Working with the Antipodean Astro Calendar
One of the least understood aspects of biodynamic agriculture is the emphasis on astronomical events of the sun, moon and planets against the constellations of the animal circle, otherwise known as the zodiac. Steiner’s first lecture on agriculture pointed out that we, as human beings, fail to notice how much the circumstances of the universe around us affect our lives. Steiner proposed that an organism’s outer boundaries—its skin or cell walls where the organism’s inner organization meets the universe—is the key to how its inner vitality grows out of the complexity of the surrounding environment; it is the vast expanses of the surrounding universe whose forces give rise to the organism’s inner complexity and organization.
Biodynamic calendars are based on the actual star positions instead of the Tropical Zodiac, which is based on where the Vernal Equinox was at the time of Ptolemy, the Roman astrologer of 150 A.D. This means the moon constellations of the biodynamic calendars will say the Moon is in the constellation Taurus when a popular astrological almanac says the Moon is in Gemini, and so forth. Keep this in mind if you have both calendars and find you get confused. Biodynamic calendars are based on what astronomers see in their telescopes. In biodynamic agriculture we are only looking for the broadest and most immediate indications that tell us which dates and times are favourable or unfavourable for what we want to do at our location. The closest and fastest moving bodies—Moon, Sun, Mercury and Venus—are our main considerations, and often it is surprising how much this can tell us.
The universe is coherent, and the movements of heavenly bodies—such as our Sun, Moon and planets—are an integral part of the seemingly unlikely and unpredictable choices and coincidences of our lives. Keep in mind that our surroundings influence the life processes in nature, and where there isn’t much life there isn’t much influence. The more our farms and gardens teem with life, the more important the Astro Calendar becomes. Then favourable times for planting, cultivating, pruning, haying, harvesting, breeding and so forth assume economic importance. And when we make peppers to control weeds and pests, the Astro Calendar is of key importance.
The Moon is our closest astronomical companion with the fastest apparent motion. Waxing and waning moons are the Moon’s major features. A complete moon cycle from New Moon to
the next New Moon takes roughly 29.5 days. New Moon to Full Moon is a waxing moon, while a waning moon is from Full Moon to New Moon. At New Moon, the Moon and the Sun are exactly conjunct, which means the Moon is in line between the earth and the Sun, and both are in the same constellation. At Full Moon, the Moon and the Sun are in exact opposition, which means they are on opposite sides of the Earth and in opposite constellations. Conjunctions combine the qualities of both heavenly bodies where oppositions contrast these qualities, so New Moon provides the least reflection of the influences of the Sun where Full Moon provides the most. We can expect things to draw in and tighten up near New Moon, while at Full Moon they expand and unfold.
Some points to consider are:
- In the 48 hours leading up to Full Moon there is a distinct increase in the moisture content of the earth.
- At Full Moon the leafy growth forces of plants are enhanced.
- Especially as the waxing Moon approaches Full Moon it favours the above ground growth of plants, quick germination of seeds, and rapid regrowth of mown or pruned vegetation.
- During this period there is an increase in cell division and a tendency to extension and broadening of growth.
- Seed germination is prompt but may be prone to fungus attack, particularly with warm conditions and high humidity.
- The influence of the Full Moon may provide favourable conditions for the growth of fungi on plants. This is related to increased moisture, humidity and a tendency to nitrification if the preceding period was dry and turned wet.
- Full Moon goes hand-in-hand with easy absorption of liquid manures.
- There is also an increase in the visible activity of insect larvae, slugs, snails and worm parasites in humans and animals.
- There is usually a stronger tendency for rain to occur at Full Moon.
- Liquid manure applications are best made in the afternoon just before Full Moon. Liquid manures can be used several times during a crop cycle.
14.1 Considerations for the Waxing Moon
- Sow seeds at times of low humidity and warmth (48 hours before).
- Apply liquid manures (48 hours before).
- Fungus control – spray with Equisetum tincture, or 8x potency of this tincture along with a 0.5% sodium silicate solution.
- Carry out insect control.
- Watch for chewing and sucking insects. Consider using a garlic/ginger/chilli pepper spray, natural pyrethrum, or neem oil.
- Watch for slugs and snails. Surround susceptible plants with diatomaceous earth.
- Drench animals for internal parasites 48 hours before full moon, on an empty stomach, with for example garlic and unpasteurised apple cider vinegar.
14.2 Considerations for the Waning Moon
- Avoid sowing seeds for leafy, flowering or fruiting crops.
- Fell timber, cut hay, harvest grains, tan hides, clean out barns.
- Cultivate weeds, plough in cover crops, study weather patterns.
- Traditional Indian agriculture recognizes the day before New Moon as No Moon day, a day on which no agricultural work is done.
14.3 Ascending and Descending Moon
The Ascending and Descending Moon cycle, which involves the northern and southern arcs of the Moon’s orbit, is a 27.2 day cycle. Each ascending and descending period lasts roughly two weeks. As the Moon arcs from east to west, when we see it climbing higher, the Moon is ascending. As it sinking lower the Moon is descending. The effects of the ascending and descending periods of the moon are similar to the rhythms of the seasons.
An ascending period is like spring and summer when the Earth breathes out. We see this in the growth above the soil’s surface. With an ascending Moon the sap carries growth forces upwards more strongly and increases plant vitality. Although germination takes place below ground, this upward striving makes it unfold above the surface. This is when to spray horn silica (501) to strengthen what might otherwise be a bit lush if there is wet weather. If it is dry, use horn manure (500) first and follow it with (501).
A descending period is like autumn and winter when the earth breathes in and draws the growth forces back below the soil’s surface. This energizes the lower parts of the plant, particularly the roots. This is when to cultivate and spread compost prior to planting. It also is when to apply horn manure (500), especially if it is dry.
14.3.1 Considerations for Ascending Moon
- Use an appropriate constellation for sowing or cultivating according to crop:
|Cereals and Fruits||Fire, Warmth Ether||Leo, Sagittarius and Aries|
|Leafy greens, Broccoli||Water, Chemical Ether||Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces|
|Flowers (not broccoli)||Air, Light Ether||Gemini, Libra and Aquarius|
|Roots, Potatoes||Earth, Life Ether||Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn|
- Spray with horn silica (501) in the early stages of growth, using the appropriate constellation as above if using horn silica by itself.
- Harvest in an air or light constellation, Gemini or Libra, for fruits and vegetables.
- Plant and harvest herbs for medicinal purposes, particularly those for making biodynamic preparations.
- Plant and harvest field crops such as silage and hay. Spray these with horn silica two days prior to harvest. This is particularly important if weather is cloudy or wet.
14.3.2 Considerations for Descending Moon
- Spray horn manure (500), horn clay and cow pat pit (CPP)—or soil activator—in the afternoon on a descending Moon in autumn and early spring.
- Make and spread compost, lime or other minerals; cultivate soil.
- Take cuttings and root them; transplant seedlings, vines, bushes and trees.
- Harvest root crops for storage on earth constellation days such as descending Moon in Taurus.
- Prune fruit trees in the appropriate season on fire constellation days such as descending Moon in Aries.
- Prune flowering trees and shrubs like roses in autumn or winter in air constellations, such as descending Moon in Aquarius.
4.4 Moon Nodes
The Moon’s nodes are the points where the Moon’s path crosses the path of the Sun. This is approximately a fortnightly rhythm. The influence of the node lasts for approximately 2 hours on either side of the node, and the effect is similar to an eclipse. It is best to avoid any agricultural or horticultural work for this brief period.
14.5 Apogee and Perigee
This is somewhat different from the nodes. The Moon moves around the Earth in a somewhat elongated circle called an ellipse. Unlike a circle, which has a single centre, an ellipse has two focal points and the earth is at one of these—which means there is a furthest point and a nearest point from the earth in the Moon’s elliptical orbit. Apogee is the furthest point; perigee is the closest point. The apogee/perigee cycle takes 27.55 days and is similar in its effects to solar and lunar eclipses.
During Apogee there is always a multiplication of forms, and this seems to be a good time to plant potatoes, which multiply; whereas at perigee this influence creates fewer, but bigger potatoes. Perigee, when the Moon is closest to the earth, brings greater moisture and a tendency towards fungal growth. Use the equisetum tea (508) before and after these periods if there is any tendency toward fungal growth. It will strengthen the silica processes, which usually are far weaker than they should be.
Apogee and perigee times bring a stress period and seed sowing should be avoided 12 hours on either side of these times (except potatoes).
14.6 Moon Opposing Saturn
The Moon’s relationship with Saturn is particularly interesting since the Moon takes nearly 30 days to complete its cycle while Saturn takes nearly 30 years. This relationship of a day to a year is interesting enough, but the Moon is associated with water and moist conditions while Saturn is associated with warmth. Water seeks horizontal motion while warmth rises. Plants need both moisture and warmth to grow. This can make the day when the Moon is in opposition to Saturn interesting. The Moon will reflect the influences of Saturn onto the Earth especially well on those days. Of course, the constellations where the Moon and Saturn are, as well as the other aspects they form on that day, need to be considered.
Moon and Saturn in Opposition cycle occurs every 27.5 days. This is when the Moon and Saturn are standing on opposite sides of the Earth and their forces are raying in to the Earth from each direction. It might be helpful to observe that Full Moon is also Moon opposition Sun—when the Moon is rising in the east the Sun is setting in the west. This is usually visible but the Moon opposition Saturn usually is not.
The Moon forces bring in the calcium processes which are connected to propagation and growth. The Saturn forces bring in the silica processes which connect form and structure. The balancing effect of these two influences streaming into the Earth produces very strong plants from seed sown at this time. Tests have shown the 48 hours leading up to this event is the optimal time that overrides even the ascending, descending and Moon in constellations for best planting time. If this timing is missed, then choose from the other times.
It has also been found that spraying with horn silica preparation (501) at this time strengthens the plant so it can resist diseases and insect attacks. Spray with horn silica (501) in the very early morning on the day, or the day before for fungus such as mildew and botrytis on grapes, rust on oats, mildew on tamarillo, greasy spot on passion fruit, mildew on cucurbits. Horn silica preparation (501) is not a fungicide but strengthens the plant to help it overcome the fungus.
14.7 Moon in the Zodiac
The Zodiac is a belt of fixed stars which are in groupings called constellations. This belt ranges behind the ecliptic, which is the path of the Sun. All the planets and the Moon move in front of the Zodiac’s constellations. We are particularly concerned with the Moon, which is the fastest moving heavenly body. It passes in front of this belt of constellations every 27.3 days. Because the constellations are different sizes and the Moon’s orbit varies, it may spend between 1.5 and 3.5 days per constellation. Each constellation provides different conditions for plants, and the Moon focuses these while it passes in front of the fixed stars.
Depending on where the Moon is, the influences of the constellation behind it are brought into the soil through cultivation, the use of composts and liquid manures and planting of seeds. This connects the soil to the rhythms of the cosmos.
- Earth constellations (Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn) are related to roots.
- Air constellations (Gemini, Libra and Aquarius) are related to flowers.
- Water constellations (Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces) to leaves.
- Fire constellations (Aries, Leo and Sagittarius) to fruits.
If unable to plant on days when the Moon’s position favours the type of results desired, the appropriate influence can be emphasized by cultivating or weeding in appropriate constellations. Ideally one would plant, cultivate, prune and pick when the Moon is in favourable constellations.
14.8 Seed Sowing
In general, certain times can be beneficial for planting:
- Moon opposite Saturn
- 48 hours before Full Moon
- During a Waxing Moon (avoid Nodes, Perigee, Apogee and New Moon)
- Sow at the following times for the particular constellation effect:
|Air Light||flower||Gemini, Libra, Aquarius|
|Water||leaf||Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces|
|Earth||root||Capricorn, Taurus, Virgo|
Generally crops such as fruits, green vegetables, hay and silage, keep better and maintain quality in storage better if harvested during flower days in air/light constellations on the ascending Moon in Gemini or Libra. Avoid harvesting crops that need to be stored dry at Full Moon, Perigee and leaf days when the Moon is in Cancer or Scorpio. These are times that favour watery activities, and crops harvested then may retain too much water for satisfactory storage. If there is a choice when harvesting seeds or grains, do this when the Moon is in Leo. Root vegetables and potatoes are better harvested in a descending period when the Moon is in an Earth sign such as Capricorn or Taurus.