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The Planting Calendar is about RHYTHMS – Cosmic, solar, lunar/moon rhythms and Earthly rhythms. It is an aid to our conscious and purposeful participation in these rhythms.
These are rhythms that sustain all life on Earth. Biodynamic farmers strive to bring life back into the soil so that the food produced from this living soil has increased life force, vitality and nutrition, enhancing the quality of human life.
This can be accomplished when the rhythms of our farming activities are aligned with the natural Cosmic and Earth rhythms.
Human life, as well as animal and plant life, is strongly dependent on the rhythms of the Earth. As the Earth turns on its axis in the course of 24 hours, we have day and then night. As it travels over the course of 1 year around the sun we have the seasons – hot and cool.
The most familiar lunar rhythm is the rhythmic movement from New Moon to Full Moon that we witness each month. This is only one of numerous lunar or moon rhythms that astronomy scientists have mapped and can accurately calculate. The biodynamic farmer works primarily with 6 different moon rhythms that recur every 27 to 29 days. The Planting Calendar indicates the important days for farming activities during these 6 different rhythmic cycles each month.
This rhythm is easy to see. It begins at the new moon when the moon is close to the sun and almost invisible. As the moon moves away from the sun we see it more clearly, first as a slender very beautiful crescent in the sky – the new moon. Just over 7 days later it reaches the first quarter when the moon’s disk is half bright, half dark. The first quarter is followed by the full moon which is about 12 times as bright as the first quarter and then comes the last quarter when the other half is illuminated. After approx. 29.5 days the rhythm begins again.
Farmer observations and scientific experiments over many centuries have identified noticeable effects of the Full Moon on plant growth. Based on the Agriculture Lectures of Rudolf Steiner and subsequent scientific research, biodynamic agriculture recognizes the following New Moon and Full Moon influences:
(Graphic courtsey: www.organiclesson.com)
The Moon and Saturn are on opposite sides of the Earth and their respective forces are raying into the Earth from opposite directions. The Moon forces bring in the calcium processes (earthly) which are connected to propagation and growth forms, while the Saturn forces bring in the silica processes (cosmic), which are connected to the building up substance or bulk of the plant in root, leaf and fruit. The balancing effect of these two influences streaming into the Earth produces very strong plants from seed sown at this time.
The Moon’s daily path across the sky as seen from the Earth is not always the same. Sometimes it is higher in the sky, sometimes lower. The Sun follows a similar ascending then descending rhythm as it moves through the Zodiac each year. The Moon takes only 27.3 days to complete its journey through the Zodiac constellations in an ascending and descending rhythm each month, each ascending and the descending period lasts about two weeks
We see the Moon moving in an arc from East to West and when we see these arcs getting higher in the sky every day, the Moon is Ascending.
When we see the arc of the moon path getting lower every day the Moon is Descending.
The Earth as a living organism with an inhaling-exhaling breathing rhythm, similar to ours. The ascending and descending moon periods correspond with the inhaling and exhaling cycle of the Earth.
The descending period: is related to the activity below the soil surface and can be compared with the cool or cold season of the year. The Earth breathes in and draws growth forces back down below the soil surface. The lower parts of the plant, especially the roots, are activated.
The ascending period: is like the warm or hot season of the year, the Earth breathes out. We see this as an outpouring of growth activity above the soil surface. Growth forces and saps flow upwards more strongly and fill the plant with vitality. Although germination takes place below the ground, it also takes part in this upward striving.
Using NASA’s latest high-resolution satellite imagery of Earth, data visualization expert John Nelson has created a pair of captivating animations that track seasonal transformations on Earth.
As it ascends and descends, the Moon crosses the path of the Sun (the ecliptic). The crossing points are called nodes, and are the only places and times where eclipses can occur.
The ascending or north node is where the Moon crosses from south of the ecliptic to north of the ecliptic.
The descending or south node is where it crosses from north of the ecliptic to south of the ecliptic
The Moon makes one complete nodal cycle every 27.2 days, so there is a node approximately every 14 days, which is two nodes every month. Astronomers can calculate the exact time the nodes will occur. These times are given in the Planting Calendar. The influence of the nodes lasts for approximately 6 hours before and after the exact time of crossing.
The Moon while crossing in front of the Sun will negate the Sun’s beneficent influence for this brief period. This negative influence works in the soil being freshly cultivated at the time of the node.
Therefore biodynamic farmers do not cultivate the soil, sow any seeds, transplant, prune trees or shrubs, or do any other agricultural or horticultural work on Node Day. The effect is similar to that of an eclipse of the Sun by the Moon.
The Moon moves around the Earth in an ellipse, completing one full orbit every 27.5 days. The Moon's nearest point to the Earth on this ellipse is the Perigee and the furthermost point is the Apogee. There is one Perigee and one Apogee every month. Astronomy scientists can calculate the exact time of both. These dates and timings are given in the Planting Calendar.
Researchers and farmers have found that Apogee appears to be a good time to plant potatoes, as there seems to be a multiplicity of the form (meaning more potatoes), whereas at Perigee there are fewer potatoes but bigger.
At Perigee, the time when the Moon is closest to the Earth, it will bring greater moisture to the Earth and a tendency towards fungus growth and insect attack. This is especially so when Perigee occurs near Full Moon, which brings more moisture.
Apogee and Perigee times bring a stress period and seed sowing should be avoided 12 hours on either side of these times (except potatoes!).
The Zodiac is a belt of fixed stars that are in groupings we call as constellations. This belt of stars lies behind the ecliptic path of the Sun. All the planets, and the Moon, move in front of the zodiac constellations. In the star maps below the blue dotted line represents the ecliptic path of the Sun over a period of 1 year. The constellations in green are the 12 zodiac constellations.
Sky Observation showing the constellations of Aquarius Capricorn, Sagittarius, Scorpio, Libra and Virgo.
Sky Observation showing the constellations of Leo, Cancer, Gemini, Taurus, Aries and Pisces.
We are concerned with the Moon, which passes quickly in front of all 12 zodiac constellations in just 27.3 days. Because the zodiac constellations are of different sizes, the Moon stands in front of each for a shorter or longer time, approx. between 1-1/2 to 3-1/2 days. Every zodiac constellation radiates certain favourable conditions to the plants, which the Moon focuses as it passes in front of each constellation. The influences of the constellations are passed on, reflected by the Moon, through the 4 classical elements of nature – warmth/fire, light/air, water and earth in the following groupings.
The influences of the particular constellation are brought into the soil through cultivation of the soil at the appropriate time, and also by spraying BD 501 (Horn silica) at the appropriate time. The germinating seed also receives these influences, so if it is desired to promote a certain influence, such as more leaves in a cabbage head or more kernels on a corn cob, then the biodynamic farmer cultivates and sows the seed during the favourable constellation period. Astronomy scientists can calculate the exact time the Moon passes through each constellation. These times are given in the Planting Calendar.