"To everything there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under heaven.
A time to be born, and a time to die.
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted."
I sometimes get questions about "planting by the signs".
On occasion I've been asked whether or not I pay attention to the "moon signs"?
Does it work?
Do I think moon sign gardening or farming is superstitious, witchcraft or evil?
The short answers are: yes, I think so and no.
The term "planting by the signs" is a colloquial expression or folk term for the ancient practice of timing certain agricultural tasks by the moon's astrological position in the zodiac.
It's my opinion that there does seem to be some advantage in timing gardening, livestock, medical, construction and day to day tasks according to the moon's natural monthly cycle and by it's position as it passes through the belt of constellations that we call the zodiac.
For our agrarian ancestors, the understanding and application of natural cycles and rhythms to their lives was a matter of life and death.
It's the reason why almanacs were so wide spread and heavily used.
Agricultural astrology is a very involved subject and it's impossible to do it justice in a short blog post.
The purpose of this post is to present a brief peak at agricultural astrology.
The following is an example of why this knowledge was and is so important.
Instead of giving the routine explanation for the best time to plant above ground crops, set fence posts or mow fields, I thought instead, I'd show the application of agricultural astrology in livestock management.
The Castration of Animals: Picking the Best Day
Our agrarian ancestors lived closer to the earth than most people do today.
They understood and faithfully applied the ancient principles that had been passed to them by every preceding generation.
It wasn't important for them to understand the science of why something worked.
Just that it did work.
Before the days of bloodless banding, cutting was the only method of castration for male animals.
In fact in many ways cutting is still today the superior method.
But even today with good veterinary hygiene infection is a risk with surgical castration.
Never mind the risks that were involved to animals before the days of antibiotics.
Losing an animal to bleeding or infection was a serous economic loss to our forbears and was to be avoided at all costs.
Good animal husbandry would have required that a farmer chose a day for castration that would carry less risk for his animals.
Using The Moon's Natural Cycle
Every month the moon goes through a 4 stage natural cycle.
The lunar cycle goes from darkness - New Moon
To increasing light - Waxing Moon
To full light - Full Moon
To decreasing light - Waning Moon
And then completes the cycle to full darkness again.
Through observation, it appears that bleeding and other natural functions are increased during the waxing phase of the lunar cycle.
Conversely bleeding is decreased during the waning phase of the lunar cycle.
Our ancestors were well familiar with this phenomena.
As was the ancient Greek physician and Father of Medicine - Hippocrates.
To lessen the bleeding associated with castration the most favorable time to cut the scrotum and remove testicles would be when the moon is in it's extreme waning phase.
What is even more interesting, is that routine livestock or animal welfare practices seem to have less complications and more favorable outcomes when carried out under certain zodiac "signs" that the moon is passing through.
Here's the reason why:
Every month the moon passes through all 12 signs of the zodiac; spending just under 2 1/2 days in each sign.
Each of the 12 zodiac signs is associated with a different part of the body.
The zodiac begins in Aries which governs the head and ends in Pisces which governs the feet.
Each sign "rules" a part of the body.
What's more, is that each of the zodiac signs or group of signs has certain qualities or characteristics associated with them.
The Water Signs:
Cancer - Breast & Stomach
Scorpio - Reproductive system & lower bowels
Pisces - Feet
Water signs are said to be feminine, wet, nutritive or fruitful.
The Fire Signs:
Aries - Head
Leo - Heart
Fire signs are said to be masculine, barren and dry.
The Earth Signs:
Capricorn - Knees & Bones
Taurus - Neck
Virgo - Upper bowel
Earth signs are said to be earthy and feminine.
The Air Signs:
Libra - Veins & kidneys
Aquarius -Lower legs
Gemini - Arms & respiratory system
Air signs are said to be masculine and airy.
As the moon is passing through each position of the zodiac, the part of the body that is "ruled" by that sign becomes very sensitive.
Procedures done to benefit the particular part of the body that the sign "rules" seem to be of more lasting benefit.
Quicker results are noted.
Conversely anything that is to the detriment of that part of the body is compounded.
As the moon passes through each of the 12 signs of the zodiac energy is "pulled" through the body.
From the head to the feet.
Back to our castration example:
A date must be picked so that bleeding and infection is minimized.
By applying the understanding that bleeding is lessened during the waning phase of the moon, a time should be picked towards the end of the lunar cycle.
The qualities air and dryness seems to control the spread of infection in open wounds.
The knowledge that Aquarius is a dry, airy and barren sign is helpful in determining what the best day is to lessen possible infection.
What's more, Aquarius is a zodiac sign that is moving away from the reproductive organs and towards the feet.
So the best day for the castration of animals would be when the moon is waning and passing through the sign of Aquarius.
To help me find that day I would need to consult an almanac.
The principles of moon sign agriculture are inclusive of all agricultural activities not just animal health and welfare.
Information for the best times to plant, weed, prune, breed animals, wean animals & children, castrate, harvest crops, set fence posts, logging, grafting and many other agricultural practices can be found in John Baer's Almanac, The Old Farmer's Almanac or any other reliable agricultural almanac.
For those who may believe that "planting by the signs" is pure superstition I would encourage you to suspend judgment, experiment for yourself and engage in a closer scrutiny of the natural world.
Why not get an almanac, 6 tomato plants and try planting them on favorable days and on unfavorable days and see what happens?
For those who may consider agricultural astrology to be witchcraft or evil; well, at one time people thought that about electricity and epilepsy too.
"Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and for years."