Moon Planting -
Astrological Influence on Agriculture
By: Cameron Klass
Tracing time back to the early days of our species, there was an undeniable connection between man and nature. It was around 10,000 - 12,000 years ago that man began transitioning from nomadic hunter-gatherers to farming societies. A collective connected consciousness with the cosmos made astrological agriculture not a religious belief or scientific debate, but a shared belief system unified with Truth. Through Ancient Greece and the Middle Ages humans remained directly involved in their food supply. Belief in astrology was widespread and considered ancient wisdom; “astrology was considered a science, even the highest of sciences, capable of assisting the noble study of theology” (Rebecca Krug). Belief in the effect the sun/moon/stars/planets had on plants and their influence on agriculture was not a debated topic of ‘superstition’ — like in modern day — but was an integral part of successful gardening/farming. Planting based on the phases of the moon and zodiacs organically evolved from farmers in tune with natures patterns and the food supply. This deep connection with nature developed the wisdom that man’s survival, still today, depends upon — how to grow our food supply. Traditional cultures and indigenous groups around the world still preserve and practice these cosmic principles of planting. It is only in large scale farming and our modern day dis-connection from nature, elements, and our food supply that we begin the debate and skepticism of moon-planting legitimacy.
As societies loose their connection with nature and food sources, astrology becomes a more and more controversial topic — often dubbed ‘superstition’ by its critics. There are many modern scientific studies and journals claiming no correlation between the moon/stars and plant growth/success. However, there are also many farmers, societies, cultures and curious people, who observe natures patterns/cycles/phases and plant based upon cosmic intelligence.
My intentions for this research paper are to lay out an overview of each sides foundational arguments against/for astrological agriculture and bridge the void between scientific reasoning and spiritualism. By analyzing astrological based agriculture through a holistic lens, more understanding between the worlds of science and spirit can be cultivated. With a deeper discussion of the opposing views, clarity and space for a wider perspective can build a future world view.
“We found that there is no reliable, science-based evidence for any relationship between lunar phases and plant physiology in any plant-science related textbooks or peer-reviews journal articles justifying agricultural practices conditioned by the Moon. Nor does evidence from the field of physics support a causal relationship between lunar forces and plant responses. Therefore, popular agricultural practices that are tied to lunar phases have no scientific backing.”
— Olga Mayoral
Scientists use rational and logical reasoning to back the general perspective that the moon does not effect plant growth or plant success. Measurements, figures and estimates are carefully calculated by qualified humans; however, it should be noted that analyzing the mysteriousness, expansiveness, and complexity of the space realm through a rational and logical lens imposes substantial limitations and restrictions.
Data reports explain how the monthly moon cycle and daily moon cycle when combined have influence over the oceans tides and intensity of illuminance (Olga Mayoral). It is explained that the gravitational pull is only occurring due to the fact that the ocean, as a body of water, is so large. Collected evidence from scientists, supporting the claim that the moon does not effect plants states: “(i) the Moon’s gravity on the Earth cannot have any effect on the life cycle of plants due to the fact that it is 3.3 x 10-5 ms-2, almost 300,000 times lower that the Earth’s gravity; (ii) since all the oceans are communicated and we can consider their size being the size of the Earth, the Moon’s influence on the tides is 10-6ms-2, but for a 2m height plant such value is 3 x 10-13ms-2 and, therefore, completely imperceptible; (iii) the Moon’s illuminance cannot have any effect on plant life since it is, at best, 128,000 times lower than the minimum of sunlight on an average day; (iv) the rest of possible effects of the Moon on the Earth (e.g. magnetic field, polarization of light) are non-existent” (Olga Mayoral). .
The factors that cause plant growth are scientifically said to be endogenous (from within the plants DNA), and external factors, such as environmental, temperature, water supply, etc. From a physics and biology perspective, the scientific article What Has Been Thought and Taught on the Lunar Influence on Plants in Agriculture? states “The interaction of biotic and abiotic factors will determine plant growth, development, and productivity” (Olga Mayoral). In summary, the perspective suggests the moon can not effect a plants growth, however it is recognized the potential effect the moon could have on the external factors that influence the plant.
The scientific perspective concludes that “In particular, beliefs regarding the relationships between lunar phases and human and other organisms behavior are as ancient as human cultural heritage but have hardly ever found any solid scientific support” (Olga Mayoral).
“Hence we shall never understand plant life unless we bear in mind that everything which happens on the Earth is but a reflection of what is taking place in the Cosmos.”
There are many different groups of people from around the world who share the perspective that the moon, stars, and cosmic forces influence plants. Astrologers, small scale farmers, indigenous communities, supporters of permaculture and biodynamics, believers in an energetic realm beyond reason and logic, support the belief of planting in accordance with specific moon phases and zodiacs based in traditions of ancient wisdom to optimize plant growth/success. Reasoning is expressed through a spiritual perspective — with the belief and faith in a realm, or energetic field, outside the material and physical world. This expansive viewpoint leans on faith and Universal Truth — oneness. The supporting groups place the basis of their claims in harmony with the fundamental principles of nature. Nature is whole, all inclusive and always returning to balance.
Biodynamics refers to a form of alternative agriculture that includes spiritual, ethical and ecological approaches. It recognizes that the importance of maintaining health in soil, plants, animals, and humans relies upon connection with nature and cosmic forces. It was developed as a part of Anthroposophy, an educational system established by Rudolph Steiner to optimize human well-being through nature connection. Biodynamics accounts for the spiritual realm and the idea that all things are a part unto a whole, a bigger picture.
Data to support the cosmic effect on plants based upon Steiner principles include the following statements as just a few examples:
“The activities above the Earth are immediately dependent on Moon, Mercury and Venus supplementing and modifying the influences of the Sun. The so-called “planets near the Earth” extend their influences to all that is above the Earth’s surface. On the other hand, the distant planets - those that revolve outside the circuit of the Sun - work upon all that is beneath the Earth’s surface, assisting those influences which the Sun exercises from below the Earth.” (Rudolph Steiner.)
“Seasonal and daily variations are influenced, however, by the earth’s relative position in the planetary system; they are, in other words, of cosmic origin. It has actually been found that the time of day or the season of the year influences the solubility and availability of nutrient substances. Numerous phenomena to be observed in the physiology of plants and animals (e.g. glandular secretions, hormones) are subject to such influences. The concentration of oxalic acid in bryophyllum leaves rises and falls with the time of day with almost clock-like regularity. Although in this and many other test cases the nutrients on which the plants were fed were identical, the increase or decrease in the plant’s substantial content varied very markedly in response to varying light-rhythms and cycles.” (Rudolph Steiner.)
“But it is no longer possible tot dismiss the influence of cosmic forces as “mere superstition” when the physiological and biochemical inter-relationships of metabolic functions in soil-life, the rise and fall of sap in the plant, and especially processes in the root-sphere are taken into consideration.” (Rudolph Steiner.)
“Everything connected with the inner force of reproduction and growth - everything that contributes to the sequence of generation after generation in the plants - works through those forces which come down from the Cosmos to the Earth: from Moon, Venus, and Mercury, via the limestone nature…. On the other hand, when plants become foodstuffs to a large extent - when they evolve in such a way that the substances in them become foodstuffs for animal and man, then Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, working via the silicious nature, are concerned in the process. The silicious nature opens the plant-being to the wide spaces of the Universe and awakens the senses of the plant-being in such a way as to receive from all quarters oof the Universe the forces which are molded by these distant planets. Whenever this occurs, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are playing their part. Form the sphere of the Moon, Venus and Mercury, on the other hand, is received all that which makes the plant capable of reproduction.” (Rudolph Steiner.)
Cultures from around the world with a deep connection to nature share supportive beliefs for the astrological effects on plant growth. To emphasize this point, the journal Lunar Influence: Understanding Chemical Variation and Seasonal Impact by Ian Cole gives many examples of people around the world practicing agriculture based on astrology embedded in ancient wisdom.
“In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, ancient Hawaiians believed that tubers (such as sweet potatoes [Ipomoea batatas, Convolvulaceae] and taro [Colocasia esculenta, Araceae]) must be planted on the third, fourth, fifth or sixth day of Ku (the new moon), to ensure that the crops would grow upright and firm. Additionally, medicinal plants were gathered only during La`aukkukah, and La`aukulua, the third and fourth days following Hoku, the full moon. Both of these cases suggest that vastly different physiological processes were linked to one large macroscopic observation: the cycle of the moon.” (Ian Cole).
“…The Maya believed that the moon controlled sap flow in plants and that the nighttime draws the healing attributes of the plant into the roots. Medicinal plants were therefore harvested only at specific times of the day or month.” (Ian Cole).
“The Ketshua Indians of Bolivia, descendants of the Inca, make ploughs from Prosopis ferox (Fabaceae). These trees are harvested only during the first waning moon after the start of spring, just before Easter celebrations.1 According to recent ethnobotanical work in Kosrae (in the Federated States of Micronesia), elders have suggested that Nypa fruticans (Arecaceae) leaves should be harvested for roof thatch only after the full moon “until the moon is gone.”8 If harvested at the incorrect time, termites and other insects would reduce the life of the thatch from 6-10 years down to 2 years, a significant change in lifespan of building materials.” (Ian Cole).
“The structural and symbolic logic of Slavic agriculture also depends on the idea that croups that produce yields above ground and do not have an extensive root system should be panted/sowed during the waxing moon and those that produce yields below ground or develop a tree bark should be planted/sown during the waning moon (Moszynski 1967, 458).As all planting should be done when the moon is waxing (increasing), so the period of the waning moon is propitious for all plants growing “downward”, under the ground.” (Stanislaw Iwaniszewski.)
“Like farmers in the Old World, Mesoamericans also follow very concrete rules. In most cases Mesoamerricans plant by the waxing (increasing) moon and harvest by the waning (decreasing) moon. Globular or sphere-shaped fruits are planted and cropped around the full moon (disk-ike moon). Garlic and onion (European crops) are also planted and cropped around full moon.” (Stanislaw Iwaniszewski.)
The accumulated data reflects that indigenous cultures value legends and folklore about planting in harmony with the cycles and phases of the moon to optimize success/yield. There is trust in the agricultural wisdom passed down through generations and the people rely on this knowledge for food supply. Even without a scientific display of data on the impact of the moon on the "phytochemical profile of the plants,” connection with natures patterns is embedded in the agricultural practices and people’s belief systems (Ian Cole).
Circadian Rhythms & Seasonal Variations
There are over 300,000 plant species that are known to man, yet the average human I feel it’s safe to conclude, is only familiar with a tiny fraction of them. The modern day lifestyle has pushed man farther and farther away from nature and the connection with one’s food source. This void of knowledge and disconnection with Universal Truth puts the human at a disadvantage. It leaves man unaware of the messages, miracles, and mysteries from the universe. It creates an illusion of separation between nature and man, the cosmos and all things.
There are plants in nature that clearly display the rhythmic cycles of growth by cosmic forces, giving humans a glance into the window of the spiritual realm and mysticism of nature. Humans circadian or ‘biological’ clock is said to be an internal mechanism that controls physiological and biochemical processes. Plants timing systems are external and work specifically from influence of the environment (Ian Cole). “A plant is a sessile organism that adapts to changes in its environment through changes in its chemistry. The forces acting on a plant are numerous and constantly changing, and dynamic changes in biochemistry are required for survival” (Ian Cole).
To continue the supportive research, Ian Cole gives the following evidence, “Zürcher observed the rhythmic variations in Maesopsis eminii (Rhamnaceae), a major tree species in Rwanda, and found that seed germination rates in M. eminii showed significant differences in seeds planted during the full moon or during the new moon. His study also found that speed of germination, rate of germination, and average height and growth rate of seedlings showed better results and larger seedlings if the seeds were sown before the full moon. The phenomenon of lunar effect on patterns of seed germination and initial growth rate has been documented for numerous species” (Ian Cole).
Circadian rhythms can also be clearly observed in nyctinastic plants, which close their leaves or blooms at night. Examples include Hibiscus, Poppies, Tulips, etc. Alternatively there are plants that open or bloom at night, including the orchid cactus which produces the dragon fruit. Its beautiful flower blooms during the night and wilts in the morning. Other examples include the Evening Primrose, Casa Blanca Lily, Moonflower (Datura species), etc. The Brugmansia (Tender Perennial) is also a night bloomer that has large hanging flowers that open for a week during the time of full moon (“13 Flowers That Bloom at Night.”).
By observing nature, one can witness the interconnectedness of all the elemental forces acting on, in and through all matter. The plants biological clock is influenced by its environment, which is integrated with the output, energetic vibrations and function of cosmic forces.
Symbolically, the moon, throughout time and cultures around the world, has represented female energy. It depicts and embodies yin energy which is characterized by nurturing, calming, watery, slow, soft and earthy energetic frequencies. There is universal wisdom embedded in the moon relating to this feminine energy.
Referencing the image below, taken from Stanislaw Iwaniszewski in “Lunar Agriculture in Mesoamerica”, the jars are a representation from Chorti Maya from Guatemala symbolizing the moon phases and her watering of the earth for making fertile grounds. The first jar is shown in complete black, a full jar, representing the full moon. The middle jar is symbolic of the waning moon, after the jug is full the water is being poured out. The third jug, half empty and ready to be filled up, represents the waxing moon.
Iwaniszewski explains, “Basically, whatever requires growth is initiated during the waxing moon. The waxing and “soft” moon attracts the water, because when she is invisible (the dark of the moon phase), she picks up water from the earth and pours it over her body. The water gradually increases in volume until the maximum reached at the full moon… Similarly, women are filled up at the full moon phase, so they menstruate at the waning phase” (Stanislaw Iwaniszewski).
In many cultures around the world, the feminine wisdom of the moon and her spiritual connection to making a fertile earth is respected and embedded in the collective belief system and farming practices. Even more supporting evidence to the claim of lunar influence on plants is revealed when the lunar phases are analyzed in comparison with female menstrual cycles.
Female humans, those able to produce eggs and bear an offspring, experience a menstrual cycle (egg release) every 28 days, on average. This cycle is commonly referred to as a woman’s ‘moon cycle’ due to its rhythm with lunar phases. In reference to the water jug metaphor above, Iwaniszewski states, “Similarly, women are filled up at the full moon phase, so they menstruate at the waning phase. As women became “dry” during the rest of the period, so does the sky and therefore it does not rain abundantly during the rest of the lunar month” (Stanislaw Iwaniszewski). Ideally, women bleed before the new moon, during the waning phase, emptying in preparation for new beginnings.
The feminine energy from the moon and rooted in the female biology is ancient wisdom manifested from Universal Truth, oneness. Interpreting the symbolism, messages and data can’t be grasped by only a perspective in scientific reasoning, the spiritual realm must be accounted for.
Bridging the Scientific and Spiritual Perspectives
The scientific and spiritual perspectives concerning the moon’s influence over plants growth, success and yield is opposing. The research and data collected from both points of view can be extensive and endless — as with any debate. Instead of trying to prove and disprove any claims, instead of saying one point of view is right and the other is wrong, an inclusive approach directed towards understanding more fully is needed to bridge the divide.
Using mathematics and reasoning to discuss an enigmatic topic like the lunar influence on plants imposes limitations and restrictions just by its nature. Looking at the matter through a much larger scope is necessary in order to match the vast scope of the subject.
This larger scope, or more inclusive view point, to merge the scientific and spiritual perspective is built upon the foundations of Universal Truth, oneness. It comes from the idea that everything is not just what meets the eye, that everything effects everything. To think only with logic and scientific theory is to limit the power of the whole Universe and an important aspect of human intelligence — instinct and ancient embedded wisdom. For a more tangible and earthly example of this concept, Rudolph Steiner states, “Why is it that people think they can talk of a thing from theoretic points of view, when they do not understand it? The reason is, that even within their several domains they are no longer able to go back to the real foundations. They look at a beetroot as a beetroot. No doubt it has this or that appearance; it can be cut more or less easily, it has such and such a colour, such and such constituents. All these things can no doubt be said. Yet therewithal you are still far from understanding the beetroot. Above all, you do not yet understand the living-together of the beetroot with the soil, with the field, the season of the year in which it ripens, and so forth” (Rudolph Steiner).
To merge the two opposing views the concept of concern should be analyzed through a non-dualistic viewpoint. Understanding the ‘emptiness’ of all the data and synching to source is crucial.
Modern man, in general, has become largely disconnected from nature. Values and belief systems have shifted from the structures outlined through ancient wisdom. Collective awareness has diverged from connection to Source towards scientific theory and technology. There is a strong attention to the material world. By reconnecting with nature, reconnecting to food supply, reconnecting to Source — each person will be able to view and interpret the concept of astrological agriculture more wholesomely.
It is possible to connect back to nature in a way that is not regressive, but progressive. This will unify scientific advancements with ancient wisdom. This deeper understanding and embodiment of complete oneness, that everything is made up of the stars, will help restore our instinctive intelligence that’s aligned with natures patterns. Famously, and rightfully stated from ancient Greek philosopher and astrologer, Hermes Trismegistus, “As above so below, as within so without, as the Universe, so the Soul.”
Concluding the topic of the moons influence on plants, I leave it up to each individual to form his/her own opinion by tuning into what feels right. This can be done by assessing ones own connection to nature and alignment with collective consciousness. By revealing one’s own Truth, not just through the intelligence of the mind but through body, energy, and consciousness, one creates a more holistic and inclusive perspective.
“13 Flowers That Bloom at Night.” Garden Lovers Club, September 27, 2019.
Anne Gibson. “Benefits of Moon Gardening.” The Micro Gardener. Accessed January 02, 2021.
Glen Atkinson. “Biodynamics Agriculture - An Earth Astrology ,” n.d.
Ian Cole. “Lunar Influence: Understanding Chemical Variation and Seasonal Impacts on Botanicals” The Journal of the American Botanical Council, HerbalGram 85 (2010): 50-56. http://greenmedicine.ie/school/images/Library/Lunar%20Influence-%20Understanding%20Chemical%20Variation%20and%20Seasonal%20Impacts%20on%20Botanicals.pdf
Jackie French. "Why Moon Planting Works" The Skeptic 25(4), 20-21, 2005. http://www.undeceivingourselves.org/S-plan.htm
Jamie McLeod. “Why Do We Garden By The Moon? Farmers' Almanac.” Farmers' Almanac, December 5, 2020.
Janine. “Planting by the Moon.” The Good Life France, January 30, 2020.
Olga Mayoral, Jordi Solbes, José Cantó and Tatiana Pina. "What Has Been Thought and Taught on the Lunar Influence on Plants in Agriculture? Perspective from Physics and Biology" Agronomy 10, no. 7: 955.
Rebecca Krug. “Planting by the Moon: Medieval Science and New Age Religion.” Relegere: Studies in Religion and Reception 3, no. 2 (2013): 249–64.
Roger Beck. A Brief History of Ancient Astrology. Blackwell Publishing, 2007.
Rudolph Steiner. Agriculture Course: The Birth of the Biodynamic Method. Eight Lectures. Rudolph Steiner Press, 2004.
Stanislaw Iwaniszewski. “Lunar Agriculture in Mesoamerica.” Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry 6, no. 3 (2006): 67–75.
Susan Higgins. “Understanding The Phases Of The Moon.” Farmers' Almanac, December 3, 2020.