The Solar Family – Forces & Rhythms


The Movement Of The Planets

(1.1) During the course, we acted out the movements of the planets from a heliocentric, and geocentric perspectives. We represented each planet with its associated colour and eurythmy movement. The video is below.

Lunar Cycles

Moon Rhythms And Their Effects On Plant Development

Lunar CycleDurationExplanation
The Synodic Rhythm29.5 DaysA full Moon is when the Moon stands opposite the sun
The Sidereal Rhythm27.3 Days The Moon is observed to return to a position under the same star again
Moon Nodes Rhythm27.2 DaysOccurs every 13.5 days, as the moon crosses the path of the sun, on an ascending or descending node.
Apogee27.5 DaysThe moon goes around the earth in an eclipse. The Moon is furthest from the earth at Apogee
Perigee27.5 DaysThe Moon is closest to the earth in Perigee

The Sidereal Rhythm

(2.1) Sider is Latin for star. When the rhythm is complete the moon will be at the same fixed star once again. The moon ascends and descends through the zodiac with the same rhythm as the sun, taking 29.5 days to complete the cycle, while the sun takes a year.

Ascending Moon Activities Descending Moon Activities
Tasks ideally performed during the morningTasks ideally performed during the afternoon
Planting and Transplanting
Harvesting of flowers, leaves, and fruits cropsHarvesting root crops
Taking cuttingsPruning
Spraying Horn Silica PreparationSpraying Horn Manure Preparation
Cultivating the soil to release moistureCultivating the soil to increase moisture
Spreading compost

The Synodic Rhythm

The full moon comes around every 29.5 days, the synodic rhythm is complete when the moon returns to the same phase. Synod means facing, as the positions of the moon and the sun create the phases of the moon from the perspective of the earth. The moon’s phases can be observed each night, as it waxes, wanes, reaches a full moon or reaches a new moon.

A full moon occurs when the moon stands opposite the sun, and a new mood occurs when the moon is in front of the sun.

The synodic rhythm is believed to influence the moisture content, through swelling and contracting. Biodynamic practitioners work with this rhythm to find more favourable times for agricultural activities.

Towards Full MoonTowards New Moon
Increased moisture contentDecreased moisture content
Sow seeds two days before a new moonAvoid sowing sees that require a lot of moisture
Spray Horsetail 508 preparation to help fungal problemsCut down trees for woodworking
Expect increased slug activity

Moon Nodes Rhythm

A descending node and an ascending node occur when the moon weaves 5 degrees above and 5 degrees below the ecliptic path. This means that every 13.5 days the moon crosses the sun’s path.

When this happens the benefits that the sun brings to the garden are affected for 6 hours on either side of the node. It could be understood that there is too much confusion in the cosmos at this time.

6 Hours Before & After A Ascending Or Descending Node
Do not cultivate the soil
Do not sow any seeds
Do not plant or transplant

Apogee & Perigee

Apogee is when the moon is furthest from the earth. It is associated with light forces, this is why times of apogee in the Maria Thun Calendar are identified as a ‘flower day’.

Perigee is when the moon is closest to the earth, this cycle happens every 27.5 days, as does the apogee cycle. Perigee is understood to bring more moisture into the plants, which tends to increase the risk of fungus, or insect attacks.

Lunar Eclipse Phenomena

Solar Eclipse Phenomena

Using The Maria Thun Biodynamic Calendar

(3.1) In the garden we try and follow the Maria Thun calendar when possible. In reality, it is a tertiary consideration. The weather and our students in sessions will often dictate the activities in the garden on a given day more than the calendar.

The biodynamic calendar is a helpful rhythmic guide, but I believe that it shouldn’t be used infallibly. Doing so can lead to some logistical problems. For example, the calendar provides planting windows for planting root, leaf, fruit, and seed plants based on the constellation of the moon, while factoring in the ascending and descending moons’ rhythms, this can mean that a gardener has to wait over a month to find a suitable window for planting his crop.

However, I still believe that the calendar is a very useful tool. My first encounter with biodynamics was with an Italian edition of the Maria Thun calendar, and it was exciting to consider the rhythm of the moon and planets in ways I didn’t comprehend before and to think if it would affect the growth of plants. One evening, my friend Giovanni, and I walked around the garden in Sardinia, looking at all of the plants, as he was convinced that the moon was very powerful that evening, and all of the plants were being pulled up towards it. I remember Giovanni shining a light on the leaves of a fig tree, and all of the leaves were curled up, and pointing to the moon, the aloe vera plants were all pointing upward to a degree that I hadn’t seen before, and many other plants and flowers seemed to counter normal physical constraints and were gravitating towards the moon.

Biodynamic Practitioners commonly follow the biodynamic calendar that was developed by Maria Thun. It uses the constellations of the Moon, to indicate favourable, or unfavourable planting/cultivating/pruning timings for plants associated with leaf, fruit, root, or flowering/seed qualities.

RootVirgoCapricornTaurus
FlowerLibraAquariusGemini
LeafScorpioPiscesCancer
Fruit/SeedSagittariusAriesLeo
  • The Earth element affects the Roots
  • The Water element affects the Leaves
  • The Air element affects the Flowers
  • The Fire element affects Fruits & Seeds

Festivals And Their Relation To The Seasons

Traditional Festivals And The Qualities Of The Seasons

(4.1) Many festivals that we celebrate are related to the earth’s journey around the sun. In pre-civilisation, they needed to have an understanding of where the sun was for sowing, harvesting crops at the right time, or facing famine.

The earth is tilted on its axis at 23 degrees, meaning that different points of the earth receive more or less sunlight at different times throughout the year. The four key cosmic events are the Spring Equinox, Midsummer Solstice, Autumn Equinox, and Midwinter Solstice.

In pagan times there were eight festivals throughout the year. Comprising of the two equinoxes, and two solstices, with four more festivals between each major solar festival. This is known as the Wheel Of The Year

FestivalDatesRelated Festivals
Yule20th-23nd DecemberChristmas Day – Christmas Eve – Saturnalia – Pancha Ganapati – Malkh – Sol Invictus -Death of Zarathustra
Imbolc1st FebruaryCandlemas – Groundhog Day – 40th Day Of Christmas
Ostara19th – 22nd MarchSpring Equinox – Passover (Full moon after Spring Equinox) – Holy week – Easter (Following Sunday – Nowruz (Persian New Year)
Beltane1st MayMay Day, Mothering Sunday
Litha 19th – 23 JuneSummer Solstice – St Johns Eve
Lughnasadh1st AugustLammas (Harvest Festival) – Festival of St Peters Chains
Mabon21st – 24th SeptemberWinter Equinox – Michaelmas – Jewish New Year (New Moon after Winter Equinox)
Samhain1st NovemberDay of the dead – Hallowe’en – All saints day – All souls day – Guy Fawkes Day – Thanksgiving

Throughout history cultures and religions held certain days of the year for times of celebration, feasting, contemplation, and fasting. Many religions have incorporated and adapted pagan festivals into their celebrations, as beliefs, and world conceptions have evolved over the centuries. The pagan festivals may also come from even more archaic cultures.

Many Jewish, Hindu, and Islamic festival dates, are based on a lunar calendar, meaning the dates will shift each year. For example, Ramadan occurs on the sighting of the crescent moon during the 9th month in the Islamic calendar, and the day fasting continues for 30 days. The date for Easter is determined by the sun and moon, falling on the first Sunday, after the first full moon that occurs on or following the Spring Equinox.

Different times of year come with different qualities. During wintertime, many of the festivals can be seen as festivals of light, a reminder that the Spring Equinox will return, and warmer more abundant days are ahead. Michaelmas follows the winter solstice and the end of the harvest. Dark days are ahead, so the festival of St Micheal is meant to give us strength and truth to face the challenges ahead and to keep our flame burning. Then comes the Chinese lantern festival which is another reminder of the light.

At the winter solstice, we arrive at Christmas Day, when Jesus was born, and it is a festival of light and the birth of the sun. This is followed by the Candlemas Celebration, another celebration of light before we arrive at Eastertime, and light and life are abundant again.

Developing A Festival Plan

(4.2) I am participating in an Easter Craft Workshop for kids with a small team including Darshan from the biodynamic course. Before Christmas, I helped with a craft workshop event and agreed to do a gardening one in the Spring for the same community.

The event is taking place on a Saturday from 10 am – 1 pm. The is also funding from the local council to run craft and gardening workshops each month.

I met with the team two weeks before to make a plan for the day. We planned to have an easter card making and plant pot decorating workshop in the community centre, acting as the holding space.

Soup-making/break baking, allotment gardening, and DIY/making a herb planter are planned as three different workshops occupying 90 minutes of the morning.

The day will start with a story at 10 pm about the Little Red Hen, then the children would split into three groups. I plan on going to the nearby community allotment and planting potatoes with the kids, before returning at noon, for plant pot painting, lunch, and a closing song/story.

After lunch, the children would write a spring intention on a piece of paper, and put it at the bottom of the plant pot, before filling it with potting soil and sowing some calendula. Everyone would then come back together to conclude with a song and final reflections on the day.

There were email exchanges with the organising team leading up to the event.

Running A Festival With An Organizing Committee

(4.3) The children enjoyed the day. In the allotment, the kids were enjoying planting potatoes and were not afraid of getting their hands into the compost. For some, it was a rare opportunity to work and play in a garden, and you could see how much it meant.

The allotment group enjoyed wheelbarrow rides, digging, finding grass snakes, looking into the pond, and, filling wheelbarrows with compost. The other groups enjoyed the other workshops, and everyone returned to the community centre to paint pots and have soup and bread.

The day before the event, I went to the allotment to make sure we had all the tools we needed and enough potatoes. I organised some animal manure to add to the potatoes trenches and some chard for transplanting out.

Bibliography

Rudolf Steiner | The Agriculture Course – Lecture I
Titia Thun, Friedrich Thun  | The Maria Thun Biodynamic Calendar
Richard Thornton Smith | Cosmos, Earth And Nutrition

Moon Phases | https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Moon_phases_en.jpg
Lunar Nodes | https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lunar_nodes.svg

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