I’m only half a dozen pages into my Calendario Lunare book and I can safely say it’s not been my quickest of reads – I’ve managed a few pages of introduction and then a huge 82 page jump into July so I could see what I should have been doing at the end of last month and to basically tick off a very long list of everything I hadn’t done. The pages I’ve read so far are slowly filling up with scribbles of translation between the lines … and no, it’s not every word … so I’m definitely proving to myself that I have learnt a decent amount of Italian so far.
However I was quickly brought out of my congratulatory stupor when I read a couple of paragraphs from the month of ‘Agosto’ this morning which kindly pointed out that ‘because of all the great work that’s been done in the garden over the last few months then now I have the possibility to enjoy a beautiful, flower-filled garden, colourful and tidy, with an excellent and abundant harvest in the vegetable and fruit gardens’. I wouldn’t call my little harvest abundant but we’ve had zucchini, radishes, green beans, potatoes, peppers, chillies and tomatoes so far, with plenty still to come if we manage to avoid all signs of frost until at least February next year! In fact I was well and truly put to shame when our friends from the next valley called in with ‘just a few vegetables’ for us – there were ‘melanzane’, ‘zucchini’, ‘cipolle’, ‘fagioli’, ‘basilico’ and ‘bietola’ – our very own organic box delivery service!
But this post is not about the vegetables and harvest – it is about the moon, ‘la luna’, and how obsessed I am becoming with it, verging on becoming ‘una stregha bianca’ or a white witch! We all know that the moon controls the sea and its tides but, with plants containing water in their sap and humans and animals having water in their blood, the moon has a certain influence over us all as well.
A quick lesson –
In a New Moon or ‘Luna nuova’, the lunar gravity has the ability to pull the water upwards so seeds swell and burst, creating both root and leaf growth.
In the second quarter (a waxing moon) or ‘Luna crescente’, the stronger moonlight helps strong leaf growth so it is an ideal time for development above ground.
After the Full Moon or ‘Luna piena’, the moon’s energy is weakening as earth’s gravity becomes stronger again, so roots benefit from growth as the moisture remains deep within the soil.
In the Fourth Quarter (a waning moon) or ‘Luna calante’, it is considered a resting period and is a good time to cultivate, harvest, transplant and prune.
Bruna, our old neighbour, has religiously (probably the wrong choice of word in this context!) bought a copy of the Almanacco Barbanera to follow every year, although I think she knows every detail without needing to refer to it now. This book is the longest running of its type and has been in uninterrupted print for over 250 years, now selling more than 2.5million copies every Autumn in newsstands and bookstores (originally it was hawked at country fairs and village markets by peddlers travelling the peninsula). It is full of details on gardening tips, home remedies, there’s a calendar of all of the Saints’ Days, suggestions for lottery numbers, and even has weather patterns for the whole year.
The day we were at hers, I thumbed through a few pages and commented that, if the information was correct, the following day we should be having a storm and a few drops of rain – we did! And Bruna follows this book so intently that she was telling me that the potatoes would be ready to harvest immediately after the Full moon, which would be 5.55am the next day. Knowing Bruna she would have been outside at 5.54am ready with her hoe!
As far as explaining the effect on humans – a New moon heralds new beginnings and is said to be a time for focusing on all of your desires in life as it is a time for growth and realisation – after the Full moon it is the time for clearing out clutter from your life in readiness for the New moon and a fresh start again. There are various rituals that can be done on a New Moon to help realise your dreams, but at the moment my dreams are all ‘orto’ related so my rituals are either weeding or planting!
In fact it is possible to follow the lunar calendar for every aspect of your life – health and beauty as well as house and garden. There are certain days that are good for skin treatments and massages as the body absorbs the nutrients better, great days to do your washing as you need less detergent, specific days for ventilating your home as there is more air around, even dusting can be easier on certain days as the dust doesn’t resettle. There is information on which days to wash your hair and when to have your hair cut so the style will last longer (it also mentions the right days to have a perm … but is there ever a right day to have a perm?!)
And I’ve come across some great sayings related to ‘la luna’ in my book –
– If wine isn’t bottled in a waning moon, it risks being cloudy with a strange taste.
– If you cut hay in a waning moon it will dry out more slowly but will keep better (we’re actually heeding this advice and waiting until after the Full moon on the 18th of this month to finish cutting our field. This decision may have had something to do with the fact that we get another week’s rest before we do it!)
– People born on a Monday or ‘lunedi’ (the day of the moon) are usually moody and temperamental (the word in Italian being ‘lunatico’!)
– To prevent hair and nails re-growing too quickly they should be cut in a waning moon.
– If a New moon falls on a Saturday, 20 days of rain will follow, and if it falls on a Friday 13th it is the most unluckiest day that exists.
– And luck is tied to the behaviour of the moon, so much so, that to win the Lotto you need to play low numbers in a waxing moon and high numbers in a waning moon.
I’ve given you just a little taste of the moon and its influence on all things on earth – whether you believe in it or not, I think it is a very interesting subject that I’m sure I’ll be investigating further as the year progresses, and I will certainly be buying a copy of the Almanacco at the end of this year, even if it’s just for the Lotto numbers.
Buy a few seed packets from the supermarket, chuck things into the ground when it suited me and hope for the best,
… (although that little ritual with the cauldron, a couple of stray lizards and a strange smelling mushroom may have helped things along!)