From the beginning, The Old Farmer's Almanac has been calculated on astronomy, not astrology. But just as we include a few pages of astrology in each edition today, so too did Robert B. Thomas (our founder) include an annual page about the Signs of the Zodiac.
After each sign of the Zodiac is a body part—Virgo, belly; Sagittarius, thighs; Capricorn, knees; and so forth. These body parts appear in the Moon's Sign Calendar to indicate where in the heavens the Moon's astrological place will be each day of the year.
Almanac readers were very familiar with "The Man of the Signs." Before you had a diseased arm bled, for instance, you wanted to be very sure the Moon was located in Gemini. (Gemini is in charge of your arms.) Along the signs, or separate from them, the phases of the Moon determine the most propitious times for weaning a baby, planting certain vegetables, making sauerkraut—you name it. Providing an insight into the timing of day-to-day activities was a major function of the Almanac.
Just as in our founder's time, our readers today use both our astronomical data and the astrological tables to determine timing. Common queries I receive, beside what the weather will be on a future date, have to do with when, according to the Almanac, it would be best to, say, have a tooth pulled or plant the peas. If the query is from Texas or Oklahoma, however, I know that more than likely it will be about castrating bulls.
"In the next ten days," a caller will ask, "when would the Almanac say would be the best time for me to castrate my bull?"
I always tell the caller to do it when the Moon is waning (from the time it's full to the time its new), as there should be less bleeding then. But sometimes the caller persists in having a more precise time, and that's when I recall the answer my uncle gave in similar circumstances: "Why don't you try it," I'd hear him say into the telephone, "when he's asleep."
I've found that when I give that answer, no matter how serious the caller may be about wanting the information, it invariably provides a few seconds of shared laughter.
See the Best Days by the Moon Timetable for the current and next month.