EHLC Blog
September 2016

The Nature of Influential Moon Forces

The following is an excerpt from John Bach’s translation of Rudolf Steiner’s lecture six of the Agriculture Course.

“In deed and in truth, with the forces that come from the Moon on days of the Full Moon, something colossal is taking place on the Earth. These forces spring up and shoot into all the growth of plants, but they are unable to do so unless rainy days have gone before. We shall therefore have to consider the question: Is it not of some significance, whether we sow the seed in a certain relation to the rainfall and the subsequent light of the Full Moon, or whether we sow it thoughtlessly at any time.”

“The Moon must also be considered in its role as reflector of the all planetary forces that it receives. Steiner states: “With the Moon’s rays the whole reflected Cosmos comes on to the Earth. All influences that pour on to the Moon are rayed back again. Thus the whole starry Heavens – though we may not be able to prove it by the customary physical methods of today – are in a sense rayed back to the Earth by the Moon.” 

It is to this reflective nature of the Moon that we must pay close attention if we are to promote the best conditions for growing strong, healthy and nutritious plants. What is it, in a cosmic sense, that we see when the Moon reflects the light of the Sun, or the forces of the planets onto the earth? We see a geocentric opposition between the Moon and one of these planetary bodies. A Full Moon is, after all, an opposition between the Sun and the Moon, with the Earth in the middle. Conversely, a New Moon is, geocentrically speaking, a conjunction with the Moon and the Sun, where the forces of the Sun, united with the Moon, are cast off into space. We have seen that the forces of the Full Moon are greatly beneficial for the growth of plants, and conversely, the forces of the New Moon, which are reflected away from the Earth, are not of benefit for the growth of plants. 

Steiner states that the beneficial growth forces are “only there for a given district of the Earth when it is Full Moon. When it is a New Moon, the country does not enjoy the benefit of the Moon-influences.” Rudolf Steiner also indicated that research into the forces of the New and Full Moon should be carried out. He entrusted this task to Lily Kolisko, whose large body of research in this regard showed conclusively this relationship to the forces of growth inherent in the Full Moon. Trial after trial demonstrated much better growth and plant development in phases of the waxing Moon than in those of the waning Moon.

As written by Rosemary Tayler, Celestial Planting Calendar 2016

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Tips on Building a Compost Pile

1. Layers of brown and green plant matter - This includes autumn leaves, grass clippings, wood chips and saw dust. Wood ash can be added in small amounts but avoid ash from burned plastic. It is wise to avoid diseased material as the seeds might survive the high heat of the compost process.

2. Layers of kitchen vegetable scraps - This includes carrot tops, potato peelings, apple cores and stems. 

3. Layers of soil as inoculant - Soil contains all the bacteria and fungi needed to create compost.  Avoid human and pet feces because disease organisms might survive even the high heat of the decomposition process. 

4. Place your compost pile in the shade, near trees - The tree roots love the nourishment from the compost; they may impose into the pile but they are easily trimmed back each year. The heat required for decomposition is from the bacteria in the pile, not the sun. The shade keeps the pile from drying out.

5. Ensure adequate but not too much water -Do not let the pile dry out and do not let the pile get soaking wet. Too much water results in not enough air, creating a soggy mess. Too little water slows down the degradation.

6. Add egg shells, even clam or lobster shells -Shells are excellent sources of calcium. If the shells are crushed before being added to the pile, they decompose quickly. Otherwise they can easily be crushed and added into the garden beds with the completed compost.

7. No meat or dairy products - Avoid meat and dairy products as these attract rodents.

8. Twigs help with air flow - Air is a crucial factor inside a compost pile. Oxygen feeds friendly oxygen-loving (aerobic) bacteria. If there is not enough oxygen, unfriendly anaerobic bacteria take over. These anaerobic bacteria are slower working and in addition to producing useful products, they produce ammonia-like substances and end-products like hydrogen sulphide, which smells like rotten eggs. 

9. Layers of manure from friendly animals - Modest amounts of manure bring billions of friendly bacteria and these bacteria multiply and provide the heat needed for decomposition.

10. Biodynamic compost preparations - After building your pile with many layers from the above list, insert one dose (a teaspoon) of each of the following biodynamic preparations: chamomile, dandelion, nettle, oak bark, yarrow and valerian. Then spray the pile with valerian preparation to seal it off and bring in the Warmth Element. 

11. Turning the piles brings fresh air to the microbes - While turning is optional, it maybe necessary if the pile gets too wet in which case add more dried leaves in layers. After the temperature completely cools down, the compost is ready for use. 

 

As written by Rosemary Tayler, Celestial Planting Calendar 2016

 

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How to Schedule your Planting by the Moon

The seed catalogs are starting to roll in and with it comes the need to organize and figure out what next year’s garden is going to be like. So with that, I think right now is the prime time to re-post some of my garden planning techniques. This first one is how to create a schedule for your plantings. You don’t have to plan according to the moon cycles but you’ll find other helpful information about frost dates and such. I live in a very mild climate with an extraordinary long growing season. I used to just plop things in the ground as needed but nothing ever blew me away production-wise. Then I started reading about growing by the cycles of the moon. It made sense to me. The gravitational pull of the moon effects so many things, why not also plants? Also the moon offers reflective light that can be absorbed by plants.

The first thing you will need to do is determine your area’s average first and last frost dates. Almost all plantings are first based off of these dates. There are several resources online to help you find this, but the most inclusive list can be found  through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s website. You want to choose the dates under the 10% columns.

The next thing you want to do is figure out when your seeds will need to be planted.  Once you have your planting dates for your plants it’s time to determine when during the moon cycles you should start them. For transplants that will be planted indoors or in a greenhouse you can choose the closest corresponding moon phase either before or after the given date on the spreadsheet. If they are direct sown seeds you’ll want to choose the closest moon phase after the date.

To find out the moon phase dates you can check your Celestial Planting Calendar monthly pages.

So what gets planted when?     

After the full moon: Moonlight is decreasing, but because of the strong gravitational pull, there is more moisture in the soil. Transplanting and planting root crops is favorable during this time.  

What to plant: Beets, Carrots, Onions, Garlic, Parsnips, Turnips, Rutabagas, Potatoes, Peanuts, Celeraic, Leeks, Radishes, Salsify, and any other root crop. Bulbs, perennials, and biennials are good to plant now too. 

After the 4th Quarter: Decreasing moonlight and gravitational pull make this a resting period. It’s a good time to cultivate, harvest, transplant and prune.  

What to plant: Broccoli, Cabbage, Brussel Sprouts, Cauliflower, Lettuce, Chard, Spinach, Grain crops (including corn), Artichokes, Bok Choy, Cardoon, Celery, most Herbs, Greens, Kale, Kohlrabi, etc. Cucumbers also like this phase though they are an exception to the rule. 

After the new moon: Increasing gravitational pull and moonlight create equal root and leaf growth. This is a good time for planting above ground crops that produce seeds outside the fruit. 

After the 2nd Quarter: The gravitational pull is lessening but the moonlight is increasing. This is a good time to plant above ground fruiting crops. 

What to plant: Beans, Peas, Squash, Tomatoes, Eggplant, Tomatillos, Berries, Melons, Gourds, Okra, Peppers, etc.  

Article Repost - Originally posted by Mother Earth News | Homegrown Life | 1/13/2012 | By Farm Aid and Homegrown.org

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The Four Elements

Ancient Greek tradition blended esoteric and practical matters into the idea that the universe hinges on four basic principles: Fire, Earth, Water, and Air. To better grasp these principles, it is helpful to overcome our habit of using these terms solely as they relate to nature. Instead, we need to understand them in terms of their dynamic qualitative action. One way of identifying these formative forces is by way of capitalizing them; Earth as an Element takes on a different value than earth as soil.  
Richard Thornton Smith in his book Cosmos, Earth and Nutrition, the Biodynamic Approach to Agriculture, points out that Paracelsus (1493-1541) proposed the following; the quality of physical manifestation is associated with the Element of Earth;  the Element of Water corresponds to the quality of life; while the Element of Air is associated with the quality of space; and the Fire Element corresponds with the quality of transformation.

At one point in his book, Thornton Smith takes the reader on a guided journey to a landscape and shows us how to look at the layers of that landscape through the lens of the Four Elements. A brief summary of this adventure is as follows:

Earth: We begin with the rock and the earth which we meet outwardly with our senses. We meet this world of outer manifestation with the outer part of ourselves, our skin and our other sense organs.


Water: Next we perceive the changes and flowing nature of the light, the sun, the time of day and year, of everything which grows and develops. We then move on to connect ourselves with the fluidity of the place in this process of time and space.

Air: Here we connect with an inward process coloured by our likes and dislikes, our soul moods mixed with moods of whatever  or whoever we meet. Perhaps there is a mental flash or perception about the true nature of this place, the genius loci.

Fire: Hidden deep under all these layers lies the “essential being” of the plant, the place or the person – that understanding which we know intuitively in our hearts. 

As Thornton Smith says, “All of these Elements woven together is what we recognize as the different levels of our own being as ‘landscape.’ We have then touched something so profound that our lives can be changed and our creativity transformed – for whatever we subsequently do there.”

This example of walking the land and using one’s outer and inner observational skills, including intuition, enables the farmer or gardener to gain a deeper and more profound understanding of their land, animals and plants. This inner knowing allows the person to make decisions based on clarity and insight.

These four principles were referred to as primal forces by the Greeks and identified as solids (earth), liquids (water), gases (air/light), and an all-pervading, rarified principle, warmth (fire). 

Right up to the beginning of the Scientific Revolution in the mid-16th Century, the Elements were associated with phenomena that were observed “outwardly” as well as “inwardly.” Among other things, the qualitative dynamics associated with Fire, Water, Earth and Air were heat, dampness, cold and light respectively.

Rudolf Steiner carried over this dynamic four-fold framework of perception into his approach to agriculture and anthroposophy. For Steiner, as indeed for many ancient cultures, the junctures between art and science, spiritual and physical, matter and spirit were seen as being much less clear-cut than that of conventional thinking. Steiner considered everything–each human being, plant, animal, and mineral–to be composed of combinations of these Four Elements. 

In a nutshell, Steiner’s formative forces correspond to the Greek archetypes: Earth being associated with everything solid; it brings form to all beings. The Water realm is the carrier of life and includes the etheric/spiritual component that lives even after the death of the physical being. The Air or Light realm is the space where insects and birds live and interact with flowers. The Fire realm contains the life code which is passed on to the next generation.

Maria Thun (1922-2012) worked with Rudolf Steiner’s teachings about the Four Elements and researched the subtle changes of plant growth. She studied radishes and found that this root crop germinated with greater success when the seeds were planted on days when the Moon was in an Earth constellation. She concluded that there is a correlation between key parts of plants (root, leaf, flower, fruit/seed) and the four basic Elements (Earth, Water, Air/Light, Fire/Warmth) associated with the twelve Zodiac constellations. Let us next briefly explore these correlations and qualities. 

Earth: The Constellations of Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn

In relation to plant life, Earth is associated with nourishment from minerals. Roots play a key role in assimilating these substances. Steiner suggests that the quality of Earth and the mineral world are enhanced in winter due to incoming cosmic forces during the long nights. Earth as an Element is strong and stable.  Each mineral is comprised of very specific and organized forces that create consistent qualities that nourish the basic life force in all plants and animals.

Water: The Constellations of Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces

As with all life, water plays a role in guiding plant development. The leaves have the greatest relationship to water, as they are the organizing, energy-producing components of the plant. Water has magnetic properties; it nurtures and sustains. It changes from its fluid phase into solid ice or vapour.

There is an emotional quality associated with water that creates a feeling of placidity, meditativeness, and relaxation.

Air:  The Constellations of Gemini, Libra, Aquarius

While Earth is fixed and solid, Air is light and flowing. According to Steiner, Air is the domain of the animals, into whom has been blown the breath of life. This Element is thus closely associated with the breath of life and inspiration.

Flowers by their nature inspire wisdom, creativity and self-development, all qualities associated with the Element of Air.

Fire:  The Constellations of Aries, Leo, Sagittarius

The dynamic heat of Fire comes to plants through the Sun’s warming rays and in due time–most often the summer–brings forth flowers which lead to seeds and fruit.  The Element of Fire has transformative and creative properties. The insects that fertilize the flowers carry within them the formative force of Fire.

Seed Regeneration and Influential Planetary Aspects

Georg W. Schmidt (1921-2005) took these teachings about the formative forces to a whole new level.  In his document, Methods of Seed Regeneration, he compares the position of the Moon in the various constellations with the position of key planets and concludes that the Four Elements play a very key role in fostering yield, disease resistence, germination rate and nuturitional quality (see inside of back cover).

Schmidt worked for many years on the development of methods for breeding seed material for cereal crops. His findings extend beyond these crops and are relevant for all seed saving applications. In this wider context, his work has lasting value as the importance of seed saving is becoming crucial during these times of climate changes, increased electromagnetic frequencies, and other sources of pollution.
For a translation of Schmidt’s document, visit our website at www.planting-calendar.com. 
Reference: Thornton Smith, Richard, Cosmos, Earth and Nutrition, The Biodynamic Approach to Agriculture, 2009, Sophia Books, Hillside House, The Square, Forest Row, UK.

Article written by Stuart Clarkson and Rosemary Tayler, Celestial Planting Calendar 2016

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