Gardening by the Moon
by Caren D. Catterall
a moonchild, born in Cancer, I guess I am naturally
drawn to the Moon. A deep undercurrent of growing
and contracting energy pulls on my focus and emotions.
Her beautiful silvery orb incites me as she grows,
and draws me inside myself during her dark phases.
Several years ago I moved out of the redwood canyons,
where the Moon played hide and seek with me from
between trees, to a lovely hill top. The complete
privacy of my new land gave me an opportunity to
select a spot to hold outdoor rituals. I also wanted
to choose a place for my garden. It is not a big
parcel, so there weren't many choices, and after
walking around and feeling the spirit of the land
there seemed one obvious spot suited to both purposes.
How could I make ritual and gardening co-exist in
the same space?
I came to the realization that the two are more
related that you might immediately recognize. Our
path shows us that the cycles of life include life
and death, growth and decay, and organic gardening
techniques agree that one feeds the other. What
better environment for spring rituals and harvest
celebrations? What more sacred act than creating
life? What more perfect teacher than nature?
I decided upon a circular mandala garden, with the
ritual spot at the center. The compass points were
figured out, and we laid an entrance path into the
center at each direction. Beds were built from bender
board and stakes, curving in three concentric circles
out from the center. The center was planted with
creeping herbs of chamomile and thyme, which gives
off a wonderful aroma when dancing under the Moon.
When gathering at the full of the Moon with my women's
circle, the potency of our work has been heightened
any time we can be out there in the moonlight. With
our feet touching earth it is easier to imagine
sinking our roots down. We howl at the Moon-"Ooooowwwww,
Luuuuna, Diaaaannna, Ow Ow Oooowww"-- to raise energy.
Like the warrior Diana we fling our arrows of worry
and pain into her bright face, to be absorbed by
her power. Amazingly strong moon shadows become
dance partners, the ancestor spirits come to join
us, as we drum and circle around.
"Drawing Down the Moon" is a beautiful but simple
ritual from Diane Stein. Stand with arms raised,
in the form of a chalice, letting her radiance fill
you up, and say "Fill me with your brightness, that
I might use your power for my good, and for the
good of all". State your intentions, surrounding
each one with a bright aura of light, then release
it to the night. So Be It.
My hilltop has no streetlights, so the dark of the
moon is when the stars get a chance to sing. The
affect this phase has on me is subtler than the
more expansive energy as she grows. The focus seems
to be more inward, contemplative. It is a welcome
respite, a resting phase before the next surge,
a time to regroup and prepare for what is to come.
Gardening by the Moon
It was not long before I made more connections between
my spiritual and my gardening practices. I knew
that if I were feeling forces of the Moon's ebb
and flow, then it was probably affecting the plants
as well. I knew that some wise elders and "old farmers"
swore by planting by the Moon and decided to learn
more about it.
There are several ways to plant by the Moon. Some
people pay attention mostly to the phase of the
Moon. When she is waxing, or growing, the energy
is pulling upwards, affecting leaf growth. After
the full, in the dark phases, the energy is drawing
down, which is good for planting root crops. This
perfectly matches my feelings and responses as the
phases change. My energy is high when she is full,
and I want to draw in when she is dark. The gravitational
pull of the Moon also affects the subtle bodies
of water on the earth, such as wells and lakes,
just as it pulls the tides. This means that during
the growing phases, before the full, there is more
moisture in the soil to keep those sprouting seeds
Some people also take into consideration the sign
the moon is in, which changes every couple days.
The water signs, Cancer, Pisces and Scorpio, are
the best for planting, and earth signs are good
too. Fire and air signs are usually dry, which makes
it a good time for harvesting and cultivating. So
when the Moon is right, I plant and chant:
the Moon bless you,
May the earth embrace you,
May the waters quench your thirst and make you grow,
May the fiery sun shine down upon you,
May the winds blow upon you and make you strong
May there always be more than enough. Blessed Be"
My gardening style tends to favor letting some plants
go wild, reseeding themselves. Plants such as lettuce,
borage, dill, cilantro, and parsley are useful as
edibles, habitat for bees and butterflies, and food
for my chickens. Often these volunteers are more
vigorous, and working with their timing brings more
unexpected harvests. These, too, are lessons in
the value and wisdom of nature, and the interconnectedness
of all forms of life. I find working in my garden
to be very soul soothing. If I am feeling overwhelmed
by other things, some hands in the dirt time will
cure much of it. It is truly grounding, and rejuvenating
to both the garden and me. If the garden is neglected,
then often so am I. Whether it is the good vibrations
left behind by my circle, the power of the Moon,
the obvious feeling of abundance around me, or the
evidence of the cycle of life, my body, soul and
spirit gets tended and fed on that spot.
Caren D. Catterall is an artist, gardener and moon
worshiper living on a beautiful mountaintop in Northern
California. She publishes a yearly gardening calendar
that shows the moon phase each day. You can purchase
a moon calendar at www.gardeningbythemoon.com.
She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Old Farmer's Almanac, by Robert Thomas. Yankee
Publishing Inc. 2000
by the Moon, by Ute York. Bluestar Communications.
Llewellyn's Moon Sign Book by Gloria Star. Llewellyn
Publications. 2000, 2001
Women's Spirituality Book, by Diane Stein. Llewellyn
New Times. 1987
to Grow more Vegetables. by John Jevons. Ten
Speed Press 1991 [click
here for the 2004 revised and expanded edition]
Astrological Gardening by Louise Riotte. McNaughton
& Guan 1975 [click
here for the 2001 edition]
Caren Catterall - Divine Inspiration Publications
: Work with the forces of nature to get the most
out of your garden www.gardeningbythemoon.com
and Gardening by the Moon - © Caren D. Catterall