton Hills Biodynamic Agricultural Calendar, available through BDFGA for $11.95, is the biodynamic calendar edited by Sherry Wildfeur and the most prominently known calendar of this type in the United States. It contains informative articles interspersed with daily and monthly astrological details, and lists suggested times for planting root, leaf, flowering, and fruiting crops.

Working with the Stars: A Bio-Dynamic Sowing and Planting Calendar, available through JPI for $12.95, is the biodynamic calendar based on Maria Thun's research and is more prominently used in Europe. Of the three calendars mentioned here, Thun's calendar relies more heavily on planetary and stellar influences. It contains research briefs as well as daily and monthly astrological details, again with suggested planting times.

Astronomical Gardening Guide, available through Agri-Synthesis in Napa, California (11) for a self-addressed stamped envelope, is the biodynamic gardening guide compiled by Greg Willis of Agri-Synthesis. This calendar, which is a simple 2-sheet information leaflet, focuses on lunar phases.

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