Lunar Gardening and its Different Traditions

The Eclipses

The eclipses are related to the Lunar Nodes but have a longer lasting and more pronounced effect. They occur when either the New Moon or the Full Moon happens near the Lunar Nodes (within 5 degrees of them). A New Moon then produces a Solar Eclipse while the Full Moon produces a Lunar Eclipse.

Eclipses are major disturbances for the Earth's energetic fields and so it is commonly advised to avoid any activities close to them. I find the following passage from Nick Kollerstrom's Gardening & Planting by the Moon very informative:

Early tablets from ancient Babylon testified to the belief in the infertility of the land around the time of an eclipse. As a belief, it has endured longer than most. The early bio-dynamic sowing calendars by Franz Rulni advocated not sowing anything important for several days after an eclipse, while its successor, the modern Thun calendar, gives just the day of an eclipse as not good for planting.

In the Netherlands, there is a garden with a few ragged pear trees which only started to bear small, bitter fruit nine years after they were planted. As a test, they were deliberately planted at the inauspicious moment of a solar eclipse by Karen Hamaker-Zontag, the eminent Dutch astrologer.

This is how eclipses are depicted in the Lunar Gardening Calendar:

Solar Eclipse in the Lunar Gardening Calendar

Here the Lunar Gardening Calendar shows that Solar Eclipse takes place on this day at 20:33.

Lunar Eclipse in the Lunar Gardening Calendar

In this case, Lunar Eclipse takes place at 12:38.

The Planetary Aspects

As the planets move around the sky, they form angular relationships between each other. These angles are called aspects in astrology, and here are the aspects that are used most often, with their symbols:

The aspect of conjunction Conjunction (0°) The aspect of opposition Opposition (180°) The aspect of trine Trine (120°)
The aspect of square Square (90°) The aspect of sextile Sextile (60°)    

Of these, Opposition and Square are considered to be difficult, inhibiting, stressful, and so generally "bad". Trine and Sextile are generally "good" as they are harmonious and promote growth. The nature of Conjunction per se is neutral as its effect depends on the nature of the planets making the aspect.

To read the aspects in the Lunar Gardening Calendar, you will also need to know the symbols of the planets, here they are:

The symbol of the Sun Sun The symbol of the Moon Moon The symbol of Mercury Mercury The symbol of Venus Venus
The symbol of Mars Mars The symbol of Jupiter Jupiter The symbol of Saturn Saturn The symbol of Uranus Uranus
    The symbol of Neptune Neptune The symbol of Pluto Pluto    

Now, let's read a few planetary aspects in the calendar. Here is how they look:

Planetary Aspects in the Lunar Gardening Calendar

Here you can see that Mercury makes a sextile to Uranus at 11:27, sextile to Jupiter at 14:41, the Moon makes a sextile to Venus at 15:20, trine to Saturn at 19:31, square to Neptune at 20:50 and finally sextile to Uranus at 23:47.

The Lunar Gardening Calendar lists all the aspects that take place, but they have different value for gardening and it is up to you to decide which aspects you prefer to use, which of them you consider as the most important. I can only offer you the opinions of a couple of authors.

Nick Kollerstrom has a chapter titled Gardening Aspects. Here are some highlights from it:

  • Moon - Saturn aspects have particular importance to agriculture and the life of plants.
  • Some Moon - Sun aspects are important.
  • Moon - Venus aspects are recommended for working with flowers.
  • The Moon's sextile to Saturn () "it is then commended to labour the earth, sow, and plant" (quoted by Nick Kollerstrom from The Gardener's Labyrinth, a work by Thomas Hill published in 1577). Moon trine Saturn () is a similarly beneficial aspect.
  • The Moon's square to Saturn () is when it is "denied utterly to deal in such matters" (The Gardener's Labyrinth). The Moon - Saturn opposition () is similarly negative.
  • For planting crops, the general advice is: plant when the Moon is in conjunction, sextile or trine with Saturn (, , ).
  • Sun - Moon aspects are important for working with vines, and the trine () is particularly favourable.

Maria Thun has a substantially different idea about the significance of different aspects. Here are a few highlights from Work on the Land and the Constellations:

  • Opposition: a greater intensification of the life processes of the plant. This begins a few days before and increases up to the point of the opposition. The forces of both planets interpenetrate, augment and intensify each other.
  • Conjunction: the planets do not mutually enhance each other's influences, but rather cancel out.

Ascending and Descending Moon

This is a factor that is quite often used in lunar gardening calendars and is considered to be important. However, its name is rather misleading. It has nothing to do with moonrise and moonset, as well as waxing and waning Moon.

These factors are not depicted in any way in the Lunar Gardening Calendar. In fact, the easiest and the most precise way to know when the Moon is Ascending and when it is Descending is to use the Astrological Moon Calendar, as the Tropical Zodiac is more appropriate here.

The Moon is Ascending when it is situated in the Zodiac in the second half of Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, Taurus, Gemini or the first half of Cancer. According to Michel Gros, this is when plants contain more sap, so there is more activity in the aerial parts (those above the ground).

This is a good time, for example, to cut scions, to graft plants and to harvest fruit with a high juice content, as well as to collect sap from silver birches, etc. However, it is better to avoid pruning trees or cutting plants for drying at this time. Cutting lawns when the Moon is ascending tends to encourage plenty of growth; it is a good time to aerate them.

The Moon is Descending when it is situated in the second half of Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius or the first half of Capricorn. As Michel Gros writes,

When the Moon is descending, the flow of fluids in plants descends also and growth occurs mainly in the roots. This is a good time to harvest root crops or the aerial parts of a plant that you want to dry quickly, and also for pruning, pricking out, re-potting, ploughing, spreading compost or manure and cutting wood. The grass of lawns that are cut at this time forms stronger roots and anchors the soil better.

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