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Whether it was the Babylonians timing their harvests by the sign the Moon traveled through, or the farmers of Eastern Europe watching each moonphase for the best time to plant, our celestial companion has always been a divine indicator of the seasons for growth. My Irish Grandfather always read his Farmer's Almanac to see when the moon was in Cancer or Libra to time the planting of flowers and vegetables--he placed great trust in the power of the Moon over his crops, and was rewarded each month with a healthy and bountiful harvest.
The Moon's magnetic force pulls all that contains water: the tides of our oceans, the blood and fluids of our bodies, and the vital essences of all plantlife--such influence can be seen quite clearly in the growth of plants.
All crops that produce their yield above ground should be planted during the Waxing (New to Full) Moon: the first week is especially good for crops that have their seeds on the outside, such as aspargus, cabbage, broccoli, celery and spinach. The second week (between the 1st quarter and the Full Moon) is best for crops that produce seeds on the inside, like peppers, tomatoes, peaches, cucumbers and melons.
During the waning Moon (Full to New Moon) plant root crops such as potatoes, peanuts, carrots and onions. *Do not* plant on the day of the New Moon or Full Moon.
Dew has been used in charms and spells for many centuries; its mysterious origins (as something which appears even on a clear, dry night, and disappears quickly in the morning) has made it a magical symbol. It was used as a remedy for many ills, especially as a lotion for sore eyes and for skin diseases and itches. Even into the nineteenth century it was sometimes rubbed into sickly children to strengthen them, and was also considered to heal gout and strengthen the sight (the latter property being far greater if the dew was gathered from the leaves of fennel).
Dew gathered on May Day was considered to be the most potent, undoubtedly arising from the connotations of fertility and love which were associated with the Beltane festival. Washing in May dew, or rolling oneself in it, was considered to protect against evil and bring good luck throughout the upcoming year. A tale is told of two witches in Scotland who were observed collecting May dew with a hair-tether; the tether was taken from them and hung in a cow-byre, and the cows thereafter gave enormous quantities of milk until the tether was removed and burnt. In Europe, cattle were anointed with May dew on May Day to protect them from overlooking, faeries and evil spells throughout the year.
The most common use of dew, however, was in beauty charms and as a cosmetic. Throughout the centuries women have gone out early on May Day to bathe their faces in dew, a lovely old custom which was supposed to ensure both beauty and good luck for twelve months. If a girl gathered dew very early in any morning, and preferably from under an oak tree, and washed her face in it, she would be beautiful for the year to come.
Dew Weather Lore: If a warm sunny day is followed by a heavy dew, fine weather is likely the next day also.
Lore and charms associated with the Moon could fill entire books, and indeed have. From earliest times the Moon has been worshipped, associated with various goddesses, and considered to have some powere over the lives and dealings of humans.
It is considered bad luck to point at the Moon, as it shows a certain disrespect. Instead, when the new Moon is seen for the first time it should be respectfully greeted with a bow or curtsey in its direction, and if wearing a hat in the Moon's presence, it should be doffed for a moment. Bowing three or nine times, wishing during the process, was also done. In fishing villages children would recite a charm to keep their sailing fathers safe: 'I see the Moon and the Moon seas me, God bless the sailors on the sea'.
It has always been customary to turn over silver in one's pocket upon first seeing the new Moon, as this means there will be plenty of money during the coming month, and many people still do this today for luck. In some districts a special coin was carried and turned over three times when the new Moon was seen. To be without any coins to turn over, however, is unlucky.
The waxing and waning of the Moon has given rise to many beliefs about the timing of events. It was formerly believed that animals should not be slaughtered while the Moon was waning, as the meat would shrink more during curing and cooking. Anything cut during the waning Moon will not grow again, or will grow abnormally slowly, so corns were often pared at this time, and hair which was meant to stay short would be cut. A child born under a waning Moon was purported to be weak or unlucky all its life, and animals born during the Moon's wane would not thrive as well as those born under the waxing Moon. Marriages celebrated under a waning Moon were deemed to be unhappy and possibly barren, no doubt stemming from the ancient connection between the Moon and fertility. On the other hand, the waxing Moon was far more fortunate. Hair trimmed during the waxing Moon will grow thick and lovely; eggs set under a hen then will not go bad, and seeds planted during a waxing Moon will thrive.
The word 'lunacy' derives from the Moon, which was once believed to cause madness. Sleeping in moonlight was once said to be dangerous because it led to lunacy, blindness or some other serious disorder.
Warts could be cured by blowing on them nine times at the full Moon. Another wart remedy was to catch the rays of the Moon in a metal bowl (preferably silver) and go through the movements of 'washing' one's hands in the rays while saying:
'I wash my hands in this thy dish
Oh man in the Moon, do grant my wish
And come and take away this'.
Moon Weather Lore: When the Moon is circled by a misty ring, it means rain to come. If the circle is large, it will rain very soon. Several cocentric circles means a long period of wet weather.
In winter months, a clear moon means frost is on the way.
A bright clear yellow moon rising in a cloudless sky means fine weather to come.
There was once a wide belief that cutting or burning ferns brought rain, and in some districts this also applied to heather. Other rain-bringing methods included sprinkling water on stones whilst reciting a charm, or tossing a little flour into a spring and stirring with a hazel-rod. In mediaeval times images of the saints were often dipped into water during a drought.
Children's charms to drive away rain are still common today, the most famous being 'Rain, rain, go away, come again another day'. A variant on this charm offers to bribe the rain to go:
'Rain, rain, go away
Come again tomorrow day
When I brew and when I bake
I'll give you a little cake'.
Rainwater was believed to have healing properties when it fell on particular days, especially Ascension day, or rain that fell at any time during the month of June. The water must be collected after falling directly from the sky; rain which ran off leaves or off the roof was useless. A Welsh belief was that babies bathed in rainwater talked earlier than others, and that money washed in rainwater would never be stolen.
Rain Weather Lore: Rain which falls from a fairly clear sky is likely to continue falling in short bursts for some time.
If it rains in the very early morning, the weather may clear up by the afternoon - 'Rain before seven, shine by eleven'.
The rainbow has had many meanings in many cultures, the main similarity being that it is always connected with deities. In the Christian Bible the rainbow was set in the sky as God's pledge that there would never again be a great flood. In Burma the rainbow is a dangerous spirit; in India it is a bow from which divine arrows are fired. In Norse mythology the rainbow is the bridge that Odin built from Midgard, the home of men, to Asgard where the gods lived, and the souls of the worthy dead passed along the rainbow. In ancient Rome the rainbow was the many-colored robe of Isis, attendant to Juno.
It is lucky to see a rainbow, and to wish when it is first seen, but unlucky to point directly at it, which will lead to bad luck or at least to the return of the rain. In Ireland, anyone who found the place where the rainbow touches the ground would find a pot of gold at its foot - something my brother and I tried to do several times as children!
A rainbow in the morning means futher rain during the day, but a rainbow appearing late in the day means the rain is gone for the rest of that day. Small broken pieces of rainbow appearing on a cloudy sky are sometimes called Weather-galls, and signify storms and blustery weather.
Rainbow Weather Lore: If a rainbow fades very quickly, good weather is on the way.
A rainbow generally means that the rainy period is about to end.
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