“Planting by the Moon” is quite well known but, in biodynamics, we use more than the phases of the moon.
Biodynamics is using a set of eight preparations (the BD preps) made from vegetable/herbal, animal and mineral compounds to enhance the soil and the plants. It’s also about working in harmony with nature rather than trying to force nature to conform to some human idea. It’s about learning more of how she works – after all she’s been at it a lot longer than there’s been humans around. The Agricultural Revolution took place in the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East about 10,000 years ago, spread outwards from there into Europe. Mid/South Americas dawn of agriculture probably about 5,000 years ago. China/Japan are thought to be the earliest known agriculturalists at 19,000 years ago (approx). This is a mere spit in the ocean to the length of time the Earth has existed.
In BD is that we see the moon as a lens, focusing the energies of each of the twelve constellations onto the Earth each month as she passes in front of them each month.
Using the moon as a lens this way, to focus the energy of each constellation she passes in front of during her 28 day period, is why we call it a “Star Calendar” … because it’s about focusing the energy of the stars.
Without the star calendar we wouldn’t know when to apply the preparations.
The star calendar can appear confusing at first. And some biodynamic practitioners can get so wordy about astrological thingamajigs that it can boil one’s brain. You really don’t need to boil your brain to do biodynamics, it isn’t that hard and Steiner certainly never intended it to be! However, there are a few things to get your head around first so we’ll try to go slowly through them and make things as obvious as possible. You probably have some idea already as we’ve been talking about parts of the plant and what you want to enhance.
You use the star calendar to help with …
- applying the preparations
- sowing – all seeds you start in pots, and/or soak in water as well as those you sow directly into the ground
- planting – including planting out annual and herbaceous plants either bought in from garden centres or grown on by you from seed or plugs; planting shrubs and trees from a nursery or plant centre; and planting out your vegetables after germinating them in pots
- cultivation – weeding, thinning, pruning, feeding, etc
- harvest – cutting flowers, picking fruit and vegetables
As I said, the Biodynamic Star Calendar works with more than just the Moon but it is the Moon that focuses the energy. This is because she travels around the Earth once every 28-29 days and, in so doing, she passes in front of each of the constellations – see the diagram above.
As she passes in front of each constellation, the moon focuses the energy from the stars in that constellation onto the Earth. This gives the days when best to work with each part of the plant as each constellation carries the energy relevant to that part …
In the star calendar each day has the moon in front of one of these constellations and so is called a Root, Leaf, Flower or Fruit day.
There are several calendars people tend to use in the UK. My own preference is for Maria Thun’s as I find it the easiest to use, her approach is entirely practical and based on over fifty years of scientific observation.
Maria Thun is one of the people who does the astronomy for the Star Calendar. She began building the calendar in the 1950s by carrying out experiments to attempt to establish a connection between the growth of plants and the movements of the stars. Her first experiment was to sow a plot of radishes every day for an entire growing season and observe the performance of each sowing. She discovered four very noticeable differences in the plots. Some produced larger roots, others larger leaves, others again produced more flowers and the fourth group went more quickly to seed. This was the beginning of the Star Calendar. She has subsequently done, and continues to do, a massive amount of scientific research into biodynamic growing and updates the calendar each year with her latest findings.
The biodynamic associations in other countries all produce their own calendars which give the times as they are in those places. This makes them easier to use that translating GMT into your local time.
There are many moon rhythms, something like over a hundred, it’s a very complicated pattern that hasn’t been anything like fully explored as yet. There is so much we can find out over the coming years.