Moon, Wellbeing

The cycles of the Moon

Each year Earth orbits around the Sun. As the Earth’s axis is tilted, different parts of its surface receive more/less direct rays from the Sun as we move around it. This creates the yearly seasonal cycle here on Earth. The variation of light, warmth and energy impacts all life and as we enter into the Winter season here in the Northern hemisphere, we observe bare, resting trees, animals hibernating and changes to our own energy, mood and focus.

Whilst the cycle of the seasons influenced by the Sun are most obvious, the cycles of the Moon may be less so and yet too influence life on Earth.

The moon orbits the Earth approx. every 29 days (or one Lunar month). During this time the Moon is observed passing through ‘phases’ due to its position in relation to the Earth and Sun. At the New and Full Moon phases for example, the Earth, Moon and Sun all come into alignment. As the closest celestial body to Earth, the force of the Moon’s gravity influences our planet, in particular fluids causing tides in the oceans, changes in underground water, growth patterns in plants and even within our own bodies.

Tuning into the natural cycles on earth can help us to learn more about ourselves. Just like all living beings, we are influenced by many factors despite the common expectation that we can be happy, productive and well at all times. The more we observe the cycles around us and the ebb and flow of life, the more we begin to accept and work with changes in our own lives.

Today is a New Moon and the start of a new lunar cycle. At this time, the Moon is invisible to us but we know it is there. This phase can be likened to the Winter Solstice where we are at the darkest point but know that the light will be returning. The time is like that of a new seed, full of potential and energy that has not yet grown. This part of the cycle lends itself to self care, resting, setting intentions and taking the time to dream of new possibilities.


Harvesting with the Moon

The moon’s gravitational pull influences many things on our planet, but perhaps most notably the rise and fall of the ocean’s tides. It is less well known however, that the same gravitational pull affects groundwater levels. The concept of aligning gardening with the moon phase is as old as agriculture itself. It is believed that as the moon is waxing towards the full moon, groundwater rises up, providing good conditions for planting. No dig gardener Charles Dowding has conducted a number of small studies comparing the yield of crops planted under the waxing and waning moon. So far, he has shown that crop yield in a variety of veg has been higher when planting with the waxing moon.

As the moon wanes its gravitational pull weakens. Groundwater it thought to fall during this period making it a good time to harvest plants. The sap is drawn downwards so sap loss is minimised if cut during this time. This is thought to speed up healing in the plant but also means plants dry out more quickly once harvested.
We commonly harvest our herbs during the waning moon cycle. This cycle, we have harvested Goldenrod, Meadowsweet and well as some lovely flowering Marjoram for upcoming smudge sticks.