by Nancy and Michael Phillips

Some herbalists will request that a particular herb be harvested according to the waxing or waning moon. Folklore holds that above ground vitality is enhanced by an increasing moon-drawn up by the tidal pull, if you will-but root energy centers best when the moon is on the wane.

We always wait to harvest echinacea roots until just before the new moons of September and October. Similarly, above ground crops planted in the first and second quarters of the moon are said to do better, while seeds of all plants that bear food or beneficial substances below ground planted in the third and fourth quarters of the moon are said to do better.

Increasing our awareness of plant energies from a planetary perspective makes intuitive sense to us. Still, aerial plants reach an optimal point of harvest that may not wait for the seemingly apt advice of a waxing moon. The biodynamic planting calendar, Stella Natura, put out by the Kimberton Hills community in Pennsylvania, clearly shows which days are best for working with leaf, fruit, flower, and root from a slightly broader perspective. Zodiac influences are cross-referenced with the position of the moon. We try to choose a leaf day in harvesting lemon balm, a flower day for adding to a St. John’s wort oil infusion, a root day for planting elecampane. 

Conscious harvesting uses the moon and seasons as guidelines, but the overriding rule of thumb is to use our intuition and connection to the plants to determine when each plant is at its prime-when it is full of life force and vibrancy. This moon chat would not be complete without mention of nighttime magic: Don’t forego spending time in your gardens or walking in the woods at night. All of us-plant, human, animal, fairy-feel the pull of the moon and the aura of the stars. Lunar constituents will really give the rational medicos something to think about!

It is all part of the Wise Woman Way.

For more information, please visit Nancy and Michael Phillips, publishers of The Village Herbalist, at