Celestial cycles is the term used in astronomy referring to the motion of celestial bodies such as the Sun and other stars, the Moon, and the planets as seen from Earth.

General principles: During New Moon, Descending moon periods, and lunar perigee the Moon’s influence is strong, creating a ‘winter-like’ mood. Plants are said to display an inward contraction. Life forces flow downwards, the roots are active below ground, and sap flow above ground is weakened. In contrast during Full Moon, Ascending moon periods and lunar apogee the Moon’s influence is weaker, enabling a ‘summer-like’ mood. Life forces flow upwards into the plant, the sap is active and so the the upper part of plant is active, displaying an outward expansion (active shoot and leaf growth).

Peter Proctor (1997, p.114) highlights six lunar rhythms (in this order) that biodynamic market gardeners, farmers and wine-growers might wish to take account of:

Synodic Moon (waxing and waning or Full/New Moon). 

Moon-Saturn oppositions when the Moon and Saturn are 180º to each other.

Moon conjunction Saturn, a celestial cycle which contrasts with Moon-Opposition-Saturn. When the moon and Saturn are in conjunction a ‘cancelling-out effect’ occurs, says Hugh Courtney. ‘In biodynamic or anthroposophical terms, Saturn relates to the forces of warmth,’ he says. ‘In terms of the solar system, while heat is deemed to originate from the Sun, the sphere of Saturn can be viewed as a mirror or shield which turns the warmth forces back upon the Earth. If that warmth-focusing reflective power is blocked…[by a series of occultations of Saturn by the moon] we may well be subjected to an extended cold period beginning in late spring and continuing through summer and fall…in traditional astrological terms, Saturn is viewed as the planet of limitations and boundaries. Should the Moon occultation of Saturn negate these forces of limitation, we could see an increase in earthquakes and especially volcanic activity.’

See also: Solar cycles.

– Ascending and descending Moon which relates to the height the Moon reaches in the sky. See Moon-Saturn Oppositions.

Apogee & Perigee Moon concerns the varying distance between the Moon and Earth, a cycle which also contributes to so-called Super Moons.

– Nodal Moon (The Moon’s passage across the ecliptic plane).

– The sidereal Moon which relates to which Moon’s position relative to star constellations lying along the zodiac, creating so-called ‘fruit days’, ‘root days’, ‘leaf days’ and ‘flower days’, as popularised by Maria Thun


Hugh J. Courtney, ‘Occultation alert’, Applied Biodynamics 18/19 Winter 1996/Spring 1997, p.3

Peter Proctor with Gillian Cole, Grasp the Nettle, Making Biodynamic Farming and Gardening work, (New Zealand, 1997). A revised edition was published in 2008.