This book offers a much-needed counterbalance to the modern view of the Moon as a lifeless orb which influences nothing but the tides and elemental marine creatures. The idea that the Moon exerts a determinable influence on plant and crop growth, and breeding cycles generally, is extremely ancient, being embedded into the core principle of astrology. Pliny the Elder (AD 23-79), the Roman historian, in his Natural History, gives many instructions on how to regulate agricultural activities according to the cycles of the Moon.
What I love about this almanac-style calendar and gardening guide is that it takes a very serious approach to its subject, and yet it encourages practical awareness of the lunar effect through recorded experimentation. It is a book that is bound to appeal to many astrologers, and I am one of them. The first half offers a very informative but simple language explanation of 'lunatic gardening', which then leads into an astrological diary in a calendar structure. Folk traditions are described, as also is the evidence of modern studies.
So this is no mere astro-diary. The concepts are presented as an invitation to gardeners and others to investigate the time cycles involved in plant growth, rather than as a dogmatic statement of how they work. It is an attempt at a synthesis of time-honoured traditions and twentieth-century research. Except where stated, all the advice and knowledge is based on experimentation. This is cited, with explanatory graphs and diagrams where appropriate. The annual guide has been published since 1980, acknowledging the pioneering work of Lili Kolisko (l 889-I 976) and Maria Thun (b. 1922), whilst differing in some approaches and conclusions.
There are various astrological and related concepts used in the calendar, but clear step-by-step explanations are given in separate chapters to keep the information simple-to-apply. A star-calendar is included too, the general aim being to stimulate interest and research in the area as well as to improve the vegetables in the garden. The reader is introduced to various modern studies concerned with the question of lunar influence, placed within the context of the burgeoning organic movement. But those who simply wish to apply the recommended sowing times can turn straight to those chapters that talk about how to use the calendar itself. I think this following paragraph summarises the books intention perfectly, and shows why gardening with the Moon is both illuminating and rewarding for an astrologer:
A gardener works with time. He or she has continually to make judgments of how the seasons are progressing, what the weather may do, and so forth, while simultaneously considering the limited time available. Gardening and farming take on an extra dimension if one is aware that, besides these mundane considerations, there are also basic cycles of the heavens to which animals and the plant world are very much attuned. Plants receive their energy for growth from the sun but, in other more subtle ways, they are continually affected by the Moon's ever-changing rhythms. A decision as to when to plant a tree should take such lunar cycles into account, just as a sailor puts to sea only when the tides are right.
Some astrologers will want to simply follow the techniques, others to adapt or critique them; but there is much to find of interest in this work, and this is the perfect time of year to consider it. I really like it.