By the Light, of the Silvery (waxing, or waning) moon?
This week the Moon is winding down from Full Moon on July 13th to the Last Quarter on July 21st. During this time, the Moon is said to be waning, which means shrinking. We see a little less of the Moon each day until it completely disappears when the Moon is New on July 29th. Likewise, from New Moon to Full Moon, when the Moon's disk is growing, it is said to be a waxing moon. Folklore would have us pay close attention to the phase of the Moon because it governed just when certain things should be done in our daily lives.
At the top of the lunar list would be gardening. Many people used to believe (and some still do) that lunar phases determined when things should be planted and harvested.
From New Moon to First Quarter phase, it was believed that leafy annuals which yield above the ground, such as broccoli, cabbage and celery should be planted. Leafy annuals which yield above ground and contain seed within the yield, such as beans, peas and pumpkins should be planted after First Quarter up until Full Moon. After Full and until Third Quarter Moon, bulbs and root crops, beets, carrots and potatoes should be planed. And from Third Quarter to New Moon, it is recommended that you not plant anything, but it is a good time to pull weeds and cultivate soil.
Likewise, moon phases governed the harvest as well. It was believed that the best harvest would occur if done during the waxing moon. It was thought that if one picked fruit during a waxing moon, the fruit would bruise easily!
But it wasn't just the garden that was controlled by the Moon, a wide variety of other activities were also. Even common farm activities, such as building a fence was done during the waning moon, as it was thought that if done then, the fence would not "heave" out of the ground during winter.
And lunar phase advice was also given for those getting a haircut. If you wanted your hair to grow quickly, have it cut during a waxing moon. If you wished for your hair to grow slowly, cut it during the waning moon. The same theory was applied to mowing grass as well!
Exactly how all this Moon lore got started, no one seems to really know, but it has been around for a very long time and is spread throughout many cultures. Perhaps it is connected with the evidence that the moon attracts the tides, and causes them to rise and fall. (never mind this occurs every day, though they are larger during full moon.)
Whatever the origins of these beliefs, there is no evidence to prove it true. I once tested the gardening theory by planting bean seeds from the same pack, half during the waxing moon and half during the waning moon. Both grew well and by harvest, there was no difference between the plants.
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