With tomorrow being a full moon, I feel compelled to share a recent lunar-based discovery that I made. I recently finished a book called Wildwood, A Journey Through Trees by Roger Deakin, who is probably my favourite nature-writer. His love of and attunement to British wildlife comes through strongly in his books and I relate to his quiet observation and appreciation of the minutiae of the natural world – those tiny, beautiful moments that are so easy to miss.
Anyway, in the last chapter, he was talking about traditional hedge-laying and coppicing methods, and two extracts from the book really caught my eye, which I’ve copied out below.
On traditional hedge maintenance:
“But the work must be done in winter when the hedge reveals its architecture. Since it involves pruning the trees, a temporary reduction of their substance, this is labour for a waning moon, the low tide of the sap.”
On coppicing an ash hedgerow:
“Every two or three years I must pollard or lay its canopy. This is what I have to do today under the waning moon. If the moon can cause the tides to rise and fall, why should it not do the same to the sap in plants and trees? That is the logic behind the notion that the husbandry of increase, such as sowing and planting, is best done during the waxing phases of the moon. Conversely, harvesting, the work of decrease, including coppicing and pollarding, belongs in the time when the moon herself is decreasing.”
I love that traditional agriculture was so in tune with natural cycles and rhythms – to bear fruits from the land, you need to understand the land, love the land, know it intimately – so that you can work with it harmoniously for long-term success.
To take this further, it makes absolute sense to me that we are as much a part of the natural world as the hedgerow saplings and crops being harvested, and that our ‘sap’ (watery content) is affected by lunar cycles along with the rest of the planet’s water. I used to struggle with the whole ‘moon day’ thing with ashtanga yoga – partly because I was so desperate to practise and felt miffed that the ‘ashtanga yoga police’ were saying I shouldn’t, and partly because it all sounded too hippy-dippy. But as my practice has deepened, my understanding of yoga as a way of enhancing our connection with the world around us has grown, and it all makes more sense to me now. Plus, now I’m a few years older, I think my body quite enjoys the rest on the moon days!
Anyway, Roger Deakin got it – he even refers to the moon in her feminine, yin form in his second quote, bless him. He was a true yogi (he sadly died in 2006) and probably felt more moments of ‘samadhi’ (blissful enlightenment) than most of us, whilst communing with his beloved nature, yet he probably never stepped onto a yoga mat in his entire life.