Working With Lunar Cycles

by Bruce Carley         * Site Map *

Ancient farm lore postulates that the time of the lunar month at which a plant is sown or transplanted or an animal is born or hatched, has a significant bearing on the physical characteristics and habits which that organism subsequently will develop. According to principles which have been handed down through the centuries, one effectively can infuse one's crops and ornamental plantings with specific, desired cosmic essences and characteristics by planting them on selected days or nights which combine particular lunar phases with particular sidereal positions of the moon or signs of the tropical zodiac through which the moon is passing. Regardless of the nature of the mechanics involved (and regardless of the proud incredulity of orthodox science), the systematics have been tested through the centuries and purportedly have been found to be verifiable repeatedly through direct observation. If a planting time is selected to combine a phase of the moon that is considered favorable for a particular crop with a moon sign that is also considered favorable, assuming that the physical needs of the plant are provided as usual, the result supposedly will be an especially successful harvest. Livestock matings, too, have been timed purposely for hopeful birthings on specific target dates according to the same lunar principles.

It is difficult to document a topic when its sources are based on folklore and when little formal experimentation with it has been performed by the scientific community in recent times. Nevertheless, it seems reasonable to speculate that the moon's angle of interaction with the Earth's magnetic field by its position along the ecliptic, and its relation to the sun by its phase, may correlate in some way with certain subtle but definite and cyclically repeating effects upon all organisms living within the sphere of the Earth's magnetic influence. If such results are predictably repeatable, then anyone with an accurate lunar ephemeris should be able to observe them through their own experiments with lunar horticulture.

Considering first the moon's phase, it purportedly is observable that most living organisms on Earth are more vigorous and bountiful during an increasing or waxing moon than they are during a decreasing or waning moon. An increasing moon is said to correspond to times when living cells on Earth are functioning most actively - growing, expanding, or filling out with a maximum level of creative or vital energy, - whereas a decreasing moon is supposed to be a more restful period when living tissues are tending to introvert their energy, concentrating on hardening off, acclimating, or storing reserves of vitality for later use in the next phase of active growth. Accordingly, farmers have sought for centuries to plant their crops during specific lunar phases which seemingly fit with their purposes. The general guideline has been to use the waxing moon - within the seasonal framework - as an ideal period for planting crops that bear their desired products above the ground, including most flowering ornamentals, and to use the waning moon as an ideal period for planting root crops as well as trees which depend on root fullness for their hardiness.

It is claimed that grass seed sown during a new moon sprouts quickly, carpets the ground evenly within two weeks, and yields a well-established lawn at the end of one month (assuming that it has been treated properly in the ordinary, horticultural sense), whereas grass seed sown after a full moon sprouts slowly, delays much of its growth until the next new moon, and appears rather sparse at the end of one month, comparable to two weeks worth of growth in seed sown during an increasing moon. Grass seed sown a few days before a full moon is said to sprout quickly and to grow vigorously in those first few days, only to lose that vigor when the full moon arrives, then growing slowly and yielding in two weeks the equivalent of a few days of growth under a waxing moon, until the next new moon infuses the plants with new vigor. Experiments with these principles might be interesting.

Considering next the moon's sidereal position, the invisible, electromagnetic radiation of the moon purportedly expresses itself more fully from some zones along the ecliptic than from others, and certain zodiac signs are purported to predispose certain traits in any organism that is sown, transplanted, or born while the moon is passing through them. How this principle may operate is a topic for vast speculation to stretch the imagination, but a phenomenon does not have to be easily explicable or recognized by orthodox science for it to have some validity and to be acceptable with a grain of salt in the mind of an intelligent person.

In contrast to the fiery, physically drying radiations of the sun, the moon's natural vibrations are considered moistening on a metaphysical level, and this influence is said to be especially resonant with the essential natures of the three zodiac signs that are described as "watery" in their constitution. The sign of Cancer is said to be "ruled" by the moon, meaning most in harmony with its natural vibrations and therefore more conducive to its moistening, nurturing influence than any other sign. In other words, the moon's natural emanations would seem to reach all life on Earth with the least inhibition during the two consecutive days in each lunar month when the moon is in the sign of Cancer, and anything planted during this time would seem to be most likely to bear its produce in abundance if the lunar phase is also favorable. Scorpio and Pisces are said to be nearly equal to Cancer in this conduciveness to the moon's nature; Scorpio is considered second to Cancer in the quality of fruitfulness, with Pisces running third. Scorpio also is noted in particular for yielding sturdiness and vigor in shoot growth, while Pisces is noted for vigorous root growth.

Certain other signs are considered moderately moist in their lunar affinity and semi-fruitful, yet noted for yielding specific traits that are desirable. The sign of Libra purportedly yields the plumpest, showiest crops and flowers - livestock too, if the births are timed successfully, - while Taurus and Capricorn are especially noted for sturdiness, hardiness, and resistance to adverse conditions such as drought and disease. Capricorn is supposed to be less moist than Taurus, but particularly favorable for abundant seed crops. Virgo, although considered barren and unfavorable for planting vegetables, is said to be moist and favorable for planting many types of ornamental flowers and vines. The remaining signs are considered barren and dry, meaning out of harmony with the moon's nature and therefore tending to block it somewhat. Such signs generally are considered signs to avoid when planting by the moon, although Sagittarius occasionally is considered useful for planting pungent or weedy plants, such as onions or grasses. On the other hand, a decreasing moon in a barren sign is considered favorable for destroying weeds and pests or for trimming to retard growth, since outward growth is supposed to be at its ebb during such times. A decreasing moon in Leo, Virgo, or Gemini is considered especially favorable for mowing or trimming to retard growth. Leo is said to be the most dry and barren of all the signs as far as the moon's influence is concerned, and a decreasing moon in this sign is considered singularly useful for such drastic purposes as deadening trees. Dry signs also are considered favorable for harvesting crops with a minimal risk of rot.

Experiments designed to compare the germination rates of certain types of seeds according to whether they are sown during a moon in Cancer or a moon in Leo have yielded interesting results repeatedly. Naturally, the two sets of seeds were from the same batch and were treated alike in every respect except for the time of sowing, and even the phase of the moon was the same (waxing) in both instances. In one of this writer's experiments with two sets of 136 marigold seeds each, those sown under a moon in Cancer had a germination rate of 51 percent, while those sown under a moon in Leo had a germination rate of 30 percent. In a repeat of this experiment the following year, using two sets of 205 marigold seeds each, those sown under Cancer had 43 percent germination, while those sown under Leo had 24 percent germination. The same experiment with radish seeds did not yield any contrast, but others have reported comparable results with marigold seeds in this same experiment, as well as even more spectacular contrasts in experiments with tomato seeds sown under these same two moon signs during a waxing moon. It also has been claimed that tomato seedlings have thrived with nearly 100 percent survival when transplanted outdoors under an increasing moon in Cancer, whereas those from the same batch transplanted outdoors under a decreasing moon in Sagittarius have withered and died without exception. Many similar experiments could be designed to observe the behavior of various species sown or transplanted under various signs.

If the periods of the moon relate to cycles in the functioning of living cells, making certain times alternately favorable for sowing and reaping or weeding, then perhaps these same lunar periods may have some application for training animals or for cultivating various qualities or habits in ourselves. After all, what is a habit but an accustomed action drilled into the memory of living cells? Perhaps a habit, like a seed, is more ready to take hold in living consciousness if it is drilled during a time when cosmic conditions are favorable for sowing. Perhaps it will have more staying power if it is established when conditions are favorable for promoting hardiness. Perhaps a hair or a tumor will be less apt to grow back if it is removed when conditions are favorable for weeding.

The effect of the lunar cycle in human beings would seem to be greatest in connection with mental, emotional, and psychic functioning (and with female reproductive functioning), especially since cellular metabolism and the processes of mind would have to be fueled by the same creative, vital forces of life. It seems reasonable to speculate that certain changes of the moon may tend to invigorate mental or psychic functioning at the same times that they seemingly stimulate other forms of growth and cellular activity. It has been claimed by some that their periods of high and low intellectual or psychic functioning appear to be directly correlated with the cycles of the moon, and that their abilities seem to be most pronounced, active, and efficient at specific times of each lunar month, generally during an increasing moon. It would seem that all vital forces tend to be stronger or increasing in strength at such times, making it easier to perform any task which calls for creative vitality, mental or physical energy, or the functioning of the psychic consciousness. Similarly, the full moon's legendary correlation with high rates of emotional or psychological imbalance may be related to a culmination of active growth at this time of stressful opposition with the influences of the sun. Lunar cycles and their effect on all life seemingly represent a vast frontier of undiscovered and useful wisdom which only earnest experimentation can reveal.

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"Whatever is born, or done, in this moment of time, has the
qualities of this moment in time." - Carl Jung

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time
to pluck up what is planted..." - Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

"Touch not with metal that part of the anatomy ruled by the
sign the Moon is transiting." - Hippocrates

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For easy calculation of lunar and planetary positions for any given time, or perhaps as a substitute for an ephemeris, Halloran's Astrology for Windows is a useful tool.

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What is Reality? An exposition on the metaphysical nature of being and the meaning of fullness in living.

Celestial Systematics. An exposition offering a possible scientific basis for and interpretation of astrological complexities - how and why every event may inherit the character of its time.

Depths of the Arcane. A collection of deep, speculative thoughts on an assortment of topics relating to the psychic realm and its implications.

The Gospel of Life As I See It. My most deeply cherished principles, attitudes, and values are encapsulated in a nutshell on this page. This set of principles is what I stand for above all else and would hope to be remembered for above all else after my time on Earth expires.

Musical Inspirations:

From 2001 to 2003, I composed and rendered with quality sound fonts the following short pieces of music, listed here with titles followed by subtitles:

Expiration: Somber nostalgia and departure from Earth
Relativity: Timeless voyage through the dimensions
Absolution: Healing magnanimity at the end of the tunnel
Prophecy: Sinister wonders at the edge of the abyss
Nirvana: Wistful prayers and a magical reunion
Psychic Journey - 15-minute suite combining all five above

Xerophilia: Arid abandon closing in from below
Transgression: Creepy infringement upon cosmic harmony
Ordination: Imperative remedy under divine command
Concoction: Brainstorming trip on an unworldly brew
Zeitgeist: Archetypal heritage in timely transit

The Creeps - 18-minute suite combining the last five above

(c) 2003 by Bruce Carley. These music files may be shared privately, but please do not post or alter them in any way.

(c) 2003 by Bruce Carley. The text of this article may be shared freely in its entirety if it is left unaltered.