The Legend of Moon Wood
This magical thing called “moon wood” is wood that is harvested at a certain time during the lunar phase – the dark time after the full moon…or last quarter. Wood cut at this time is said to be more weather resistant – durable and dry; less apt to shrink or crack. These are the qualities from a cut tree at the waning moon, since sap flow is at a minimum. It makes it harder for insects and mold to move in.
In earlier times, loggers cut trees according to the moon calendar. Today however, only a minority of woodsmen practice these traditional methods. Recently, this ancient tree-felling practice is back in vogue. The debate is brewing about its scientific validity. Some call moon wood an eco-marketing gimmick that touches on superstition. But before drawing any conclusions, let’s take a closer look.
Trees were once felled (preferably) in winter around Christmas at the waning moon, just before the new moon. Early March was also a preferred harvest time. The whole tree was left to lie on the forest floor, tops pointing downslope with branches intact for eight weeks. The last drops of sap filtered into the branches and the trunk dried out naturally. After cutting, the wood was left to rest and season another two years. In Southern Germany and Austria, this was the tried-and-true method. Today however, we don’t have time to wait; technical drying processes have taken over Mother Nature’s patient job.
Wood that doesn’t burn…is it possible?
There is proof…from fireplaces in old farmhouses lined with moon wood that emerged only charred while the rest of the house burned to the ground. Or, how about the 1,600 year old Japanese building made from such wood. Moon wood isn’t cheap. If you want to build with it, expect to dig deep into your pockets. What do the critics say? Is there something to the Old Ways or do its cheerleaders prefer to live on the dark side of the moon?
Different research studies have looked into the relationship between moon phase and wood quality, but the evidence is only partially confirmed. So far, the largest study carried out by the Freiburg Institute of Forest Management showed that moon wood was indeed dryer. But no one can seem to prove that moon wood is better. No one can disprove it either.
Like all things we believe to be true, like the moon’s effects on water and on us: in the end, it’s up to our own personal feeling on the subject. If the idea of moon wood feels right and makes you feel good, you’ll choose it for your living space. It’s a question of personal philosophy and lifestyle choice.
Our wood at ZillerSeasons was indeed felled in the snowy months when the sap was asleep. And yes, you feel extremely good in this space, no one would argue this. Not surprisingly, our HochLeger Chalets beds are equally as precious…made from stone pine wood, native to our forests. This tree provides the most restful sleep because it lowers the heart rate, thanks to the effects of beneficial essential oils. This has indeed been scientifically proven. And it smells divine!