On the Agricultural Calendar and the influence of the Moon

Jose Changoluisa, Picalqui, Ecuador, June 1989

Notebook 15:46-53.  Recorded and translated by Tod Swanson


In September they begin to prepare the earth [to plow] so that from the 4th of October, which is the day of Saint Francis, from the fourth of October on they begin to plant.  And what they call planting proper is in November, it is on the Day of the Dead.  They said the planting was best on the day of the pilgrimage, the day of the fiesta of [the Virgin of] Quinche, the 21st to the 23rd of November.  They say that the corn ripens best [if planted] during those dates.  For potatoes they said that the [proper time for] planting is on [the day of] Our Mother of Carmen, the fifteenth of June.


My departed parents said that it was not good to plant on the new moon, when the moon passes.  It is no good.  On the day when the moon goes the worms will eat up [the seed], the maize rots in there. And also if you plant on Tuesdays the birds will finish it off.  But after the fifth day [of the new moon] passes then you can plant.  But not on Tuesdays, no planting of maize [on that day]. They say that Tuesday is the day you couldn't plant because the birds would eat it when it was coming up.

They said that on the new moon it was not good to climb up in the trees because their branches are very soft, they break.  And also [it is not good] to cut down trees for the frame of a house [during those days] because it will get too much mould.  They say it is not good [to cut trees for framing] during the new moon or during the full moon either.  They said it was the moon in the form of one who is [pregnant] with the new moon.  So the same customs are attached to it [as to the new moon]. Wood for a house [is not cut down] in the new moon nor in the full moon because it molds, it rots more quickly.  But when the moon was good, they said, then the wood would come out double strength. It wound not mould, that what they said.  You could start [cutting the wood] beginning at nine at night as they call it, which is the fifth day no,  once it enters into nine at night, from then on until it is full.

They called [nine o'clock] the fifth [day] of the moon because, [suppose] for example today [the moon] leaves.  Today you don't see anything.  They say it is buried, no.  And tomorrow the same. By Tuesday it will be seen just slightly.  And more on Wednesday.  And so on Tuesday it will enter almost six thirty.  On wednesday it would enter at seven.  Thursday it would enter at eight and Friday at nine at night. And so they said it is now the fifth day .  The moon is now good for cutting wood or for planting whatever you want to plant. But they couldn't plant wheat or anything else on the new moon.

When the moon is buried you can be preparing the earth.  Preparing the earth to put in the seed no? And since in earlier times they had the custom of leaving the huacho (furrow) already made we called it huachado.  [They left it that way] so that the earth could be sleeping, no?  They put in the furrow (surco) and they leave it a day, two days, no? Maybe so that the earth would warm up so that they could then put in the kernels.People who worked their own land had to get up at two or three in the morning [to plow].  Feed the team [of oxen], and then plow from three in the mourning until six in the morning, as long as the moon was up.17

They called [nine o'clock] the fifth [day] of the moon because, [suppose] for example today [the moon] leaves.  Today you don't see anything.  They say it is buried, no.  And tomorrow the same. By Tuesday it will be seen just slightly.  And more on Wednesday.  And so on Tuesday it will enter almost six thirty.  On wednesday it would enter at seven.  Thursday it would enter at eight and Friday at nine at night. And so they said it is now the fifth day .  The moon is now good for cutting wood or for planting whatever you want to plant. But they couldn't plant wheat or anything else on the new moon.

When the moon is buried you can be preparing the earth.  Preparing the earth to put in the seed no? And since in earlier times they had the custom of leaving the huacho (furrow) already made we called it huachado.  [They left it that way] so that the earth could be sleeping, no?  They put in the furrow (surco) and they leave it a day, two days, no? Maybe so that the earth would warm up so that they could then put in the kernels.People who worked their own land had to get up at two or three in the morning [to plow].  Feed the team [of oxen], and then plow from three in the mourning until six in the morning, as long as the moon was up.17